Sci-Tech Library Newsletter
January 11, 2007
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In this issue
- Cafe Scientifique (Arlington): The Science of Breast Cancer: Making it Personal
- BioMed Central Launches Chemistry Central: Other Open Access Services Coming Soon or Now Available
- Bigger European Digital Library? Tell me more!
- The ‘Long Tail’ of Technology Information: TechExtra Metasearch
- Science Search Engines
- Science Policy
- Around DC & on the Net
- New E-Books & Reports
- Interesting Websites and News: Special Online Collection: Breakthrough of the Year 2006 • Science Out of the Box • The Flex Your Power Challenge • National Geographic’s Top Ten Stories of 2006 • Japanese Universities Launch SPARC Japan (via ARL) • NOVA ScienceNow • Journal Cost-Effectiveness 2006 • Biology: Introduction to Microbiology • Language & Perfect Pitch • Happy Birthday, Darwin! • The Brain : Teaching Modules • Computer and Information Science and Engineering: Educational CyberPlayGround Special Edition — Changing Girls’ Attitudes about Computers • Coalition for Networked Information Fall Task Force Meeting • Education and Human Resources: Teaching Geology • GrantsNet • Engineering: “Wings of Madness”: NOVA • Geosciences: Massachusetts Attorney General: Climate Change (Global Warming) • World Meteorological Organization • Air Quality Movies • A Journey Through Time • Wave That Shook the World • Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Tools for Understanding • Snow Crystals • Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Grameen Bank & the Peace Prize • The Center for Cultural Understanding and Change • Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System • International Council of African Museums • Web Experimental Psychology Lab • “The Mummy Who Would Be King” • Polar Programs: IPY — International Polar Year • Science from the Poles • House Hearings on the International Polar Year • … and more … plus news items from Edupage
Cafe Scientifique (Arlington)
“A Place to Eat, Drink and Talk About Science”
February 6, 2007 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
The Front Page Restaurant
|Who:||Cancer Researchers Robert Clarke and Minetta Liu, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University|
|What:||The Science of Breast Cancer: Making it Personal|
|When:||Tuesday, February 6, 2007|
|Where:||The Front Page — 4201 Wilson Blvd, Arlington|
|How:||6:00–6:30 Light hors d’oeuvres (buy your drink/meal)
6:30–8:00 Short presentation, followed by Q&A
- No science background required!
- Free and open to the public
Background: Cafe Scientifique (Arlington) and its occasional cousin in Washington DC is sponsored and organized by the National Science Foundation. The goal: to make science more accessible and accountable. Features speakers whose expertise spans the sciences — and who can talk in plain English. Generally held on first Tuesdays of the month. We welcome your input.
BioMed Central Launches Chemistry Central — Other Open Access Services Coming Soon or Now Available
Chemistry Central is a new service publishing peer-reviewed open access research in chemistry from BioMed Central, the leading biomedical open access publisher. The Chemistry Central website currently features chemistry-related articles published in BioMed Central journals and independent journals utilizing BioMed Central’s open access publishing services.
Chemistry Central has also just launched Chemistry Central Journal. This broad ranging open access chemistry journal is now accepting submissions, and the Editors invite you to submit your next manuscript using the online submission system.
Chemistry Central is planning to launch further chemistry-specific journals in the near future.
UK PubMed Central Launches
Based on PubMed Central (PMC), the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature, UK PubMed Central (UKPMC) provides a stable, permanent, and free-to-access online digital archive of full-text, peer-reviewed research publications.
Initially UKPMC mirrors the American PubMed Central database. Now UK scientists will also be able to submit their research outputs for inclusion in UKPMC. Through 2007, and beyond, the partners will develop innovative tools for UKPMC to further support biomedical research. In this way, UKPMC will grow into a unique online resource representing the UK’s biomedical research output.
Coming soon expect PhysMath Central!
PhysMath Central is the open access publisher covering all areas of physics & mathematics. We are actively working with the physics & maths communities to develop open access journals for these fields. Bookmark this page and visit us again to find out what new journals we will be launching.
PhysMath Central, along with BioMed Central and Chemistry Central, is committed to maximising the communication of scholarly research through open access publishing. See Open Access Central for more details.
If you are interested in starting an open access journal or converting an existing journal to open access in physics or mathematics please email Chris Leonard or call +44 (0)207 631 9165.
CERN is working on building a consortium to fund open access publication in the field of particle physics.
In the field of engineering, check out the new Emerald Asset — accessible scholarship shared in an electronic environment.
“As a publisher of a range of high profile engineering journals, Emerald is piloting a new Open Access (OA) publishing model, for a trial period, via the Emerald Engineering web portal. Unlike other OA models which require authors to pay a fee to have their article openly published, the Emerald Asset trial offers authors the opportunity to contribute, not in cash but in kind: In exchange for open publication authors will be asked to submit a summary of their research findings highlighting their practical application. Summaries will be considered for publication on the Emerald Engineering website. Each summary will include a link to enable readers to gain free access to the full text of the published article. Additionally, outlines of the summaries will feature in our bi-monthly Emerald Engineering e-newsletter which will be distributed free of charge to all website registrants and further serve to increase awareness of each featured author’s work.”
Karger’s Author’s Choice™
Author’s Choice™ is a new option which enables you as the author to decide whether your article will be distributed under the traditional publishing model or whether it will be freely available online for all readers.
(Thanks to Peter Suber for most of the above information.)
Bigger European Digital Library? Tell me more!
More than six million books, documents and other culturally significant works should become available online in the new European Digital Library during the next five years, thanks to the information society technologies (IST) programme TEL-ME-MOR.
With the project due to end in January 2007, TEL-ME-MOR is well on the way to achieving its objectives. Content from eight out of the ten newly included national libraries has already been integrated into the European Digital Library, and most of these collections are already fully searchable, explains Toomas Schvak, spokesperson for the project.
“The remaining two libraries are in the process of joining the service, and will become official members by the end of 2006,” he says. “That means that altogether there will be fifty-two collections in the European Digital Library by January 2007, forty-one of them searchable and thirty-two containing digital content.”
(Above content from the ResourceShelf)
The ‘Long Tail’ of Technology Information
“It’s a prerequisite for any successful search service in technology, and technology-related subjects, to have a ‘Long Tail’ — by that, in this context, I mean a large inventory of relevant data. This is because the majority of search queries made by technologists, or by others seeking information in technology-related subjects, tend to be very specific. It’s in the nature of the subjects, and the information retrieval needs of those involved in these subjects, for granularity to be important.
TechXtra aggregates content from a large number of different databases containing technology-related content. A search of TechXtra will search across more than 4 million records of various kinds — articles, technical reports, digital theses and dissertations, books, eprints, news items, job announcements, video, learning & teaching resources, key websites, and more — most of which relate to technology subjects. TechXtra therefore has a ‘Long Tail’, and its getting longer!
