Sci-Tech Library Newsletter

February 12, 2007

Newsletter archive > 2007 February 12 Issue

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In this issue

Can We Meet in San Francisco … ?

If you are a science librarian and will be at the AAAS Annual Conference in San Francisco this week … or if you are a science librarian in the Bay area and have Friday evening open, come to a reception for science librarians! (Conference attendance is not required! — open to any science librarians.)

Friday, February 16, 5:00 to 6:30 PM
Renaissance Parc 55, Medici

A great opportunity to network, information about how to start up your own Cafe Scientifique, and other ideas for science literacy outreach, and an animated slide show “Highlights of the Digital Library Initiative” (bring your stick drive if you want your own copy) with some of the absolutely amazing projects your sister libraries around the world have been working on …

Cafe Scientifique Arlington

Who: Electric Vehicle Experts David Goldstein and Charlie Garlow
What: The Shocking Science Behind Electric Cars
When: Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Where: The Front Page — 4201 Wilson Blvd, Arlington VA 22230
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

About the Topic: Interest in alternative fuels and in electric vehicles seems to be increasing. Are electric cars really practical? What are the economic implications? Just how long can a battery last? Come find out.

New NSF Prize Program Could Spur Innovation, says the NRC

The National Science Foundation should create an “inducement prize” program, eventually offering opportunities to vie for prizes of several million dollars, to reward scholars or other experts for finding novel solutions to scientific or technical problems, says a new National Research Council report. Such a program could help strengthen innovation in the United States.

NSF Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge: Call For Entries

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and Science created the Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge to celebrate and encourage the continued growth of science images that enlighten and inspire. In a world where science literacy is dismayingly rare, illustrations provide the most immediate and influential connection between scientists and other citizens, and the best hope for nurturing popular interest. Indeed, they are now a necessity for public understanding of research developments: In an increasingly graphics-oriented culture, where people acquire the majority of their news from TV and the World Wide Web, a story without a vivid and intriguing image is often no story at all.

Entries for 2007 are being solicited now. Science researchers and communicators are urged to to participate in this unique and inspiring competition.

Science Policy

Research Funding Falls in 2008 Budget Despite ACI Gains; Development Hits New Highs
On February 5, President Bush released his proposed budget for FY 2008. The new budget continues old themes from previous budgets with large proposed increases for the three physical sciences agencies in the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), increases for weapons development and human spacecraft development, and declining funding for the rest of the federal research and development (R&D) portfolio.

EU and US Agree to Cooperate on Environmental Research and Ecoinformatics
Under a new agreement reached on Friday, February 9th, by the European Union and the United States, scientists and researchers from both continents will be working closer together to address common environmental challenges more strategically. The Environmental Protection Agency of the United States government and the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, have agreed on an Implementing Arrangement on Environmental Research and Ecoinformatics (the science of information in ecology and environmental science), which was negotiated under the auspices of the bilateral Science and Technology Agreement between the United States and the European Union. (From EU News Brief)

President Unveils Plans for Math and Science Education
For the second year in a row math and science education were mentioned in the President’s State of the Union address to Congress, televised live on January 23. The next day a more detailed plan on the President’s plan to strengthen No Child Left Behind was released. In addition to addressing key issues such as clear the use of growth models, the Striving Readers program, and vouchers, the President called on Congress to incorporate key education components of the American Competitiveness Initiative into the reauthorization of NCLB.

More information on The No Child Left Behind Building on Results: A Blueprint for Strengthening the NCLB Act (pdf)

(From NSTA Legislative Update)

The 2007 Energy Bill
The House passed H.R.6, a bill to “reduce our Nation’s dependency on foreign oil by investing in clean, renewable, and alternative energy resources, promoting new emerging energy technologies, developing greater efficiency, and creating a Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewables Reserve to invest in alternative energy, and for other purposes.” The legislation, which shifts certain revenue from royalties and tax incentives from oil and gas companies into a reserve fund for alternative and renewable energies, has been placed on the Senate’s calendar and is awaiting a hearing. (From IEEE Eye on Washington)

U.S. Competitiveness: The Innovation Challenge
This IEEE website keeps track of who is doing what to address this issue. News and reports.

President’s FY08 Budget Critisized for Lacking Priorities and Consistency to Ensure U.S. Competitiveness
The Administration has released its annual budget request to Congress. The FY 2008 $3 trillion request includes $142.6 billion for research and development. “While the President’s budget includes some important funding increases, it lacks the priorities and consistency to ensure our competitiveness now and in the long run,” said House Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). (From IEEE Eye on Washington)

Around DC & on the Net

International Polar Year
On Feb. 26, the United States will mark the start of International Polar Year with an event hosted by the National Academies and the National Science Foundation. During the ceremony a panel of polar scientists will discuss the latest research and present an overview of expeditions to take place during IPY. There will also be remarks from government leaders whose agencies play an active role in this international effort. This event is free; registration required.

The Art of Science: Communicating With Images
Biologist and Artist Caryn Babaian
Thurs., Feb. 15, 1 p.m. — NSF Rm. 110 Free and open to the public.

