The Scout Report -- Volume 16, Number 50

December 17, 2010

A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sponsored by University of Wisconsin - Madison Libraries.

A Note to our Readers

Research and Education

General Interest

Network Tools

In The News

A Note to our Readers

Scout Holiday Publishing Schedule

The Scout Report will be on vacation December 24th and December 31st. We will return with the January 7th, 2011 report. 

Best Holiday wishes and see you next year,
Chanda Halderman

Managing Editor

Research and Education

Mobilizing Minds: Teaching Math and Science in the Age of Sputnik

The "beep-beep" of Sputnik in 1957 signaled to the world that the Space Race was on. The United States realized that the Soviet Union was making significant headway in the world of technology and discovery, and something needed to be done. Over the next several decades, the United States continued to grow concerned about the state of science and math education in the country. Fortunately, teams of professional scientists and mathematicians joined together to create new classroom teaching methods and other measures designed to improve the situation. This seven-part digital exhibition from the National Museum of American History includes images that tell this story, including selections from innovative books like "Corky in Orbit" and "R is for Rocket" by Ray Bradbury. The references for additional reading are uniformly excellent, and overall, it's a site that will interest historians of science, Cold War buffs, and others. [KMG]

The History of Artificial Intelligence

Despite what some might think, artificial intelligence is a concept that is hundreds of years old and a variety of individuals have worked on a number of curious projects in an attempt to plumb the depths of this idea. This collection from the Stanford University Libraries brings together a dozen or so audio and video files that document the history of these explorations. The project was supported by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, via a grant awarded by the National Science Foundation. The films, which can be found under the tab "Browse by Title", include lectures of motion and vision and a very early film on a remote-controlled lunar vehicle. Some of the files are not publicly accessible to those not affiliated with Stanford University, but there is enough here to warrant several visits. [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

National Snow and Ice Data Center [pdf]

The National Snow and Ice Data Center researches the cryosphere, and this website provides plenty of information on their work on the world of ice and snow. The Education Center homepage of their website will cause visitor's teeth to chatter just from looking at all the photos. There are several links to comprehensive discussions about Sea Ice, Snow, Frozen Ground, and Glaciers. One of those, called "All About Snow", has a link to an amazing "Gallery" of pictures of snow, such as the shocking photo of a 1966 blizzard in North Dakota that almost covered the utility poles, which is found in the "blizzards" section. Visitors should not miss the breath-taking photos of Sastrugi (wind-sculpted snow) in the "snow phenomena and formations" section of the gallery. Back on the homepage, visitors interested in a more condensed look at ice, should check out the "Quick Facts" link under "Basic Information" on the homepage, to find Quick Facts sections on "Arctic Sea Ice", "Ice Sheets", "Ice Shelves", and "Icebergs". [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

Virtual Museum of Optical Illusions

The current exhibition in the Virtual Museum of Optical Illusions features metamorphic postcards. These are old postcards with drawings or paintings of people or mythological creatures. When they are viewed from different perspectives the subject is transformed into something new; according to the introduction presented here, metaphoric postcards became very popular in the late 1800s. Visitors will find the exhibit is divided into categories of popular themes, including "The Couple and the Guest", "What's on Your Mind", and "Famous People". Visitors may find some of the pictures difficult to metamorphose, such as "Society" in the "About the Artists" section. Sometimes the metamorphosis comes quickly, but then the pre-metamorphosis picture is hard to see again. The "Being Inspired" theme shows the metamorphic postcard and the drawing or photograph by which it was inspired. [KMG]

Maryhill Museum of Art

The Maryhill Museum started out as the mansion of Sam Hill, an entrepreneur raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who settled in the state of Washington in the early 1900s hoping to establish a Quaker farming community. The Museum opened its doors in 1940 after Hill's death, under the direction of a friend who was the wife of a San Francisco sugar magnate. The "2010 Exhibits", under "Exhibits" on the menu across the top of the page, offers visitors a great overview of the Museum's collecting history over the past 70 years, with its "70: Seven Decades of Collecting at Maryhill Museum of Art". Visitors should click on "Additional Images" to see the types of artwork collected over the years, including paintings, posters, carved ivory chess pieces, blown glass and even miniature well-dressed mannequins. Visitors intrigued by glass making will enjoy the exhibit "William Morris: Native Species", which contains the work of contemporary artist William Morris, and features earthy, Northwest-inspired vessels that contain actual leaf shards, pods, and pine needles. [KMG]

American Medical Association: Atlas of the Human Body

The American Medical Association (AMA) has a number of fine educational resources available on their website, and this Atlas of the Human Body is quite a stand-out selection. Visitors to the site can look through simple and effective diagrams of the circulatory system, the brain, the torso, the female reproductive system, and others. Each diagram and rendering contains a brief discussion of the system in question, along with a selection of related information on the left-hand side of the page. The section titled "Effects of Stroke" is quite effective, and this site will be a useful resource for the general public, medical professionals, and others working in related fields. [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

National Institutes of Health: Research Matters

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) generates thousands of pieces of important research every year, and even the most dedicated individual would be hard pressed to keep track of all these items. The Research Matters site from NIH makes this all a snap, as users can peruse the latest news releases from their many different research divisions. To get started, first-time visitors may want to look at the "Editor's Picks", which have included pieces like "Aspects of Aging Might be Reversed" and "Controlling Computers with Your Mind". There's also a search engine on the homepage, and visitors can subscribe to their RSS feed or sign up for regular email updates. On the left-hand side of the homepage, visitors will find "Quick Links" to multimedia features, the "News in Health" newsletter, and various podcasts. [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

