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Faraday Birthday on September 22
Brief biography of Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday is about to have his 215th birthday. Faraday would have been right at home here at NSF. He was a physicist, a chemist, and an inventor. He was a scientist with two major disabilities. More than that, he was a wholehearted science educator, and, as the son of a blacksmith, very much concerned with the inclusion of all people and their participation in the excitement of science. “…in 1826 he founded the Friday Evening Discourses and in the same year the Christmas Lectures for juveniles. In total Faraday gave 123 Friday Evening Discourses between 1826 and 1862 and 19 series of Christmas lectures between 1827 and 1861. These and other lectures that he gave served to establish his reputation as the outstanding scientific lecturer of the time. Both the Friday Evening Discourses and the Christmas lectures continue to this day. The latter series is televised each year.”
Celebrate the life of this remarkable scientist! You might have a birthday party in your library. Give refrigerator magnets as door prizes. Invite folks to propose (lemonade) toasts. Have an equal opportunity Michael Faraday Look-a-Like contest (encourage folks to be creative. You can be like Michael Faraday in lots of ways — being the right height, for example, or being the right gender, or having dark, wavy hair, or being dressed like Michael Faraday, or coming to the library with the right equipment to be Michael Faraday [a battery in one hand, a test tube in the other?], or talking like Michael Faraday, or, well, just having a face like his. Give each contestant five minutes to explain why they should win the contest). Sing folk songs about lighthouses or coal mines. Have fun!
Cafe Scientifique (Arlington)
WHO: Chemist Joe Schwarcz
WHAT: Quacks, Charlatans and Scientists: How to Distinguish Between Hocus-Pocus and Sound Advice
WHEN: Thursday, September 7, 2006 (Note: This event is on Thursday, not the usual Tuesday — to avoid Labor Day).
WHERE: The Front Page Restaurant — 4201 Wilson Blvd, Arlington
HOW: 6:00–6:30 Light hors d’oeuvres (buy your drink/meal)
6:30–8:00 Short presentation, followed by Q&A
BACKGROUND: Café Scientifique (Arlington) and its cousin, Café Scientifique (DC), are organized and sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The goal: to make science more accessible and accountable. Features speakers whose expertise spans the sciences — and who can talk in plain English. Generally held on first Tuesdays of the month. We welcome your input. Complete a survey on-site, or write to Mary (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Sarah (email@example.com).
There have been several major changes in the Thomson ISI Web of Science databases (the Science Citation Index and the Social Sciences Citation Index).
The most important one is that no longer will the database assume exact phrase searching. Now you must put exact phrases in double quotation marks, as "vibrational spectroscopy", or the database will assume a Boolean “AND”. This means these databases are adopting the standard followed by the vast majority of databases and search engines.
Another major change is the inception of an easy to use “Author Finder” tool. You will find this tool displayed under the author search box. It allows you to more easily pinpoint individual authors by presenting variant names and limiting by subject category and institution.
Also notice that at the top of your search results screen you are invited to refine your results by Subject Categories, Source Titles, Document Types, Authors, or Publication Years. Additionally, if you hit the “more choices” button, you can refine by Countries/Territories, Institutions, or Languages. This is a handy way to quickly and easily sharpen your search without having to revisit the search screen.
Don’t forget the wonderful “Analyze Results” tool, which is a great way to avoid conflicts of interest. Remember, too, that after you have analyzed your results, chosen the groups you desire, and redisplayed, you can re-analyze this smaller bunch of results … ad infinitum …
Science Funding Update
“Before leaving Washington for a month-long summer recess, Congress brought large proposed increases for select physical sciences funding agencies in the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) closer to reality, and supported Administration plans to boost development investments for new spacecraft and weapons technologies. But although Congress would add money to proposed cuts in some basic and applied research programs, the federal investment in basic and applied research would still decline in fiscal year (FY) 2007 under separate House and Senate plans that must be reconciled in the fall. On the flip side of the ACI increases, Congress is still on track to keep the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget flat or declining for the second year in a row, to slash homeland security R&D funding for the first time, and to make steep cuts in other federal research portfolios.” (From AAAS Funding Update)
The August Summary Report on R&D in FY 2007 Appropriations provides an update of federal R&D in FY 2007 congressional appropriations so far.
