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If you are a science librarian and plan to be at the AAAS conference February 16–20, 2006 in St. Louis, drop by to meet me. There will be a general orientation meeting for all librarians who attend on Friday, February 17 at 3:30pm at the Renaissance Grand, Mezzanine Level, Parkview Room, sponsored by ACRL-STS. This is a wonderful meeting that bridges all disciplines and reflects national science policy, promotes scientific literacy and science education. Walter Warnick will be our special guest. We hope that all science librarians will come to the meeting.
Additional information about the conference is found at the AAAS Annual Meeting page (http://www.aaas.org/meetings/Annual_Meeting/index.shtml) and you are also invited to visit the entire AAAS website (http://www.aaas.org/).
If you can’t make it to the meeting, drop by the Science.gov booth on Saturday or Sunday and get a “tour” of this wonderful resource.
Senate Legislation Based on Rising Storm Report Contains Major Programs for K-12 Science and Math Ed
On January 25 Senators Domenici (R-NM), Bingaman (D-NM), Alexander (R-TN) and Mikulski (D-MD) introduced the Protect America’s Competitive Edge (PACE) Act, three bills designed to implement 20 recommendations contained in the National Academies (NAS) report Rising Above the Gathering Storm. The number one action item in the report was to improve K–12 science and mathematics education. Three separate bills (PACE-Energy, PACE-Education, and PACE-Tax), which will work their way through four separate Senate committees, were introduced following a press conference last week that was packed with Senate staffers and lobbyists from major business groups such as Intel, IBM, and the Business Roundtable, and with representatives from science groups and higher education institutions. The entire package of bills is expected to cost $9 billion the first year.
Two of the bills contain a large number of programs for science and math education.
The PACE-Education bill also would increase research programs and equipment grants; increase the NSF, NASA, and Department of Defense research budgets by 10% annually through 2012; create a new Presidential Innovation Award; create a new student visa for doctoral candidates; provide certain exemptions to the numerical limitations to employment based immigrants; and develop science parks.
The PACE-Energy bill also has programs that will establish a joint program between IHE and the national labs for 100 scientists, and includes a number of research grants for scientists. The bill also seeks to double the authorized level of funding for basic research in the physical sciences.
As reported in earlier issues of the NSTA Legislative Update, similar legislation has been introduced in the House; in early December Representative Bart Gordon (D-TN), ranking Democrat on the House Science Committee, introduced the “10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds” Science and Math Scholarship Act (H.R. 4434). The bill provides scholarships to science, math, and engineering students who complete a program that combines a degree in these areas with a teaching certificate and commit to teaching K–12 science and math after graduation. The legislation also authorizes summer professional development institutes for current teachers to improve content knowledge; establishes master programs for in-service teachers, and creates more training for in-service teachers to teach AP and IB courses in science and math. (From NSTA Legislative Updates)
When Science Informs Policy, What is the Role of the Scientist?
Wednesday, March 8th, 2006
Keck 100 Conference Room
The Keck Center of the National Academies
500 5th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Free and open to the public, advance registration not required.
Scientific research can play a significant role in the development of public policy. This seminar will provide varied prospectives on the role a scientist ought to play in the policy arena.
The panelists will address the following questions:
State of the Union
House Science Committee Comments
American Competitiveness Initiative
After the State of the Union
Ask the White House
AAAS Review of FY07 Budget
The big news in the President’s 2006 State of the Union speech was the announcement of a multi-part American Competitiveness Initiative — the theme being, “America’s economic strength and global leadership depend on innovation.” The ACI will be funded with $136 billion over the next 10 years, not including the cost of hiring tens of thousands of math and science teachers. Most of the money would be used for tax credits and to double spending on government research in the physical sciences at NSF, NIST, and the DOE Office of Science.
