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Need to find an elusive news story you heard about recently?
Need customized news delivered to your desktop (just the science facts, ma'am …)?
Recent studies have shown that for many folks getting their news from the web has replaced more traditional venues. When it comes to news, the web really delivers, in more ways than one.
There are a host of search engines which will look for the newspaper story you need.
There are services that will deliver customized news (even science news!) directly to your desktop, through e-mail or through screen savers.
There are newspapers and other news services that are available full text.
If you missed last week's Science Friday, you can listen to it on Saturday morning, through the Internet!
There are sources that just report on the latest news in genetics, or astronomical headlines, or “order and chaos” …
To make all these great things easy to find, I have assembled them on a web page. It is, alas, behind a firewall, but if you would like the HTML code for the webpage, contact Stephanie Bianchi
If you spend any time at all searching the web, you know there are a lot of engines out there, each different, and new ones all the time. How can you keep up with what is the best engine for your particular needs? It isn't easy … but it just became a little easier.
Chris Sherman, who really knows his stuff, is creating a service to help select the right search engine for any of a finite number of different kinds of searches. He says:
“The Interactive Web Search Wizard – Based on user input and popular demand, I'm pleased to introduce the Interactive Web Search Wizard. The Search Wizard will suggest the best search engine for many types of queries. All you need to do is answer a few quick questions, and you'll get the hand-picked search tools that I feel will best fill your needs.”
Try out this neat tool at:
or bookmark it at:
I was recently asked for an online dictionary which will help with spelling. How do you look up a word if you can't spell it? Computers are so literal …
There are probably several resources to which a body could turn. One of them is Merriam-Webster's OnLine Collegiate Dictionary.
You don't have to be able to spell to use it! If you type in a misspelled word, it will give you a list of possibles from which you can choose. I tested it with a word I frequently misspell, and it gave me a list of similar correctly spelled words. Sure enough, the one I was looking for was there. If all I needed was the spelling, this is as far as I would need to go, but if I want more info I can click on the word for definition, pronunciation, etymology – all the usual dictionary stuff. What a deal!
Don't forget there are a lot of translation sites on the web. If you have in hand an e-mail in
French, and you don't read French, you can always cut and paste the body of the message into a
Babelfish or Go translator service.
Pick a language you want the message translated to and hit a button, a few seconds later you have your message in the language of your choice (as long as you choose English and one of a few European languages …) It isn't perfect, of course. Machines don't do well translating idioms, or some highly specialized jargon, but for the gist of your run-of-the-mill e-mails, it just might do the job for you.
A very rough way to analyze the impact of an article on its field is through citation analysis – how often has the article been cited by similar articles since it was published? This is a very rough measure indeed – given a few minutes we can all think of reasons why it is not always an accurate measure. However, this brief item from the recent JSTORNews (No.4 is2, June 2000, pg. 3) is an interesting commentary on citation analysis:
“Citation data alone do not reliably predict electronic usage.
Judging by the most-used articles in JSTOR, citations and usage do not correlate closely, suggesting that citations should not be used as the sole factor in selecting content to be digitized. To give just one example, the most frequently viewed article from one of the top journals in the economics collection has rarely been cited in other articles. The article, published in 1973, was cited only fourteen times between 1974 and 1999. Nevertheless, this article has been viewed 1.895 times and printed 1,402 times since it was made available in JSTOR, making it the 4th most used article in economics … One interesting question raised by these data is whether the availability of these older articles in electronic form will increase their citation frequency and lengthen their citation ‘half life.’ ”
You may already know that the Google web search engine invented a unique way of looking at
search results to encourage the most relevant results to float to the top of your search results
list. Instead of just looking at the information in the item (webpage), it looks at the
relationship of that item to other items. There is no denying that this is a neat trick! So other
search engines are striving to incorporate this clever idea.
