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As you make up your minds for the coming election, you are sure to be interested in the impact on science. Here are a couple of websites that may help inform you of the candidates issues on this vital subject:
Any sources I missed?
As you may know, the NSF Library purchases multiple copies of the magazines Science and Nature so that they can be routed. When our patrons are done with them, instead of dumping them into the recycling barrel, we give them to the American Chemical Society, which runs a wonderful program called Project Bookshare. This charity redistributes science texts and journals to needy libraries around the world. They do ask that the items be in good condition and that they be of recent vintage – they aren't interested in items that are out of date. The program is run by Dr. J. Torio who says:
“Project Bookshare can receive and distribute to appropriate recipient institutions ACS journals of any vintage (old and current) from ACS members. I'm not knowledgeable about policies on such matters for other professional societies' publications. But, if the proposed donor sees no problem, I would welcome your letting the NSF folks know of the critical need for scientific publications in so many countries around the world. Project Bookshare recipients are chemistry-degree granting institutions; however, we do accept professional journals from other sciences, i.e., biology, physics, etc., and mathematics. The overseas recipients really like dictionaries, maps, etc. If it's not nailed down, we find a home for it!”
Note that if the journal has a different subscription rate for personal as opposed to institional subscriptions, there may be problems donating your personal copies to libraries and other institutions. If you are cleaning your office and just hate to throw those good journals away, and think Project Bookshare might be interested, please contact Dr. Torio at email@example.com
Special request, keep a keen eye for past issues and more recent issues of NEW REPUBLIC as a particular Bookshare recipient library seeks same. Recent donations have gone to libraries in Thailand, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Romania, and Cyprus, as well as to a few particularly distressed libraries closer to home.
The New York Times has updated its website at: http://www.nytimes.com/. This requires a free registration, but now you can access full text of articles for the current day and up to two weeks previous to the current date. Obtaining full text of older articles requires a payment, or you can just come down to the NSF Library. We keep 30 days in hard copy, and can also print full text for any article since June 1980 using the Lexis/Nexis system.
If you register for this opportunity, you'll have FREE access to ten years' worth of research in key subject areas (over 100,000 articles) from 30 of our titles. This offer runs from now until 22 December 2000.
The journals available for FREE are as follows:
All of these journals boast original and high-quality research thanks to a peer-review process that is second to none and, being a not-for-profit publisher, IOP prides themselves on extremely competitive and fair pricing – two good reasons why we feel that our titles should have a place on your shelves.
See for yourself by registering for this unique opportunity today. Please then pass the good news onto your library users and let them know how to register.
Electronic Journals Product Manager
Institute of Physics Publishing
The following article is reprinted from Free Pint (ISSN 1460-7239) the free email newsletter with tips and articles on using the Web for your work. More details available at http://www.freepint.co.uk/
TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
“Influence of the Internet on the Patent Process”
By Caryn Wesner-Early
As with many other fields, the area of patents has undergone a number of changes because of the Internet. Some aspects of patents have become easier, such as finding patent information, and some have become more difficult, such as the whole issue of business method patents.
Finding patent information is easier now than it has ever been. Most countries with a patent office have at least a presence on the Web, and many countries, including the US, have very complete and helpful sites. At the US Patent Office's site <http://www.uspto.gov/> it is possible to find issued US patents, with drawings, back to 1976, and efforts are underway to bring the rest of the records, back to 1790, online as soon as possible. The British Library has put up an excellent gateway site for international patents called “Links to patent and other intellectual property information resources” at <http://www.bl.uk/services/stb/etalmenu.html>.
Law firms and other companies also put up very complete and helpful patent-related sites. The Delphion Intellectual Property Network (formerly the IBM Patent Server) at <http://patent.womplex.ibm.com/> provided access to images of issued US patents (back to 1971) before the US Patent Office site did. They offer a very powerful search engine, and patents may be printed out, or, if a better quality is needed, purchased. Recently the site has added international patent search capabilities, including European and Japanese. Law firms and universities put up sites full of articles, essays and advice for patent searchers and inventors.
Before submitting a patent application, an inventor must perform a search for prior art (that is, previous related inventions). Literature searching for prior art is easier than ever because of the Internet. Many databases, such as MEDLINE (useful for drug and medical device searches) are free of charge, while many others, such as those put up by Elsevier, ProQuest, and IEEE are available by subscription.
Other help for inventors comes from the aforementioned national patent offices and company-sponsored sites, but inventors also use the Internet to help each other. Inventor-sponsored sites, such as the Patent Cafe at <http://www.patentcafe.com/>, offer advice from people who've “been there, done that” on everything from choosing a patent attorney to appealing a case.
One of the biggest changes in the patent scene is the subject of business method patents. While this was becoming an issue before the Internet really became a player, it has mushroomed in the past few years. Software, which used to be copyrighted, began to be patented in the mid-1980s, and, in the wake of software patents, automated methods of doing business have also begun to be patented. Many procedures which have been a part of business for decades, if not centuries, are being automated and patented. This leads to difficulty in defining prior art for computer-aided business methods – does the same procedure count as prior art if it used to be done with a pencil and paper? Finding prior art on computer-related patents is difficult as well because of the blinding speed of the Internet and other computer developments. Many methods have come into use without being patented just because they made sense and it would be too expensive and/or time-consuming to bother with a patent or because the originator was part of the Open Source movement. If someone later applies for a patent on such a business method it is often difficult to track down whether the specific method has already been in use, and if so, by whom and for how long.
Illustrative of this are some high-profile recent cases. For instance, last fall Amazon.com took competitors by surprise by getting a patent on their “one-click” order method. Despite claims that this system had been in use for months, at least, by other sites, Amazon was successful in forcing competitors to discontinue use of similar systems. For exhaustive discussion of the Amazon patent and related issues, see the Patents DevCenter at <http://www.oreillynet.com/patents/>.