NASA Scientist Feels Pressure Over Global Warming
The Political Science Test
Dispute Regarding the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Investigation of Climate Research Scientists
Griffin Statement on Scientific Openness
NASA Science Policy
Worldwide interest has been spurred in the statements by Dr. Hansen of NASA that scientists are being “censored” due to political pressures.
Free NSTA Web Seminars
The NSTA Institute’s program of free online professional development events continues with four interactive Web Seminars in February.
On February 1, Bill Robertson, author of the popular Stop Faking It! book series will talk about Newton’s Third Law and Circular Motion, for teachers of grades 3–8. On February 8, Olaf Jorgenson, co-author of Doing Good Science in Middle School, takes a look at inquiry in the classroom. Bill Carlsen, co-author of Watershed Dynamics returns with more environmental science concepts and activities for high school teachers on February 16. On February 22, Juliana Texley, Terry Kwan, and John Summers, co-authors of Investigating Safely, will discuss more safety requirements for the high school classroom and laboratory.
These 90-minute, live professional development experiences allow distant participants to interact with recognized experts including NSTA Press authors, and scientists, engineers, and education specialists from NASA. Seminars are from 6:30–8 p.m., EST, so that participants in all U.S. time zones may interact live with content and pedagogical experts who provide real-time answers to questions. Grant-funded, these online events are offered at no cost, but because the number of participants is limited, advance registration is strongly advised. NSTA sends e-mail reminders to registrants just prior to the event date. For a full schedule of Seminar topics, dates and times, and to register, visit the NSTA Web Seminars page (http://institute.nsta.org/web_seminars.asp).
A Univeral DNA Database 2/28
Tuesday, February 28th, 2006
Keck 100 Conference Room
A Univeral DNA Database: Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?
At this public seminar, speakers will debate the benefits and risks of extending a national DNA database to include all US citizens. Free and open to the public.
To Educate or Advocate 3/8
Wednesday, March 8th, 2006
Keck 100 Conference Room
To Educate or Advocate: When Science Informs Policy, What is the Role of the Scientist?
Free and open to the public.
Museum Muses — Barton Lidicé Benes and Justine Cooper
February 12–May 1, 2006 (Closed February 20 and April 20–25, 2006)
Open Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Upstairs Gallery, National Academy of Sciences, 2100 C St. NW
Gallery Talk and Reception: Sunday, April 30, 1:30 p.m.
This exhibition pairs two artists who explore issues of collecting and classification in their work. Barton Lidicé Benes collects bits of rubbish and refuse left behind by celebrities and assembles them into his own whimsical cabinets of curiosity. Justine Cooper spent a year photographing the American Museum of Natural History’s collections and labyrinth of storage spaces. Over the past four hundred years, museums have evolved from private collections of scientific specimens and fictitious artifacts available only to the rich and scholarly into public institutions, which strive to educate a diverse audience through accessible and relevant exhibitions. Cooper and Benes challenge us to consider the museum’s past and contemplate its function in contemporary society.
Sensing Terrains — An Installation by Patricia Olynyk
February 12–June 16, 2006
Open weekdays, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Closed February 20, April 20–25 and May 29, 2006
Artist’s Reception: March 19, 1–2:30 p.m. (precedes concert by Apollo’s Fire — The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra)
National Academy of Sciences, 2100 C St. NW, Rotunda Gallery
Patricia Olynyk juxtaposes triggers of sensation with the sensory system itself. She incorporates her own imagery of the sensory organs of a variety of specimens with photographs of Japanese gardens meant to tickle the senses.
Climate and Global Change Assessments
February 27, 2006–February 28, 2006
500 5th Street, N.W., Washington, DC
If you would like to attend the sessions of this meeting that are open to the public or need more information please contact:
Contact Name: Rachael Shiflett
Phone: (202) 334-3479
The objectives of this meeting are:
A Universal DNA Database: Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?
Tuesday, February 28th, 2006
Keck 100 Conference Room
Each winter, summer, and fall session, members of the Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program organize and present a series of seminars on compelling science and technology issues.