Excite Precision Search
“Hot on the heels of AltaVista's Raging Search (see the May 5, 2000 Scout Report) comes another returned and (somewhat) slimmed-down search engine that focuses on relevant results. Like Raging Search, Excite's new Precision Search uses Google-style link analysis technology (“Deep Analysis”) to help identify the most useful sites. Test queries produced consistently relevant results among the top few returns, though an indication of the number of total returns would be helpful, with two banner ads and (in some but not all cases) a Quick Results box on the left that could be quite handy for consumer-related searching. For instance, a search for “Plymouth” yielded links to research and comparisons, blue book values, financing, and service and repair information in the Quick Results box. I was also pleased to see that clicking on one of the other search categories (category, news, photo, audio/video) instantly produces returns for the original query, though the photo databases available seem somewhat limited compared to, say, AltaVista. While users searching for “official” sites will still do best at Google, those who also search for additional resources such as news, photos, and audio/video content may wish to give Excite Precision a run-through. [MD]” (From the Scout Report)
Has Google become my favorite search engine?
Not even a little bit.
Google doesn't provide for much latitude in the way I am allowed to structure my search. It does not even support “or” as a Boolean connector. (That's right, folks, everything you put in Google gets “anded”.) Nor does it support wild-cards or truncation, so you must do separate searches for each of the possible synonyms in your search request, even if the synonym is just the plural form of a word. Think of the combinations and permutations you would have to execute for even a mildly complicated search! Doing that many searches for a single query is too much like work for my taste.
Google does what it does extremely well, and it is a huge search engine, covering an enormous amount of the websites out there in cyberspace, and covering international websites better than many other search engines. It definitely has its uses. If your search is “plain vanilla”, go to it. It will likely deliver very clean results, which saves you considerable time. Personally, I would use Google for the same kinds of searches I would run on a meta search engine. Nice, simple straightforward queries.
But until Google gets more elegant, look somewhere else for a search engine that will handle complex strategies.
By the way, Yahoo has now switched its default search engine from Inktomi to Google. What do I mean by default search engine? As you probably know, Yahoo is a directory rather than a search engine. However, if you query Yahoo for something it cannot find in its directory structure, it transparently dumps you out to a real search engine (formerly Inktomi, now Google) and runs your query on it automatically, delivering true search engine results. Unless you focus on these sorts of things, you may not even realize you are no longer in Yahoo. So if you are in the habit of using Yahoo as a search engine … gosh, I hope you are doing “plain vanilla” searches ….
American Forests magazine has been published continuously since 1895, although under different names, such as Conservation and Forestry and Irrigation. Several essays in Aldo Leopold's famous book, A Sand County Almanac, were first published in American Forests. Gifford Pinchot also wrote for the magazine, as did Robert Marshall, Rene Dubos and Sigurd Olson. More recently, notable writers have included Charles Little and Tom Horton.
Presents highlights from the print edition in HTML format.
The journal is an international medium for the publication of original studies, case histories, and comprehensive reviews in the field of engineering geology. Included are all geological studies that can be relevant to engineering, environmental concerns and safety.
The editors publish papers on subjects such as aerial photograph interpretation for land usage, control of hazards from geological processes (earthquakes, floods, river diversions, land slips, etc.), assessment of geological factors affecting river behaviour, rehabilitation of groundwater supplies, field assessment of earthquake-generating faults, criteria for ground storage of hazardous wastes, techniques of reconnaissance, geological mapping for engineering, etc. The objective is to produce a journal with international coverage that will contribute to the development of engineering geology as a profession.
For a limited time, access is free. After a few months access will be by subscription only.
New York Journal of Mathematics [.pdf, .ps]
The New York Journal of Mathematics (NYJM), based at the State University of New York, Albany, is the first electronic general journal of mathematics. This online journal is refereed by mathematicians at top North American universities and provides high quality articles (1994-present) covering topics in matrix and linear algebra, geometry, and other general math. Users can read the articles in a variety of formats (.pdf, .ps, .txt, .gif), and view the _NYJM_ with full graphics or through the “no frills” option, ideal for readers with older browsers. A search engine, links to mirror sites and to authors (when available), and submission instructions are also available. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)
Comptes Rendus de l'Acadmie des Sciences Series IIC – Chemistry
From Elsevier Science, covering all areas of chemistry, is now available in the Library. Full-text articles in English and French are FREE until the end of 2000. (Free Chemweb registration required.