Changes in the patent system, both good and bad, are certain to continue for the foreseeable future. For every free prior art database there is an explosion of more and more information that needs to be searched. For every information and advice site put up to help inventors and patent attorneys make sense of regulations there is a change in regulation or interpretation. “Internet time” has become a factor in discussing terms of patents (for example, Jeff Bezos, during the excitement over the Amazon patents, suggested that software and business method patents should only be issued for a term of five years, rather than the usual 17-20). There is no predicting what changes may come in the future; all that is certain is that inventors, attorneys and patent offices will be running along behind trying to make sense of them.
These two are complementary – each site has terms that the other one doesn't have:
Caryn Wesner-Early is a librarian, contracted to the US Patent and Trademark Office Scientific and Technical Information Center. Her hobbies are reading and cats, and she maintains a personal Web page at <http://321website.com/members/home/data/caryn/main_html.htm>.
More information on patents can be found at:
Patents and Trademarks – LSU Library Webliography
Created and maintained by the Louisiana State University Library, this bibliography of Web resources concentrates on patent and trademark sources. One in a collection of Webliographies, Patents and Trademarks offers a compendium of resources organized by topic. The Websites include links to other patent and trademark sites, general information, government and non-government organizations, and online journals. While this is certainly a solid collection of resources, the links would be enhanced by short reviews or annotations for the resources. [EM] (From the Scout Report)
2000 Nobel Prizes [RealPlayer, .pdf]
Ig Nobel Prizes [RealPlayer] (From the Scout Report)
Over the past week, the Nobel Foundation has announced the winners of its 2000 prizes, beginning with the prize for Physiology or Medicine and culminating with the Peace Prize this morning. This year's Peace Prize was awarded to Kim Dae Jung “for his work for democracy and human rights in South Korea and in East Asia in general, and for peace and reconciliation with North Korea in particular.” Press releases, general and advanced information, related links, and archived webcasts of the announcements are available for each of the winners at the Nobel site. On October 5, the tenth annual Ig Nobel awards ceremony was held at Harvard University. The Ig Nobel awards honor individuals whose achievements “cannot or should not be reproduced.” This year's illustrious winners include, in the Physics category, Andre Geim of the University of Nijmegen (the Netherlands) and Sir Michael Berry of Bristol University (UK) for using magnets to levitate a frog and a sumo wrestler, and the Peace award goes to the British Royal Navy, for ordering its sailors to stop using live cannon shells, and to instead just shout “Bang!” A complete list of winners with links to further information is provided at the site, along with previous winners and an archived webcast of this and past year's ceremonies (free registration required). [MD] (From the Scout Report)
Their Stamp on History – exploring the lives of important people featured on postage stamps.
These stamps are sorted by activity, so you can check out the scientists and engineers. There aren't a lot here, but hopefully the site will grow. Some biographies are available as well.
Sister site to the New Zealand-based Arts & Letters Daily, a source of literary and cultural news, SciTech Daily wants to be your intelligent filter for science and technology journalism. Smart editors provide quick, articulate links to newswires, newspapers, a myriad of magazines (from “American Scientist” to “Wired”), and other arcane resources. A recent look at the front page led us to interviews with science fiction writer Ursula LeGuin and “Sims” creator Will Wright, articles on the ecological impact of shade-grown coffee, and musings on artificial intelligence. (From Yahoo's Picks of the Week)
Popular Science – 50 Best of the Web
Popular Science has recently released the 2000 version of its annual listing of the Web's best science sites. The 50 sites are listed in ten categories, including visual science, science learning, the universe, and high technology, among others. Each site receives a brief review, and special features (video, audio, plug-ins, etc.) are noted. The sites included are not necessarily new; a number of them have appeared in the Scout Reports and other places, but they are all high quality resources worthy of notice. [MD] (From the Scout Report)
The Engines of Our Ingenuity
This searchable site contains the full transcripts of all 1550+ radio programs of the same title written and hosted by John Lienhard and broadcast on KUHF-FM, Houston. It “tells the story of how our culture is formed by human creativity. The program uses the record of history to reveal the way art, technology, and ideas have shaped us. Topics range from cable cars to Civil War submarines, from the connection between Romantic poets and Victorian science to the invention of the bar code.” – dl (From Librarian's Index to the Internet)
General Multilingual Environmental Thesaurus (GEMET)
The GEMET Approach (v 2.0) [.pdf]
Differences in terminology and language can be major barriers to effective international collaborations – such as in the development of (often delicate) environmental protection agreements. To reduce these barriers, several European and US environmental agencies have joined forces to develop a common terminology system, called GEMET. This General Multilingual Environmental Thesaurus (GEMET) is “a vocabulary of more than 6,500 controlled terms (keywords), representing broad environmentally significant concepts.” The first Website, from the US Environmental Protection Agency, describes GEMET and the importance of this collaborative project. The second Website, provided by the Ministry of Environment of Lower Saxony, serves as a gateway into GEMET. Here users will find seven .pdf documents which are the various components of the thesaurus, including the impressive multilingual list of descriptors. GEMET 2.0 was edited in British and American English, with equivalents in ten European languages. [LXP] (From the Scout Report)
Diversity Web sources in higher education: Looking at our rich heritage
Last week, “Diversity Web sources in higher education: Looking at our rich heritage” was posted. It identifies Web sources for minority studies “with an emphasis on sites that include [an] institutional vision on diversity issues, recruitment of minority faculty, library organizations working to achieve diversity, and related issues.” [DC] (From the Scout Report)
Latitude: The Art and Science of Fifteenth-Century Navigation
This interesting site is a well-arranged links page that covers more than simply latitude, branching out to include paleoastronomy, ship-building, ocean currents, weather, calendars, antique maps and more. You will find links to page on everything from “How to build a Caravel” to “Classic images of the Agulhas Current” to “Micronesian star compass” and everything in between. The links are very well chosen and the material covered is fascinating.
