Sci-Tech Library Newsletter
October 11, 2007
NOTE: To subscribe to the SciTech Library Newsletter list, simply send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the text of your message, put the phrase “subscribe sci-tech_lib_news”. Do not add a signature to your message. Or contact email@example.com.
In this issue
- Give Me Five Minutes More …: What can I find out about a reviewer in 5 minutes using Web of Science?
- New E-Books and Documents
- Science Policy
- Around DC and on the Net
- Interesting Web Sites and News: Science Puzzles • Library Use Value Calculator • Patent Lens • Biology: California Condor • Butterflies and Moths of North America • NIH Launches Extensive Open-Access Dataset of Genetic and Clinical Data • Listen: Making Sense of Sound • Computer and Information Science and Engineering: IBM technology that translates spearch into British Sign Language (BSL) • Education and Human Resources: NAEP Mathematics • Engineering: Ship breaking continues unabated in certain parts of the world • Safe Drinking Water • Geosciences: Climate Change Experiment Results • Making Fossils • Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Sputnik’s Anniversary and Impact • Little Shop of Physics: Online Experiments
Give Me Five Minutes More …
Many of the tools provided by your library are increasingly powerful and elegant as time goes by. You may have used these tools for years, but still not be aware of what they can do for you. I looked at just one tool, Web of Science, to see how much I could find out about a potential reviewer with only 5 minutes of effort. Here is what I got:
- List of publications from the last 4 years. This one isn’t surprising. Just limit your search to the latest 4 years and do an author search. In order to make sure you have the correct author, use the easy, user-friendly “Author Finder” path. I chose the author “MA Resnick”, who has published 20 papers from 2003 – 2007.
- Any review articles published? By limited the document type of my search results to “Review” I find he has published 1 review article. I know that generally folks writing review articles are well known in their field.
- Who are his co-authors? If I analyze my author search by “Author” I am presented with a neat list of all his co-authors for this time period, including how many papers he has authored with each.
- With which institutions is he associated by co-authorship? Again, use the “Analyze” feature and choose “Institution”.
- Has he been involved in any international collaborations? Use the “Analyze” feature and choose “Country/Territory”.
- In which journals has he published? Use the “Analyze” feature and choose “Source Title”
- How frequently is the body of his work cited? From your author search results screen, choose the “Citation Report” button. It will show you his cumulated citation record over the period of time chosen, and also a break down of the citation history for each of the publications in that time period.
- Is his publication rate steady or variable over time? Again, the “Citation Report” button will bring you a graph of the number of papers published each year in the chosen time period.
- What is his current contact information? If I choose the most recent record in my search results it will display the mailing addresses of all authors at the time of publication. It will most often have e-mail links for the reprint authors as well.
This is a huge amount of information to cull in a mere 5 minutes from a single information tool!
New E-Books and Documents
Congress Earmarks 2008 R&D Dollars. AAAS, 2007.
Towards an Open Source Repository and Preservation System: Recommendations on the Implementation of an Open Source Digital Archival and Preservation System and on Related Software Development. by Kevin Bradley, Junran Lei, and Chris Blackall. Paris: UNESCO, 2007.
Biosocial Surveys. NAP, 2007.
The Future of Disability in America (final). NAP, 2007.
Review of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program’s Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.2, “Climate Projections Based on Emission Scenarios for Long-lived and Short-lived Radiatively Active Gases and Aerosols” (2007) (online only). NAP, 2007.
R&D Increases on Hold as Budget Battles Stretch into FY 2008
“The federal government’s fiscal year (FY) 2008 began on October 1, but the FY 2008 budget is far from finished. Congress is poised to add billions of dollars to proposed budgets for the federal investment in research and development (R&D) for fiscal year (FY) 2008, according to the newly released AAAS October R&D Funding Update, but many legislative hurdles remain in the weeks ahead. The House and Senate would endorse large proposed increases for select physical sciences agencies in the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) and would continue to support Administration plans to expand development investments for new human spacecraft. But instead of cutting funding for other R&D programs as requested, the House and the Senate would provide increases to every major nondefense R&D funding agency, and would turn proposed cuts into significant increases for the congressional priorities of biomedical research, environmental research (particularly climate change research), and energy R&D. The added billions in FY 2008 appropriations so far would turn a requested cut in federal support of basic and applied research into a real increase, after three years of decline. But these increases depend on an overall congressional budget plan allocating $23 billion more for domestic appropriations than the President’s budget; because the President has threatened to veto any appropriations bills that exceed his budget request, these R&D increases could disappear or diminish later this fall in negotiations between the President and Congress over final funding levels.” (From AAAS R&D Funding Update)
Congress Making a Cautious Return to R&D Earmarking, Says AAAS Budget Analyst
“After a one-year moratorium on the controversial practice of earmarking federal funds for favored domestic projects, congressional lawmakers have returned to the practice but with earmarks that are smaller and more transparent, says a new AAAS analysis.” (From AAAS)
Patent Reform: Wherefore Art Thou Incentive to Invent?
