The Scout Report -- Volume 9, Number 42

October 24, 2003

A Publication of the Internet Scout Project
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison

NSDL Scout Reports

Research and Education

General Interest

Network Tools

In The News

NSDL Scout Reports

NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, and Technology

The seventh issue of the second volume of the MET Report is available. Its Topic in Depth section offers Web sites and comments about Embedded Systems.

Research and Education

Demos [pdf]

The number of independent think-tank groups around the U.K. continues to grow, but Demos is certainly one of the more compelling, and one that persons with an interest in public policy, governance, and other related topics will want to take a look at. The research at Demos is focused primarily around five themes: democracy, learning, enterprise, quality of life and global change. Along with its interest in producing informed research, Demos has initiated a number of practical projects as well. On the Demos Web site, visitors can read about the various research projects, read short briefs about completed projects, and browse through a catalog of publications. Some of the more intriguing research publications include such works dealing with educational assessment measures, the child protection system in the UK, and so-called inclusive communities. [KMG]

Language Use and English-Speaking Ability: 2000 [pdf]

Drawing on information collected during the 2000 Census, this latest brief from the Census Bureau looks on language use and English-speaking ability across the country. Authored by Hyon B. Shin and Rosalind Bruno, this 11-page report begins with a brief discussion of the questions asked about language use on the 2000 Census reporting form. The initial findings include the fact that approximately 47-million persons in the U.S. (approximately 18 percent of the total population) speak a language other than English at home. Not surprisingly, the number and percentage of people in the U.S. who spoke a language other than English at home increased between 1990 and 2000. Additionally, after English and Spanish, the languages most frequently spoken at home were Chinese, French, German, and Tagalog. The report also includes several helpful maps that detail (at the county level) the percentage of people who spoke a language at home other than English in 2000. [KMG]

Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University [pdf]

Founded in 1968, the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) at Northwestern University is an interdisciplinary public policy research institute that supports dozens of research projects dealing with a range of issues, including poverty, race, adolescent studies, philanthropy, and community development. The site will be invaluable to persons interested in these fields (especially those interested in the Midwest and Chicago), as complete information is offered about ongoing research programs, affiliated centers (such as the Joint Center for Poverty Research), and a list of staff members and faculty associates. As with many policy research institutes, the publications section contains the most important substantive material, as users may browse working papers, policy briefs, newsletters, and publications from affiliated centers. The IPR Working Paper series extends back until 1995, and contains over 100 reports in total. [KMG]

The National Academies [pdf]

Established by the U.S. Congress in 1863, the National Academies were designed to provide guidance to the United States government in the numerous fields of scientific endeavor. Over the past one hundred and forty years, the Academies expanded to include the National Research Council, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. To say that the Academies perform an essential service to the country would be a gross understatement. At the Web site, visitors can read about the diverse research projects being conducted in the areas of chemistry, the social sciences, transportation, and engineering, to name a few. While one could browse the site for hours, first-time visitors will want to browse the news section on the homepage, which brings together important findings from the Academies, along with an area titled Science in the Headlines. Of course, visitors will not want to visit the National Academies Press area, where over 2900 books can be viewed (in their entirety) for free.

OECD in Figures: Statistics on the Member Countries, 2003 Edition [pdf]

Released recently by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), this important fact-book presents 97-pages of valuable statistics about the 30 member countries that constitute the membership of the OECD. The first 76 pages are largely devoted to presenting tables of statistical tables on key themes that include economic growth and performance, employment, trade, development aid, research and development, science and technology, and education expenditures. Pages 77 to 91 present tables of statistical information relating to consumer prices, health spending, road fatalities, life expectancy, investment flows, and consumer prices. For each table, there is a brief explanation of how the data was gathered and analyzed, along with a short discussion of what each table indicates. For persons working in the field of development studies or those with an interest in the performance measures of OECD countries, this document will be quite useful. [KMG]

The Digital Michelangelo Project [pdf, RealOne Player, exe, Microsoft PowerPoint]

In an effort to create and archive three dimensional computer representations of some of history's most important cultural artifacts, researchers from Stanford University and the University of Washington have employed laser rangefinder technologies to scan items and preserve them digitally. The project has mainly focused on some of Michelangelo's sculptures, including the famous David statue, but has also "scanned 1,163 fragments of the Forma Urbis Romae, a giant marble map of ancient Rome." Visitors to the project's homepage can download the ScanView software, which lets users virtually fly around the models of the statues. Research papers about the technologies used in the project and the algorithms developed by its members are also available. This site is also reviewed in the October 24 NSDL MET Report. [CL]

The Electric Ben Franklin [QuickTime]