1. 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
The 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species provides taxonomic, conservation status and distribution information on threatened species. This system is designed to determine the relative risk of extinction, and the main purpose of the IUCN Red List is to catalogue and highlight those taxa that are facing a higher risk of global extinction. The IUCN Red List also includes information on taxa that are categorized as Extinct or Extinct in the Wild; on taxa that cannot be evaluated because of insufficient information; and on Lower Risk taxa which are either close to meeting the threatened thresholds or that would be threatened were it not for an ongoing taxon-specific conservation program.
“Authoritative conservation information on than 50,000 plants, animals, and ecological communities of the United States and Canada. NatureServe provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too. NatureServe is a product of the Association for Biodiversity Information in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network.” Search by scientific name, common name, or ecological community. The database entries contain information on the conservation status, distribution, life history, and conservation needs of individual species. Entries include bibliographic citations. The site also provides a glossary of terms that can be accessed with the site index.
Seeing, Hearing and Smelling the World
“The most routine, everyday occurrences, such as recognizing a friend on the street and exchanging greetings, demonstrate the biological complexity of the puzzles that scientists are attempting to solve. Although such encounters seem simple, they require hundreds of millions of cells to act in precise ways to receive the sights and sounds and translate them into electrical impulses. These impulses flow through the nervous system to carry the messages to the brain, where they can be understood and acted upon at astonishing speed.”
This fascinating website from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has the answers to questions such as how the nose works, why some people are colorblind, and how the brain senses motion. There are additional sections on the use of PET scans, magnetic detectors, and future scanning methods.
1. “Tracking Dioxins to the Arctic” – NECEC
2. Center for the Biology of Natural Systems – Queens College, New York
3. Executive Summary: “Long-Range Air Transport of Dioxin from North American Sources to Ecologically Vulnerable Receptors in Nunavut, Arctic Canada” [.pdf]
4. Full Report: “Long-Range Air Transport of Dioxin from North American Sources to Ecologically Vulnerable Receptors in Nunavut, Arctic Canada” [.pdf]
5. “Questions and answers about Dioxins” – EPA [.pdf]
6. Dioxin and Related Compounds – EPA/NCEA
7. National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA)
8. HYSPLIT (HYbrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory)
9. “Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” Fifth Edition (2000) [.pdf]
Dioxins are a group of extremely persistent, toxic chemical compounds that share certain similarities in structural and biological properties. Included in this group are CDDs (chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins), CDFs (chlorinated dibenzofurans), and certain types of the now-familiar PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). These compounds, produced largely as emissions during industrial processes, are linked to detrimental health effects such as cancer, severe skin diseases, and reproductive and developmental defects. In 1994, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) produced a draft scientific reassessment of the health risks resulting from exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and other dioxins. Since then, the EPA has been working to revise and update the 1994 draft, with intent to release a complete reassessment in calendar year 2001. Last week, the EPA released several new draft documents online, as additions to the ongoing comprehensive reassessment of dioxin science. In addition to this new EPA release, the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (NACEC) has just posted results of a separate study linking dioxin sources across North America to a remote Arctic deposition location, Nunavut. This week's In The News focuses on dioxins and the dioxin reassessment initiative.
The first resource, from the NACEC newsletter (1), summarizes the recent study in which scientists at the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems (CBNS) (2) have, for the first time, successfully linked dioxins in the Arctic to several thousand distant source locations. For further details on that study, see the Executive Summary (3) or the Full Report (4), both of which are available in .pdf format at the NACEC homepage. For background information on dioxins, the Environmental Protection Agency offers this page (.pdf format), answering basic questions about dioxins (5). More information on dioxins – including a description of the Dioxin Reassessment (with links to newly released Draft Documents), the Dioxin Exposure Initiative (DEI), EPA Analytical Methods, and EPA Regulations – is available at this site (6), co-hosted by the EPA and the National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) (7). Researchers interested in the methodology used to link dioxin sources with deposition areas should check out this site (8) from the Air Resources Laboratory (NOAA), offering a detailed introduction to HYSPLIT, the base model scientists have been adapting to track dioxin sources. Finally, for those who want to learn how to reduce dioxin exposure (via intake of saturated fats), this .pdf format report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is an instructive resource (9). [LXP] (From the Scout Report)
The Geological Survey of Western Australia (GSWA) recently conducted a field excursion to the eastern Pilbara to examine key sites believed to contain evidence of some of the oldest known fossils. A detailed explanation of stromatolites – laminated structures built mainly by cyanobacteria – is provided together with theories about their biological origin. There is material on the implications for fossil hunters elsewhere of the latest finds in this region of Australia and the need to protect the remains of long-extinct species. DB (From New Scientist Planet Science)
Electronic Colloquium on Computational Complexity (ECCC) [Postscript]
A comprehensive tool for theoretical computer scientists, the ECCC is an award-winning site providing links to research reports, surveys, lecture notes databases, and conferences dealing with computational complexity. According to the site's authors, based at University of Trier, Germany, “the Electronic Colloquium on Computational Complexity is a new forum for the rapid and widespread interchange of ideas, techniques, and research in computational complexity. The purpose of this Colloquium is to use electronic media for scientific communication and discussions in the computational complexity community.” Topics covered include complexity models and algorithms, combinatorics, communication complexity, cryptography, and combinatorial optimization. All of the references have been voluntarily submitted (see “guidelines” for submission) and can be downloaded in Postscript format. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)
State of the Internet 2000 – USIC [.pdf]
United States Internet Council (USIC)
Recently released, this report from the US Internet Council (USIC) and International Technology & Trade Associates, Inc. (ITTA) offers an “overview of recent Internet trends and examines how the Internet is affecting both business and social relationships around the world.” This year's report pays special attention to the increasingly international nature of the Internet and the rapid emergence of wireless Internet technologies. Users can download the full text of the report by chapter in .pdf format at the USIC site. Additional information on the Council and last year's State of the Internet report are available at the USIC homepage. [MD] (From the Scout Report)
Grace Plotting Software
Grace plotting software with convenient graphical interface and publication quality output is available at this site for free download (under public license). The software was developed by the Plasma Laboratory of Weizmann Institute of Science. The site describes Grace as, “… a WYSIWYG tool to make two-dimensional plots of scientific data. It runs under various (if not all) flavors of Unix with X11 and M*tif (LessTif or Motif). It also runs under VMS, OS/2, and Windows (95/98/NT). Its capabilities are roughly similar to GUI-based programs like Sigmaplot or Microcal Origin plus script-based tools like Gnuplot or Genplot. Its strength lies in the fact that it combines the convenience of a graphical user interface with the power of a scripting language which enables it to do sophisticated calculations or perform automated tasks.” Grace is derived from Xmgr (a.k.a. ACE/gr). The latest version, 5.1.2, was just released October 9, 2000. Grace's capabilities include linear and non-linear least squares with residuals, splines, histograms, smoothing, correlation, and more. It also contains a built-in programming language. FAQs, a tutorial, mailing list, and bug reports are also found at the Grace site. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)
Robotics: Sensing, Thinking, Acting
San Jose's Tech Museum presents this fabulous webpage, replete with video clips, illustrations, wonderful things! This covers the history of robotics, robotics in art, robotics and ethics in the 21st century, and, if you have Shockwave software, “At Your Command”, which simulates two approaches to robotic exploration: operating a robotic vehicle remotely, or allowing it to work on its own. There are also classroom activities and a timeline. A visually rich, informative introduction to this fascinating field!