“Just after Congress returned from their August recess, the House passed the Patent Reform Act of 2007. The bill, now awaiting Senate floor activity, is designed to do several things including, ward off ‘patent trolls.’ However, the 2007 patent reform act could have a much broader and negative effect on America’s small and independent inventors. Microsoft, Cisco, Intel and other large tech companies are strong supporters of the bill and claim that it will control excessive litigation from those who secure many questionable patents and demand licensing fees by threatening to sue large companies for infringement. But opponents to the current bill language, including IEEE-USA, say the bill undermines the patent protections that inventors rely on, and creates a powerful disincentive for investors to take a risk on untried ideas.” (From IEEE Eye on Washington)
Bridge Safety: Next Steps to Protect the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure
“In hearings before the House Comm. on Science & Technology, witnesses discussed the current state of bridge-related R&D, including government and academic research into materials, design elements, and testing and inspection technologies. Witnesses discussed future research priorities for building improved bridge infrastructure and maintaining current bridges to avoid catastrophic failure.”
Parliamentarians call for more books to be put online
The European Parliament has asked the Commission to speed up the process of setting up a European Digital Library, which aims to become a one-stop shop for accessing literary and scientific works online. Digital libraries are essential for enabling scholars and students to access the rapidly growing number of scientific publications worldwide, as well as ensuring the accessibility of Europe’s cultural heritage.
In a resolution adopted on 27 September 2007, the European Parliament supported the Commission’s two-year old Communication. Parliamentarians stressed, however, that the European Library should “not aim to disseminate content exclusively, but to coordinate access to digital works” in order for it to become “a single, direct and multilingual access point for the European cultural heritage”. They recommended that the European Library “must initially concentrate on the potential offered by text material that is free of rights” and invited “all European libraries to make available to the European Digital Library works that are free of rights which they already hold in digital form“.
Around DC and on the Net
Nanofabrication Technology: A View of the Future
In a lecture that dips into both the anatomy and history of the semiconductor, Grant Willson offers some provocative thoughts on whether industry can continue improving on this most useful of inventions. He describes how steady advances in miniaturization enabled the astonishing progress of microchips over the past 40 years. Today, says Willson, you can buy a transistor for less than the cost of a single written character in your local newspaper. When he began at IBM in the 1970s, the silicon wafers produced were only 1.5 inches in diameter; now they’re bigger than pizzas. Willson delves into the technological changes that both enabled printing on circuits to grow smaller, and the final product to grow larger.
Solar Decathlon Oct 12–20
The Solar Decathlon is a competition in which 20 teams of college and university students compete to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house. The Solar Decathlon is also an event to which the public is invited to observe the powerful combination of solar energy, energy efficiency, and the best in home design.
The event takes place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., October 12–20. The team houses are open for touring everyday, except Wednesday, October 17, when they will close for competition purposes. An overall winner is announced on Friday, October 19 at 2 p.m.
Recasting Engineering with SHOT Oct 17
On the occasion of its 50th Anniversary, the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) will be holding a public lecture and panel discussion, on the theme “Recasting Engineering,” on Wednesday, October 17, 2007 from 7:30PM to 9:30PM. This free event will be held at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C. The featured speaker is Duke University professor and NAE member Henry Petroski. He is a prolific author, having written dozens of books on topics ranging from failure analysis to the design history of everyday objects. Petroski’s talk will be followed by remarks from MIT professor and past president of SHOT Rosalind Williams and NAE President Charles M. Vest.
Interesting Web Sites and News
Puzzles in math, astronomy, chemistry, geology, medicine, inventions, anatomy, physics, genetics and more. There are related links to help you solve the puzzles. They range from easy to fiendish. And they are fun.