About the Lecture: What do science and art have in common? Quite a lot, says this speaker. In fact, they are a natural pairing. The need to visualize is wired into humans. Scientists who are “visually literate” may actually be better scientists — or at least better communicators.

About the Speaker: Babaian is a biology teacher and textbook author who is increasingly recognized as an artist. Raised by an artist-mother and a chemist-father, she comes naturally to this unusual merging. Babaian teaches at Bucks County Community College in Newtown, PA, where she created and taught a course called “The Art of Science and Nature.” In 2006, she won 2nd place for illustration in the Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge 2006, cosponsored by NSF and AAAS. She also teaches how to use the common blackboard as a creative and visual teaching tool.

The Stern Review and the Economic Impact of Climate Change
Resources for the Future is pleased to host a special seminar on the economics of climate change featuring a discussion on the recently released Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change. Compiled by Sir Nicholas Stern, head of the United Kingdom’s Government Economics Service and adviser to the U.K. government on the economics of climate change and development, the Stern Review is the first major government-sponsored report on the economics of climate change. This technical seminar provides a rare public opportunity in the United States for members of the Stern Review team and outside experts to discuss and answer questions about the methodologies and conclusions of the Stern Review and the economic analysis of climate change more generally. One hour of the event will be dedicated to addressing questions from attendees in order to engage in a broader discussion of these issues.

When: Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Where: Kelley Auditorium
Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW (one block east of Dupont Circle)
Washington, D.C.

Please RSVP to Scott Hase, by sending your contact details in an email to

Upcoming EDUCAUSE Webcast: The Information Commons and the Future of Innovation, Scholarship, and Creativity
Gigi Sohn, President and Founder of Public Knowledge, will be the featured speaker on February 15, 2007 1:00 p.m. ET (12:00 p.m. CT, 11:00 a.m. MT, 10:00 a.m. PT); runs one hour. Registration required. Free. Archive will be available after the event. “This seminar will discuss how intellectual property law and communications policy affect competition, innovation, creativity, and free speech. Gigi B. Sohn will discuss current policy debates before Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the U.S. Copyright Office that could impact these values and the higher education community.”

Darwin Day: Forum on Teaching Evolution in the Classroom
Date: Monday, February 12, 2007
Location: Koshland Science Museum
Time: 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Cost: Free
Age Range: Middle and High School Teachers
Celebrate International Darwin Day at a free event especially for middle and high school teachers.

At this forum for middle and high school teachers, participants will have the opportunity to speak with researchers and educators about how current research on microbial evolution can be used to support the teaching of evolution in the classroom. Participants will receive take home resources from the National Academies, the Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, and more.

The AMS Environmental Science Seminar Series presentation “Multiple Lines of Evidence: The Scientific Case for Global Warming and its Causation” is now available on the ESSS Archive website.

The Next Seminar is tentatively scheduled for February 28, 2007. Tentative Topic: Abrupt Climate Changes: Droughts and Ocean Circulation Changes. This seminar series is open to the public and does not require a reservation.

Climate Engineering: Aladdin’s Lamp or Pandora’s Box?
The Keck Center of the National Academies
500 Fifth St., N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Scientists and citizens alike are concerned about our ability to curb greenhouse gas emissions and the serious implications of global warming. At this public seminar, panelists will discuss whether climate engineering (a.k.a. geoengineering) offers a potential solution to global warming and whether future research should explore the possibility.

Engineering the Mind: Are We Ready for Implantable Brain Devices?
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
12:30–2:00 PM
Keck 100 Conference Room

Implantable brain devices are beginning to take a place in modern medicine. In the future, computer chips that link with neurons could restore communication, movement, sight, and mental acuity to people with serious brain injuries and disabilities. However, some fear the potential use of implantable brain chips to augment normal function, predicting negative sociological and psychological consequences.

Spinach in the Hot Spot: Should We Irradiate Our Food?
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
12:30–2:00 PM
Keck 100 Conference Room

The recent E. coli scare in spinach has drawn the public’s attention to food safety and handling practices. In response, some have proposed irradiation as a means to counter foodborne illness.

Teachers: Free NSDL/NSTA Web Seminar: Small Creatures Under the Microscope
on Feb. 20 with the Exploratorium
Learn how to get free activities developed by educators and scientists from the Exploratorium, also available in the National Science Digital Library. This seminar will feature exhibit-based hands-on activities and digital images taken from the Exploratorium’s Microscope Imaging Station exhibit. Get your questions answered by Exploratorium staff members Dr. Kristina Yu, a microscopist, Dr. Karen Kalumuck, a biologist and educator with the Exploratorium’s Teacher Institute, and Dr. Sherry Hsi, learning technologist. Register today!

National Capital Area Brain Bee
Date: Thursday, February 15, 2007
Location: National Academies Keck Center, 500 Fifth Street, NW
Time: 4:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Cost: Free
Age Range: Students and teachers, grades 9–12

Test your knowledge of neuroscience at the National Capital Area Brain Bee, a live Q & A competition for high school students. Open to students in grades 9–12, participants vie for cash prizes and the opportunity to participate in the International Brain Bee Championship. Cash prizes include: $250 to the winner; $150 to the first runner-up; and, $100 to the second runner-up. The winner will compete in the International Brain Bee at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, March 12–18, 2007. Schools may send two student representatives to take part in the competition. Friends, family, and teachers are welcome to attend and cheer on participating students. Free refreshments will be provided.