The seminars are for educational purposes only and are not connected to an NAS, NAE, IOM, or NRC project, report, or committee. No report or summary will be produced from these seminars. Each will be moderated with ample time for questions and discussion. The seminars are free and open to the public. Advance registration NOT required.
The Keck Center of the National Academies
500 5th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
A database containing DNA profiles of all U.S. citizens would be a boon to law enforcement agencies, but it would also raise serious concerns about individual privacy. At this public seminar, speakers will debate the benefits and risks of creating a national, mandatory DNA database.
Human Genetics: Our Past and Our Future
In this first Soap Box event, the MIT Museum presents geneticist David Altshuler in a lively discussion on the social and ethical considerations surrounding the use of genetic information.
Will genomics vanquish our most common diseases, or create a society based on vile eugenics — or both? David Altshuler outlines these possibilities in his informal talk and conversation at the MIT Museum.
Altshuler is a self-described optimist, and sees very promising avenues in current genetic research that attempts to pinpoint why some people develop diseases like adult-onset diabetes or schizophrenia. If we can identify the precise mechanisms inside cells that go haywire in individuals with an inherited predisposition to a certain disease, then it may be possible to design drugs much more accurately. “We’re searching for a culprit who committed a crime, where the culprit is a mutation in a DNA sequence that made somebody get sick … And scientists are the detectives — CGI: Crime Gene Investigators,” says Altshuler.
An Evening Conversation with Hana and Francisco J. Ayala
Thursday, 23 March 2006, 7:30PM
1200 New York Avenue, NW,
The story of two lives committed to one another, dedicated to protecting world populations and the environment in different ways. Hana Ayala is founder, president, and Chief Executive Officer of PANGEA WORLD, an economic development model that blends tourism with conservation and research. Francisco J. Ayala is University Professor at the University of California, Irvine whose work has revolutionized evolution theory, led to new ways to prevent and treat diseases, and shed light on issues concerning society, ethics, and religion. Join us to find out how the accomplishments of this couple have are changing our world and theirs.
There is no cost for the event. However, attendance will be limited by the capacity of the auditorium and is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Sensors for environmental observatories.
The facts about open access: a study of the financial and non-financial effects of alternative business models for scholarly journals.
Kaufman-Wills Group, 2005.
Draft Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters.
Foreign Science and Engineering Presence in U.S. Institutions and the Labor Force.
The Economic Impacts of Climate Change: Evidence from Agricultural Output and Random Fluctuations in Weather.
Physics of space security.
Union of Concerned Scientists, 2005.
Endangered Species Expenditure Reports.
Assessing the Biological Weapons and Bioterrorism Threat.
Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2005.
Growing energy: How biofuels can help end America’s oil dependence.
Review of the Draft Research and Restoration Plan for Artic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (Western Alaska) Salmon.
2004 Physics and Astronomy Academic Workforce.
Developing a National Registry of Pharmacologic and Biologic Clinical Trials: Workshop Report.
Touch the Sun.
Safety and Security of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage: Public Report.
Managing Construction and Infrastructure in the 21st Century Bureau of Reclamation.
Science, Medicine, and Animals: Teacher’s Guide.
A Policy Framework for the Cosmic Impact Hazard, by Geoffrey Sommer.
Designing a National Standard for Discovery Metadata Improving Access to Digital Information in the Dutch Government.
Globalization, Biosecurity, and the Future of the Life Sciences.
Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation.
Protection, Control, and Accounting of Nuclear Materials: International Challenges and National Programs — Workshop Summary.
Transportation Knowledge Networks: A Management Strategy for the 21st Century — Special Report 284.
The Fuel Tax and Alternatives for Transportation Funding: Special Report 285.
Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities.
Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs.
Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States (prepublication).
Review and Assessment of the Health and Productivity Benefits of Green Schools: An Interim Report.
Summary of a Workshop on the Technology, Policy, and Cultural Dimensions of Biometric Systems.