Library Use Value Calculator
“Use this online form to estimate the value of the library services you use each month. Services listed include materials borrowed (books, movies, audio books, museum passes), magazines used in library, interlibrary loan, children’s programs attended, computer use, reference questions, and more. From the Maine State Library.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet).
This calculator is geared toward public library use, but it is certainly an interesting tool!
“Patent Lens is an independent, public-good global resource for increasing patent transparency. It lets you search the full-text of more than 8 million patent documents from US, Europe, Australia and WIPO, including their status and counterparts in up to 60 countries. Plus, there’s more, including technology landscapes. RM” (From Internet Resources Newsletter)
A simple and straightforward website, no frills, but an abundance of great pictures and fine information on this endangered species that seems to be on a comeback, thanks to a very hotly debated but seemingly successful captive breeding program. Condors are now in the wild again in California, Baja California, and Arizona, so there is hope.
Butterflies and Moths of North America
“Drawing on the expertise of lepidopterists and other such experts at Montana State University’s Big Sky Institute and the National Biological Information Infrastructure program, this site is a database that provides easy-to-use information about over 2800 species of butterflies and moths. On the site, visitors will find dynamic distribution maps showing verified species occurrences, photographs of the adult and caterpillar (when available) and a cornucopia of species accounts. Users may wish to look over the ‘Taxonomic Groups’ area if they just wish to browse around, or they can also perform a map search, or even just browse image thumbnails by family. Those who are new to the field may wish to look over the online glossary or external links, and those who are ready to lend assistance should check out the ‘Get Involved’ area. [KMG]” (From the Scout Report)
NIH Launches Extensive Open-Access Dataset of Genetic and Clinical Data
“The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — the nation’s medical research agency — is launching one of the most extensive collections of genetic and clinical data ever made freely available to researchers worldwide. Called SHARe (SNP Health Association Resource), the Web-based dataset enables qualified researchers to access a wealth of data from large population-based studies, starting with the landmark Framingham Heart Study. Funded by the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), SHARe will accelerate discoveries linking genes and health, thereby advancing scientists’ understanding of the causes and prevention of cardiovascular disease and other disorders.”
Listen: Making Sense of Sound
“Website companion to a museum exhibit ‘that let[s] visitors investigate their perception of sound.’ Features guides to listening to nature, and listening to get around, to make music, to solve problems, and to process sound. Includes audio clips, online activities and real-world projects, samples from the museum exhibit, and links to related websites. Note: Headphones are recommended when using this site. From the Exploratorium.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Computer and Information Science and Engineering
IBM technology that translates spearch into British Sign Language (BSL)
“The system, called SiSi (Say It Sign It) was created by a group of students in the UK. SiSi will enable deaf people to have simultaneous sign language interpretations of meetings and presentations. It uses speech recognition to animate a digital character or avatar.” (From the BBC News).
Education and Human Resources
“Results last week from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the Nation’s Report Card, show gains in reading scores for fourth graders and growth in math scores for both fourth and eighth graders. At grade four in both subjects there was an increase in the percentage of students performing at or above Basic and at or above Proficient. White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander fourth-grade students attained higher scores in 2007 than their peers in 2005. In grade 8 in both subjects, a higher percentage of students performed at or above Basic, and the percentage of students performing at or above Proficient increased in mathematics.” (From NSTA Express)
Ship breaking continues unabated in certain parts of the world
- The Ship Breakers of Bangladesh
- Toxic Trade News: Blue Lady’s fate uncertain as activists to challenge SC
- End of the Line
- 1998 Pulitzer Prizes: The Shipbreakers
- Greenpeace: Ship Breaking
- U.S. Maritime Administration: Information on Ship Disposal [pdf]
“Shipbuilding is truly an exhilarating activity to watch, and it has been a hallmark of technological endeavor and ingenuity for millennia. Fewer people might be familiar with the harrowing and dangerous task of ship breaking, though in recent years it has been receiving more coverage in the media. Today, a great deal of ship breaking takes place in countries like Bangladesh, Turkey, and India, and the work is tremendously difficult and there is frequently little or no workplace oversight. The environmental damage brought by ship breaking in the developing world can be, and frequently is, tremendous. Everything from radioactive material in fire alarms to tons of asbestos makes its way onto the beach and into the water, with predictably dire results for humans and animals alike. What is perhaps most amazing about this process is that most of this work is done by hand with fairly basic implements, and often the most advanced tool used will be a basic blowtorch. While some countries now require environmentally sensitive techniques to be used in ship breaking, it remains to be seen whether certain pressures will be brought to bear on places that have traditionally had fewer restrictions on how and where this activity takes place. [KMG]