For more information about the National Capital Area Brain Bee and Brain Awareness Week, and to register, contact Karen Graham at 202-408-8800 or The registration deadline for participation is February 1, 2007. All questions will come from the Brain Facts resource book.

Research Channel
It’s quite a hike to listen to a lecture at Princeton and then take a long plane ride (or an even longer journey on a cruise ship) over to the University of Hawaii to hear a talk on globalization in the Pacific Rim. Never fear, gentle reader, as the Research Channel website is here. The Research Channel organization has been in existence since 1996, and with over 70 participating members, they have created this website to provide access to a prodigious array of talks, conferences, lectures, and so on. Visitors to the site can go ahead and get their feet wet by just joining their programming in progress at the Now Playing link, or they can look over some of their 3000 titles currently available for viewing. If all of this seems a bit overwhelming, one can just take a look at some of their newer programs, which have included presentations from Texas A&M University on using general chemistry principles and a talk by the Nigerian ambassador to the United States on oil production and drug trafficking. Finally, visitors can also sign up to receive their monthly electronic newsletter, Think Forward! [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

“Doomsday Clock” Moves Two Minutes Closer To Midnight
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists — January 17, 2007 press release: “Doomsday Clock” Moves Two Minutes Closer To Midnight. Stephen Hawking: “As scientists, we understand the dangers of nuclear weapons and their devastating effects, and we are learning how human activities and technologies are affecting climate systems in ways that may forever change life on Earth. As citizens of the world, we have a duty to alert the public to the unnecessary risks that we live with every day, and to the perils we foresee if governments and societies do not take action now to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change.” The Bulletin Online Special Issue, Volume 63, Number 1, January—February 2007 has articles by Robert H. Socolow, Freeman Dyson, Jonathan Schell, Najum Mushtaq, John P. Holdren and others. In What Can We Do? (pdf) four experts suggest solutions for dealing with climate change: increase renewable energy production, stop wasting energy, employ market incentives, and find a political will. See also It’s five minutes to Armageddon, and Hawking tells the world to wake up by Mark Henderson, [London] Times Online, January 17, 2007. (From Digital Librarian)

Growing Pains — Transitioning to a Sustainable Energy Economy
In this final program from Soap Box series on energy, Heywood makes a strong case for energy conservation, while Ansolabehere sees barriers to change in a world that still sees energy and abundant and cheap.

John B. Heywood, Sun Jae Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director, Sloan Automotive Laboratory Co-Director, Lab for 21st Century Energy
Stephen Ansolabehere, Elting R. Morison Professor of Political Science

Jeffrey Bezos, Founder and CEO of
“Here’s a dirty secret: Up to 70% of the time, energy and dollars for web scale applications goes into undifferentiated, heavy lifting, infrastructure. I call this heavy lifting muck. The thing about muck, you have to do it at the highest quality level.” Jeff Bezos returns to MIT with an array of new web scale computing services, including Mechanical Turk, Simple Storage Service and Elastic Compute Cloud.

New E-Books and Reports

Atmosphere of Pressure: Political Interference in Federal Climate Science. Union of Concerned Scientists, 2007.

Overcoming the barriers to research productivity: a case study in immunology and microbiology. Ian Rowlands and Rene Olivieri. PRC, 2006.

Hurricane warning: the critical need for a national hurricane research initiative. National Science Board, 2007.

Horizon report 2007. New Media Consortium, 2007. (New education technologies likely to make a tangible impact).

2006 U.S. Ocean Policy Report Card. Joint Ocean Commission Initiative, 2007.

Charting the Course for Ocean Science in the United States for the Next Decade. National Science and Technology Council’s Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology, 2007.

Industrial Funding of Academic R&D Rebounds in FY 2005. NSF Infobrief, 2007.

America’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs. Duke Univ, Pratt School of Engineering, 2007.

Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond. NAP, 2007.

Design measures to promote growth of young research-intensive SMEs and start-ups. EU, 2006.

Climate Risk Disclosure by the S&P 500. Ceres/Calvert, 2007.

The European Community’s initial report under the Kyoto Protocol, v.1. EU, 2007.

Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology for Health. EU, 2006.

World Energy Technology Outlook. EU, 2006.

Measuring ion current ratios on CO2. EU, 2006.

Information society and agriculture & rural development. EU, 2006.

The state and prospects of European energy research. EU, 2006.

Implementing the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants: Summary of a Workshop in China (Series: Strengthening Science-Based Decision Making in Developing Countries). NAP, 2007.

Tuna in Trouble: Major Problems for the World’s Tuna Fisheries. World Wildlife Fund, 2007.

Rewarding Provider Performance: Aligning Incentives in Medicare (Pathways to Quality Health Care Series). NAP, 2007.

Preventing Teen Motor Crashes: Contributions from the Behavioral and Social Sciences: Workshop Report. NAP, 2007

Review of the Space Communications Program of NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate. NAP, 2007.