Learned Publishing carries important articles from respected international authors on all the major topics of concern to publishers and others in the learned and professional information chain – preprint servers, peer-review, consortia, linking, copyright, licensing …
Learned Publishing is published by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, and the online version is mounted and sponsored by CatchWord.
Bubble Chamber – Sci Tech News Source
“Most of what passes for technology news on the web recently seems to be technology business news – which company bought which other company, IPO announcements, etc. Jim Flanagan is a technologist, not an investor, and so much more interested in the Web of Ideas.
Bubble Chamber is his attempt to share science and technology news which contains catalysts to thought and new ideas which people can use in their own intellectual travels.” This is a very interesting website!
Links to the News
There are lots of search engines to news sources, but this one is a bit unique. It chooses one major headline story for each day and links to a large variety of sources for information about that news story. Links will include news sources, of course, but also government websites, encyclopedia articles, a host of resources to give you a thorough background on the event and the players. Archives are included, but it appears as though only one major story per day is covered.
MaxBot.com, creator of SearchEdu, SearchGov, and SearchMil (see the January 28, 2000 _Scout Report_), also offers SearcheBooks, a search engine that indexes the full text of “thousands” of online books. Like its siblings, SearcheBooks offers a simple keyword search interface and caches the versions of pages that its robots find. Unlike them, however, SearcheBooks returns two URLs for each hit, one for the provider's page, and one for the full text of the book. While the search engine can be used to find particular references within the books indexed, it is probably best used to search for the books themselves, for personal or pedagogical use, via author, title, or subject. [MD] (From the Scout Report)
This site addresses the present “crisis in scholarly communication” from both a librarian and faculty perspective. It identifies the chief issue as the “dramatic increases in journal costs and the increasing commercialization of scholarly publishing”; answers frequently asked questions; and provides tools, resources, an advocacy kit, and online brochure. Sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries, Association of College and Research Libraries, and Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). - nbh (From Librarian's Index to the Internet)
A collection of microscopic images taken with Digital Instruments' NanoScope in the areas of biology, data storage and semiconductors, materials and surface science, atoms, and a Users' Showcase which is archived to 1997. Each image also includes a brief description. - dl (From Librarian's Index to the Internet). [This site is done with terrific humor and fascinating images. The description of each image is very brief … I want more!]
Science Fair Project Index
An index of experiments and projects in all areas of science and many areas of technology from books published in 1990 and later. The primary users are grades K-8 although there are some books intended for older users. It is searchable by general topic, keywords in the experiment, title and other bibliographic information, and grade level. Earlier editions were published in print format. From the Akron-Summit County (OH) Public Library. - dl (From Librarians Index to the Internet)
Anchialine Caves and Cave Fauna of the World
“Archialine caves are flooded coastal caves formed in limestone or volcanic rock. This site focuses on those in the Bahamas and the Yucatan and gives photos, maps and comprehensive descriptions of individual caves, cave fauna and a cave talk message board for discussion of 'cave biology, cave diving, cave conservation and any other related topics'. Worth a visit.” (From New Scientist Planet Science)
A Dinosaur's Heart
This site hosted by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University is truly remarkable. A fossil was found of “Willo”, 66-million-year-old skeleton of a small, plant-eating Thescelosaurus. Scientists were able to reconstruct the structure of the dinosaur's heart using medical technology to probe an iron-stained concretion inside the dinosaur's chest. The site is clearly presented and contains some wonderful graphics of the fossil and of the heart. (Thanks to Brief Me)
Genetics In Context
A detailed timeline that puts events in genetics into a timeline with world historical events.
Convention on Biological Diversity
This large site in English, French and Spanish versions has, as you would expect, detailed information and documents about the convention itself, but it also presents a host of other useful tools in the field of biological diversity, including a worldwide roster of experts, glossaries, press clips, and a search engine for information on biodiversity websites.