TechXtra aggregates, so that you don’t have to. From the one TechXtra search box, you can currently search 29 databases. If you need them, there are easy links to the native interfaces of these 29 databases. Hits from searches are shown by database, so you can scan their content. Sometimes this is useful, and sometimes not (we’re working on more options). If you want, you can restrict searches to a particular format (technical reports, or articles, or books, and so on), or two selected databases using the Advanced Search option.
TechXtra recently added three more databases to its cross-search:
- Australian Digital Theses (ADT) (details of, and links to the full text of about 8,000 digital theses);
- DiVA, technology subset (an archive containing details of doctoral and undergraduate theses and research reports from 15 of Nordic universities);
- Open Video Project, a small repository of digitized video.
In the majority of cases, the full text of items found through TechXtra is freely available. This includes the 8,000 Australian theses mentioned above, nearly half a million articles in computer and information science from CiteSeer, items found via ARROW (Australian Research Repositories Online to the World), thousands of eprints from arXiv in mathematics and computer science, 300 earthquake engineering technical reports from Caltech Earthquake Engineering Research Laboratory Technical Reports, many articles from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), theses and dissertations from NDLTD, resources from around 30 institutional open archives in the United Kingdom, learning resources from the National Engineering Education Delivery System (NEEDS), and more. We’ll shortly be adding graphics which will give a visual indication of the likelihood of being able to click-through to the full text.
Sometimes, materials found via TechXtra are not available in full text, or are only available if you, or your institution, subscribes to the service, or via pay-per-view.
In addition to the cross-search, TechXtra provides a number of other useful services, some of which have recently been expanded.
Numerous new feeds have been added to the
OneStep News service,
giving this wider coverage of breaking industry news. The new feeds are from: PRWeb,
AZoM Materials/Engineering News, NASA Breaking News, MIT News, EETimes News, ENCMag.com
News, and Automotive World News, and more.
Over 5,000 news items are currently listed.
The coverage of
which gives access to the very latest new job announcements has also been increased.
New sources include: Total Jobs, TipTopJobs, IrishDev.com Jobs, 4ConstructionJobs.co.uk,
Over 7,000 new jobs are currently listed.
For those who’d like to subscribe, free, to numerous trade magazines, white papers and surveys, TechXtra has a Magazine Subscription section. All titles are free to professionals who qualify.
Sample titles include:
- Hydrocarbon Processing (petrochemicals and refining)
- circuitnet (electronics manufacturing)
- energybiz (power industry)
- Waste Management World
There are also links (Xtra Extras) to newsletters of interest in technology information, a design data search service, a bookstore, and an Offshore Engineering Information service.
Some more features will shortly be added.
Here’s what David Bradley, Science Writer, wrote about TechXtra:
Grabbing the Long Tail of Search Engines
Here’s what Karen Blakeman wrote about TechXtra:
TechXtra Now Independent
TechXtra is a freely available service, developed at Heriot Watt University in the UK. We receive no external funding for its development, so we rely on word of mouth to spread the word. I hope you may help, and tell your colleagues about TechXtra, or blog about the service, or place a link to it from your websites.”
For more information, contact: R.A.MacLeod@hw.ac.uk
There are very nice features to this free service. There are also still a few bugs. For example, I did a search on “vibrational spectroscopy”, limiting my search to “articles”. The engine brought back two results from CiteSeer, but would not allow me to see them. However, when I re-ran the search a few minutes later, it worked perfectly. So if you seem to be having problems, just be persistent. It is definitely worth a look!
Science Search Engines
This Listing is from Educational CyberPlayground
SciCentral Gateway to 50,000 Science Sites: Gateway to the best science and engineering online resources. This site is maintained by professional scientists whose mission is to identify and centralize access to the most valuable scientific resources online. SciCentral currently constitutes a gateway to over 50,000 sites pertaining to over 120 specialties in science and engineering.
CiteSeer — focuses on computer science material, info tech content
Scirus — latest scientific news
SmealSearch — focuses on business
Infomine — A database that includes a broad range of educational collections. Governement, science, social science, maps, regional resources and visual and performing arts are all covered here.
The Virtual Technical Reports Center — The Center provides links to either full-text or searchable, extended abstracts of technical reports and other types of research publications (preprints, reprints, dissertations, and theses). The site, which is updated weekly, is organized alphabetically. Links consist mainly of governmental and university-based research institutions from around the world
A New Review of Scirus from Peter Jacso
In the second December 2006 review posted on Peter’s Digital Reference Shelf, librarian and legendary reference reviewer, Dr. Peter Jacso, offers an updated review of Scirus.
Scirus has come a long way since my first review in 2001 on its debut. It grew from a 50-million item search engine to a 300-million item database with increasingly significant and expansive coverage of scholarly sources and powerful software. The enhancements in its content and software made it a pick a few years ago for the Peter’s Databases Picks and Pans column and the winner of several awards in the specialty search engine categories for good reasons. (From ResourceShelf)
Rising Above the Gathering Storm
Leaders of industry, government, research, and education from around the country converged at the National Academies for the Sept. 28 convocation on “Rising Above the Gathering Storm.” They came to share knowledge and discuss ways to advance U.S. competitiveness, focusing on education, research and innovation — action areas identified in the report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” (2006). Video presentations from the convocation are now available online. (From NAS)
Federal Research Funding In Decline as Appropriations Stall
The outgoing, Republican-majority 109th Congress ended on December 9 in a flurry of legislative activity, but left conspicuously unfinished the fiscal year (FY) 2007 appropriations bills funding nearly all domestic programs. Only the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Homeland Security (DHS) have their final budgets; all other federal agencies are operating at the lower of FY 2006 or FY 2007 House funding levels.
President Bush’s American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) proposal to provide large increases for select physical sciences agencies was endorsed by House and Senate appropriators, but these proposals died atthe end of the 109th Congress. These and other proposed increases for federal research and development (R&D) programs have mostly become flat funding in the current budget environment. The incoming Democratic 110th Congress could make these flat appropriations final for the entire fiscal year. As a result, the federal investment in basic and applied research is almost certain to fall in FY 2007 for the first time in at least three decades.
The December FY 2007 Appropriations Update provides an update of federal R&D in FY 2007 congressional appropriations so far along with the latest AAAS estimates of federal R&D funding.
(From AAAS R&D Funding Update)
Leadership Changes at House Science Committee
Ralph Hall (R-Tex.) was elected Ranking Minority Member of the House Science Committee for the 110th Congress by the Republican Steering Committee. He will replace the outgoing Chairman, Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), as the republican leader of the Committee.