Protecting Wisconsin’s Waters: Better Oversight of Development is Necessary to Prevent Runoff Pollution. American Rivers, 2007.

Impacts Assessment of Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles on Electric Utilities and Regional U.S. Power Grids. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, 2007.

Quantifying the Efficiency and Equity Implications of Power Plant Air Pollution Control Strategies in the United States. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2007.

Marine Biodiversity: Hotspots in the UK. World Wildlife Fund, 2007.

Green Schools: Attributes for Health and Learning. NAP, 2006.

Improving Disaster Management: The Role of IT in Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery (prepublication). NAP, 2007.

Innovation Inducement Prizes at the National Science Foundation (prepublication). NAP, 2007.

Siting Nuclear Power Plants in Australia: Where would they go? Australia Institute, 2007.

Who Wants a Nuclear Power Plant: Support for nuclear power in Australia. Australia Institute, 2007.

Scientific Review of the Proposed Risk Assessment Bulletin from the Office of Management and Budget (prepublication) (2007). NAP, 2007.

Growing The Nation’s Biotech Sector: A Regional Perspective. Biotechnology Industry Organization/ Batelle, 2007

Brownfield Issues in the 110th Congress. CRS, 2007.

Climate Change: The Kyoto Protocol and International Actions. CRS, 2007.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Legislation in the 110th Congress. CRS, 2007.

Polar Bears: Listing Under the Endangered Species Act. CRS, 2007.

Power Marketing Administrations: Background and Current Issues. CRS, 2007.

Royalty Relief for U.S. Deepwater Oil and Gas Leases. CRS, 2007.

Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewables Reserve Fund in the CLEAN Energy Act. CRS, 2007.

The Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewables Reserve in the CLEAN Energy Act of 2007 (H.R. 6). CRS, 2007.

Assessment of Millimeter-Wave and Terahertz Technology for Detection and Identification of Concealed Explosives and Weapons (prepublication). NAP, 2007.

Base Map Inputs for Floodplain Mapping (prepublication). NAP, 2007.

Frontiers of Engineering: Reports on Leading-Edge Engineering from the 2006 Symposium. NAP, 2007.

Improving the Efficiency of Engines for Large Nonfighter Aircraft (prepublication). NAP, 2007.

Interim Report on Methodological Improvements to the Department of Homeland Security’s Biological Agent Risk Analysis. NAP, 2007.

Wilderness Laws: Permitted and Prohibited Uses. CRS, 2007.

Interesting Websites and News

Amazon Pipeline

As the initial construction of a massive gas pipeline begins in Brazil, a number of groups remain concerned about the effects

Vast Pipelines in Amazon Face Challenges Over Protecting Rights and Rivers [Free registration may be required]

Threatened Amazon tribes fight against the odds

Indigenous Peoples in Brazil [Macromedia Flash Player]

Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries [Macromedia Flash Player, pdf]

Woods Hole Research Center: Amazon Ecology Program [pdf]

Alyeska Pipeline [pdf]

Twenty-one years ago, Brazil’s state-controlled oil company discovered a major source of gas and oil around Urucu, which sits in the Amazon. After two decades of dealing with a substantial amount of opposition, the company (with the approval of the Brazilian government) appears poised to begin construction on the 400-mile pipeline which will bring the gas to the city of Manaus. As might be imagined, a number of challenges confronted the project, not the least of which was the potential long-term environmental impact on the region. Over the past several years, a number of residents of the state of Amazonas have been promised a wide-range of economic benefits, which has diffused certain factions who have opposed the project. Brazil, like many other rapidly developing countries, is looking for a wide range of energy sources, and in the past they have embraced hydroelectric projects on a vast scale. The pipeline is supposed to provide the impetus for a number of related economic development projects, including a plant that will process an Amazon fruit, which is used as a health beverage, and a factory designed to produce organic fibers. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a piece that appeared in this week’s New York Times, and which offers some background on both the pipeline and some of the larger concerns about the project. The second link leads to a fine article which appeared online this Tuesday in the Indian Country News.

Written by Jim Adams, the article talks about the ways in which indigenous groups in the Amazon have successfully fought to maintain control of the region in which they live. The third link leads to an online encyclopedia of information about the indigenous peoples of Brazil, created by the Instituto Socioambiental. Given the increasing importance of the flows of petroleum around the world, the fourth link offered may be of great interest, as it leads to the homepage of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The fifth link will take users to the Woods Hole Research Center’s Amazon Ecology program homepage, where those who are so inclined can learn about the future of the region and also consider some of the Center’s informative and educational material. Finally, the last link leads to the homepage of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, where visitors can learn about how the pipeline works. [KMG]

(From the Scout Report)

Windows to the Universe
“Windows to the Universe is a user-friendly learning system covering the Earth and Space sciences for use by the general public. Windows to the Universe has been in development since 1995. Our goal is to build an internet site that includes a rich array of documents, including images, movies, animations, and data sets, that explore the Earth and Space sciences and the historical and cultural ties between science, exploration, and the human experience. Our site is appropriate for use in libraries, museums, schools, homes, and the workplace. Students and teachers may find the site especially helpful in their studying (and teaching!) Earth and Space sciences. Because we have users of all ages, the site is written in three reading levels approximating elementary, middle school and high school reading levels. These levels may be chosen by using the upper button bar of each page of the main site.”