Testing of Defense Systems in an Evolutionary Acquisition Environment (prepublication).
Scientists as artists…or vice versa?
“In every scientist beats the heart of an artist. Well, perhaps not, but there is no reason why science can’t be a creative process, too. Artists paint, musicians compose, poets write — all creative outflows. A researcher’s creative output is to invent, conceptualise, test, and confront. Our scientists are artists (Nos scientifiques sont des artistes), a Research DG, France2 and Films de la Croisade co-production, paints scientists in a more colourful light; a palette befitting artists and creative folk. On 15 December, the film aired on France2, at 11.55 pm, and scored an audience rating of 8.5%, or 385 000 French viewers. It can also been seen on AthenaWeb.” Free registration required.
Frequently, art imitates life, and at times, the foreshadowing power of art can shape debates about critical issues facing human kind. The Museum of the Moving Image continues this tradition with their Sloan Science Cinematheque website, which is intended to serve as a general forum that will enhance the public understanding of science and technology. The site is divided into three primary sections, including one that contains short student films, lively scholarly articles, and “Dialogues”. This last section contains video coverage of panel discussion about science and film held at the Museum’s headquarters. The student films are well worth taking a look at, as they address a wide range of themes, including urban ornithology and a city-dweller obsessed with botany. The site concludes with the articles section, which features commentary from the Museum’s curators on the recent documentary “Grizzly Man”, and the complex depiction of the late Alfred Kinsey in the film “Kinsey”. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
The British Library: Listen to Nature
The British Library’s new Listen to Nature web site features 400 recordings selected from the more than 150,000 animal sounds held by the Library. Listen to Nature can be browsed by location, animal type, or habitat. Maps are provided with red dots plotting the locations of recordings; clicking any dot launches a player and the sound file. Alphabetical lists of animal sounds also accompany maps from the region. Visitors are invited to search the Catalogue, in this case the combined catalogue of the British Library Sound Archive, which includes all types of recorded sound. It is best to use the advanced search, limit searches to Wildlife sounds, and look for the “Electronic access” link. On a recent visit we heard loons, wolves, and a whip-poor-will recorded in Canada, enjoying the ability to hear sounds originally captured in North America sent back to us from the UK via the Internet. [DS] (From the Scout Report)
Intelligent Designs on Evolution
Recently, many interested parties have taken up the debate surrounding intelligent design and the teaching of evolution in public schools. While it can be hard to sort through the vast debates surrounding these issues, the good people at American Radio Works have created this thoughtful and introspective website that explores some of the issues surrounding this important topic. Under the careful direction of Mary Beth Kirchner, the documentary takes a look at some of the people involved in the debates, and features interviews with high school teachers, intelligent design theorists, and others. After listening to the documentary, visitors will also want take a look at the site’s other features, such as an interview with Professor Ted Peters (a theology professor) and a selection of additional relevant sites, such as those for the National Center for Science Education and the Institute for Creation Research. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
This attractive and well designed site explores bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes in an easy to understand format, and includes microbial facts, trivia and images of bacteria and algaethe world of microbes. Included are news sources, information on what microbiologists do, current topics in microbiology, videopodcasts, and more.