“I appreciate the Steering Committee and the Republican Conference for the opportunity to serve as Ranking Member of the Science Committee in the 110th Congress,” Hall said. “I look forward to advancing a vision for science that promotes space exploration, fosters medical and energy technological breakthroughs, and ensures America’s competitive edge.” Referring to the new committee chairman Hall said, “Chairman Bart Gordon and I have a good working relationship, and I look forward to working across the aisle on those initiatives that are important to all Americans.”
Before he left his seat last week, outgoing Chairman Boehlert sent a letter to Rob Portman, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), urging additional science funding in the FY 2008 budget. He specifically highlighted the importance of fully funding the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), saying that hoped and expected the Administration would, “continue to press forward with the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI). As you probably know, I have been an outspoken cheerleader for the ACI, and the ACI has won the support of the nation’s business and education leaders. Most important, the Appropriations Committee in the Senate and the entire House voted for the ACI requests this year. Therefore, I hope your fiscal 2008 requests for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will be at levels appropriate for a second year of ACI implementation.” (From IEEE Eye on Washington)
Gordon Chosen to Lead House Science and Technology Committee
On January 4, Rep. Bart Gordon (TN-06) assumed the Chairmanship of the House Committee on Science and Technology for the 110th Congress.
Chairman Gordon offered the following comments:
“I am honored by this assignment. Under my leadership, the Science Committee will be the committee of ‘good ideas.’ We will be reaching out to individuals and groups on the Hill and off to participate at every opportunity, share their ideas and work with our Committee to assure America’s competitiveness in the world.”
“Democrats, working in partnership with our Republican counterparts, have an opportunity to positively affect issues from education and research to energy and security. This is an opportunity we must not neglect.”
Among the first orders of business for the Science and Technology Committee in the 110th Congress — continued efforts to assure U.S. workers, teachers and students are equipped with the tools they need to compete in the changing global marketplace; as well as advancing measures to speed U.S. energy independence and exercise better stewardship of our energy resources.
House Science Committee Leadership Urges Clear Research Agenda to Study
Potential Implications of Nanotech
Former Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and incoming Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) reiterated their call for the Administration to establish a research agenda with clear priorities to ensure a greater understanding of the potential environmental, health and safety risks associated with nanotechnology. Boehlert and Gordon made their comments in a joint statement that accompanied the release of witness responses to questions issued by the Science Committee following a September 21 hearing on, Research on Environmental and Safety Impacts of Nanotechnology: What are the Federal Agencies Doing? The witnesses’ responses, along with other materials from the hearing, are available on the Committee’s Website. Boehlert and Gordon issued the following statement:
“The witness answers have provided useful insights for the next Congress to consider. In particular, we think the next Congress must continue to review whether an outside entity, like the National Academy of Sciences, ought to be charged with putting together a research agenda with clear priorities on environmental, health and safety issues related to nanotechnology, and whether the Health Effects Institute ought to carry out some of the more sensitive public health research. Regardless of the role of outside organizations, we continue to believe that the federal government needs to move much more quickly to put together a truly coordinated strategic plan for research in this area along the lines of the recommendations that were recently published in the journal Nature.”
NOTE: The new name of this Committee is now the House Committee on Science and Technology. For more info, visit the House Committee on Science and Technology website (From IEEE Eye on Washington)
Open access mandates and policies
Open access mandates and policies continue to be issued by funding bodies and government at an exciting pace. This month, the Australian Research Council (ARC) released its Funding Rules for funding commencing in 2008. The ARC encourages researchers to deposit published articles in open access repositories.
Austria’s central body for the promotion of basic research, Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF), adopted an open access policy in October 2006. FWF encourages deposition in open access repositories, and also allows researchers to apply for reimbursement of article processing charges associated with publishing in open access journals.
The Wellcome Trust has extended its open access mandate to apply to all grants, including those awarded prior to the 1 October 2005, when the mandate was introduced. The Wellcome Trust is also making funds available for publication in open access journals. In the UK, five research councils (MRC, BBSRC, ESRC, NERC and PPARC) have announced open access mandates, which all come into effect in 2006.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) released a draft policy that would mandate open access to CIHR-funded research. On October 23, China announced a new policy to mandate open access to most publicly-funded research data. India recently hosted the Workshop on Electronic Publishing and Open Access, which led to the launch of the National Open Access Policy for Developing Countries.
U.S. Announces Plan for Manned Exploration of Solar System
By Lisa Pickoff-White
December 5 — NASA has announced that it is beginning to develop plans for a solar-powered lunar base in preparation for eventual missions to Mars and beyond. By 2020, four-person crews will begin to establish a lunar base by bringing power supplies and rovers and building living quarters in a series of seven-day missions. Next, the crews will stay at the lunar base for 180-day missions to get ready for voyages to Mars.
NASA is hoping to learn how to live off of the moon’s natural resources, prepare for a journey to Mars, and conduct a range of scientific investigations. Robotic missions will conduct landing site reconnaissance, natural resource surveys, and technological risk assessments prior to a human landing.
In April 2006, NASA initiated the Global Exploration Strategy to help plan for such missions and worked with 13 international space agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations and commercial groups. They will continue to work with such groups to plan future missions. (From IEEE Eye on Washington)
Congress Extends R&D Tax Credit
Despite the fact that the outgoing republican Congress left the incoming democratic one to deal with the unpassed spending bills which fund domestic programs for current fiscal year, the House and Senate did manage to pass legislation laying out an agreement on a set of business tax-relief measures. Just before the 109th Congress adjourned for the last time, they struck a deal combining popular tax breaks, known as tax extenders, with trade measures. The tax extenders include the long-awaited renewal of the research and development tax credit. The R&D credit expired in December 2005, but the language in the latest bill would renew it retroactively and extend the credit through 2007. The formula for the credit changes next year, at a cost of $16.5 billion.
On the first day of the 110th Congress, new Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) — who has indicated he will focus on competitiveness issues — introduced a bill to make the research-and-development credit a permanent part of the tax code. The credit is a top priority of the business community, but similar legislation failed during the 109th Congress.
The R&D tax credit has bipartisan support, though it’s unclear how much support there is for making it permanent. In a tax bill that cleared in the final moments of the lame-duck session, the 109th Congress extended the credit through 2007. (From IEEE Eye on Washington)
Math and Science Education and United States Competitiveness: Does the
A poll released last week by the American Council of Education shows that the general public and policymakers, business leaders, and other opinion leaders have different ideas when it comes to addressing American competitiveness and STEM education.