My Life As a Blob – The World of Jellyfish
Discovery always has visually gorgeous sites – this one is graced with wonderful photographs of a host of members of the jellyfish family. (Thanks to Brief Me)
Photo Encyclopedia of Ants
This wonderful “book”, originally in Japanese but now also available in English, has everything you could possibly want to know about these important creatures, accompanied by slightly fuzzy but very appropriate photos of ants going about the huge diversity of things ants do to live. This is a wonderful website, informative and entertaining for any age “reader”. It is well written, well researched, and carefully constructed, complete with extensive references and detailed illustrations of each species.
This site, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, is an entertaining look at the world of microbes. Included is a small but lovely picture gallery of microbes, activities, information on mentoring, amazing facts, and more. It's worth visiting the site just to read the story about “Microbe Saves Village from Nazis”! But don't stop there, explore the rest of the site, which includes very broad, general interest coverage of these tiny “critters” that do so much to determine what our planet is.
Tree Conservation Information Service
“The World Conservation Monitoring Centre holds data on over 7000 tree species of global conservation concern in the Tree Conservation Database. Conservation assessments, including IUCN red list category and supporting information, have been gathered using many sources: literature, journals, floras and most importantly contributions from over 300 botanists. The database is being continually updated.” This database is very easy to search if you know the botanical name of the tree (family, genus or species). It is not searchable by common name.
What is Photosynthesis?
The Center for the Study of Early Events in Photosynthesis (Arizona State University) maintains this exceptional metapage on photosynthesis. The page lists dozens of Websites, with brief descriptions of each site's contents as well as the target level of the information (middle school through undergraduate). Websites featured include online scientific articles, educational materials requiring varying levels of technical mastery, descriptions of research programs, and a collection of “brief bits of information and amazing facts.” For students of photosynthesis and educators seeking high quality online information, this page will be a Godsend. [LXP] (From the Scout Report)
Snow, John – 1813-1858 (John Snow, a historical giant in epidemiology)
Everyone has heard of cholera but probably not of John Snow, the doctor who determined how the disease is transmitted. This ongoing project offers biographical information about Snow and his observations of cholera outbreaks in Victorian London. Includes maps of London and its water companies in the 1850s. The animation and sound features will work only with Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.O or higher. From of the Department of Epidemiology at University of California at Los Angeles, School of Public Health. - jb (From Librarians Index to the Internet)
“The aim of this website is to provide an overview of the very latest progress in the field of artificial intelligence. In particular, we focus on the research and development of novel computer systems which function in ways similar to natural nervous systems.
This site takes a look at technologies and research from around the world which mostly adopt this same philosophy. We bring together the sciences of neurobiology, microprocessors, nanotechnology and robotics, and look at them from an artificial intelligence perspective.” (Thanks to BriefMe)
“Computing with Molecules”
MIT Amorphous Computing
These two sites cover the interesting new frontier of molecular computing, which links molecular biology with computer science. The article “Computing with Molecules” from _Scientific American_'s June issue (available for free online) describes how researchers are using organic molecules to perform simple logic operations. This technology is important because it could be used to make extremely tiny computers. The second site is Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT's) Amorphous Computing homepage. Amorphous computing is defined by the MIT amorphous computer engineers as “methods for instructing myriads of programmable entities to cooperate to achieve particular goals,” and sometimes involves the use of organic molecules. In the News, Research, and Demos are among the pages available at the site. The demonstration of “gunk” software is particularly informative and unusual (HSLIM software required). [HCS] (From the Scout Report)
Emerging Construction Technologies
The purpose of this site is to present Emerging Construction Technologies that could produce a “High Impact” in the construction industry. The technologies are divided into five areas: Civil, Mechanical, Internet-based, Electrical, and Other. Each technology is presented in fact sheets describing: The Need, The Technology, The Benefits, Status, Barriers, Points of Contact, and References.
Digging Deep – a guide to going trenchless on the web
Tunneling, boring, moling (I love that term!), pipelines … This site is a well organized directory to sites on this topic and includes a glossary.
Transport Demand Management Encyclopaedia
“Transportation Demand Management (TDM) is the general term for actions that encourage more efficient use of existing transportation systems. It includes a wide range of specific strategies. This encyclopedia is designed to be a primary source of information about TDM. It provides detailed information on more than three dozen specific TDM strategies.”