Intute Web Directory
Intute is a free online service providing you with access to the very best Web resources for education and research. The service is created by a network of UK universities and partners. Subject specialists select and evaluate the websites in our database and write high quality descriptions of the resources.

Sea turtles are fascinating creatures, and they have a lovely online home here at the Seaturtle website. It is an ambitious site that contains everything from the latest scientific research on seaturtles to a blend of materials designed for the more casual visitor as well. From the homepage, visitors can read the Marine Turtle Newsletter, view recent news headlines about these animals, and also view updated announcements about job opportunities in the field of marine animal research and advocacy. The Tracking section is a true gem, as visitors can look at an interactive map that shows the location of tagged sea turtles and also learn more about the status of sea turtles who are in marine hospitals. Additionally,the Multimedia area contains some find podcasts that deal with sea turtle conservation efforts and rehabilitation. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Macaulay Library Sound & Video Catalog
This site allows visitors to hear sound clips, view videos, and see visualizations of animal sounds. Includes clips of thousands of sounds for approximately two-thirds “of the world’s birds, and rapidly increasing holdings of insects, fish, frogs, and mammals.” Searchable by common or scientific name, location, recording date, and other items. Some features require free software downloads. From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)

Memories …
BBC 4 brings you this website about memory, with new stories, a test for your memory abilities, a survey, techniques for improving you memory, and more …

Medicine by Design
Medicines by Design explains how scientists unravel the many different ways medicines work in the body and how this information guides the hunt for drugs of the future. Learn about the science of pharmacology, how drugs work in the body, and recent research developments. (National Institute of General Medical Sciences) (From EdInfo)

The Last Great Ape
With its intelligent gaze, humanlike posture, and peaceful nature, it’s no wonder the bonobo, one of five great apes, reminds us of ourselves. But while we share a common hominoid ancestor with bonobos as well as 98 percent of our DNA, this unique primate has been largely overlooked by all but a few scientists. Bonobos live in a region that has been consumed by war, which threatens their habitat and survival. Can we learn more about these intriguing, intelligent apes before it’s too late? By interviewing leading experts and traveling into the field, NOVA shines a spotlight on the extraordinary behavior of the endangered bonobo.

Here’s what you will find online:

  • The Bonobo in All of Us — Primatologist Frans de Waal on what the “make-love-not-war” primate tells us about ourselves
  • Read My Lips — See a slide show of bonobo gestures and facial expressions, and find out what they mean.
  • Kanzi the Bonobo — In this audio slide show, researcher Sue Savage-Rumbaugh describes one extraordinarily linguistic ape.
  • Our Family Tree — See (and hear) where you stand among the great apes in this audiovisual interactive.

Also Links & Books, a video preview of the program, the program transcript, and more …

Computer and Information Science and Engineering

On a Rescue Mission Using Shared Technology and Resources
Jim Gray, winner of the 1998 ACM Turing Award and head of Microsoft Research’s eScience Group went missing in his 40-foot sailboat on January 28. In an inspirational demonstration of the sometimes very personal nature of distributed computing, friends, former students and colleagues mounted an unprecedented effort to quickly sort through 100,000 satellite images looking for traces of him and his boat. The search has since been called off. “Coast Guard officials said they had never before seen such a concerted, technically creative effort carried out by friends and family of a missing sailor.” — Katie Hafner, “Silicon Valley’s High Tech Hunt for Colleague,” New York Times. Feb 3, 2007 (From NSDL Whiteboard)

Education and Human Resources

EngineerGirl Contest 2007
Every year the NAE and the EngineerGirl! website sponsor a essay contest for pre-college students. The topics chosen for the contest highlight the positive impact of engineering on the world. The 2007 Essay Contest is on Engineering’s Grand Challenges and is open to students from the 6th through 12th grades. It encourages them to think deeply about the Grand Challenges of the 21st century and highlights NAE’s Grand Challenges for Engineering effort. Learn more about NAE’s Grand Challenges for Engineering.

What Works: Elementary School Math
“Education Week is reporting that the federal What Works Clearinghouse has issued the first four reviews of elementary math programs and only Everyday Mathematics, published by Wright Group/McGraw-Hill, was deemed to have potentially positive effects on achievement as compared to competitors.” (From NSTA).

“The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) review of this topic focuses on math curricula designed for use in elementary schools with attention to student outcomes related to math achievement. Elementary school math curricula are math programs that specify clear learning goals for students; extend over the course of a semester or more; are central to students’ regular instruction; and are based on text materials, manipulatives, computer software, videotapes, other materials, or any combination thereof. Closely related programs such as supplemental math programs, and instructional practices such as computer-assisted instruction, may be addressed in future WWC reviews, but are not included in the current review.”