While policy-makers and opinion leaders recently have paid significant attention to maintaining Americas competitiveness and have worked to bolster STEM education, less than one-third (31%) of 1,000 registered voters polled by The Winston Group last fall believe that math and science classes offered to students not majoring in those fields are very relevant to life after graduation. Only a slight majority of those polled (54%) believe that all students should have to take more math and science courses.
There is a significant disconnect between the general public and policy-makers and higher education leaders on the subject of maintaining and enhancing our global competitiveness, said David Ward, president of the American Council on Education, which manages the Solutions for Our Future campaign for a coalition of colleges, universities and community and business partners. The public views our global competitiveness as a threat to wage levels, while policy-makers view the issue as a need for a better prepared workforce. What is clear is that higher education leaders and policy-makers must do a better job of communicating with the public about the importance of math and science education to the economic success of future generations of Americans.
Solutions for Our Future is a national campaign to increase public awareness of the many ways that American colleges and universities serve the public. For more information on the key findings in this poll go to the Solutions for Our Future website. (From NSTA)
A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science
A website of news stories from the Union of Concerned Scientists. The website may be displayed alphabetically, by issue area, or as a timeline. Each story is of a possible incident of political spinning of scientific research.
Around DC & on the Net
The offshoring of engineering and other high-skill services work from the U.S. to developing economies has been the subject of intense debate in recent years. On October 24–25, 2006, the NAE hosted a free public workshop aimed at developing new data on the phenomenon of engineering offshoring and at exploring the implications for the U.S. engineering enterprise. Original NAE-commissioned research papers exploring offshoring in key industries were presented and discussed at the workshop. Additional presentations were made by industry and academic engineering leaders. Those papers and several of the presentations are now available on the NAE website.
R&D Caucus Briefing — Large-Scale Facilities for Small-Scale Science: The Spallation Neutron Source Becoming a Foremost Center for Materials Research
The R&D Caucus, for which IEEE-USA serves as an advisor, is sponsoring a briefing on the unique capabilities of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s new Spallation Neutron Source. The SNS will provide America the world’s foremost center for materials research. A Department of Energy scientific user facility, the Spallation Neutron Source is ten times more powerful than existing neutron sources in Europe and Asia and will be an environment in which 2,000 researchers from around the world will conduct small-scale basic research that promises a broad range of discoveries and new technologies. Scientists anticipate that research conducted at the Spallation Neutron Source will strengthen American competitiveness in energy, telecommunications, manufacturing, transportation, information technology, health, and biotechnology.
Thursday, January 11, 2007, 12:00 noon–1:30 p.m.
2325 Rayburn House Office Building, Independence Ave, SE, Washington, D.C.
The Planet of the Microbes: Advancing Science Seminar
Long before humans populated the Earth, large numbers of microbes controlled the key chemical cycles that produce life essentials such as oxygen and organic forms of carbon and nitrogen. Speaking at the 26 October Philip Hauge Abelson Advancing Science Seminar, experts discussed utilizing these processes for applications such as mitigating the effects of climate change or producing electricity. But the experts also urged caution in tinkering with natural cycles. “Human beings have, in the last 150 to 200 years, so critically altered the carbon, phosphorus, sulfur, nitrogen, water cycles,” said Paul Falkowski, a professor in the Institute of Marine & Coastal Sciences and Dept. of Geological Sciences at Rutgers University, “that society is on a path toward unsustainable development.” He called for reductions in carbon dioxide and sulfur emissions and in the use of nitrogen-containing fertilizers so that we can return to a world “where microbes basically are taking care of the cycles for us, because we cannot take care of the cycles for ourselves.”
Symposium: Effects of Intellectual Property Protections on Scientific Research
16 Jan 2007 8:30 am
The Project on Science & Intellectual Property in the Public Interest (SIPPI) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is hosting a symposium on intellectual property protections and the conduct of research in the U.S. scientific community. This event will be held on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 in the Auditorium of the AAAS headquarters in Washington, DC, from 8:30 am to 2:45 pm.
TEACHERS: Free NSDL/NSTA Web Seminar: Charging into Electrostatics on Jan. 30
Get ready for labs, interactives, historical accounts, and lesson plans at your fingertips. Digital collections such as ThePhysicsFront.org are carefully selected materials that prevent endless searching on the Internet, organized with educational goals in mind.
Brought to you by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), this interactive seminar is designed for teachers grades 2–12 and will explore static electricity. Register today.
Physics Teaching Resource Agent Director Jan Mader and Science Education Research Scientist Dr. Cathy Ezrailson will demonstrate how charges behave and interact with each other using hands-on activities. AAPT is the lead organization for ComPADRE, the NSDL Pathway for Astronomy and Physics. (From NSDL Whiteboard Report)
NAS Announces ‘Strange Weather’ Exhibit
“Strange Weather,” an exhibition of paintings by Joy Garnett depicting environmental and social catastrophes, will be on view by appointment from Jan. 15 through April 30 at the National Academies’ Keck Center in Washington, D.C.
Virtually You: Internet Art and Culture
Date: Thursday, January 25, 2007
Location: Koshland Science Museum
Time: 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Age Range: 13+
Join Jonathan Harris, creator of Internet-based projects such as Yahoo! Time Capsule, 10X10, We Feel Fine, and Phylotaxis, for a look at intersections of science, art, and culture. Find out how the Internet can serve as the basis for portraits that provide insights into who we are and how we express ourselves.
Jonathan Harris is an artist working primarily on the Internet. In 2004, Harris received Italy’s Fabrica Fellowship to join 40 other young artists for a year’s work in non-traditional art. At Fabrica, he created the award-winning site 10x10, which automatically chooses the top 100 words and pictures in the world every hour based on what’s happening in the news. He is also the creator of We Feel Fine, which uses large-scale blog analysis to explore human emotion. Most recently, he conceived and created the Yahoo! Time Capsule, available in ten languages. Harris is an organizer of Princeton University’s Art of Science Competition. His work has been shown internationally throughout Europe and the United States, and has been featured by CNN, Reuters, BBC, USA Today, Voice of America Radio, Creative Review, and Wired.
Advance reservations suggested. For reservations, call the Koshland Science Museum at 202-334-1201 or email email@example.com.
Cancer Research in the Genomic Era — an address by Eric Lander
“Students at MIT in 2020 will look back with a mixture of amusement and horror at the late 20th century: ‘Imagine, people spent years looking for the gene for something. How antediluvian.’ They won’t be able to imagine what science was like before they had all the tools laid out in front of them.” Lander discusses how knowledge of the human genome is being used to explore the fundamental causes of cancer.
Smart Prosthetics conference
Listen to the presentations from the Smart Prosthetics conference. These “tutorials” provide an overview on what different fields are doing to help create better prosthetics. Learn about how the brain and prosthetics are linked, what they’re made of, and more. Audio is available in both Quicktime and Windows Media format along with slides and transcripts.