“Very useful and systematic overview of strategies to improve transportation efficiency. For each strategy there is a description of travel impacts, benefits and costs, equity considerations and applications, with statistics and links to real world initiatives and cases. Each entry has a list of references, many of which are on-line. The strategies included are in 5 categories (Policy And Institutional Reforms, TDM Programs and Program Support, Improved Transport Choice, Incentives To Use Alternative Modes and Reduce Driving, Land Use Management) and include road pricing, park&ride, congestion pricing, telework, new urbanism, flextime, ride sharing, fuel tax increases etc. By the Victoria Transport Policy Institute … Strong US bias.” (From Geosource)
The Perfect Storm – Yes, it was real.
“An enormous extratropical low is creating havoc along the entire Eastern Atlantic Seaboard in this infrared image at 1200 UTC (0700 EST) on October 30, 1991. Labelled the ‘perfect storm’ by the National Weather Service, the storm sank the swordfishing boat Andrea Gail, whose story became the basis for the currently best-selling novel ‘The Perfect Storm’ by Sebastian Junger. A little-known and bizarre ending came to this monster, which came to be known as the Halloween Storm. To tell this incredible story in its entirety, the Satellite's Eye Art Gallery spans two subject headings (Extratropical Cyclones and Hurricanes)!” Photos and description are at this NOAA website.
Discover Canada's Geoscience Heritage
“Since its foundation in 1842, the Geological Survey of Canada has been entrusted with acquiring, interpreting and making available information about the geology of the Canadian landmass. Even before confederation, the geologists set out to explore this vast continent and, as men of science, reported not only on geology, but also on the geography, flora, fauna and the inhabitants of the land. This spirit of scientific enquiry continues to this day in the current exploration, surveying and mapping and research activities which contribute to the prosperity of all Canadians. Capture the spirit of adventure and travel back with us through text and images to discover the rich scientific heritage of our nation.” This site is replete with wonderful old and new images, including such topics as Arctic Exploration, geoscientists at work, minerals and fossils, and more!
Land Margin Ecosystems Research (LMER)
Developed in the 1990s by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Land Margin Ecosystems Research (LMER) Program conducts research on the present and future function of coastal environments. The goals of LMER are “to increase the understanding of the organization and function of land-margin ecosystems, the linkages between these systems and adjacent terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and the impacts of major natural environmental perturbations in these regions.” Four sites form the current emphasis of LMER research: Chesapeake Bay, Columbia River, Georgia Rivers, and Plum Island Sound. The LMER Website provides links to each of these homepages as well as to those of two former research sites (Waquoit Bay and Tomales Bay). Those interested in research descriptions, summary data, or publications should follow links to each focal site. [LXP] (From the Scout Report)
For over 120 years, “Kleopatra” was just a blurry, odd-looking asteroid in the belt between Mars and Jupiter. But when Steven Ostro's team of astronomers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) hit it with a fine-tuned beam of radar, they found out it was actually a metallic dog-bone roughly the size of New Jersey. Using the giant radio telescope dish at Arecibo, Puerto Rico – star of movies “Contact” and “Goldeneye”, and an early episode of “The X-Files” – the folks from JPL sent radar waves on a 212-million-mile round trip to get information on Kleo. They then crunched the data with computers to get a three-dimensional picture so crisp they could tell that the surface of the asteroid was powdery. Science news site UniSci gives a well rounded summation of the discovery, bringing the sighting into the context of near-earth asteroid tracking; Discovery.com laments the untold mineral riches of the asteroid could never be feasibly mined for profit; and JPL's page on Kleo just cuts to the chase, offering the curious-looking radar images themselves. (From Netsurfer Science)
ASTROVIRTEL – Accessing Astronomical Archives as Virtual Telescopes
“ Astronomical data archives increasingly resemble virtual gold mines of information. A new project, known as ASTROVIRTEL aims to exploit these astronomical treasure troves by allowing scientists to use the archives as virtual telescopes.