Congress Holds Hearings to Discuss Resurrection of the OTA
The House Committee on Science held a hearing to assess the availability of science and technology (S&T) advice to Congress. The committee heard from a panel of expert witnesses that agreed a gap exists in the type of science and technology (S&T) advice that Congress currently receives. Specifically, the witnesses called for Congress to have access to in-depth reviews of policy options and their technical implications. From 1972 to 1995, the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), a Congressional support office, prepared reports at Congressional request on science and technology issues. However, Congress eliminated funding for OTA 1995 amid party differences and claims that the expense of the office was unnecessary. “I was a strong defender of OTA — and I voted against defunding it — but OTA is not likely to be coming back any time soon,” said Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY). “Also, much of the lament one hears about OTA’s demise is really not a concern about what advice Congress is getting, but rather about what decisions Congress is making,” Boehlert continued. “So it is important to remember that not all people will reach the same policy conclusion based on the same scientific information — even if they understand and accept that information” Rush Holt (D-NJ), who testified at today’s hearing, argued that, “We do not suffer from a lack of information here on Capitol Hill, but from a lack of ability to glean the knowledge and gauge the validity, credibility, and usefulness of the large amounts of information and advice received on a daily basis. Although we would like to believe that the scientific and technical advice and assessment provided from outside remains politically neutral, this is not necessarily the case.” (From IEEE Eye on Washington)
NASA Urged to Follow NA Guidance in Establishing National Aeronautics Policy
The House Science Committee’s Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee held a hearing on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) efforts to refocus and reshape its civil aeronautics research and development (R&D) program. Witnesses representing industry and academia today urged the NASA to follow the recommendations of two new National Research Council (NRC) reports on aeronautics as the agency works to reshape its national civil aeronautics research and development (R&D) program. In addition to reviewing the results of the two reports, the hearing explored the following overarching questions:
(From IEEE Eye on Washington)
House Science Committee Examines Adequacy of Scientific Advice
House hearing website
With science permeating policy issues from agriculture to stem cells to climate change, the House Science Committee held a hearing on July 25 to assess the sources of scientific advice to Congress. The witnesses were united in their views that Congress is lacking credible, relevant sources of scientific information. The witnesses stated that Congress receives an abundance of information, with AAAS Science and Policy Programs Director Al Teich noting that Congress received four times more communications in 2004 than 1995, predominately from electronic communications. Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) summarized the issue: “we do not suffer from a lack of information here on Capitol Hill, but from a lack of ability to glean the knowledge and to gauge the validity, credibility, and usefulness of the large amounts of information and advice received on a daily basis.” Rep. Holt, who has introduced bills in previous sessions of Congress to reestablish the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), testified that since OTA was defunded in 1995, Congress has “not gotten what we need in order to do the people’s work.” Ranking Member Bart Gordon (D-TN) echoed those concerns, saying “we certainly could use in-house help in sorting through conflicting expert opinion.” Dr. Catherine Hunt, President-elect of the American Chemical Society, presented options for bridging this gap: “Congress should consider establishing an in-house science and technology unit that supplements their capabilities and provides timely, thorough assessments for decisions on issues involving a wide range of science, engineering, and technology.” She continued, “This unit could be housed in the Congressional Research Service (CRS) the Government Accountability Office (GAO), or stand alone as a congressional support agency.” Discussions centered largely on the legacy of OTA and the possibility of re-creating it. For Rep. Gordon, programs like OTA hold the promise of authoritative and respected answers to many difficult science questions considered by Congress. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) took a different approach, stating that he preferred to seek his own studies so as to have more control over them. Even supporters of OTA acknowledged that, if funded, OTA would have to be structured differently to address concerns from Members like Rohrabacher that the agency did not produce timely, nonpartisan analyses. Despite the case made for addition congressional science support, Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) find the prospects for OTA bleak, stating, “I was a strong defender of OTA — and I voted against defunding it — but OTA is not likely to be coming back any time soon.” — Kasey White (From AAAS Science and Technology in Congress)
Government Reform Committee Turns its Attention to Global Warming
In a marathon hearing dedicated to investigating the policy implications of global warming, the House Committee on Government Reform announced that it wanted to make climate change a new priority. “Too many elected officials have for too long been M-I-A on this issue,” said Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA). “We hope to begin changing that,” he continued. The Committee wanted not only to solicit data on climate change, but also to understand the rationale behind current U.S. policies. To that end, they heard from James Connaughton, Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Connaughton defended President Bush’s environmental policies and said “The President and his Administration are firmly committed to taking sensible action on climate change.” A barrage of questions arose from committee members who criticized the Administration’s policies on topics ranging from energy policy to vehicle gas mileage standards. Many Members questioned the sufficiency of current protections to deal with the severity of global warming. The Committee leadership sent a follow-up letter to Connaughton requesting further information on the relationship between CEQ and other government agencies. The letter, signed by Davis and Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA), was concerned with the extent to which the CEQ might “manage or influence statements by government scientists,” and specifically asked Connaughton for documents surrounding the activities of former CEQ Chief of Staff Philip Cooney. Cooney, a former oil lobbyist with no scientific training, was active in reviewing scientific reports on climate change and his edits increased the level of uncertainty contained in them. Several scientists spoke about the current state of their understanding on the topic. Roger Pielke Jr., a Professor at the University of Colorado, testified that anthropogenic climate change is “a reality,” and said that pay-offs arising from current decisions to regulate greenhouse gasses would come only on a long-term basis. But Pielke additionally stressed the potential short-term benefits that new policies could bring about, such as energy independence, job-production from new technologies, and a decrease in the level of particulate air pollution. Business gave their perspective as well. A representative from Wal-Mart stores, the world’s largest retailer, spoke about the company’s response to global warming, as well as their efforts to reduce energy use and eventually to rely wholly on renewable energy. — Eric Martin (From AAAS Science and Technology in Congress)
Sen. Clinton Introduces Legislation to Develop National Voluntary Expectations for K-12 Science (pdf)
In early August Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) introduced the Math and Science Consistency Act (S. 3790). The legislation calls for the Department of Education to convene a national panel that would produce voluntary national expectations for K-12 mathematics and science education, accompanied by a sample curriculum and assessment items for each expectation. The panel would work to first identify the core ideas in mathematics and science common to all states then develop a minimum comprehensive set of voluntary national expectations based on these core ideas. These voluntary national expectations would be taken or adapted from effective state mathematics and science standards or from the National Science Education Standards and the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. The panel would also oversee development of a model curriculum for mathematics and science based on the voluntary national expectations, taken or adapted from effective mathematics and science teaching materials. Sample assessment questions would also be developed. NSTA is included in the legislative language as a member of the panel that would develop the voluntary national expectations. The bill was referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. (From NSTA)
Pieces of American Competitiveness Initiative Slowly Move Forward
“The American Competitiveness Initiative, proposed by the President during his 2006 State of the Union Address, has been embraced by Congress on several different legislative fronts. Earlier this year, in separate actions the House Science Committee and the Senate Energy Committee passed legislation largely focused on education programs, while the House and Senate Appropriations Committees focused on legislation to fund the President’s initiative. In July the Senate Commerce Committee passed another piece of the President’s proposal, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S2802). The legislation would authorize increased funding for the National Science Foundation and the National Institute for Standards and Technology, with a focus on grants and programs aimed at national competitiveness, including studies by the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Academies. The legislation would also close the Technology Administration in the Department of Commerce.