Fundamentals of Sensors
A section describing sensors and their usage has been added to the Design & Standards Section of the eFunda webpage. Included are discussions of strain gages, eddy current proximity sensors, various pressure gages, pitot tubes, thermocouples and more. EFunda presents just the basics, including pros and cons, and suggested reading, but these basics are presented logically and clearly. There is obviously more to come in future. An excellent site!
Pretty Strange Patents
This is a tribute to strange, wacky, and unusual patents from around the world, among them US patent 3,771,192, which is for a Combination Toy Dog and Vacuum Cleaner© The idea is that you fool your dog by disguising the vacuum cleaner as a dog, so the dog thinks it's just another dog that sounds like a vacuum cleaner. Of course! And, there's more: including the fork with a timer to help people eat more slowly and a bizarre contraption that is supposed to provide toilet humour for inebriated gentlemen in the form of a dazzling lightshow (to aim at!). Next! DB (From Mew Scientist Planet Science)
On Time – National Museum of American History [Flash4]
These two online exhibits from prominent American museums explore the character of time – its impact on our daily lives and its ability to shape and reform human consciousness. The first site, Tempus Fugit: Time Flies, is a superb exhibit from the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art that uses items from the museum to exemplify different understandings of time. The exhibit features sections on 20th Century Time, World Times, and Conservation Time. Twentieth-century time considers the changing nature of time in the technological age by examining the innovations in graphic and plastic arts inspired by an altered sense of time. The exhibit includes works by Muybridge, Edward Hopper, Salvador Dali, Kandinsky, Rothko, Roy Lichtenstein, and others. The second section, World Times, focuses on the different conceptions of time embodied in art from primitive times to the present and ranges from ancient Native American to Medieval Europe to ancestral Africa to the deeply cosmological perceptions of time in ancient Indian civilizations. Conservation Time takes visitors behind the scenes to see how conservation science can uncover the history of a work's composition and the changes wrought upon it over the course of its lifetime. The Website also offers ideas for teaching using the exhibits. In sum, this is an elegantly constructed and intelligent Website. To be sure, users will want to set aside some time for it as the graphics enforce their own meditative pace upon the viewer. The second Website is from the National Museum of American History and concentrates more straightforwardly on how humans have measured time from 1700 to the present. The exhibit presents text and images describing the history of keeping time from the century immediately preceding the industrial revolution – when sundials were still in use – to our present age of digital access and a global village that never sleeps. [DC] (From the Scout Report)
Thomas A. Edison Papers
A collaborative project between Rutgers University, the Smithsonian, and numerous other partners, the Thomas A. Edison Papers Project is an ongoing effort to organize and publish a select edition of the papers from the great inventor. The editors have recently announced that documents from Parts I-III (1850-1898) of the papers have now been placed online as a searchable collection of digitized images. Users can look for documents using a detailed search engine (instructions are supplied, and users are recommended to read them first). Options include searching by name, date, and document type; or performing a keyword search of folders and volumes. Documents are displayed in a cramped frame, but users can open this frame in a new browser window for full-screen reading. This is only the first installment, and the full digital edition will include the complete text of all of the print volumes. The site also offers a number of other Edison resources, including an annotated list of Edison's companies, chronologies, bibliographies, motion picture catalogs, and related links, among other resources. [MD] (From the Scout Report)
Provided by the Terrain Sciences division of Canada's Geological Survey, this site features photos taken by Survey scientists over the past 30 years. Users can browse this large collection of mostly unpublished photos via an interactive map or by province/territory via a pull-down menu. Photos are offered as thumbnails which link to full-sized images. Each is accompanied by a caption describing the geological forces at work. [MD] (From the Scout Report)
Water Librarians' Homepage
Robert Teeter, librarian at a California water agency, has put together this metasite containing a variety of useful links in the field of water resources along with other library-related links. Agencies, databases, publishers, organizations, libraries, mailing lists, and more are featured. Teeter has organized the links by page type and indicates which sites are newly added or personal favorites. Just a few examples of links at the Water Librarians' Homepage include Waterfront (an information source on water conservation initiatives taking place in Winnipeg, Canada), The American Water Resources Association, and The Environmental Professionals' Homepage (providing links to primary sources of environmentally-related information). This is an excellent tool for academics, professionals, and librarians in the field of water resources and also environmental engineering. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)
Arctic Theme Page – NOAA
This site from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is designed to provide arctic data and other information to “scientists, students, teachers, academia, managers, decision makers and the general public.” Data, maps, a listing of arctic research programs, and climate index information are offered under the Scientific heading. General Interest resources include photos, and links to related sites on arctic education, arctic exploration, the northern lights, animals, ships, the environment, and archaeology and native peoples. Also included is a collection of essays answering selected questions and a FAQ. [MD] (From the Scout Report)
This personal homepage has some very interesting photographs of voyages made to the Arctic during the 1920's by Olaf Hanson. (Thanks to Harlan A Hansen)
Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Record from the South Pole
The site features data derived from air samples collected biweekly from the South Pole by Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers 1957-1999. Graphic and digital data on CO2 concentrations are available at this page. According to the authors, the SIO CO2 record from the South Pole shows that annual averages of atmospheric CO2 concentrations rose from 327.45 ppmv in 1973 (the first year when data were available for the entire year) to 365.69 ppmv in 1999. This represents an annual increase over 1.4 ppmv per year. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)