Bill Moyers Reports: Earth on Edge
Companion to a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) report from 2001 that “presents the findings of scientists who are studying the health of our world, as well as stories of ordinary people working to restore the health and well-being of the ecosystems.” Includes material about ecosystems (forest, urban, agricultural, coastal, fresh water, and grassland), the operation of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and suggestions for individuals to protect and restore the environment. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race
Over its twelve-year history, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has certainly never avoided tackling immensely controversial and important subjects, and this latest online feature is certainly no exception to this trend. Designed to complement a current exhibition at the Museum, this site looks at the ways in which the Nazi regime attempted to transform the genetic makeup of the population through the use of eugenics. Legitimized by numerous trained scientists, these ideas surrounding “racial hygiene” were tested through experiments on “imperfect” human beings who were perceived as biological threats. Within the site, visitors can view a video introduction by the Museum’s curator, Dr. Susan Bachrach, and a number of rather interesting video testimonies on the subjects of genetics and eugenics by various experts. Additionally, visitors can also view profiles of the physicians and scientists involved in these activities. It should be noted that there is a remark on the site’s homepage that states that the exhibition is “…recommended for visitors of 11 years and older.” (From the Scout Report)
Computer Analysis Suggests Paintings Are Not Pollocks
UO study questions paintings’ authenticity
Fractals and art: In the hands of a master
Richard Taylor: Further Information [pdf]
Unpopular Front: American Art and the Cold War
Robert Hughes, the venerable art critic for Time magazine, stated in 1982 “It is impossible to make a forgery of Jackson Pollock’s work”. It is certainly true that the physicality of his paintings, along with Pollock’s famed “pour” technique was forward-looking for its time. Given this information, it is not surprising that previously unknown works by Pollock that materialize draw close scrutiny from art historians, and increasingly, scientists. This week, the New York Times reported that Professor Richard Taylor of the University of Oregon had utilized fractal geometry to examine 14 of Pollock’s painting to help determine, and perhaps put into question, the authenticity of a cache of paintings found in 2003 in Wainscott, New York. This cache of paintings was discovered by Alex Matter, whose parents were friends with Pollock. Currently, Matter is planning a large exhibition of these newly discovered works, and this growing controversy has been closely followed among those in the art world. Dr. Taylor has remarked that his examination of the works has revealed “significant differences” between the patterns of these newer works and those of known Pollock works. He also mentioned that “That’s either due to one person who is extremely varied, or it’s due to a number of different artists.” [KMG]
The first link will take visitors to a piece from this Thursday’s New York Times, which discusses the recent computer analysis of the paintings. The second link will whisk visitors away to a fine article by The Oregonian’s Richard L. Hill that discusses Dr. Taylor’s findings and the rising tide of controversy surrounding these works. The third link will lead users to an intriguing piece from the magazine, Nature, which explores the science behind Dr. Taylor’s investigations and Pollock’s idiosyncratic style and manner. The fourth link leads to a National Gallery of Art web exhibition on Pollock and his work that begins with a rather intense photograph of Pollock holding a cigarette to his forehead. The fifth link leads to Dr. Taylor’s homepage at the University of Oregon, where users may read some of his compelling articles and other writings on his analyses of Pollock’s work through the use of fractal geometry. The sixth and final link leads to a piece by Louis Menand, writing in The New Yorker on the subject of American art and its function and ideology during the Cold War. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
Introduce a Girl to Engineering
National Engineer’s Week is upon us! The National Academy of Science offers this brief webpage with information on how to interest girls in the fields of engineering.
Explore the International Space Station
Take a virtual tour, see what life is like at the space station, take a look at the science being done. An attractive site from the BBC.
European and American Business Perspectives on Emissions Trading and Climate Policy
“Resources for the Future (RFF) and CLIPORE convene a conference in New York City to enhance the understanding of participants from the European Union and the United States on recent developments in emissions trading and climate change policy on both sides of the Atlantic. The conference facilitates an exchange of ideas on how companies are dealing with the uncertainty surrounding climate policy and how they can engage the policy process to lessen that uncertainty.” The site contains transcripts and videos of the conference.
NOVA: “Jewel of the Earth”
Forty million years ago a diverse community of insects living at the bottom of a tree in a temperate forest chanced into a sticky pool of pine resin. Then a mere 67 years ago a young boy named David Attenborough was given the amber stone containing the entombed bugs. “Jewel of the Earth” explores the remarkable time capsule of ancient life preserved in this and countless other samples of fossilized tree resin, or amber. Sir David Attenborough, now grown up and a celebrated naturalist and TV personality, hosts the program. As he makes abundantly clear, he is still entranced with the amber specimen from his youth and the seemingly magical quality of the material to serve as a crystal-clear window to an age before humans walked the Earth.