It still isn’t clear how these disparate efforts will be woven together. What is critical is that the appropriation bills, which provide actual funding these agencies, embrace and fully fund the President’s initiative. So far actions by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have been positive, but final approval for these bills isn’t likely until after the November elections. Legislation related to the American Competitiveness Initiative includes:
(From the ACM Washington Update)
Sowing the Seeds for a More Creative Society
Mitchel Resnick, LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research, MIT Media Lab Head, Program in Media Arts and Sciences.
A few years ago, the government of Singapore summoned Mitch Resnick to help crack a problem. Although thousands of schoolchildren in that country were designing and building robots using the Lego Mindstorm kits Resnick helped invent, Singapore businesses complained that when these same students hit the workplace, they lacked creativity and initiative. Resnick discovered, in conversations with teachers, that robot building was an after-school activity, and classroom time was devoted to math and science drills. This is Resnick’s issue in a nutshell, he explains. “The way technology is getting out there is limited.” If the “richest learning experience happens when people are actively designing, experimenting and exploring,” then why can’t we extend this approach into the school curriculum? Computers and technology should not be used merely to impart information, but to engage kids to design, create and invent ? much as little kids do with blocks and paint in kindergarten. Resnick demonstrates the creations of children who participated in special engineering and software designing courses. He had posed the challenge of inventing something that could be useful to them in everyday life. The results included such unique items as an odometer for roller blades, a diary security system, an automatic toilet paper dispenser and a mobile, wearable juke box. Resnick has launched Computer Clubhouses in locations around the world where kids often have no access to computers. He believes that “success for an individual or a country as a whole will depend on acting creatively.” Audience questions focused on how to encourage U.S. schools to adopt Resnick’s ideas, given the emphasis on teaching to the test, and the lack of teacher support.
ReSET — Scientists in the Classroom
Are you a retired scientist, mathematician, engineer, or technician?
Are you looking for a dynamic way to give back to your community?
Would you like to share what you know with children who may not have had the opportunities you had?
Become A ReSET Volunteer!
There has never been a more exciting time to enter the science, engineering, and math fields, with new technologies and specialties emerging every day. Yet very few children are motivated to pursue math and science careers. Why? It is often because they have had little (or unpleasant) exposure to these subjects, or they fail to see how math and science impact their lives or their futures.ReSET is a D.C.-based non-profit volunteer organization that partners retired scientists, engineers, and technicians with elementary school teachers to improve science motivation and literacy in children K–6. Our goal is to make science and math accessible, relevant, and fun!
Engineering and Earth Systems: Can We Educate a New Breed of Engineers?
“We wouldn’t take a drug the FDA didn’t think fit within the metabolism of the human body. Why do we think we could invent chemicals and put them in the earth that don’t fit the metabolism of the earth? That’s a mistake.” Gschwend advocates changing the approach engineers and scientists take when developing new products and processes, out of grave concern for human and environmental health.
Philip M. Gschwend
Associate Department Head & Director of R. M. Parsons Lab
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Convocation on Rising Above the Gathering Storm
The purpose of the Convocation on Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing Regions, States, and Cities is to:
The focus of the convocation will be on the key action areas identified in the National Academies report: Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future. These include:
Registration is free.
Location: September 28th 2006
The National Academies
2101 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Offshoring of Engineering
The NAE will host a free, public workshop on engineering offshoring on October 24–25, 2006 (Tuesday–Wednesday). The workshop will feature talks by national engineering leaders from industry and academia, a review of trends in engineering offshoring in several key industries, and an examination of implications for the engineering profession, workforce, education, and management.
AAAS Art of Science and Technology Summer Show ends soon
AAAS Summer Art Show Blends Art and Science Through September, the AAAS headquarters building in Washington, D.C., is housing an art exhibit that blends art and science. If you are in the area, please come by the building and take a look — the show is free and open to the public. We are located at 1200 New York Avenue, Washington, D.C. 20005.
The show presents paintings by Rachel von Roeschlaub; photographs by Albert Teich, head of science and policy at AAAS; and award winning prints of the National Science Foundation/AAAS 2004 and 2005 Science and Engineering Challenge.
Staying Sharp: Brain Health
Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Location: Koshland Science Museum
Time: 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
Age Range: Adult
What happens to the brain as it ages? How can we stay sharp? Find out how recent scientific advances could possibly impact memory, reasoning, and creativity at a program led by Dr. Gene Cohen, Director of the Center on Aging, Health & Humanities at George Washington University.
Gene Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., is the first Director of the Center on Aging, Health & Humanities at the George Washington University Medical Center, where he holds the positions of Professor of Health Care Sciences and Professor of Psychiatry. In addition, he is the founding Director of the think tank, the Washington, DC Center on Aging. He is a past committee member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.
Advanced reservations suggested. Please contact the Koshland Science Museum at 202-334-1201 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. This program is presented in collaboration with NRTA: AARP’ Educator Community.
AAAS Comments on NSF’s Draft Strategic Plan AAAS Board of Directors Chairman Gilbert Omenn submitted comments on NSF’s draft strategic plan, commending the agency for its commitment to “strengthen fundamental research across the full spectrum of science and engineering” (pdf).
Special Edition of the Katrina Index: A One-Year Review of Key Indicators of Recovery in Post-Storm New Orleans by Amy Liu, Matt Fellowes, and Mia Mabanta (pdf).
Superfund: Overview and Selected Issues (RL33426) (pdf).
Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles: Issues in Congress (IB10128) (pdf).
NASA: Long-Term Commitment to and Investment in Space Exploration Program Requires More Knowledge (GAO-06-817R) (pdf).
Assessment of the Benefits of Extending the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission: A Perspective from the Research and Operations Communities, Interim Report.
Assessment of NASA’s Mars Architecture 2007-2016.