Particle Physics Olympics
Heath O'Connell of the SLAC Library has created a page showing how individual countries rank in the particle physics citation 2000 Olympics. It's intended to be an enjoyable take-off on the Olympics web page that shows the sports data by country. Lots of disclaimers apply. (Thanks to Patricia Kreitz)
Chemistry for Life
In these days of wonderful touchy-feely science museums, chemistry is often given short shrift. A consortium of 16 museums in partnership with the chemical industy is working to bring chemistry to people. You can visit the Virtual Gallery, do online experiments, view exciting films about the global themes of chemistry. The site has a look of being in its infancy, but it is worth looking at. The museums included in the consortium are:
Math and Physics Help
This site is intended for undergraduate students in physics and mathematics who need a helping hand with those late-night study sessions. Particularly enjoyable sections found here are “What dX Actually Means” and “Think Like a Physicist or, Why do Physicists Waste So Much Time Talking About Math?” The author, Kenny Felder of NC State University, eases students into these complex subjects by including “before you read this” and “after you read this” statements indicating what skills are needed to understand the lesson, and prodding, “this is really cool” or “dazzle your friends.” Along with Felder's own lively writings are links to related educational sites including conversion tables and tutorials. Felder's personal links can be skipped, but the rest of this site is a useful reference for secondary and college students. [HCS] (From the Scout Report)
Antimatter: Mirror of the Universe
CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) created this website to explain matter, antimatter, and their place in our lives to students of all ages. Learn how antimatter is manufactured, and how it may be used (examples are both from the real and fictional worlds.) Webcasts will be provided throughout the year with mini lectures on the physics of matter.
Sporting the motto “It's your Congress. Learn to laugh,” this commercial Website offers insightful information delivered in a humorous vein on the US Congress and its members. Perhaps the most useful feature of the site is the free YourCongress Watch E-mail Service which lets visitors sign up to receive emails containing all of the statements made by their Senators or Representatives on the floor of Congress. The Your Money section features articles explaining the resilience of pork barrel spending, a translation of the budget into everyday English, and a discussion of the “54 Kings” – the Senators and Representatives who control the lion's share of appropriations. There are also articles here about the typical congressperson's day; advice on how to really get your Representative to respond to your concerns (as opposed to receiving a machine-generated letter); a graphic comparison of the demographics of Congress vs. those of America (see just how underrepresented women are, how overrepresented lawyers, how fairly represented Baptists); and “Seven Surprising Things,” telling us, for instance, that members of Congress actually work hard – though they never read the bills they vote on. YourCongress.com also offers a pay email service that will track any issue, Representative, or Senator. While YourCongress.com is not as funny as the Daily Show, it's probably more informative. Note: when we visited the site, the section entitled Characters had no content. [DC] (From the Scout Report)
An Introduction to Social Policy
Created and maintained by Paul Spicker, a professor of politics specializing in social policy at the University of Dundee, this Website presents a detailed, yet schematic view of the main themes, concepts, and controversies surrounding issues of the welfare state and social services. The site offers sections on social policy, welfare and society, social need, the welfare state, social services, the politics of welfare, British social policy, social services in the UK, and social policy on the Web (a collection of annotated links). Using a hypertext, bulleted format, the author manages to convey significant amounts of information about complex ideas in a relatively brief span without oversimplifying. An excellent resource for economics and sociology students working on social policy topics. [DC] (From the Scout Report)
Lexicon of Linguistics
Created and maintained by faculty members at the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics, this Website provides easily accessed authoritative definitions for thousands of technical terms in the field of linguistics. The Lexicon may be searched or browsed, and users can submit definitions for terms for editorial consideration by the site's authors. A highly practical bookmark for both students and scholars in the field. [DC] (From the Scout Report)
Anthropology Biography Web
Part of the Emuseum at Minnesota State University (see the August 22, 2000 Scout Report for the Social Sciences), this Website offers brief, encyclopedic entries on the lives of 392 significant anthropologists (or prominent thinkers in other fields who have influenced the discipline). The entries, written by anthropology students at Minnesota State and alphabetically indexed, give overviews of the careers and contributions of these individuals including short bibliographies – often with links to useful Web resources. [DC] (From the Scout Report)
Global Macroeconomic and Global Policy Site
This expansive website offers insight to the study of macroeconomics for college students and others interested in the economics of the global economy. Learn about hedge funds, currency boards, and ideas for reform of the World Bank. Created by Nouriel Roubinian, associate professor of economics and international business at the Stern School of Business, NYU. (From Blue Web'N)
Poverty in the United States, 1999 – US Census Bureau [.pdf, 88 pages]
Last Tuesday, the US Census Bureau released their annual report on poverty. The report gives data on poverty rates by selected characteristics – age, race, nativity, family composition, work experience, and geography. Findings reveal that the nation's poverty rate dropped from 12.7 percent in 1998 to 11.8 percent in 1999, the lowest rate since 1979. In addition, “real median household income reached $40,816, the highest level ever recorded by the Census Bureau.” The report also announces the lowest level of child poverty since 1979 – 16.9 percent – and a record low for African-Americans of 23.6 percent. The report can be examined in full in .pdf format or in selected sections in HTML. [DC] (From the Scout Report)
College Quality and the Earnings of Recent College Graduates [.pdf]