New E-Books & Reports
Measuring the moment: Innovation, National Security, and Competitiveness. Task Force on the Future of American Innovation, 2006.
Gowers Review of Intellectual Property. Treasury (UK), 2006.
Smoke, mirrors and hot air: how ExxonMobil uses big tobacco’s tactics to manufacture uncertainty on climate science. Union of Concerned Scientists, 2007.
Implementing Persistent Identifiers: overview of concepts, guidelines and recommendations (ECPA-report; 18). Hilse, H.-W., Kothe, J. ECPA, 2006.
Annual global climate and catastrophe report. Aon, 2006.
Building Better II: A Guide to America’s Best New Development Projects. Sierra Club, 2006.
Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. Treasury (U.K.), 2006.
The Stern Report: Some Early Criticisms. Center for Science and Public Policy, 2006.
The Ethical Aspects of Nanomedicine. EC, 2006.
The knowledge economy of Europe. Work Foundation, 2006.
Acute Exposure Guideline Levels for Selected Airborne Chemicals: Volume 5 (2006) (prepublication). NAP, 2006.
River Science at the U.S. Geological Survey (2006) (prepublication). NAP, 2006.
Third Report of the NAE/NRC Committee on New Orleans Regional Hurricane Protection Projects (2006) (prepublication). NAP, 2006.
The Economic Role of Small Businesses Using Large Data Sets: An Analysis of the Contributions of Small Firms to Urban Growth. U.S. Small Business Administration, 2006.
Ready or Not? Protecting the Public’s Health from Disease, Disasters, and Bioterrorism, 2006. Trust for America’s Health, 2006.
Patent procedures and statistics: an overview. Eurostat, 2006.
The Promise of Alternative Automotive Fuels and Technology. US House, 2006.
Extended Range Forecast of Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Activity and U.S. Landfall Strike Probability for 2007. Tropical Meteorology Project, Colorado State University, 2006.
Advanced Research Instrumentation and Facilities. NAP, 2006.
Measuring and reducing the impact of corruption in infrastructure. World Bank Policy Research Working Papers, 2006.
eJournal USA: Transforming the Culture of Corruption. U.S. Department of State, 2006.
Biographical Memoirs V.88 (2006). NAP, 2006.
U.S.-Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism (2006) (prepublication). NAP, 2006.
Validation of Toxicogenomic Technologies: A Workshop Summary (2006) (prepublication). NAP, 2006.
Museums and Galleries in Britain: Economic, Social and Creative Impacts, by Tony Travers. MNDC & MLA, 2006.
Interesting Websites and News
Special Online Collection: Breakthrough of the Year 2006
In the 22 December 2006 issue of Science, the editors and news staff of Science once again review some of the big science stories of the past 12 months, and dub one of them the Breakthrough of the Year for 2006. A special section showcases the Breakthrough and nine runners up, as well as shining the spotlight on the less auspicious Breakdown of the Year and taking a look at what might lie ahead in 2007. (The package is complemented by a special Breakthrough edition of the Science Podcast.)
Science Out of the Box
A new series from National Public Radio (NPR), “Science Out of the Box,” seeks to explain phenomena big and small in language we can all understand. Topic One: Why is it that shower curtains tend to bow in towards the shower when the water is running? Listen to the explanation at the above link. “Science Out of the Box” is included in the “All Things Considered” program on NPR stations.
The Flex Your Power Challenge
With the guidance of animated host Les Power, visitors to this site are greeted by his voice intoning “Hello Cali-forn-i-a!” It’s an energetic beginning to this website that is primarily designed to help visitors learn about how they can work to better manage their energy consumption their homes and at work. Mr. Power takes visitors on a rather fun and interactive quiz, and visitors who find themselves seeking more information can click on titled tabs near the top of the screen. While the site is focused on how energy consumption affects the state of California, much of the information can be applied to a myriad of places around the country. It is also worth noting that the site is made available in Spanish and Chinese. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
National Geographic’s Top Ten Stories of 2006
Far from being stuffy or overly scientific, this round-up of National Geographic’s top 10 articles of the year gleams with all the romance and wonder of a world where anything seems possible. “Bog men” from 2,000 years ago slick gel into their hair to appear more menacing. A monster rabbit pillages villages of northeast England; locals dub the marauding beast “Bigs Bunny.” Noah’s Ark possibly washes up in Iran, a “lost world” reveals itself in the South Pacific, and the family of planets bids adieu to poor Pluto. Human quadrupeds and the horrifying death of a beloved crocodile hunter round out the selection. But one story gloms up a record two spots, including the distinction of being the magazine’s most popular article of 2006. We’ll let you unearth that one for yourself. Enjoy.
Japanese Universities Launch SPARC Japan (via ARL)
SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) today announced the launch of SPARC Japan, a collaboration of Japanese academic institutions and scholarly societies working to promote and make widely available the work of Japanese researchers. SPARC Japan is an initiative of the Tokyo-based National Institute of Informatics (NII), a national research institute which unites Japanese academic librarians, scholars, researchers, universities and learned societies to support initiatives that improve scholarly communications in Japan. (From the ResourceSehlf)
The next episode of NOVA scienceNOW features stories on the science of aging and how we might slow it; a proposed “space elevator” that will potentially open up outer space like never before; a new technique pioneered by NASA scientists to discover ancient ruins buried within jungle using satellite imagery; and a profile of molecular biologist Bonnie Bassler.
- Aging — Will research into “longevity genes” help us live longer and healthier lives?
- Space Elevator — Can we build a 22,000-mile-high cable to transport cargo and people into space?
- Maya — NASA archeologists use satellites to pinpoint ancient ruins buried deep in the jungle.
- Profile: Bonnie Bassler — Her insight into how bacteria “talk” has launched a revolution in biological and medical research.
The journey continues on the NOVA scienceNOW Web site. Watch the entire hour-long episode starting January 10. E-mail scientists from the broadcast with your questions. Find out how a gene called SIR2 can slow down aging, learn the benefits of a space elevator, examine up-close an ancient Mayan masterpiece, hear Dr. Bassler talk about her research, and much more.
Journal Cost-Effectiveness 2006
This handy little application allows you to check the “value” of a particular journal title in your collection. It is, of course, very beta, but is another tool libraries can use when evaluating how to spend their precious serials budget.
More information about journal pricing is available at Ted Bergstrom’s Journal Page.