Review and Assessment of the Proposals for Design and Operation of Designated Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plants (DCAPP-Pueblo): Letter Report (PDF only).
Review and Assessment of the Proposals for Design and Operation of Designated Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plants (DCAPP-Blue Grass II): Letter Report (PDF only).
Review of the Space Communications Program of NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate (prepublication).
Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 (PDF only).
Medicare’s Quality Improvement Organization Program: Maximizing Potential (Series: Pathways to Quality Health Care).
Genes, Behavior, and the Social Environment: Moving Beyond the Nature/Nurture Debate.
ICT Fluency and High Schools: A Workshop Summary.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Diagnosis and Assessment.
Overcoming Challenges to Develop Countermeasures Against Aerosolized Bioterrorism Agents: Appropriate Use of Animal Models.
Facing Hazards and Disasters: Understanding Human Dimensions.
Renewing U.S. Telecommunications Research.
Tech Tally: Approaches to Assessing Technological Literacy.
The Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Lectures 2005: Next Steps Toward Higher Quality Health Care.
Assessing the Human Health Risks of Trichloroethylene: Key Scientific Issues.
Aging in Sub-Saharan Africa: Recommendations for Furthering Research.
Discussion of the Committee on Daubert Standards: Summary of Meetings.
Reusability of Facemasks During an Influenza Pandemic: Facing the Flu.
Battling Malaria: Strengthening the U.S. Military Malaria Vaccine Program.
Human Biomonitoring for Environmental Chemicals.
Controlling the Quantum World.
Studying Media Effects on Children and Youth: Improving Methods and Measures, Workshop Summary.
Biotechnology Unzipped: Promises and Realities, Revised Second Edition.
Snooze or Lose: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits.
Brave New Universe: Illuminating the Darkest Secrets of the Cosmos.
Letter Report on Electronic Voting.
The Canary Project
You don’t have to see Al Gore’s new documentary to know that there’s a new kind of canary in the coal mine, and it comes in the form of Austria’s desiccated glaciers or Costa Rica’s enervated cloud forests. At numerous places around the globe, the Earth is melting, drowning, drying up, or increasingly battered. Since 2005, The Canary Project has dedicated itself to capturing large-scale photographic evidence of locations in the grip of such dramatic climate change. In some cases, the landscape’s physical grandeur belies its desperation. In other cases, such as Belize’s coral reefs, the underwater world seems so clearly, and unnervingly, diminished, it looks almost dry. The project doesn’t restrict itself to nature’s far fringes or deeply submerged realms, either. New Orleans and Venice, perhaps the most canary-like of all the world’s great cities, figure prominently here. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Announcing the release of the new WorldCat.org Web site
This site — and a downloadable WorldCat search box you can easily add to your Web site — opens the complete WorldCat database to the public, not just the smaller data subsets utilized by Open WorldCat partner sites such as Google, Yahoo! Search and others. WorldCat.org builds on the success of OCLC’s Open WorldCat Program that has elevated the visibility of library materials on the open Web since the summer of 2003.
UK Version of PubMed Central Announced
Based on a model currently used in the United States, a new UK PubMed Central will provide free access to an online digital archive of peer-reviewed research papers in the medical and life sciences. The Wellcome Trust, as part of a nine-member group of British research funders, announced July 31 that the contract to run UKPMC has been awarded to a partnership between the British Library, The University of Manchester and the European Bioinformatics Institute…
“This bright, hip news site ‘chronicles the daily advances and innovations made in science and technology’ with original stories and news feeds, images, and video clips. Topics include animals, health, technology, environment, ‘science of fiction,’ history, and strange news. From Imaginova, a publisher of several print and online science publications.”
National Institute of Standards and Technology Virtual Museum
While the idea of a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Virtual Museum may make some cast a drowsy eye, they would be quite pleased to learn that the Museum’s website contains a host of engaging online exhibits that examine such topics as the standardization of women’s clothing, the saccharimeter, and the letter sorting machine. The standardization of women’s clothing exhibit is well-worth a look, as it uses text and historic images to look at how the NIST and the Mail Order Association of America began a study to create a sizing standard for women’s ready-to-wear clothing. Another equally fascinating exhibit offered on the site looks at the role the NSIT played in creating a reliable system of frequency signals to aid the radio broadcasting industry. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
ResearchSEA is a new resource providing both information about research coming out of Asia and pointers to experts in Asia. From the front page, available research is broken up into several topics, including science, medicine, culture, technology, people, and business. Choose a section and you’ll be taken to a list of articles in that category, with the most recent articles first. Recent articles in Technology included “High-resolution fluorescence imaging”, “Biodegradable Cosmetics”, and “Palm oil and rubber wastes to stop landslides”. “Read More” links take you to press-release style overviews with the names of researchers but not contact information (you have to be a registered journalist to get the contact information.)
It looks like each topic only carries 50 articles at a time, but some topics are busier than others. The technology topic’s first five articles go back to August 3 at this writing, while the medicine topic only goes back to August 20. Members of the public and journalists can register with the site and elect to receive a daily or weekly digest of articles added to each topic.
In addition to the articles, there are several other resources on the site. “Focus On” are groups of resources, articles, and experts centered around one topic (currently there are three “Focus On” groups: Bird Flu, Peace and Conflict, and Women.) There’s a search engine that allows you to find experts by keyword (a search for pathology found two Malaysian experts and a search for manufacturing found experts from Malaysia, Pakistan, and Japan.) An events calendar lists notable scientific and medical events taking place in Asia (“First International Conference on the Medicinal Use of Honey”?) while an archive page lists releases by month.