Thinking Out Loud: Buckminster Fuller
“Whenever I draw a circle, I immediately want to step out of it.” So said R. Buckminster Fuller, who, for the better part of the 20th century, went where no man had gone before as the maverick captain of the planet he called “Spaceship Earth.” An architect, designer, engineer, poet, philosopher, author and global iconoclast, Fuller was a true visionary, a Renaissance man best remembered as creator of the geodesic dome. As part of its 10th anniversary celebration, AMERICAN MASTERS profiles “Bucky” Fuller, the man who has been called a 20th century Da Vinci, a modern Ben Franklin, and a jet-age Emerson.

Grand Challenges For Engineering
Where will the next great ideas in engineering come from? What will they be? These are but a few of the excellent and thoughtful questions being asked as part of the Grand Challenges For Engineering initiative. Sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), this website is part of their effort to solicit opinions on this material from engineering experts and members of the scientific community. Visitors to the site can learn about members of the initiative’s committee and also learn about some of the innovations that the panel is already thinking about, such as the challenges of landing on Mars. In the Hopes section, visitors can read several essays, including one from President Jimmy Carter on his own thoughts on future challenges in this area of human endeavor. It is also worth noting that visitors can offer their own opinions on all of the material here, and that comments are moderated along the way. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

“Crash of Flight 111”
On September 2nd, 1998, Swissair Flight 111 plummeted into the sea off Nova Scotia while en route from New York to Geneva. All 229 people on board were killed. In May 2003, Canada’s Transportation Safety Board published its final conclusions from an investigation that took more than four years and cost $39 million. NOVA’s cameras were there from the beginning, revealing the inside story of one of the most baffling and intricate aviation investigations ever mounted.

Here’s what you’ll find online:

  • Wireless Black Boxes — Should airlines transmit flight and cockpit data to ground stations in real time?
  • Dissection of a Disaster — A veteran air-safety reporter turns an insider’s eye on the Flight 111 investigation.
  • Making Air Travel Safer — Shocking as they are, major crashes lead to important safety improvements.
  • Anatomy of a Jetliner — Look under the floorboards, above the ceiling, and inside the wings at a jet’s sophisticated internal systems.

Also, an update on new FAA regulations in response to the crash of Swissair 111, Links & Books, a video preview of the program, the program transcript, and a teacher’s guide.

Ask an Engineer
In celebration of 2007 Engineers Week and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, the NAE has launched an “Ask an Engineer” activity on the website EngineerGirl! Girls and boys can select from a list of women engineers in a variety of disciplines who have signed on to answer their questions during the month of February. For students who may not know any practicing engineers this is a great opportunity to find out more about the profession. Responses to questions will be posted along with the profiles of the women engineers answering the questions.


Ice Volcanoes of Lake Superior’s South Shore
“Ice volcanoes commonly occur during the winter months along the north shore of Lake Superior. Cones begin to form at the leading edge of the ice shelf as it builds out into the lake. When the waves, driven by strong onshore winds, feel bottom they build and break onto the ice shelf. After the ice shelf has built out, waves continue to travel underneath the ice and are forced up through cracks and previously formed cones.”

This website includes information about ice volcanoes along with images.

AIM: Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere
“The AIM satellite mission will explore Polar Mesospheric Clouds (PMCs). The overall goal of the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) experiment is to resolve why Polar Mesospheric Clouds (PMCs) form and why they vary. By measuring PMCs and the thermal, chemical and dynamical environment in which they form, we will quantify the connection between these clouds and the meteorology of the polar mesosphere. In the end, this will provide the basis for study of longterm variability in the mesospheric climate and its relationship to global change.”

Reports from a Warming Planet
Never afraid to take on controversial topics, American RadioWorks has recently released this special report on the early signs of climate change. For this particular report, they brought together a team of eleven young reporters who were led by noted environmental journalist Sandy Tolan. Their assignment was to identify different places around the world where global warming was making changes to both life and landscape. Visitors to the site can listen to the entire radio documentary, or they can also read about some of the individual locations profiled in this presentation. Some of these areas include the fabled snows of Kilimanjaro, the island of Tuvalu in the Pacific Ocean, and the town of Churchill in Upper Manitoba, which has been known as The Polar Bear Capital of the World for decades. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

Mid-American Earthquake Center
Understanding earthquakes is a complex process, and the Mid-America Earthquake Center is one of three national earthquake engineering research centers set up to work on a variety of approaches to a broad set of related scientific concerns. Based at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, the Center consists of a consortium of nine core institutions and is funded by the National Science Foundation. The Center’s primary work is within four areas, including information technology and consequence-based risk management frameworks. Recognizing that they serve a broad range of visitors to their website, the Center has established a number of informative introductions on their homepage for the general public, potential industry partners, members of the press, and K–12 educators. While a number of visitors may be interested in their technical reports and software packages, most visitors will want to look over the graduate and undergraduate teaching modules, which will be of great use to educators in the engineering and geophysical sciences and their students. Additionally, the Center’s site provides access to a number of informative webcasts, including presentations on seismic performances of bridges. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

Mathematical and Physical Sciences

ComPADRE Offers Physicists for “Adoption” by High School Classes
Why did you become a physicist?
Do you enjoy mac and cheese?
How does particle physics contribute to advances in the United States?