The first link will take users to a recent 60 Minutes profile of the ship breaking industry in Bangladesh. Viewers can view the entire segment and also read a complete transcript on the site. Moving on, the second link leads to a recent news pieces from the Basel Action Network which reports on the attempts of a non-governmental organization to stop by the dismantling of a massive Norwegian cruise line ship in India. The third link takes users to a rather revealing photo essay on ship breaking by Brendan Corr. The fourth link whisks users away to the 1997 Baltimore Sun articles on the ship breaking industry by Gary Cohn and Will Englund, both of whom were awarded the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. The fifth link will take users to a site on ship breaking offered by Greenpeace. Finally, the last link leads to a site offered by the U.S Maritime Administration which talks about the ways in which they dispose of obsolescent seagoing vessels. [KMG]” (From the Scout Report)
Safe Drinking Water
The National Academy of Sciences and the Global Health and Education Foundation are joining with science, engineering, and medical academies around the world to take action on the global drinking water crisis by launching “Safe Drinking Water Is Essential.” This Web resource is the first tool of its kind to provide decision makers with peer-reviewed scientific and technical information about drinking water distribution and treatment options.
Climate Change Experiment Results
“Thousands of you took part in the world’s largest climate modelling experiment. Each person downloaded a computer model that used spare processing power to predict future climate. Scientists at Oxford University eagerly waited for the results from each person’s computer. As the data arrived, the Oxford team compiled the most comprehensive prediction yet for the Earth’s climate up to 2080.” This BBC website explains the distributed computing experiment, details the results, talks about the impact on the UK, and discusses what can be done.
Choose various buttons to find out if the process involved would produce a fossil. Each process is described and detailed in a brief and fun way.
Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Sputnik’s Anniversary and Impact
- Sputnik Left Legacy for U.S. Science Education
The story from NPR’s All Things Considered briefly looks at the impact on science education, and also links to related stories “Remembering Sputnik” and “Sputnik, the Shock of the Century”.
- Solar System Exploration — Sputnik
This NASA site includes an overview, photos, headlines, and more.
- Mobilizing Minds: Teaching Math and Science in the Age of Sputnik
“In October 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to successfully orbit the earth. With its distinctive ‘beep’, it was a very real manifestation of the Soviet Union’s growing influence in the realms of science and technology. In the United States, it spurred educators and others to create new and compelling ways to get young people interested and passionate about these fields. This fun and engaging online exhibit created by the National Museum of American History offers an overview of some of these new and emerging educational tools, which included textbooks, diagrams, hands-on activities, and even such seemingly common-place items as slide rules. These items (and much more) are contained within sections like ‘The Cold War and Sputnik’, ‘Excitement’, and ‘Curricula-Novelty and Diffusion’. [KMG]” (From the Scout Report)
- Sputnik, 50 Years Later
“The day Sputnik took off, space flight experts including Frederick C. Durant III, Ernst Stuhlinger, and Arthur C. Clarke, were assembling in Barcelona, Spain, at an annual meeting of the International Astronautical Federation. Just as the leading thinkers involved in the possibility of sending objects into orbit were unpacking their bags, they were jolted by word that Russia had launched Sputnik and that their theories had become reality.” Interviews and more …
Little Shop of Physics: Online Experiments
“Not to be confused with a certain Roger Corman movie that has a rather similar title, this site presents a wide range of very nice physics experiments, all of which can be done online. Dedicated staff members of the physics department at Colorado State University created the Little Shop of Physics site. The site includes the ‘Amazing Physics’ area, which features experiments that will require common household items. There are a number of rather fun experiments offered up, and they include the ‘Two Ball Bounce’, ‘Straw Flute’, and ‘Vanishing Rods’. Moving right along, ‘Computer Stuff’ offers users a clutch of engaging and potentially mind-blowing experiments that require only a computer and just a touch of interest in physics. Teachers can convert physics neophytes with this site, and students who might be suspect of physics may become passionate converts after just a few visits. [KMG]” (From the Scout Report)