Lots to see here. (From Research Buzz)
The growing role of amateurs in collecting scientific data
“From using home computer downtime to search for extraterrestrial life and designer drug molecules to asking amateur experts to track comets with their back garden telescopes, the public are getting involved in a huge range of surveys and experiments. In this series, Sue Nelson enters the world of the amateur scientist and discovers the hidden army of willing helpers to the scientific community.” Three BBC radio documentaries.
Transform Your Career
The ACPFG has just launched a new science careers site, aimed at secondary and undergraduate students. The site presents interviews with a variety of people working in the field of biotech, from graduate students to commercialization officers.
Watching Guadalcanal Village — Wetlands Restoration Photo Exhibit
“In keeping with its mission of providing access to contemporary water-related materials, the Water Resources Center Archives (WRCA) is presenting an exhibit of color photographs of a northern California wetlands restoration site.
The photos in the exhibit were taken by Sally Mack at a 53-acre wetlands restoration site owned by CalTrans, developed by a consortium of federal and state resource agencies. Named ‘Guadalcanal Village’ after the South Pacific island, it’s the site of a failed Navy housing development, now a CalTrans mitigation site, located near Vallejo, CA.”
Exploring Extreme Environments
Studies of microbes living in inhospitable environments — such as deep inside rocks, ice, or undersea thermal vents — may reveal much about the nature and origin of life as well as the possibility of life on other planets. At our Extremophiles in Kamchatka Web site, you can join a team of researchers as they study microorganisms thriving in the boiling-hot springs of the Russian Far East. Visit the website for amazing images and slide shows, plus a fun and compelling hands-on activity that’ll let you build a home for colorful microscopic life.
Secrets of the Sexes
Companion to a 2005 BBC television series about gender differences that considered the question, “Are men and women’s brains wired differently?” Features the “Sex ID test, a series of visual challenges and questions used by psychologists” in the television series, and articles on topics such as empathizing, handedness, and facial attractiveness. From the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Stanford University School of Medicine: Center for Narcolepsy
Background about the serious sleep disorder of narcolepsy (“main symptoms of narcolepsy are excessive daytime sleepiness and abnormal REM sleep”), and about research efforts at this center. Features a FAQ, essay about the history of research into this disorder, video clips of narcoleptic dogs, technical publications, material about medicines for treatment, and links to related sites. Also includes information about the “Brain Donation Program” in which brain tissue is donated for study. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Learn. Genetics from the Genetic Science Learning Center
What’s a gene? What exactly is a trait? And can I really remember what a chromosome is, or what it does? Some of our readers might be asking themselves these questions, and if they are, they will definitely want to browse on over the tremendously helpful and easy to use Learn. Genetics website. Created by a team of experts at the Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah, the site provides basic overviews of various aspects of genetics, along with a number of fine resources (such as lesson plans and activities) for educators. The basics of genetics can be gleaned within the “Genetic Reference Series” area, which includes a virtual biotechniques laboratory, and a series of features that answers some of the “basics” in jargon-free language. Moving on, the “Genome Science Series” includes features that address recent manifestations of genetics in public discourse and discussion, such as “Stem Cells in the Spotlight” and “Gene Therapy: Molecular Bandage”. Finally, visitors can take a bit of the website with them if they elect to download one of their “Biobits in Depth”, which address topics like cystic fibrosis research and the social issues surrounding the use of medical marijuana. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
Jerry Burchfield: Primal Images
Collection of images of botanical subjects made in the Amazon using the lumen print process, which is a cameraless form of photography. Includes an introductory essay that provides an overview of the use of lumen prints and other alternative photographic recording and printing methods. From the California Museum of Photography, University of California, Riverside. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Created at the Dolan DNA Learning Center of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the Inside Cancer site is a rather remarkable exploration of the nature of cancer in the human body. Utilizing graphics and interactive animations that serve to explain this complex condition, the site is divided into sections that deal with the causes and prevention of cancer, its diagnosis and treatment, and how the disease manifests itself. Each section combines well-drawn animations with video clips of scientists narrating brief passages that illuminate the accompanying descriptions and captions. Along the way, visitors will learn about current ways that cancer can be treated, and future directions for cancer research. Overall, the site should be praised for its ease of use, and its applications could include use in classrooms with a wide range of age levels and abilities. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
Answers to common questions about memory
Click on a word and see common questions about human memory and short, interesting answers.
IEEE Publishing Guidance
IEEE has created a new webpage with information for authors, editors, and conference organisers. Pages contain policies, FAQs, forms and more.
IEEE Mentoring Connection: New Benefit for Members Entering Workforce
“A new online service that matches IEEE members to facilitate a mentoring partnership. The IEEE Mentoring Connection — designed as a way for members to share workplace experience and offer career guidance — serves as a career development tool for members who have recently entered the workforce and a way for more experienced members to give back to the community. Accessed through the membership benefits section of the IEEE Web site, potential mentors and mentees are asked to provide information that becomes part of a database where mentees may search and select a mentor based on technical or educational background, geographic location or other criteria.” (From IEEE What’s New)
Boston Plans Nonprofit-Run Citywide Wi-Fi Network
Caltrain: WiFi Test works between Millbrae and Palo Alto
Rural WiFi Boost from Ofcom?