With a number of new biographies out about the life of the truly prolific Benjamin Franklin, it is clear that he remains very much in the public eye over two hundred years since his passing in 1790. This fine site, developed by the Independence Hall Association, brings together a number of interactive and visually stimulating features that will be particularly appreciated by young persons getting acquainted with his life and work. A timeline offers some important dates in Franklin's life, and close at hand is a complete version of his much celebrated autobiography. The section titled Franklin and his Electric Kite recounts one of his most famous experiments, along with including Franklin's first-hand account of how he constructed the kite. A virtual tour of the court where Franklin's house once stood is also available, along with the underground museum that stands beneath the court. [KMG]

Convention on Biological Diversity [pdf]

Convened after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the Convention on Biological Diversity has three primary goals: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources. The main body of the organization's home page is dedicated to disseminating information about upcoming meetings, news, and events, such as the expert meeting on the global strategy for plant conservation and the various constituent groups that make up the Convention. The number of online documents available here is quite prodigious, and is divided into groups that include quarterly reports, global biodiversity outlook reports, and case-study documents. Users may elect to browse through these collections, or choose to use the search engine. On the left-hand side of the site's homepage, visitors can peruse the numerous sections devoted to the convention bodies (along with information about their current status and respective missions), information services provided by the Convention, and a well-developed area on biosafety protocol. [KMG]

General Interest

Today in Literature

With stories about Oscar Wilde and his mother, tales of Elmore Leonard, and P.G. Wodehouse, the Today In Literature Web site will be of great interest and delight to literary aficionados everywhere. From the main page, visitors can read the story of the day, which relates an interesting tale or event of literary import from the historical past. Visitors can also read about stories that recently appeared on the site, and browse through a list of writers as well. Clicking on the names of any of the writers will bring up a number of stories about the selected author, although free registration is required to read the entire piece. Visitors may also want to sign up for the free email newsletter (which can be received daily or weekly), which includes the story of the day, along with a daily literary quote, and a list of relevant events of importance that occurred on that date. [KMG]

The Quilt Index

With the goal of creating a single, comprehensive index to American quilts, the Quilt Index builds on the work of 4 state quilt documentation and digitization projects: the Michigan Quilt Project, Kentucky Quilt Project, Illinois Quilt Research Project, and Quilts of Tennessee (more information about these projects is at the site). Currently almost 900 quilt images and pieces of information are searchable in the Quilt Index. The project has established standards for data elements to be collected, and forms to facilitate the addition of quilt documentation from other states. Quilts dating from 1800 to 1999 can be searched by pattern name, quilter's name, location made, date, and collection or documentation project. Searches by pattern name (baby blocks, ocean waves, wedding ring) are possible, but the interface is quite picky about singular and plural. Several ways to browse are also available, such as by collection, period, and style/technique, or choose "view the entire index" to display 887 quilts and records. The Quilt Index is hosted by MATRIX, the humanities technology center at Michigan State University that also hosts H-Net, Humanities and Social Sciences OnLine.

The Black Collegian Online

Published since 1970, the Black Collegian is a publication that is distributed to colleges and universities around the United States aimed primarily at African-American students. The Web site offers the magazine for the web-browsing public at no charge, along with a host of other resources. Sponsored by a number of advertisers, the Black Collegian contains articles on graduate school opportunities, career outlooks and reports, and job search strategies. Along with browsing the Black Collegian archives (dating back to 1997), visitors may also elect to view articles organized by theme, such as global study programs, African-American issues, and extra-curriculars. Students looking around the site will also want to consider posting their resume in order to facilitate their job search. Rounding out the site is a Quote of the Day sidebar and a Did You Know feature, which features a little-known fact about the achievements of African-Americans throughout history. [KMG]

The federal government has thousands of grant programs, and navigating the numerous Web sites administered by the various grant-making agencies and departments can be difficult at times. Stepping into that breach is, which serves as an electronic storefront for federally-administered grant programs. From the homepage, visitors may want to begin by browsing through a list of grant topics, which range from housing to the humanities. Clicking on each topic will lead to another list detailing which federal agencies provide (or may provide) grant monies within each area. Visitors looking for greater search capabilities will want to move to the grants synopsis search area, which allows for customizable searches for quick access to the relevant grants and application documents. Equally helpful is the federal grant notification service that allows individuals to be notified when new grant announcements are released by various agencies. Through this notification service visitors may also register to receive all notices from selected agencies, funding categories, eligibility groups, or funding opportunity number. [KMG]

Napoleonic Caricatures: A Brown University Digital Collection

With the rise of mass printing techniques through the 18th century, many public figures began to be parodied and satirized through caricatures created by the many artists that worked for newspapers, broadsheets, and other types of publications. One such figure was Napoleon, and this collection of 271 caricatures includes a number of renderings of both him and his contemporaries. The satires are housed in the Anne S.K. Brown Military collection of the John Hay Library at Brown, and have been recently placed online in order to make them more accessible to the public. The site includes a chronology of Napoleon's life, an essay on the nature of these satires, and a Who's Who? section which offers brief portraits of those persons who figured prominently in that historical era, such as the Hanoverian kings, British politicians (such as William Pitt the Younger), and Horatio Nelson. The satires themselves may be browsed by artist, or by the date of their creation. [KMG]