Here’s what you’ll find on the companion Web site:
Also, Links & Books, the Teacher’s Guide, the program transcript, and more.
This portion of the “Fear of Physics” website has short and simple animations to explain various aspects of physics in an interesting and entertaining manner. Learn how to make a jump shot every time, fly through Einstein’s house of relativity at nearly the speed of light, investigate the doppler effect …
Finding Molecules With Chmoogle
Find that molecule! Chmoogle searches the Internet for chemistry-related information — more specifically, information about molecules. Searching for this one is different — not simple keyword — so settle in.
One search option is for drawing. You can use a popup Java applet to draw a molecule or molecule substructure. (It contains drawing tools and symbols, like a flowchart-making utility.) Once you’ve drawn the molecule, Chmoogle “translates” your drawing to a search engine query. I used the drawing tool to put together part of a molecule, which Chmoogle translated as C1CC2CNCC2C1 and then searched its database for. There were about 8,400 results, which included URLs, supplier names, and drawings of the molecules.
If you want to do text-based searching, take a few minutes and read the basic help (http://www.chmoogle.com/doc/basic_search.htm). This help file will introduce you to SMILES, which allow you to represent molecules by text. There’s an overview of it (http://www.daylight.com/smiles/smiles-intro.html). One quick hint; you can search for element symbols by enclosing them in brackets. Therefore [Au] searches for gold. (The case has to be consistent with the element’s appearance in the periodic table — AU will not find any results, and neither will au.)
A search for [Au] found six results. Results included a picture of the molecule (what do I call the symbolic images of molecules? Pictures? Drawings? Maps?), catalogue, catalogue number, and URL. There’s also a “Commercial Only” toggle on the results page that’ll restrict your results to only those which are commercially available. (When I tried that with the [Au] search, it reduced the number of available results to 1.) (From ResearchBuzz)
Microscopy Image Contest Winners and Entries
The Microscopy Facilities at the Cornell Center for Materials Research hosted a tri-annual competition for the best image produced using an electron microscope. Wow!
Dark matter comes out of the cold — BBC
Dark Matter: Wikipedia
Scientists Illuminate the Nature of Dark Matter — Morning Edition
Dark Matter — NASA
Model Created by UMass Amherst Astronomer Confirms a Warp in the Disk of the Milky Way
How I Got There: Vera Rubin
“More than 20 years ago, scientists discovered that most of the matter in the universe isn’t made up of ordinary atoms but rather invisible material dubbed Dark Matter. New observations of nearby galaxies suggest that Dark Matter only comes in enormous clumps of particles that race through space faster than fighter jets.”
Harvard University Institute of Politics: Forum Archive
If you are looking for a place online to find William Julius Wilson, Cesar Chavez, or Lech Walesa, you should look no further than the very fine online video archive of the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum from Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. Over the past thirty years, the Institute has held hundreds of public addresses and panel discussions on a myriad of topical issues. Recently, they created this online archive so that the web-browsing public could view some of these events at their leisure. Currently, the archive contains over 1200 Forum events, including those that deal with the environment, Afghanistan, aging, and the Cold War, among other themes. Visitors can use the online search engine to locate videos by participant, year, keyword, or topic. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
The ancient urban world is one that is becoming more well-known, largely through the work of dedicated scholars and numerous other passionate individuals. This website offers an interesting and compelling look inside Mohenjo-daro (“Mound of the Dead”), a city that is located in the Indus Valley in Pakistan. The site was created and developed by Professor Jonathan Mark Kenoyer of the University of Wisconsin, and it contains an illustrated essay on the site and 103 images taken over the past thirty years. First-time visitors will want to peruse an introductory essay that discusses the history of various excavations on the site, along with providing some details about the composition of the site. Visitors can proceed to look through the images, which are organized into sections that provide views of the site’s different areas, including the courtyard and a number of wells. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
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KEEPING ONLINE ARTICLES AVAILABLE
A group of libraries and publishers are cooperating on a pilot project to ensure access to online journals. Libraries at five universities, as well as the New York Public Library, will work with nine publishers on an archive that will consist of copies of journal articles from participating publishers stored on 10 servers at the universities. Those archived copies will be unavailable to the public, but the system will monitor the Web sites of the journals that published those articles. When the system detects that the publisher’s online version of an article is unavailable for an extended period of time, the system’s governing board will decide whether to make the archived copy available. The goal is to ensure long-term access to journal articles, even when publishers go out of business or computer systems suffer severe outages or losses of data. The effort is important because libraries and publishers are frequently at odds over how and when to provide online access to copyrighted material. Those involved hope the effort will help the groups work together toward a common goal.