Howstuffworks: “How WiFi Works”
Wi-Fi Networking News
Municipal broadband and wireless projects map
As much of the developed world enters the so-called “knowledge economy”, cities have become concerned with how their residents will be able to learn and thrive in this new economy. In an order to reduce the negative effects of what economists sometimes call “imperfect knowledge” (and what librarians might call the “digital divide”), a number of municipalities have embarked on ambitious projects to create wi-fi networks that provide inexpensive (or free) access to the Internet. In recent years, projects have been proposed in places such as Madison, Wisconsin, Philadelphia, New York, and Seattle. This week, the entire process acquired a new and interesting wrinkle, as the city of Boston announced they would be recommending that a nonprofit organization would be put in charge of building and running the system. This is a markedly different approach to that of other projects, as they have largely relied on a single private contractor. At a press conference this Monday, Boston mayor Thomas Menino commented “We believe the nonprofit route may be the best way to bring low-cost service to every neighborhood while providing a platform for innovation unlike in any in the nation.” [KMG] The first link leads to a story from the MIT Technology Review that reports on the recent announcement that Boston would be utilizing the services of a nonprofit organization to create their municipal wi-fi network. The second link will take users to a piece from Tuesday’s San Jose Mercury News which notes that the wi-fi network on board the Caltrain line between Millbrae and Palo Alto seems to be functioning quite well. It also appears that that Caltrain is the first rail system to reliably provide broadband access. Moving on to the third link, visitors can learn about the efforts of the Ofcom company as they attempt to begin creating wi-fi networks in underserved regions of the United Kingdom. The fourth link will take users to the always-helpful Howstuffworks.com site. Here users can learn exactly how wi-fi works, and what type of equipment is needed to create an effective system. The fifth link leads to the Wi-Fi Networking News site, which provides some fine reporting on the recent developments within the world of wi-fi networks (including the perils, pitfalls, and successes), courtesy of Glenn Fleishman. The final link this week leads to a map that provides information about government-sponsored wi-fi networks that are under development, or proposed, in various parts of the US. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
Educators have argued politely (and not so politely) about the most effective pedagogical methods for decades, and at times, they have even been able to agree on certain approaches. One recently created resource designed specifically for community college educators is the Getting Results website. Created as part of partnership between the National Science Foundation and WGBH, this self-contained professional development course is designed to “challenge previous thinking about teaching and learning and give you the basic tools for effective classroom practices.” Users of this fine resource can work independently, or also elect to team up with groups of colleagues. Enhanced with online videos and worksheets, the course contains six modules, including “Moving Beyond the Classroom” and “Teaching with Technology”. With an easy-to-use interface and non-intrusive graphics, this site is a most welcome addition to currently available online resources for community college educators. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
Resources for Writers: George Mason University
Writing centers at colleges and universities have been around for decades, and most of them have placed some resources for their students online. George Mason University’s writing resource center has had an online presence for years, and it is one that college students and persons generally interested in improving their writing will want to look at. The site includes a number of specialized writing guides dealing with issues of style, grammar, and writing for specific disciplines, such as psychology, biology, and management. Their virtual reference library is notable for its collection of well-organized links to other online sites, such as Webster’s Online Dictionary. The site is less overwhelming than some like-minded sites, and is a good fit for students looking to get some basic assistance with writing college-level papers. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
Palm Springs Aerial Tram: History & Technical
Background about the construction and operation of this tram completed in 1963 “in rugged Chino Canyon on the north edge of Palm Springs [California].” Features a history of the project dating back to its conception in the 1930s and technical facts and details on topics such as cables, cabin hanger, and docking brake hydraulics. Includes photos and video clips. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
ShakeMovie: CalTech’s Southern California Seismic Event Portal
At times unsettling, and always fascinating, this latest educational and scientific venture from the good people at Cal Tech offers detailed visualizations of recent significant seismic events in the Southern California region. As might be expected the site offers detailed explanations of what visitors will see when they load each movie, and the most recent bit of seismic activity is displayed front and center on the homepage. On the left-hand side of the homepage, visitors can consider a list of past seismic events, complete with information on the magnitude of each event, the closest city to the event, and the date and time of its origin. If any of this gets overwhelming, visitors can quickly move to the FAQ section, which answers such basic queries as “What do these movies show?” and “What causes earthquakes to happen?” The site is rounded out by a “Science” tab, which leads to a detailed, yet jargon-free, explanation of how the data related to such events is both collected, and subsequently visualized. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
The Climate Group
“Website for this ‘independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing business and government leadership on climate change. … based in the UK, the USA and Australia.’ Features interviews with international business and government leaders, case studies about actions being taken by governmental and corporate actors ‘to minimize their carbon footprints,’ and suggestions for individuals for reducing emissions (with links to related sites). Also includes links to news stories, online publications, and more.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
“A narrated tour by Sam Welles, the discoverer of the dinosaur Dilophosaurus. Features audio of Welles discussing how he discovered Dilophosoaurus bones in Arizona in the 1940s, how he named the dinosaur based on the double crest on top of the head, its probable physical appearance and habits, and the appearance of Dilophosaurus in the film ‘Jurassic Park.’ See ‘Dilophosaurus Closeup’ for additional details. From the Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley.” (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
The Planemo Twins
Strange ‘Twin’ New Worlds Found (BBC News)
“ The cast of exoplanets has an extraordinary new member. Using ESO’s telescopes, astronomers have discovered an approximately seven-Jupiter-mass companion to an object that is itself only twice as hefty. Both objects have masses similar to those of extra-solar giant planets, but they are not in orbit around a star — instead they appear to circle each other. The existence of such a double system puts strong constraints on formation theories of free-floating planetary mass objects.”
Algebra: In Simplest Terms
The Annenberg Foundation provides a total of 26 episodes in this “Algebra: In Simplest Terms” series that covers such topics as linear relations, the ellipse, rational functions, and geometric sequences. Narrated by Sol Garfunkel, the series uses practical examples as illustrations of various principles and axioms.NOTE: to watch the videos, visitors will need to fill out a free online registration form. (From Blue Web’N)
BBC News Story
The IAU Planet Defintion Draft Resolution
News Story from Space.com
What Makes a Planet?
Results of Voting
Chart: Planets & Dwarf Planets
Pluto Loses Status as Planet
“Astronomers have drawn up a new way to define the word planet. This would mean adding three new planets to the Solar System, boosting the current tally of nine to 12. The draft proposal by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) will be put to a vote at a meeting underway in the Czech capital Prague.”