“This website represents our best attempt to compute the price per article and price per citation. Currently we use the 2000 to 2004 ISI data and the 2006 prices, which are the most recent data available to us. Not all journals report information the same way, and errors are possible. Moreover, prices per unit for journals that have recently expanded are underestimated. The coloration (red for very low value, yellow for low value, and green for good value) is computed by comparing the composite price index to the median for non-profit journals in the same subject. Be advised that price per citation, price per article and the composite index are not perfect measures of value. Neither of us are experts in most of the fields represented, and others may reasonably, or unreasonably, disagree with the value assessment. We have mapped a large set of journal categories into 17 areas.
Introduction to Microbiology
For those persons training to enter a vocational program in any number of fields, getting caught up with disciplines such as microbiology can present certain challenges. These parties will be most delighted to learn about the introductory microbiology tutorials on this website. Created by Leicester University, the tutorials include visually-stimulating (and well-formatted) reviews of prokaryote diversity, virology, and microbiology laboratory procedures. After looking over these materials, visitors can move along to the “Online Tutorials” area. Here they will find links to demonstrations of pathogens in action, virus replication, and malaria. The site is rounded out by the “LabWork” section, which includes a number of demonstration experiments that students (or instructors) can use in the laboratory. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
Language & Perfect Pitch
Why do virtually all members of some cultures have perfect pitch ability while in other cultures it is not universal? The answer has to do with language and the plasticity of infant brains. This website has annotated links to information on this issue.
Happy Birthday, Darwin!
Happy Birthday, Darwin! Are you and your students aware that Charles Darwin, the famous naturalist who provided the first coherent theory of evolution by means of natural selection, was an indifferent student and slow learner who preferred to spend hours watching birds, examining plants, and collecting seashells and insects? Join educators worldwide in celebrating Darwin Day on February 12, the anniversary of Darwin’s birthday and let his story inspire your students to study science. For a detailed description of Darwins life and work, access AboutDarwin.com. This website has an extensive database of links to education websites related to Darwin and his work. See also the American Museum of Natural History’s Darwin Exhibit, which offers an educators guide and links to evolution websites. (From NSTA)
The Brain: Teaching Modules
Annenberg Media provides free, excellent video teaching modules on the brain for college and high school classrooms and adult learners. The modules vary from 5 to 20 minutes in length and can be accessed after a brief registration process.
Access is also provided for related resources:
- The Mind: Teaching Modules
- Discovering Psychology: Updated Edition
- The World of Abnormal Psychology
- The Whole Child: A Caregiver’s Guide to the First Five Years
Computer and Information Science and Engineering
Educational CyberPlayGround Special Edition — Changing Girls’ Attitudes about Computers
A fun webpage with lots of resources on women and computers. Includes texts of articles as well as links to web resources.
Coalition for Networked Information Fall Task Force Meeting
This has abstracts and handouts for current cutting edge information technology research of great interest to libraries.
Education and Human Resources
The study of geology at the University of Colorado has a long and distinguished history, and in recent years they have also become increasingly interested in providing online teaching resources in the field.
Educators will be glad to learn about this site’s existence, as they can scroll through a list of interactive demonstrations that can be utilized in the classroom. Specifically, these demonstrations include a shaded interactive topographical map of the western United States, a magnetic field of the Earth, and several animated maps of various National Park sites. The site comes to a compelling conclusion with the inclusion of the geology department’s slide library, which can be used without a password or registration. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
GrantsNet, your one-stop resource to find funds for training in the sciences and undergraduate science education. Through the support of HHMI and AAAS, this service is completely free.
“Welcome to GrantsNet, a searchable, continuously updated, database of funding opportunities in biomedical research and science education. It contains programs that offer training and research funding for graduate and medical students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty, as well as programs in science, math, engineering, and technology for undergraduate faculty and students. Special tools and resources will help you customize your search to quickly find the information you need, keep you up to date with the latest trends in research and education funding, and give you the inside scoop on how to write winning grant applications.”
“Wings of Madness”: NOVA
“In the early 1900s, the most acclaimed celebrity in Europe, and arguably the world, was a fashionable, frail, Brazilian-born aviator named Alberto Santos-Dumont. The first to fly an airplane in Europe, Santos also built and flew the first practical dirigibles, or powered balloons. At a time when most balloons were at the mercy of the wind and many still thought the airplane an impossibility, Santos’s bold exploits sparked a sensation. He was the spiritual father of aviation, and at the same time, a flying P.T. Barnum, intrepidly demonstrating his incredible flying machines in Paris, London, New York, and St. Louis. NOVA brings to life the little-known story of one of the world’s great aviation pioneers in ‘Wings of Madness.’ ”
Here’s what you’ll find online:
- My First Balloon Ascent — Santos recalls his initial exhilarating experience among the clouds.
- Tale of the Damselfly — Santos’s most successful plane still inspires aircraft designers and buffs today.
- Tour the Demoiselle — In this audio slide show, explore a replica of a 1909 Demoiselle #20.
- Radical Designs — View influential planes of Santos’s era as well as a few odd designs that never quite made it.
Massachusetts Attorney General: Climate Change (Global Warming)
Provides press releases, fact sheets on the case and on Massachusetts global warming impacts, and links to court documents. From the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. (From Educational CyberPlayground)
World Meteorological Organization
Founded in 1950, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is one of the oldest specialized agencies of the United Nations. With information available in Arabic, English, Spanish, French, and Russian, their website brings together information on weather, climate and water that will assist researchers and members of the public interested in meteorology and related fields. From their homepage, visitors can look over drop-down menus titled “Programmes” and “Topics”. While the “Programmes” area contains more specialized information, the “Topics” section contains links to thematic pages on over four dozen areas of interest from aerosols to women in meteorology. Of course, there’s plenty of information on weather conditions themselves, and visitors should move to the “Official Weather Forecasts and Warnings” area to be redirected to the WMO’s Severe Weather Information Centre which contains a real-time interactive map of the world. As an additional suggestion, visitors should take a look at their online art gallery, which contains an exhibit that features artistic impressions of different weather conditions from around the world. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
Air Quality Movies
The Scout Report has reported on several aspects of the AIRNow website before, but this is the first time that we’ve noticed that they have a very fine selection of short movies on their website. These short films are designed for the general public, and they deal with such topics as air quality control, how ozone is formed, and a special presentation for children on ozone. The films range in length from 13 to 21 minutes, and one can imagine that these multimedia presentations could be used in a variety of classroom settings as they are quite accessible and jargon-free.