This is a small sample of questions that high school students asked physicists in the new Adopt-a-Physicist program, hosted by NSDL Physics and Astronomy Pathway comPADRE, and run by the American Physical Society. Classes participating in this first session “adopted” up to three physicists for a three-week period and used online discussion forums to talk with them about life, careers, research projects, and apparently mac and cheese. The program aims to expose students to the range of careers in physics, advance relations between the physics and education communities, and introduce physicists and teachers to the comPADRE network.

Nearly 100 physicists from across the United States and 45 high school classes from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Philippines participated in the first session, exchanging over 3,450 posts. “I was just impressed with the overall exchange of information between the students and physicists,” said one participating teacher. “I was quite moved at how much care so many folks were taking over their responses and how enthusiastic many of the students were,” said another.

You can read these conversations by logging into with a comPADRE login and clicking on “Forums.” (From NSDL Whiteboard)

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives
National Library of Virtual Manipulatives provides interactive online math lessons, activities, and assessments. Topics include fractions, functions, geometric transformations, integer arithmetic, patterns and sequences, probability, right triangle trigonometry, slope, triangle geometry, and writing equations of lines. Calculate what an excavation company should charge for digging a hole. Analyze three pollution reduction plans. Determine the best rate for repaying a loan. (Utah State University, supported by National Science Foundation) (From EdInfo)

Alien Earths
Alien Earths examines the formation of stars and planets and the quest for a habitable planet. Create a virtual a community of microorganisms. Build the perfect solar system. See how planets react with one another, and how some planets help keep our solar system stable. Look at images: can recognize life? (Space Science Institute, supported by Multiple Agencies) (From EdInfo)

General Chemistry I Digital Lecture Material
Dr. Mark Ott, a professor at Jackson Community College in Wyoming, has created a set of compelling screencasts and accompanying audio tracks that are designed to complement his general chemistry lectures. Visitors can look over these materials at their leisure, and they will find very well-thought out lessons that cover such topics as unit conversion, molecular formulae, balancing chemical equations, and ionic and covalent bonding. All of these materials are lucid and might be used both by students who are becoming more acquainted with the world of chemistry, or by educators who might be seeking to assist their students in the learning process. These learning modules are available here in either the Flash format or via Google video. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

Forgotten Genius
“Forgotten Genius” is a fascinating and largely unknown story of scientific triumph and racial inequality. In this special two-hour presentation, NOVA covers the extraordinary life journey of Percy Julian, one of the great chemists of the 20th century. Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson stars as Julian. Actor Courtney B. Vance narrates. Through dramatic period re-enactments, archival footage, and interviews with those who knew him best, Julian’s science and gripping biography come to life onscreen.

Here’s what you’ll find on the companion Web site:

  • Watch the Program — Starting the day after air, view the entire program online.
  • Julian the Trailblazer — His example inspired dozens of black chemists to realize their dreams.
  • Do We Need Julian Today? — Chemist Donna Nelson, an expert on racism in science, weighs in.
  • The Producer’s Story — Making “Forgotten Genius” became as much preserving a legacy as creating a film.
  • Career Milestones — A time line of Percy Julian’s most notable achievements in chemistry
  • Julian Speaks — Hear Percy Julian himself in these audio excerpts from a 1965 speech.
  • Those Who Knew Him — Listen in as six people who were close to Julian recount stories of his life and struggles.
  • Nature’s Pharmacy — In this slide show, see wild species that gave rise to penicillin, morphine, and other medications.
  • Build a Steroid — Follow the steps a chemist takes to synthesize a disease-fighting drug.

Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

Government Innovators Network
Since its first review in the Scout Report almost ten years ago, the Government Innovators Network has grown exponentially, and remains a delightful example of the power of well-organized web portals. Produced by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, this website is a marketplace of ideas and examples of government innovation. From their homepage, visitors can take advantage of this buzzing marketplace by looking over some of their recent news stories, a What’s New feature, and their general topic list. Within each topic, visitors will be directed to another list of subtopics, which includes a listing of relevant policy documents, events, and news stories. Finally, visitors can also sign up to receive their newsletter, titled Innovators Insights, and also view multimedia features on faith-based housing developments and woman leaders in criminal justice [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

Open Context for OA Data in Archaeology
Open Context, a free, open access resource for the electronic publication of primary field research from archaeology and related disciplines. Open Context provides an integrated framework for users to search, explore, analyze, compare and tag items from diverse field projects and collections.

Open Context’s name emphasizes the system’s free and open access and its power to deliver content from a wide array of disciplines. The community of users builds and enriches Open Context’s content by sharing their research data and collections. The community can also add value by tagging the content in the system. Open Context hopes to make archaeological and releated datasets far more accessible and usable through common web-based tools. No special software or skills will be required to explore, search, and analyze data pooled from diverse research projects. All the content in Open Context is openly available for researchers, students, and the public to explore, use, and reuse.

Part of the purpose of Open Context is to test new features and methods for building online communities actively participating in data sharing. Because Open Context is built on relatively simple, yet effective, back end server technologies (PHP and MySQL), it works as an ideal platform for rapid development and testing of new tools and data dissemination approaches. The experience gained by working with Open Context and its user community will provide valuable guidance for development efforts (including future APIs) of OCHRE and other digital repository systems.