CERN — The World’s Largest Particle Physics Laboratory
Besides telling you a lot about CERN, this site also presents clear information on particle physics and other topics as well. The section “About CERN” includes brief presentations of CERN’s major achievements, including Colliding Beams, Neutral Currents, and the invention of the WWW. The “Education” section is full of a variety of resources including videos, games, and lecture materials. CERN also presents “Ask a Scientists”. This is a well organized site well worth a visit.
“MARS Dead or Alive”
“On January 3, 2004, a strange sight unfolded on the planet Mars. Above a vast, dry lake bed south of the martian equator, a conical vehicle parachuted toward the surface. Then, just before touchdown, it was enveloped by a gigantic protective airbag, allowing the craft to bounce safely to a stop. Inside was Spirit, the most sophisticated rover ever launched from Earth. It was created by NASA scientists to probe the most burning questions in Mars science: Was there ever liquid water on the Red Planet? Were conditions ever suitable for life? ‘MARS Dead or Alive,’ which originally aired just hours after Spirit landed on the Red Planet, covers this mission in depth. NOVA spent months documenting the tension-filled process of building, testing, final checkout, and launch of a pair of spacecraft that are designed not only to be remote-controlled field geologists but to perform in a demanding environment millions of miles from Earth. Here’s what you’ll find online:
Calculus on the Web
The thought of learning calculus has struck fear into the heart of many students for several centuries, but this most intriguing subject need do so no longer. Developed with assistance from the National Science Foundation, the Calculus on the Web (COW) project was created by Gerardo Mendoza and Dan Reich of Temple University. As their mission statement notes, “The principal purpose of COW is to provide you, the student or interested user, with the opportunity to learn and practice problems in calculus in a friendly environment via the Internet.” Certainly after considering their site, one can accurately say with gusto: Mission accomplished. The site is divided into a number of thematic modules, including those that deal with linear algebra, abstract algebra, and number theory. Along the way, users will be guided through sets of problems where they will be asked to fill in certain variables, and so on. The program will tell students about their progress, and help them if they are experiencing difficulty. Finally, the site also has a complete index which will come in handy. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
Profile: African-American North Pole Explorer Matthew Henson
Biography of explorer Matthew A. Henson, who “accompanied polar explorer Robert E. Peary on a U.S. expedition to the North Pole on April 6, 1909.” Includes a photo gallery and links to related stories on topics such as the 2000 event where Henson was “posthumously awarded the National Geographic Society’s highest honor — the Hubbard Medal.” From the National Geographic Society. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
RÁDJU — Sami Research Database
The Arctic Indigenous Peoples and Sami Research Office and the Information Service of the Arctic Centre have together collected the Sami research database, RÁDJU. RÁJU includes data from over 200 projects concerning the Sami-related topics in various areas such as culture, education, environment, land management, politics and reindeer husbandry. The projects are carried out by different institutions and researchers in Finland as well as in other countries. RÁJU database is meant especially for researchers and students. RÁJU will later be developed so that information concerning the Sami research will further be collected and the database will also include notes about research on other Indigenous peoples in the Arctic.
Comments regarding this database are highly welcome. Information regarding research and developmental projects that are not yet included is also appreciated. Thanks for your attention and help.
Ráju is northern saami and means store or collection. (Thanks to Arto Vitikka)
Stone Age Reference Collection
“The Stone Age Reference Collection provides access to information and images about the raw materials, weapons, technology, and tools used during that period of time. Links to other sites are available, as well as a bibliography and several publications.” (From InfoMine)
Mapping Medieval Townscapes: A Digital Atlas of the New Towns of Edward I
In the waning decades of the 13th century, King Edward I was concerned with several things in his kingdom. While England was growing more prosperous, he was also concerned about the rising trend towards urbanization and about the Welsh. In an effort to deal with both situations, Edward proposed the creation of a group of ‘new towns’ in both Wales and other parts of the kingdom. Out of this desire to maintain social and political order arose such places as Conwy, Newborough, Rhuddlan, and Aberystwyth. Seven hundred years later, a group of researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, working with funds from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, created this digital atlas of those towns. Drawing on the work of archaeologists, GIS experts, and other specialists, this atlas contains copious information on each locale. Visitors can look through each interactive map, and toggle various data layers, such as town walls, trenches, streets, and so on. Along with these maps, visitors can also read about how each map was created, and download the data sets used to generate each map. [KMG] (From the Scout Report)
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UNIVERSITIES TO DEVELOP ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES
The University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University will use a five-year, $15 million grant from the National Science Foundation to create a research center focused on developing technologies to help the elderly and people with disabilities. The Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center will work to develop technologies that can improve the quality of life of older people and those with disabilities, help them live longer and more independently, and allow them to start or keep working. Organizers of the new research center demonstrated examples of the kinds of technologies they hope to develop. The examples included a robotic walker, a bar code reader to help visually impaired persons shop, and an “eWatch” that monitors the wearer’s health while keeping track of his or her location. Jared Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon, said the new research center is also expected to attract start-up companies with an interest in similar assistive technologies.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 18 July 2006 (via Edupage)
UNIVERSITY SUPERCOMPUTER ENLISTED IN BIRD FLU RESEARCH
Researchers looking into how to avoid widespread outbreaks of the avian flu will take advantage of upgrades to a supercomputer at Swansea University in Wales to perform complex modeling calculations. The processing power of the computer, known as Blue C, has been upgraded to more than two teraflops. The improvements also lowered the energy usage of the machine, cutting its electricity bill by 50,000 pounds per year, according to officials from the university. Researchers will use Blue C to create computer models of outbreaks of the bird flu in the United Kingdom, looking for ways to stop the spread of the disease through culling and quarantining birds. A spokesperson from Swansea said that the power of Blue C means researchers can have results within hours or even minutes, which will facilitate improvements in forecasting and coping with the disease.