Additionally, the air quality presentation is available in Spanish, and the rest of their website is definitely worth looking over. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
A Journey Through Time
Noted photographer Frans Lanting opens the website dedicated to his most recent ambitious project with these words: “Seven years ago I stood at the tide line of an estuary and began a personal journey through time.” Auspicious words indeed, and this lovely exploration of what he found on this journey takes visitors on a “lyrical interpretation of life on Earth from its earliest beginnings to its present diversity.” As visitors click on the words “Start Journey” they will be taken through eighty six photographs which document the various physical landforms and processes from the Hawaiian Islands to the heights of the Himalayas. After clicking on each photo, visitors will be presented with an interactive timeline that locates the photo within a timeline of geologic history. Interested parties can also peruse the “More about LIFE” section to learn more about the equipment Lanting uses in his work, and how the project came to life. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
Wave That Shook the World
This program tells the minute-by-minute story of the 2004 tsunami, featuring video footage and scientific analysis of the onrushing waves that spread for 3,000 miles around the Indian Ocean basin. NOVA interviews eyewitnesses, including one of the few people who survived when a train carrying 1,500 passengers along a coastal route in Sri Lanka was swamped by the waves; and two men who videotaped the second, more destructive wave that hit their beachfront bar in Thailand. Thousands had been lulled into a false sense of security after the first wave passed. Tsunamis, however, usually consist of several waves, separated by many minutes or even hours, and the biggest can come at any time.
Here’s what you’ll find online:
Wave of the Future — What will it take to be ready for the next major tsunami?
Ask the Expert — For a week in spring 2005, tsunami expert Lori Dengler answered viewer questions about tsunamis. Check out her comprehensive responses.
Anatomy of a Tsunami — Follow the tsunami from its birth at the sea floor to its devastating collision with coasts around the Indian Ocean.
Once and Future Tsunamis — With this interactive world map, learn about nine tsunamis, and see where the next one could strike.
7:59 a.m. local time, an undersea section of the Earth’s crust slipped along a 700-mile-long fault off the coast of Sumatra, setting in motion a train of destructive waves called tsunamis that left well over 250,000 people dead or missing. In “Wave That Shook the World,” NOVA traces exactly what happened, and why.
Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Tools for Understanding
For the past seven years, Professor John Woodward and his colleagues at the University of Puget Sound have been creating materials for this unique site.
Designed as a way to bring together resources to assist mathematics teachers at a variety of skill levels, the site is divided into four primary sections. The first stop for first-time users should definitely be the “Math Concepts” area. Here, educators can learn about how to introduce spreadsheets and data tables into the curriculum. Additionally, there are subsections within this area that provide detail-oriented plans on how to integrate prime numbers, functions, and fractions into lesson plans. Perhaps the true gem on this site is the section that discusses how math teachers can use journaling to get students thinking in different and creative ways about understanding various aspects of mathematics. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
Everything you ever wanted to know about snowflakes and more … This web site is filled with gorgeous pictures of snow flakes as well as information on designer snowflakes, historic snowflakes, physics of snowflakes, and snowflake activities. Enjoy! (Thanks to Barbara Ellquist)
Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences
Grameen Bank & the Peace Prize
As founder of the Grameen Bank receives Nobel Peace Prize, the profile of microcredit lending grows
Bangladeshi Economist Claims Nobel Peace Prize [Real Player]
Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony 2006 [Windows Media Player]
Grameen [pdf, Windows Media Player]
This Sunday, the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize was formally awarded in equal parts to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank “for their efforts to create economic and social development from below.” In his remarks, Yunus commented “Grameen has given me an unshakeable faith in the creativity of human beings. This has led me to believe that human beings are not born to suffer the misery of hunger and poverty.” Over the past thirty years, Yunus and his colleagues at the Bank have championed the cause of microcredit lending. The idea behind microcredit lending is relatively simple, and it has seen its greatest application in the developing world. Essentially, it involves making small loans to people so that they can engage in any number of self-employment projects, such as selling foodstuffs or engaging in the small-scale production of goods. When the Bank was founded thirty years ago, there were many who maintained that the Bank was lending to people who would never be able to repay their small loans, much less generate a profit. While some skeptics maintain that microcredit lending may encourage national governments to focus less on providing a social service safety net, others remain adamant about the benefits of these programs. [KMG]
The first link will take users to a NPR report on Yunus and the Nobel speech he gave this past Sunday. For those whose interests are piqued by the first link, the second link leads to Nobelprize.org, where they can watch a video of the entire award ceremony. The third link leads to the homepage of the Grameen Bank. Here visitors can learn about their lending practices and philosophy and they can also find a selection of writings by Yunus. The fourth link leads to the homepage of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, which is based in Washington, DC. Moving along, the fifth link leads to a news article from Sunday’s New York Times on how various groups are using the power of the web to bring microfinancing to more and more people. Finally, the last link leads to Kiva.org, which is a web site where people can assist persons seeking a microcredit loan in making their businesses a reality. [KMG]
(From the Scout Report)
The Center for Cultural Understanding and Change
For some, the field of anthropology may seem to be most closely associated with the study of rituals and practices in social and cultural worlds that are far removed from our own. The field has always been interested in casting a critical eye upon local worlds as well, and the Center for Cultural Understanding and Change (CCUC) at the Field Museum is very interested in such work. For those who might be curious, their site contains information about their work within Chicago’s local Mexican community and another section intended to provide answers to the question, “What is diversity?” This particular section is titled “Cultural Connections”, and contains tips for educators on how to explain diversity and explore culture.
Additionally, interested visitors can also download a number of working papers from a series titled “Perspectives on Civic Activism and City Life”.
[KMG] (From the Scout Report)
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Those users who are looking for all things related to the Federal Reserve System will need to look no further than this well-designed and thorough web site. Visitors will find a number of links on the left-hand side of the homepage that will take them directly to information about monetary policy, payment systems, economic research and data, and basic consumer information.
One rather fine feature is the Beige Book, which is a report published eight times per year. In the Beige Book, users will find a collection of anecdotal reports on current economic conditions culled from interviews with key business contacts, economists, and market experts. A great deal of additional information can be obtained on the homepage, including a complete listing of recent statistical releases and information about job opportunities at the Fed. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
International Council of African Museums
For years, many museology experts knew about the vast cultural resources held within museums throughout Africa, but getting specific information about each one was difficult. In 2000, the International Council of African Museums (AFRICOM) was created, and since then, the organization’s outreach has included the creation of this web site which provides information for both museum professionals and the general public. First-time visitors will want to look over the “Heritage News” area which will give them a sense of the scope of AFRICOM’s primary activities. From there, visitors can also view past issues of AFRICOM’s newsletter and view a list of helpful external links. Finally, both the itinerant traveler and the seasoned museum scholar will appreciate the “Museums in Africa” section, which provides ample material on the various museums located throughout the continent. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
Web Experimental Psychology Lab
The Web Experimental Psychology Lab allows users to participate in a number of psychological experiments, as well as providing information about the history of the site and past experiments. This site is maintained by a single person and is quite remarkable. If you have always wanted to be a lab rat, this is the place for you!