National Congress of American Indians [Macromedia Flash Reader, pdf]

Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was organized in an effort "to inform the public and the federal government on tribal self-government, treaty rights, and a broad range of federal policy issues affecting tribal governments." As the NCAI is the primary group lobbying on behalf of Native American groups in the United States, the Web site contains information about related legislative efforts in the Congress and the House of Representatives, along with information about NCAI membership. The Issues section contains a number of helpful documents generated by the NCAI that detail areas of prime concern, which include community development, governance, human resources, and natural resources. The site also includes information about member nations within the NCAI, along with contact information for tribal leaders and links to member nation websites. [KMG]

The German-Hollywood Connection

Created and maintained by Hyde Flippo, this Web site pays homage to the long-standing connection between the Germanic world and the bright lights of Hollywood and the film industry. As Flippo contends in a brief introduction to the site, "No other single influence on American cinema has been greater than that from the German-speaking world." Given the preponderance of such Hollywood legends like Michael Curtiz, Marlene Dietrich, Ernst Lubitsch, Wolfgang Petersen, Billy Wilder, and William Wyler, there just may be something to this particular contention. The section titled Connections is quite interesting, as it draws portraits of the German-Hollywood connections within such films as Casablanca, the Tarzan movies which starred the late Johnny Weissmuller, and the films of Roland Emmerich (director of Independence Day and Godzilla), who is known as the Swabian Spielberg. Along with these engaging pieces, the site also contains material about actors with Germanic origins and film studios that were heavily influenced by those persons from the German-speaking world. [KMG]

Network Tools

Avant Browser 8.02.106 [Windows Operating System]

As many users have already discovered, AvantBrowser (which is entirely free) is a rather user-friendly and quite versatile multi-window browser. AvantBrowser 8.02.106 includes a flash-animation filter, a built in pop-up stopper, a built in Google search engine, and is available in over 25 languages, including Thai, Catalan, Greek, and Polish. Additionally, the user support for Avant Browser is quite strong, with a good online forum section where users chime in about suggestions, problems, and the like. This version of Avant Browser is compatible with all systems running Windows 98 and higher. [KMG]

Text Analysis Markup System 2.345b [Macintosh Operating System]

Persons doing qualitative research in the social sciences or humanities will want to take a look at this novel research tool created by Professor Matthew Weinstein at Kent State University. Essentially, the program allows users to take qualitative data (such as transcripts of interviews) and place tags around pieces of text that are particularly crucial or noteworthy to any given research agenda. After doing so, users can perform a search based upon a particular tag, which helps facilitate the process of discerning recurring themes (something quite crucial to those doing content analysis, for example). This program is compatible with all systems running Mac OS X. [KMG]

In The News

German Scientists Discover Key to Mummification

CBC News: Scientists Unravel Secret of Mummy Embalming
Nature: Ancient Materials: Analysis of a Pharaonic Embalming Tar
Encyclopedia Smithsonian: Egyptian Mummies
Animal Mummies in the Cairo Museum
National Geographic: At the Tomb of Tutankhamen
Akhet Egyptology

Utilizing a method described by Pliny the Elder (the first encyclopaedist), chemists from Tuebingen University and the Doerner-Institut have tracked the preservative used in the mummification process to an extract of the cedar tree. For many years, many Egyptologists believed that the embalming oil was extracted from juniper rather than cedar. Through their experiments, the team of scientists replicated an ancient treatment of cedar wood and found that it contained a preservative chemical called guaiacol. Testing this chemical on fresh pig ribs revealed that the compound had an extremely high anti-bacterial effect without damaging body tissue. Of course, the initial impetus that led the ancient Egyptians to develop such a technique was the fact that they needed to bury their deceased leaders deeper in the earth, due to a dramatic spate of grave robberies. Additionally, one key element to the successful completion of the research team's mission was the unused embalming material found next to the well-preserved mummy of Saankh-kare, which allowed them to carry out chemical analysis of tar which was unaffected by contact with body tissues.

The first link will take visitors to a news piece on this recent important discovery provided by the Canadian Broadcasting Company which details the steps the scientists took in their work. The second link leads to the complete research brief on the discovery that appeared in this week's edition of Nature. The third link offers a detailed description of the embalming process used by the Egyptians, along with offering a list of further reading materials. The fourth link provides a host of materials on the practice of creating animal mummies that was also commonplace in ancient Egypt. The fifth link leads to an interactive edition of the February 1923 edition of the National Geographic Magazine that detailed the discovery and excavation of the tomb of King Tutankhamen by Maynard Owen Williams. Here visitors can read Williams' letters about his work and view photographs from the original article. The sixth and final link leads to a rather comprehensive site devoted to providing information about the world of ancient Egypt. Here visitors can learn about art of the afterlife, sculpture, and the tombs and temples of Egyptian antiquity, among other topics. [KMG]

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