The fortunate scientist who obtains observing time usually has one year of so-called proprietary time to work with the data before they are made publicly accessible and can be used by other astronomers. Precious data from these large research facilities retain their value far beyond their first birthday and may still be useful decades after they were first collected.
ASTROVIRTEL is the first virtual astronomical telescope dedicated to data mining. It is currently being established at the joint ESO/Space Telescope-European Coordinating Facility Archive in Garching (Germany).” (Thanks to Brief Me)
Optimization Technology Center [Java]
Provided by Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University, this site features a clever “Optimization Tree” from which users can explore different subfields of numerical optimization and view outlines of the major algorithms in each area by clicking on the “branches.” Topics are arranged into discrete (e.g., integer programming), continuous constrained (e.g., linear programming), and continuous unconstrained (e.g., global optimization, nonlinear least squares) sections with the connections among them noted on the “tree.” This site also contains a software guide with links, a search engine, a voluminous FAQ page, and wonderful interactive demonstrations (in HTML format with Java applets and AMPL pages also available). [HCS] (From the Scout Report)
The brainchild of Robin Hamman a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Westminster's Hypermedia Research Centre, this Website bills itself as “an online resource for social scientists interested in the study of the internet, cyberspace, computer mediated communication, and online communities.” The site offers issues of _Cybersociology Magazine_ – “an e-zine for those interested in the social-scientific research of Cyberspace and Life Online,” as well as links to bibliographies and reviews of pertinent Websites and software. Also featured here are papers by Hamman, whose reports and columns about the Internet have been widely published in British newspapers and journals. Clearly the product of an informed enthusiast and his like-minded colleagues, this Website suggests in miniature the ways in which Internet culture and academia have begun to cross-pollinate, at least in the United Kingdom. [DC] (From the Scout Report)
“In the northeastern corner of Syria, near the Iraqi border and within sight of southern Turkey's Taurus Mountains, archaeologists have begun excavations of an ancient settlement that lay on a major trade route from Nineveh to Aleppo. The ruins from more than 5,500 years ago are telling them that previous ideas about the spread of early civilization were more than likely wrong.” (Ruins Alter Ideas of How Civilization Spread by John Noble Wilford, New York Times, May 23, 2000 http://www-news.uchicago.edu/citations/2000/000523.hamoukar-nyt.html).
This site presents the 1999 excavations reports, links to news stories, and a description of this important project.
Ancient Egypt – The British Museum [Shockwave]
Drawing on its superb collection of materials from archaeological excavations, the British Museum presents this extensive learning resource on Ancient Egypt. The site features texts, images, and interactive elements detailing Egyptian daily life, mythology, timekeeping, geography, architecture, governance, business, writing, and rituals of death. The material is clearly and simply written so that the site would be useful for primary school students, but it is informative and substantial enough to be of interest to college students and curious adults as well. Thoroughly hyperlinked and replete with images that can be enlarged for detailed perusal, the site goes beyond the typical teaser Websites so often posted by lesser museums. [DC] (From the Scout Report)
This is another of PhD student Kevin Callahan's sites, respectful and informative. He begins by tackling the question of how to spell the word – Ojibwe, Ojibwa, or Ojibway – and admits he uses Ojibway mostly because that's how he first learned it. Callahan provides an easy, attractive way to get some appreciation of the Ojibway people's history, culture and beliefs. The site reviews the Ojibway creation story, the great migration, the naming ceremony, dream articles, rock art (his key professional interest), and much more. Terms and topics in the text link to other sites, providing opportunities for fascinating excursions that can take you pretty deep if you wish. Or you can just cruise on the surface and absorb a little overview. The text is nicely illustrated with small images of birds and animals, sometimes designs. Of course it's got the usual Geocities pop-ups but most of us know how to deal with those by now. Also included are links to Frances Densmore's audio cylinder recordings (which require the RealAudio plug in) and a QuickTime Movie about the Ojibway. Callahan rounds out the site in excellent fashion with some great references and additional Web links. (From Netsurfer Science)