BIAS, is based at Imperial College, London, and is a node of the Economic and Social Research Council’s National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM). The project aims to “develop a set of statistical frameworks for combining data from multiple sources and improve the capacity of social science methods to handle the intricacies of observational data”. The website includes information on relevant training courses and materials, research publications (some of which is available in full text) and links to downloadable software, such as R and WinBUGS. (From INTUTE)

The Science of Love
Do you lose your mind when you give your heart away? Find out what’s happening to you with the science of love. This is a fun website from BBC just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Key points:

  • Audio: love at first sight
  • The three stages of love
  • The science of flirting
  • What makes you fancy someone?
  • Does love drive you mad?
  • Sensual signals
  • Quiz: can you match the couples?
  • Vote: do you believe in love at first sight?

Southern Oral History Program
Since the rise of interest in social history in the United States, a number of academics and public citizens have remained committed to preserving the voices and perspectives of everyday people. The Southern Oral History Program (SOHP) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a rather fine example of such a commitment. Founded in 1973, the SOHP has recorded over 2900 interviews with people from all walks of life, and their website contains a generous sampling of this material. First-time visitors may wish to start by watching “Spoken Memories”, which provides a nice introduction to the history and work of SOHP. Afterwards, they can sample some of the online audio archives, or listen to the “Interview of the Month” feature. For those who wish to read as they listen, the interviews are complemented by transcripts in several different file formats. Visitors should also feel welcome to browse through the online finding aid to the SOHP’s collection and offer their own feedback or inquiries. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)

Secrets of Egypt (National Geographic)
Description: Explore the pyramids of ancient Egypt through diagrams, photos, and facts; plus get related links, kids content, news stories, and more. Read the journal of a writer who spent 4 days exploring ancient sites. Interactive features include Treasures of Egypt (photos, e-postcards), At the Tomb of Tutankhamun, Mysteries of Egypt Movie Preview, How to Make a Mummy. There are also games and standards-based lessons for grades K—12. (From Blue Web’N)

Polar Programs

“Arctic Passage: Ice Survivor”
The greatest geographical prize of its day was the search for the fabled Northwest Passage through the island maze of Arctic Canada. In 1845, Great Britain mounted an all-out assault with a lavishly equipped expedition that was never heard from again. Then in the early 1900s, a little-known Norwegian adventurer set forth in a secondhand fishing boat and succeeded beyond all expectation. This two-hour special answers the riddle of why Sir John Franklin’s mission failed and Roald Amundsen’s made it.

Here’s what you’ll find on the companion Web site:

  • Future of the Passage — Will rapid Arctic melting turn the Northwest Passage into a busy shipping route?
  • Franklin’s Provisions — Tinned meat: 33,289 lbs. Peas: 147 bushels. Chocolate: 9,450 lbs. — see the supplies that could not sustain, and may even have doomed, the expedition.
  • Norway’s Reluctant Hero — In this interview, historian Roland Huntford argues that Amundsen’s Norwegian heritage had everything to do with his polar firsts.
  • My Life As an Explorer — Learn about Roald Amundsen from the man himself, in these excerpts from his autobiography.
  • Remnants of an Expedition — Franklin expert Russell Potter narrates this audio slide show of artifacts from the lost expedition.
  • Tracing the Routes — In this interactive map, follow the Franklin and Amundsen expeditions—and see how one collapsed while the other thrived.
  • The Note in the Cairn — Read the original version of the final messages left by Franklin’s desperate men.
  • Igloo 101 — Take our quiz on Inuit snow shelters, and find out if you know enough to build one yourself.

World Glacier Monitoring Service
The World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) collects standardised observations on changes in mass, volume, area and length of glaciers with time (glacier fluctuations), as well as statistical information on the distribution of perennial surface ice in space (glacier inventories). Such glacier fluctuation and inventory data are high priority key variables in climate system monitoring; they form a basis for hydrological modelling with respect to possible effects of atmospheric warming, and provide fundamental information in glaciology, glacial geomorphology and quaternary geology. The highest information density is found for the Alps and Scandinavia, where long and uninterrupted records are available.

The Winner! The Aurora Borealis
Voting has now finished in the BBC News annual photo competition. The winner chosen by readers was Max Pickering’s stunning picture of the aurora borealis inside the Arctic Circle in northern Finland. Wow!

Postcards from the Field: Antarctica
“In December 2006 and January 2007, the Penguin Science research team, lead by Dr. David Ainley, will be in Antarctica researching Adelie Penguins and how they are coping with climate change, as well as making a documentary film about the research. Educator Jean Pennycook will be sending periodic virtual postcards to Windows to the Universe describing her experience with the science and Antarctica. Take a look below for her first-hand reports of what it is like to be with the Adelie Penguins in Antarctica. Check back often! New postcards will be posted as they are sent to the site.”

Inter Alia

Hearts for Valentine’s Day — from the BBC

Check out Leonardo Da Vinci’s incredible heart sketches

Did you know there’s a heart on Mars? This lovely depression is 2.3 kilometres wide, and is technically known as a ‘graben’.

And, finally, a 5000 year old embrace