Published last Friday by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), this report “examines the association between factors such as selectivity and other institutional characteristics, and the earnings of recent college graduates 5 years after graduation.” The report's data are drawn from the 1980 High School and Beyond (HS&B) study combined with information about courses, grades, credits, and credentials contained in the Post Secondary Education Transcript Study. The findings correlating institutional profile to postgraduate salary indicate a significant gender gap. For men, the institution mattered significantly less than their major or personal background in determining postgraduate income, while for women “institutional characteristics were almost equally important in affecting earnings (5 percent versus 4 percent).” The report is offered in .pdf format with a hyperlinked sidebar table of contents. [DC] (From the Scout Report)
The Internet Economist is a self-guided tutorial which offers a very basic lesson in helping economists develop Internet information skills. Written by Libby Miller and Martin Poulter of the Economics Centre of the Learning and Teaching Support Network at the University of Bristol, England, the Internet Economist points to some important economics sites, discusses tools and techniques for Internet searching, and guides users in using the Internet for studying, teaching, and research. This thoughtful tutorial also contains a basket feature, which allows users to mark interesting sites and come back to them later, a glossary, and quizzes at the end of each section. This tutorial will benefit economists and economics students who are relatively new to the Internet. [EM] (From the Scout Report)
Second Moment is a news and business resource for “academia and industry in the fields of applied statistics and analytics.” The main content of the site contains a selection of applied statistics and analytics articles posted by Second Moment users. Comments from the Second Moment community follow each article. Also included are several excellent links pages on topics including regression and smoothing, multivariate analysis, and time series. [EM] (From the Scout Report)
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THREE MEN VITAL TO INTERNET SHARE PHYSICS PRIZE
Three scientists whose innovations are essential to the Internet will share the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physics. Retired Texas Instruments engineer Jack S. Kilby will receive half of the $913,000 prize money for his role in developing the integrated circuit. The other half of the prize will be shared by Dr. Zhores I. Alferov of the A.F. Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute in Russia and Dr. Herbert Kroemer of the University of California at Santa Barbara. Alferov and Kroemer separately created heterostructures, electronic components that allow small solid-state lasers to be used for practical applications such as compact-disc players and fiber optics.
(New York Times, 11 October 2000 via Edupage)
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE MAY HEAL COMPUTER NETWORKS
A team of researchers at the University of North Texas has developed a software program that uses intelligent mobile agents (IMAs) to route data through networks and to prevent them from clogging in one area. The researchers, led by Dr. Armin Mikler, designed the IMAs from artificial-intelligence software, so each agent has the ability to recognize its task, adapt to the situation, and communicate what it is doing to others. When it has finished, it combines with other agents or, in effect, destroys itself. Mikler says the software could be key in reducing the workload of systems managers, who do not have the time or workforce necessary to oversee all of the data flowing through their networks. Researcher Cliff Cozzolino says the IMAs' mobility is key to their functionality. Although the researchers are testing the program now and hoping to find corporate sponsorship, they admit they have to solve the software's pressing security problems. IMAs move in much the same way as a virus, and if malicious code entered the system, it would be devastating.
(NewsFactor Network, 28 September 2000 via Edupage)
NEW SITE STREAMLINES ONLINE GOVERNMENT
President Clinton on Friday launched FirstGov.gov, a single portal that will connect citizens to nearly all online government resources. By linking nearly all government resources, the site will allow users, for example, to download tax forms, apply for student loans, track Social Security benefits, and make reservations at national parks. Using a privately developed search engine called FedSearch, FirstGov combs through 27 million Web pages from 20,000 government sites. “This cutting-edge site gives the American people the ‘Information Age’ government they deserve,” Clinton said. Inktomi chief scientist Eric Brewer, who suggested the idea for FirstGov when he met Clinton at the 1999 World Economic Forum, created and donated the FedSearch engine. Brewer also established a foundation that will maintain FirstGov for the next three years, with $4.1 million in government funding.
(Washington Post, 23 September 2000 via Edupage)
FIRSTGOV CONNECTS USERS TO 27 MILLION WEB PAGES
FirstGov, a portal aimed at connecting all of the government's online resources, launched last month providing access to over 27 million government Web pages. The portal will help agencies achieve their goal of increasing the visibility of their sites. However, this increased publicity will require agencies to ensure that their sites do not pose privacy threats or contain inappropriate content, says Commerce Department CIO Roger W. Baker, noting that some federal sites have posted Social Security numbers in the past. FirstGov will initially focus on providing information, but the portal is expected to eventually enable transactions between citizens and agencies. Inktomi founder and chief scientist Eric Brewer led the nonprofit Federal Search Foundation, which developed the search engine for FirstGov. The Federal Search Foundation will manage FirstGov for the next two years, and the government will then run the portal itself or outsource the task.
(Government Computer News, 2 October 2000 via Edupage)
CYBER-SECURITY PLANS GO BEGGING ON HILL
The Clinton administration's attempt to provide more computer security experts for the federal government is faltering in the closing days of Congress. The House and Senate have each approved only a small part of the White House's $138.4 million request for security programs, including a scholarship offer to talented computer-science students who agree to work for the federal government for two years. Administration officials say without the scholarship program the government will lose the best young security experts to the private sector. Also receiving no funds are proposals for numerous research projects and an intrusion-monitoring network. In all, House committees have approved only $15.5 million of the White House's request, while the Senate has granted $40 million.