Created and maintained by “a network of journalists, writers and researchers trying to look beyond conventional economics and its notions of prosperity and progress,” this Website features news and analysis of the economic and cultural ramifications of the wide divide between the haves and the have-nots in America. The site offers both original articles and reprints from sources such as _The Nation_ and _The New Yorker_. In addition, pertinent economic statistics and recent news stories are also provided. For those doing research or advocacy, a useful list of both online and print resources is available along with an extensive contact list of experts, including descriptions of their work with economic-inequality issues. While the site's agenda may appear obvious, readers should note that Inequality.org is hardly a hotbed of socialist thought. Its director and founder, James Lardner, writes about business, technology, and work for _US News and World Report_. Perhaps one does not have to have a political axe to grind to take note of the increasingly obvious. [DC] (From the Scout Report)
Automatically compares prices among major, reputable online bookstores and finds the Internet-wide best offer for any book you want. (Thanks to Gerry McKiernan)
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CREATING THE FUTURE INTERNET
Next-generation Internet, a term that describes the future network and the current methods being used to create it, will gradually come into being as technology advances. Three primary advances constitute the next-generation Internet, according to visionaries. First, broadband networks will provide data transmissions that are up to 1,000 times faster than current modems. Also, video-rich media, interactivity, joint access by more than one end-user, 3D design and display capabilities, and other programs will be the major applications driving the Internet. Last, a greater amount of intelligence will be stored in the network, and this data will be managed, distributed, stored, and cached by a better quality of service. Both the public and private sectors are working to achieve the next-generation Internet. The government provides financial backing for many agencies and the academic and corporate worlds are partnering in a consortium called Internet2 to determine how to find and utilize commercially marketable products for the future online environment. New tools are being created that will assist e-meetings by providing real-time language translations. Wireless devices with high-speed connections to the Internet will enhance these services.
(Wireless Week, 12 June 2000 via Edupage)
WILL MY PC BE SMARTER THAN I AM?
The line between humans and computers will increasingly blur in the future, as cell-sized robots called nanobots allow scientists to make computer-based models of the human brain and to enhance human minds with nanobot implants, writes Ray Kurzweil. Nanobots will likely be able to scan the inside of the brain by 2030, enabling researchers to reverse-engineer the brain. Nonbiological models of the brain will be able to learn more quickly than humans, since the replicas will be able to easily share information with other computers. In addition, the models will run on systems that are over 10 million times faster than the brain's electrochemical processes. Neural computers will surpass the brain's basic computational power by a significant amount, combining humans' diverse skills with machines' speed, accuracy, and data-sharing capability. Nanobots will also enable completely realistic, immersive virtual reality, so that visiting a Web site would mean interacting in a life-like virtual environment in which natural human senses would be replaced with signals designed for the virtual realm.
(Time, 19 June 2000 via Edupage)
BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE
A Department of Commerce study shows that 80 percent of households with incomes over $75,000 have computers, compared with just 16 percent of those with incomes of $10,000 to $15,000. President Clinton supports budget proposals that would devote $100 million to developing 1,000 community technology centers, and $150 million to training new teachers in technology. A program sponsored by several computer and software companies provides laptops for all the teachers and students at a school in Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood, and a study reveals that students have become more motivated to attend class and participate in school projects since the program began. Student Anthony Reyes says he never knew what he or his community could do until he got on the Internet, adding that access will make a difference for minorities and the jobs that they get.
(Access Magazine, 18 June 2000 via Edupage)
NASA MODEL-SCHOOL COULD PUT 'GEOSPATIAL TECHNOLOGY' ON THE MAP
The high-tech school that NASA plans to establish in southwest Georgia could become the model for high-tech schools across the country. The school would prepare students to “embrace emerging technologies and fill the work force needs these technologies create,” says John Wilson, NASA education program coordinator at the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss. Along with the Southwest Georgia Chamber of Commerce, several state agencies, and a group of educators, NASA will establish a school that will train students in Clay, Randolph, Quitman, and Stewart counties to work for the space agency and in other high-tech venues. In addition to high school diplomas, the school would offer certificates in geospatial technology, which involves performing operations based on geography using computers and satellite imagery. The students would work with global positioning satellites, graphic information systems, and remote sensing. The high-tech school would serve students in grades six through 12, although at first it would be open only to students in grades six through eight. The school could open in two to three years, and local organizers are working to raise $3.6 million to build it.