BBC, 21 July 2006 (via Edupage)
UC SYSTEM SIGNS ON TO GOOGLE BOOK SCANNING
The University of California will join Oxford University, Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, and the New York Public Library in Google’s controversial book-scanning project. The UC System comprises more than 100 libraries on 10 campuses, and the new deal will give Google access to many millions of volumes housed at those libraries. As with other texts in Google’s program, digital copies will only be accessible through its own search engine. Google still faces legal opposition to its program, which scans copyrighted material as well as public domain texts, though access to protected work is limited. The UC System also participates in the Open Content Alliance (OCA), which takes a different approach to copyrighted works, scanning only those for which copyright owners have provided explicit permission. Although Jennifer Colvin, strategic communications manager at the California Digital Library, rejected the idea that participating in both projects represents a conflict, others disagreed. Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, said, “Having a public institution decide to go with Google’s restrictions doesn’t help the idea of libraries being open in the future.”
CNET, 8 August 2006 (via Edupage)
DETAILS SURFACE ABOUT UC DEAL WITH GOOGLE
Details of the recent deal in which the University of California will join Google’s book-scanning project have been released through an open-records request. Under the deal, the university will provide as many as 3,000 books per day to the search engine for digitization, eventually totaling at least 2.5 million books. The university and Google will keep copies of the digitized works, but the university is bound by a number of restrictions on how it can use its copies. For example, the university must prevent other search engines from scanning the books. Critics of the project, including Brewster Kahle, cofounder of the Internet Archive, said Google is getting more than it should from the arrangement. He faulted the university for “spend[ing] millions of taxpayers’ dollars to benefit a single corporation’s interest in building a private library.” Daniel Greenstein, director of the California Digital Library and one of the brokers of the deal, said that Google’s business model and its interests align well with the university’s goal of providing free “public access for the public domain.”
Chronicle of Higher Education, 25 August 2006 (via Edupage)
RESEARCHERS CREATE CATEGORIES OF TECHNOLOGY USE
Researchers at University College London (UCL) have assigned 1 of 23 categories to each postal code in the United Kingdom, characterizing the level of involvement with technology of residents in that area. The researchers started with 8 categories, which they then split into the total of 23 “e-types” ranging from “e-unengaged” to “e-experts.” Based on data from electoral rolls, the census, and Experian, researchers assigned one of the e-types to each of 1.7 million postal codes. Those involved in the project said the effort is intended to create a full picture of technology access and usage in the United Kingdom, as opposed to the notion that there are simply technology “haves” and technology “have-nots.” Paul Longley, professor at UCL who led the study, stressed that the message is not simply one of rankings, showing who has more and assuming that everyone wants more than they have. The research project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, was conducted in conjunction with the University of Leicester and the University of Nottingham.
BBC, 8 August 2006 (via Edupage)
REPORT ADVISES CONSISTENCY ON GOVERNMENT WEB SITES
An annual report on state and federal e-government portals recommended increased consistency of government Web sites. According to Darrell West, a professor of political science at Brown University and the author of the report “Digital Government: Technology and Public Sector Performance,” government Web sites should use consistent designs on their pages. The seventh annual report, published by Brown’s Taubman Center for Public Policy, ranks the General Services Administration’s FirstGov.gov as top among federal sites.
Federal Computer Week, 17 August 2006 (via Edupage)
Ancient book of psalms found in Ireland
This Irish equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls is being hailed by the National Museum’s experts as the greatest find ever from a European bog. Fragments of what appear to be an ancient psalter or book of psalms were uncovered July 20 by a construction worker in a bog in the south Midlands. It is impossible to say how the manuscript ended up in the bog. It may have been lost in transit or dumped after a Viking raid sometime between 800 and 1000 C.E. … National Museum of Ireland, July 27; Associated Press, July 25 (via American Libraries Direct)
Prayer book reveals Archimedean secret
Exactly when isn’t clear, but some decades ago a Parisian art forger washed the Greek religious text off pages of a parchment book and painted them over with images of evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But the prayer book held a deeper secret still. Faintly beneath the prayers, the scraps of sheepskin parchment held seven treatises of Archimedes — he who famously ran shouting “Eureka!” through the streets of Syracuse — considered by many as the greatest mathematician of antiquity… San Mateo County (Calif.) Times, Aug. 2 (via American Libraries Direct)
Owen and Mzee’s Web Log
Perhaps you remember the heartwarming story of Owen. This baby hippo managed to survive the horrific Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in December 2004. A Kenyan animal sanctuary rescued him, and once there, he surprised everyone by bonding closely with a 130-year old giant tortoise named Mzee. This blog, penned by the caretakers at the park, focuses on the story of these unlikely bedfellows. You’ll learn about the other hippos at the sanctuary, Potty and Cleo, Mzee’s 130th birthday, and how some caring schools have come to the park to plant trees. Most fascinating of all though, is watching the growing relationship between this unusual pair, and Owen’s transformation from shy and tiny hippo to big and friendly giant. And judging by the size of his grown-up hippo neighbors, he still has plenty more growin’ left to do! (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
Skeletal Systems of Cartoon Characters
Like so many Americans, Michael Paulus grew up watching cartoons. But unlike most children who become adults and shed interest in their animated friends, Michael matured into an artist who applies grown-up analysis to the animated characters of his youth — and their bone structure, in particular. That pondering led to detailed illustrations of the skeletal systems of such preeminent cartoon actors as Barney Rubble, Shmoo, and Baby Huey. If you accept the maxim that a large cranium indicates great intelligence, then Michael has revealed that Charlie Brown might just be a genius (footballs notwithstanding). Hello Kitty is a whiz. And Pigpen is a veritable Stephen Hawking. As for Betty Boop, it’s a wonder she can even hold her mastermind-sized head up above those dainty little feet. (From Yahoo’s Picks of the Week)
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