(Washington Post, 16 October 2000 via Edupage)
COMMUNITIES SPLIT MILLIONS TO FIGHT DIVIDE
U.S. Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta recently announced the recipients of the annual Technology Opportunity Program grants, which the department intends to help close the digital divide. Grant money for this year totaled $14 million, and program sponsors will add an additional $18 million to that total. The 35 grant winners include the Baltimore City Health Department, which will create a database to monitor the spread of sexually transmitted and other diseases, and the South Carolina Department of Education, which will give used computers and Internet training to low-income families. Also among the winners were projects from the County Sheriffs of Colorado to create a database of victim/offender information and from Portland, Ore., to build a database of affordable urban housing. Money also went to the Suquamish Indian Tribe in Washington state to create a mobile technology vehicle that will visit schoolchildren and to the Pueblo of Santa Ana to build a new government intranet. The Commerce Department will ask Congress to increase the program's funding to $45 million next year, Mineta said.
(Civic.com, 29 September 2000 via Edupage)
TRIBES MEET TECHNOLOGY
Indian reservations are beginning to use the Internet to improve education and job opportunities for tribe members. With 9 percent of Indian homes owning PCs and only 50 percent having phones, reservations remain far behind the rest of the U.S. in terms of technology. To address this issue, the White House, high-tech officials, and 32 Indian colleges will meet this week to discuss ways to obtain more federal funding to bring technology to reservations and to help tribe members get tech jobs. Bringing data entry, Web site, and other tech jobs to reservations would provide opportunities for tribe members without forcing them to leave home, and would boost the economy, says Richard Williams of the American Indian College Fund.
(USA Today, 10 October 2000 via Edupage)
SEVEN INSTITUTIONS CREATE A CANADIAN VIRTUAL UNIVERSITY
Canadian Virtual University, a joint venture of seven Canadian universities, started registering students on Friday. The virtual university will allow students to transfer credits from one member school to another, but students will continue to receive degrees from their home university. Students will have the flexibility of picking and choosing the courses they want, says Dominique Abrioux, president of the virtual university. Although virtual university students will not pay fees that are normally required when students take courses from universities that are not their home institution, they will be required to pay tuition to the university that provides the course. Participating institutions include Athabasca University, Brandon University, University of Manitoba, Laurentian University, Open University, Royal Roads University, and University of Victoria.
(Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 3 October 2000 via Edupage)
HOW ECONOMISTS HELP PREDICT BEHAVIOR ONLINE
Experimental economics, which has been long been viewed as impractical, is now being deemed relevant due to the rise of the Web. Experimental economists use data to predict market behavior, and are increasingly attracting attention from U.S. business schools, the FCC, and businesses such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard. IBM has opened an experimental-economics lab, which Robert Baseman, IBM's senior research manager, says will help clients develop and deploy their e-markets. University of Arizona professor Vernon Smith, who uses an experimental economics game to study trust relationships, says that such exercises connect to IBM's e-business focus. Smith, who spoke at the dedication of IBM's experimental lab, says that the anonymity of the Internet and e-commerce calls for reputation-building systems to enable trust-based trading.
(Wall Street Journal, 02 October 2000 via Edupage)
BRIDGING THE DIVIDE
Concern that low-income households will be left behind as society comes to rely more and more on the Internet has led to several efforts that seek to address the potential problem. By 2005, less than half of the 20 million U.S. households that earn less than $19,000 a year are likely to have Internet access. In comparison, 15 million households that earn more than $75,000 are projected to be online by the end of this year. The federal government is trying to tackle the issue with its New Market initiative, which will contribute more than $100 million in corporate assistance to communities and populations that are perceived as being in jeopardy of missing out on the Internet revolution. East Palo Alto, Calif., with more than 25 percent of its children living below the poverty line, will be among the communities that will receive computers for schools and training for teachers with the help of Hewlett-Packard, Gateway, and other companies.
(Governing, October 2000 via Edupage)
SCIENTISTS WEAVE NEW-STYLE WEBS TO TAME THE INFORMATION GLUT
Researchers at 16 universities are working to build a data grid called the Grid Physics Network (GriPhyN) that will allow scientists all over the world to easily share huge databases. Data grids operate much like the Gnutella file-sharing program, which allows users to exchange files without a central server. GriPhyN, funded by an $11.9 million federal grant, will allow physicists to share information on a number of large projects involving huge amounts of data from thousands of scientists. For example, GriPhyN will be used on two CERN experiments, ATLAS and CMS, which will run on the Large Hadron Collider. The new experiments will generate 1,000 times more data than today's CERN experiments, and researchers will need a way to sort through this information. For example, an astronomer working on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which GriPhyN will take part in, might need to look at 10 million galactic objects to discover a case of gravitational lensing. GriPhyN will join with a European project called DataGrid, as well as the Particle Physics Data Grid at the California Institute of Technology.
(Science, 29 September 2000 via Edupage)
AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT
Optical networks, which carry data in the form of light over glass, are revolutionizing communications by bringing tremendous gains in speed. An optical connection could, for example, download a digital movie in four seconds, while a traditional network that transmits data as electrons over copper would take more than seven hours using the fastest cable modem. As optical technology advances, prices are dropping. Wavelength division multiplexing can divide a fiber into 160 channels, each of which carries the same traffic volume as the entire cable did in the past. This significantly cuts the cost of moving data over long distances, making optical technology a viable option for more people. Furthermore, optical equipment is expected to double the capacity it delivers for a particular price every nine months, experts say. Optical communications companies are expected to remain Wall Street favorites, as Internet traffic continues to double every three months, making optical networks the only practical way to accommodate the load. Spending on optical technology will rise from $31 billion last year to $44 billion this year, jumping to $89 billion in 2003, says market research firm RHK.
(Business Week, 9 October 2000 via Edupage)
CAMPUS COMPUTING SURVEY: ADDING TECHNOLOGY TO TEACHING A TOP ISSUE
Making technology a part of classroom instruction remains the most important information technology issue facing college administrators, according to the annual survey of the Campus Computing Project. Other concerns include upgrading hardware and software, establishing distance education programs, and devising an e-commerce strategy. The survey found that e-mail is being used for instruction in 60 percent of college courses this year and that 30 percent of courses now use a Web site. In 1994, those rates were 10 percent and 7 percent respectively. However, while the use of computers and technology has increased dramatically in the past six years, only a minority of administrators concurred that “technology has improved instruction on my campus.” Campus Computing Project director and founder Kenneth C. Green says the use of technology at colleges may be reaching a plateau.