(eSchoolNews.com, 19 June 2000 via Edupage)
'OPTOCHIPS' SWING OPEN A NEW DOOR FOR IMPROVING OPTICAL PRODUCTS
New “optochips” developed at the University of Southern California and the University of Washington offer information-processing speeds that are upward of 10 times faster than speeds from current modulators. The optochips, also known as polymeric electro-optic modulators, transform electrical signals into optical signals at speeds as high as 100 Gbps. New polymers replace standard lithium niobate in the electro-optic modulators, which serve as a link between electronics and fiber-optic equipment. New polymers are intended to bring about the development of high-capacity devices with low noise and low power usage. Although the technology is focused on optical modulators, manufacturers of integrated optical devices are also showing interest in the technology. Some believe the optochips will improve the performance of routing switches, sensors, directional couplers, and other optical-networking equipment. Long-distance and high-speed communications are among the applications for the technology, said James Bechtel of fiber-optic systems maker IPITEK. Although additional testing is necessary, initial results show promise, Bechtel says.
(Lightwave, June 2000 via Edupage)
HOW THE WEB YANKED OBSCURE U.S. AGENCY INTO LEGAL LIMELIGHT
Although U.S. copyright laws have been evolving since the 1700s, the digital revolution has presented even more challenges for an already complex system. The Library of Congress' U.S. Copyright Office has been beset with copyright issues, pitting librarians against online publishers, musicians against online music providers. Some of the battles are being fought in court, as Metallica is suing Napster for violating copyright and not paying royalties, and online publishers are lobbying Congress for stricter laws, although Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998 to address copyright in terms of the Internet. The act made it illegal to break into a company's erected defenses, but Congress has left it up to the copyright office to decide exemptions to this law because universities, libraries, and other educational institutions had concerns about restrictions on using books and other scholarly materials. The Association of American Universities wants an exemption for digital versions of scholarly journals, arguing that facts are not copyrightable. In a few months the Copyright Office will submit recommendations on many of these issues to James Billington, Librarian of Congress, who is responsible for the final decisions.
(Wall Street Journal, 14 June 2000 via Edupage)
DREXEL UNIVERSITY PLANS WIRELESS CAMPUS
Drexel University President Constantine Papadakis on Saturday unveiled a plan to establish a completely wireless campus by September. Since 1983 the Philadelphia institution has required that each student have a PC. Papadakis insisted that wires would only limit comprehensive access, and in fact, some of the campus started going wireless two years ago. Students would use privacy-encrypted wireless adapter cards costing $175 with their laptops, transmitting radio signals to small antennas located around the 46-acre campus. University vice president for information resources and technology John A. Bielec says that with the new network “you can be watching a soccer game standing on the sidelines and be connected to the Internet.”
(Associated Press, 11 June 2000 via Edupage)
DATABASE PROTECTION IN THE NEXT CENTURY
The Collections of Information Antipiracy Act, if passed, would essentially give databases copyright protection, thereby encouraging the creation of these valuable information resources, writes attorney Daniel R. Valente. Database creators spend significant time and money to provide businesses and consumers alike with easy access to vast quantities of data. Current copyright laws do not protect databases because they are not creative works, and courts mostly reject the “sweat-of-the-brow” argument, which maintains that protection should be provided on the basis of a compiler's efforts and investments. The lack of copyright protection for databases means that any company can simply replicate all of the information a creator has worked to compile. The Collections of Information Antipiracy Act, now logjammed in Congress, aims to protect databases while still allowing reasonable use for certain purposes, such as nonprofit and educational uses. Under the act, a person who damaged the potential market for a database by taking a large part of the database or using the data for commercial purposes would be responsible for misappropriation. Creators could seek monetary damages and injunctions to stop further violations.
(Information Today, June 2000 via Edupage)
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