“The Mummy Who Would Be King”
It is a tantalizing idea and an outrageous long-shot: a shriveled mummy with crossed arms that has lain neglected on a dusty museum shelf at Niagara Falls could be the remains of a long-lost Egyptian king. While a trail of clues hints at how the looted mummy made its way to North America, archeologists, scientists, and even an orthodontist look to the latest genetic testing and imaging techniques in hopes of ascertaining the body’s hidden identity. “The Mummy Who Would Be King” reveals an astounding story filled with historical intrigue and the wonders of forensic science.
Here’s what you’ll find online:
- Undiscovered Tombs — Could another crypt as rich as King Tut’s still lie buried in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings?
- Who Was Rameses I? — A man of humble origins launches one of ancient Egypt’s greatest dynasties.
- Making Mummies — In this audio slide show, witness the elaborate ritual of preparing a body for burial.
- The Afterlife — See a gallery of mummies as you read about what eternal life meant to ancient Egyptians.
and more …
IPY — International Polar Year
A concerted worldwide effort is underway to plan scientific and educational activities for the upcoming International Polar Year (IPY). Scheduled to officially begin in March 2007, IPY promises to advance our understanding of how the Earth’s remote polar regions impact global climate systems, to bring about fundamental advances in many areas of science, and to fire the enthusiasm of young men and women for future careers in science and engineering.
These websites will grow and develop as the event proceeds, but even now they include FAQ’s, a database of proposed research projects, and additional information on this important, and rare, event.
Science from the Poles
While many have asked the question, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” fewer have asked, “How do you get to the South Pole?” One way might be to complete a doctorate in ecology, but for those with a computer and a connection to the Internet, this fine site from the Exploratorium in San Francisco will do quite nicely. Designed to celebrate the start of the International Polar Year, this site includes a number of very informative webcasts that highlight the work of scientists at both the North and South Poles. On the homepage users will find a section that contains presentations on climate change, and another that focuses on the work of scientists who are currently constructing the largest telescope ever utilized in a polar region. In addition, users will also enjoy clicking on the sections that address different themes, such as “sense of place”, “ice diving”, and of course, “penguins”. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
House Hearings on the International Polar Year
“The House Committee on Science’s Subcommittee on Research today heard from researchers and climate experts on the status of the upcoming International Polar Year (IPY).
The 2007–2008 IPY with be the fourth of its kind since 1882, and will serve as the premier international cooperative research effort focused on polar regions, which are harbingers of global environmental and climate change.
‘It has become clear that understanding the physical mechanisms at work at the poles is important to understanding the evolution of global warming,’ said Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Darlene Hooley this morning. ‘This lends urgency to accelerate the research needed to unlock the secrets that control climate on a global scale.’
The hearing provided an overview on the status of planning for, and the expected outcomes of, the IPY scheduled to begin in March 2007 and cover two polar seasons (through March 2009). The Subcommittee heard from expert witnesses including the U.S. representative to the international planning committee for the IPY, the NSF Director (NSF is the lead Federal agency for U.S. support for IPY activities), and polar researchers.”
Webcast is available at the site, but be aware that the webcast starts a long time before the actual hearing starts. Be patient.
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E-VOTING CHANGES DON’T SATISFY ALL
Despite a number of changes to the oversight of electronic voting machines, critics argue that the systems remain open to bugs and mischief. In January, a voluntary program approved by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) will go into effect that covers testing and certification. Under that program, the National Institute of Standards and Technology will identify independent testing authorities (ITAs) it deems appropriate for testing electronic voting systems. Critics said that because the developers of e-voting systems will choose and pay ITAs, those organizations will be beholden to the voting system company, not to the government or to the voters. Deforest Soaries, former chairman of the EAC, said that such a conflict compromises the integrity of the program. A spokesperson from the EAC noted that the agency does not have authority to manage testing programs for e-voting systems, and he noted that developers of such systems that do not participate in the voluntary program risk being decertified by the EAC.
Internet News, 11 December 2006 (via Edupage)
MICROSOFT SET TO RELEASE TEST VERSION OF BOOK SEARCH
Microsoft is set to release a test version of its competitor to Google’s controversial book-scanning project. Unlike Google’s program, Microsoft’s Live Search Books, which goes online December 7, is only scanning out-of-copyright books or those whose copyright owners have given explicit permission. By contrast, Google is scanning in-copyright books, though only books out of copyright will be available on its site. One of the features of the Live Search Books took will allow users to access and search the full texts of books included in the program. When Microsoft’s site goes live, it will include texts from the British Library, the University of California, and the University of Toronto. Books from three other institutions will go online in early 2007.
BBC, 6 December 2006
HIGHER EDUCATION AND IBM ANNOUNCE JOINT INITIATIVE
IBM and seven universities will collaborate on research projects under the auspices of the Open Collaborative Research program, an effort launched last year by several universities and HP, Intel, Cisco, and IBM. Some academics and corporate officials believe that the current climate of innovation has become too restrictive due to growing concerns over intellectual property and commercialization of new technologies. The new initiative is intended to foster a renewed sense of cooperation between industry and academia in the areas of research and development. Elisa Bertino, computer scientist at Purdue University, said, “Universities in the United States want to protect their intellectual property but more and more see the importance of collaboration.” In addition to Purdue, other partners in the program are Carnegie Mellon; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of California, Davis; Columbia University; the Georgia Institute of Technology; and Rutgers University.
New York Times, 14 December 2006 (registration req’d) (via Edupage)
SOUTH AFRICAN SUPERCOMPUTER GOES ONLINE
Researchers in South Africa now have access to a new supercomputer at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) offices in Pretoria. Though the computer’s peak output of one teraflop pales in comparison to systems in other parts of the world, it nonetheless provides a new level of computational power to scientists studying several medical conditions that are epidemic in South Africa, including AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. The system, which was donated to the CSIR by Intel, is free of charge for researchers, who will use it to process vast amounts of data related to the structure of diseases, how they are transmitted, and the effectiveness of vaccines. Winston Hide, director of the South African National Bioinformatics Institute at the University of the Western Cape, explained the benefits of the new system by saying, “It’s like using the brightest possible search light in a cave as opposed to a torch.”
CNET, 12 December 2006 (via Edupage)
RESEARCHER’S 3-D DIGITAL STORAGE SYSTEM COULD HOLD A LIBRARY ON ONE DISC
University of Central Florida Chemistry Professor Kevin D. Belfield and his team have cracked a puzzle that stumped scientists for more than a dozen years. They have developed a new technology that will allow users to record and store massive amounts of data — the museum’s entire collection or as many as 500 movies, for example — onto a single disc or, perhaps, a small cube.
Many thanks to David D. at Net-Gold for the News Tip (From ResourceShelf)