(Chronicle of Higher Education, 12 October 2000 via Edupage)
TECH GIANTS JUMPING INTO BIOTECH
Biotechnology and IT are increasingly synthesizing in the accelerated push to map the human genome. Biotech research is demanding greater database capacity and processing power, opening up new markets for IT. Although other high-tech players such as 3M, Agilent, Compaq, Intel, and Motorola are launching biotech ventures, IBM led the fray when it announced its five-year initiative to develop a powerful new biotech supercomputer. IBM has already built the world's fastest supercomputer, ASCI White, but the company is now developing Blue Gene to be 100 times more powerful than the current model in order to unravel the complexities of proteins. Interest in biochips and other IT contributions has mounted because researchers believe that understanding genes and pinpointing their role in disease is central to drug discovery and treatment.
(San Francisco Chronicle, 9 October 2000 via Edupage)
HOW LOCAL CAN YOU GO?
Community colleges, learning they are a perfect fit for the Internet, are increasingly offering online courses and degrees. Cost-conscious community colleges are finding that the Web helps bolster sagging enrollment numbers without incurring brick-and-mortar expansion costs. The Web is also convenient for community college students, many of whom tend to maintain full-time jobs, have children, or live in remote areas--all on a tight budget. Internet-based classes also complement the schools' traditional technical emphasis. Tech giants such as Cisco Systems have partnered with two-year colleges to provide online training degrees and recruitment opportunities. Although software, hardware, and course development costs can be expensive, the higher enrollment spurred by online offerings is expected to make up the difference.
(Industry Standard, October 2000 via Edupage)
BLACK COLLEGES LAG IN OFFERING STUDENTS COMPUTER ACCESS, A NEW REPORT SAYS
Students at historically black colleges are less likely to own computers and to have “on-demand” access to the Internet through campus networks than students nationwide, a report from the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education revealed. The report surveyed administrators at 80 historically black colleges. Nearly all of the colleges surveyed provided students with basic Internet access, but less than half made access available in student residence halls. Moreover, although most of the colleges surveyed had T-1 lines, only 30 percent used higher-bandwidth connections, which could prevent historically black colleges from taking full advantage of Internet2 and other high-speed telecommunications systems. However, in introducing the report, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Norman Mineta wrote that historically black colleges are “poised to make a ‘digital leap’ into the 21st century.”
(Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 13 October 2000 via Edupage)
COMPUTERS IN HALF OF U.S. HOMES
The number of U.S. households with computers reached 51 percent in August of this year, according to a recent Commerce Department survey. By comparison, 42.1 percent of U.S. households had computers in December 1998. Meanwhile, 41.5 percent of U.S homes had Internet access in August, compared with 26.2 percent a year ago, the survey says. Still, minorities and those living in rural areas are less likely to have computers and Internet access than their white and urban counterparts, the report says. In August, 23.5 percent of black households and 23.6 percent of Hispanic households had Internet access, the survey found. This compares with 46.1 percent of white households and 56.8 percent of Asian American and Pacific Islander households.
(Washington Post, 17 October 2000 via Edupage)
WHERE TECHNOLOGY MEETS BIOLOGY
Stanford University has announced the recipients of the first Bio-X research grants, which will provide $3 million to each of 19 projects. The Bio-X program, supported by a $150 million donation from Netscape cofounder Jim Clark and a $60 million anonymous donation, will bring together scientists from every discipline to work on a wide range of problems. For example, a neurobiologist will work with an ophthamologist, a chemical engineer, and an electrical engineer on a project to restore sight by attaching a digital camera to a person's retinal cells. Other projects will involve human tissue engineering and the newly sequenced human genome. The Bio-X program will receive a home in 2003 when the $150 million Clark Center opens. The center will encourage interaction among scientists, researchers, and students from different areas. Interdisciplinary research such as this is catching on in universities across the country as new technology allows previously undreamed-of advances in science. Channing Robertson, chemical engineering professor and Bio-X committee member, says science is “slopping over the sides of the disciplines, and that's where the interesting stuff is going to happen.”
(SiliconValley.com, 5 October 2000 via Edupage)
A quote this week tying in to the Nobel Prize announcement:
Fermi was asked what characteristics physics Nobelists had in common. He answered, “I cannot think of a single one, not even intelligence.”
Enrico Fermi, Italian physicist, 1901-1954 (Phys Today, Oct 1994, pg70) (Thanks to David Harris)
Parable of the Monkeys
“The Topos of the Monkeys and the Typewriters” refers to that oft-quoted metaphor of monkeys banging away on typewriters used to illustrate the probability of great writing (a la Shakespeare) being produced from randomness. This page, created as an AT&T research scientist's personal project, collects references to the typing monkeys, beginning with a 1913 cite from a French physics journal and continuing with authors like Isaac Asimov, Douglas “Hitchhiker's Guide” Adams, and Scott Adams, author of Dilbert. We used Babelfish to translate the first reference from French: “…conceive that one drew up a million monkeys randomly to be struck the keys … and that, under the monitoring of illiterate foremen, these monkeys typists work with heat ten hours per day.” Right away, we could see why this parable has acquired Internet urban-legend status. (From Yahoo's Picks of the Week)
All items from the Scout Report are copyright Susan Calcari, 1994-2000. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the Scout Report provided the copyright notice and this paragraph is preserved on all copies. The InterNIC provides information about the Internet to the US research and education community under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation: NCR-9218742. The Government has certain rights in this material.
Blue Web'n is a searchable library of Blue-Ribbon Web sites categorized by grade level, content area, and type. Visit Blue Web'n online at http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/bluewebn/.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this newsletter are those of the participants (authors), and do not necessarily represent the official views, opinions, or policy of the National Science Foundation.