Chronicle of Higher Education, 25 January 2006 (sub. req’d) (via Edupage)
MICHIGAN PRESIDENT DEFENDS GOOGLE’S BOOK SCANNING
Speaking at the annual conference of the Professional/Scholarly Publishing division of the Association of American Publishers, the president of the University of Michigan defended her institution’s participation in Google’s Book Search program. The program has upset many publishers and other copyright owners, who contend that the project violates their intellectual property rights. Mary Sue Coleman told conference attendees that the program “is about the social good of promoting and sharing knowledge” and argued that Thomas Jefferson would have loved it. Insisting that vast numbers of cultural artifacts are at risk of being lost due to insufficient efforts at conservation, particularly among libraries, Coleman characterized Google’s project as one of preservation and her institution’s participation as central to the university’s mission. She noted that the University of Michigan had been “digitizing books long before Google knocked on our door, and we will continue our preservation efforts long after our contract with Google ends.” Coleman’s comment also included a clear defense of the rights of copyright holders. Her institution would not “ignore the law and distribute [protected material] to people to use in ways not authorized by copyright.”
CNET, 6 February 2006 (via Edupage)
IOWA STATE FIRES UP NEW SUPERCOMPUTER
Researchers at Iowa State University will use a recently acquired supercomputer to work on a map of the genome of the corn plant. The $1.25 million IBM BlueGene computer, which was financed by the university and the National Science Foundation, can perform up to 5.7 trillion calculations per second, according to Srinivas Aluru, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Iowa State, allowing research projects to proceed that otherwise would be impractical due to processing needs. Three other universities are also working on the corn genome. Researchers hope that understanding the genome will allow them to engineer a corn plant “that, for example, produces biodegradable plastic or ethanol,” said Patrick Schnable, an agronomy professor and director of the Center for Plant Genomics. The supercomputer will also be used in biomedical research to study protein networks.
NewsFactor Network, 1 February 2006 (via Edupage)
BRITISH LIBRARY WORRIES ABOUT ACCESS TO ELECTRONIC CONTENT
In comments submitted to the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group, which is investigating digital rights management (DRM) technologies, the British Library has expressed strong concerns about the long-term viability of electronic resources. Content producers increasingly use DRM to limit unauthorized access to electronic materials, but officials from the library said the protections also threaten legitimate uses of content. Use of materials held by libraries constitutes an important exception to copyright laws, according to Clive Field, the British Library’s director of scholarships and collections, but DRM tools inadvertently upset the balance between appropriate exceptions and the rights of content owners. Moreover, long-term access is at risk. Even when copyright expires for a work, the DRM tools applied to its electronic version will still be in place. If the owner cannot be contacted, there might be no way to unlock materials that are no longer covered by copyright. “This will fundamentally threaten the longstanding and accepted concepts of fair dealing and library privilege,” according to the British Library’s statement, “and undermine…legitimate public good access.”
BBC, 3 February 2006 (via Edupage)
All items from the Scout Report are copyright Susan Calcari, 1994-2006. 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.