Papers Past

Papers Past is an ambitious effort by the National Library of New Zealand to digitize and share over 250,000 pages from historic New Zealand newspapers. The project started in 2001, and the whole collection was made completely searchable in 2009. The materials here cover the years 1839 to 1945, and they feature 61 publications from all regions of New Zealand. Visitors can search through the collection, or they are also welcome to browse by year, region, or newspaper title. The collection also includes an extensive selection of Māori newspapers, which are available in the Māori Niupepa Collection, found in the "Introduction" section of the site. [KMG]

General Interest

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground

Where was the United States born? The folks at The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership make a strong case for the area in and around the National Scenic Byway, which stretches from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to Monticello in Virginia. Along this road, visitors will find markets, 10,000 places listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as additional sites associated with the Revolutionary War and other defining military conflicts. On their website, visitors can view an interactive map of the route, watch videos that talk about key moments and places along the route, and also check out the press room. The "Explore by Interest" area, found at the bottom of the homepage, gives users the ability to peruse sections that highlight thematic collections of places and events. These areas include "African American Heritage", "Colonial", and "Historic Buildings". Under the "Education" tab found at the top of the homepage, visitors can find materials for teacher development, lesson plans, and field trip guides. Visitors may also want to follow the Partnership on Facebook or sign up for their eNewsletter. [KMG]

Gillray Collection

Throughout history, illustrators and others have seen fit to accurately skewer politicians, religious leaders, and countless others through their creative drawings and words. Born in 1756, English illustrator James Gillray was part of this honorable tradition. He reigned supreme during a period that became known as the "golden age of English caricature", and he "chronicled and ridiculed the politicians and ruling class of his day." This collection of his work comes courtesy of Dickson Q. Brown (Princeton class of 1895) who donated 313 prints to the Princeton University Library. Visitors to the site won't want to miss his "A bouquet of the last century" or his highly effective "A peep into the cave of Jacobinism". Overall, it's a delightful set of images, and one that effectively demonstrates the power of such pieces of art and political commentary. [KMG]

NEH Grant Project: The AGS Library's Historic Images

The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee has worked on a number of creative digital projects over the past several years, and this new initiative is worth a look. With financial support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), their American Geographical Society (AGS) Library has been able to create an online library of historic images from its substantial archive. The goal of the site is provide access to the 68,000 nitrate negatives in its photography collection, and currently visitors can view around 5,000 images here. The images include items from the Bert A. Krawczyk Collection, which features 600 images of China and India taken during World War II by Mr. Krawczyk, who was a photographer stationed both places during this time. Other materials include the collection of Harrison Forman, who was a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, London Times, and the National Broadcasting Company in the 1930s. [KMG]

Fire Safety for Kids

This fire safety website was created for young adults and children by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and several other government organizations, and it addresses house fires. Visitors will find that it contains easy to understand explanations about the importance of fire prevention, as well as games, puzzles, and a cute turtle named Jett. The "Home Safety" lesson teaches kids about potential fire hazards in the home, such as electrical cords, the stove, and lighters. After the lesson is complete visitors can take a quiz, which will help kids study for the Junior Fire Marshal test. Visitors who enjoy the challenge of puzzles and fun of games, should check out the timed "Word Searches". The "Hazard House", shows a room rife with fire hazards to be identified. Scrolling over an item with the mouse identifies the hazard and a dialogue box appears explaining why it is a hazard. To "Become a Junior Fire Marshal", visitors can take the dozen question test online, and if completed successfully, receive a downloadable certificate to print out. For every questioned answered correctly, visitors are cheered on by excited kids. [KMG]

Maryland ArtSource: Maryland Historical Society Painting Collection

As part of their work on documenting and cataloging art, the Maryland ArtSource has created this thoughtful digital collection. These works highlight Maryland's history through portraits, landscapes, and views of everyday life from the 17th century to the present. This online collection was made possible by funding provided from the Henry Luce Foundation, and visitors may wish to start with the "Collection Highlights" area. Here they will find a portrait of Mordecai Gist by Charles Willson Peale and a romantic depiction of the settlement of Maryland created by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze in 1861. After this section, visitors will want to move on to the "Collection by Date" area, and here they can look at different paintings dating back to 1600. Finally, visitors won't want to miss the works of Grace Turnbull, particularly her 1920 work "Waterfall". [KMG]

Tokens & Treasures: Gifts to Twelve Presidents

The National Archives and Records Administration has an exquisite online exhibit displaying gifts that were given to twelve U.S. presidents by ordinary citizens, famous artists, and heads of state. The "Gifts of State" link highlights the latter. There are more than a few pieces that are simply beautiful, such as the rich, red enamel and gold tea set given to Franklin Roosevelt by the Crown and Crown Princess of Norway. Herbert Hoover was the recipient of a charming metallic model of San Francisco from California Governor James Rolph. The Governor sent it as an invitation to a 1932 Shriners' Convention in the state because of Hoover's strong connection to California. Visitors shouldn't miss the very tattered American flag sent to Jimmy Carter by a citizen in Texas during the hostage crisis, expressing his sympathy for Carter in a letter, writing, "Although I may disagree with you on some major political matters, I will continue to pledge my support to you as President of this great land in all of your efforts to free our people." [KMG]

Imagining the Past in France, 1250-1500

This exhibition from the Getty Museum uses manuscripts to relate historical narratives from medieval France. Visitors to the site will find "dramatic depictions of moral dilemmas, valiant battles, and chivalrous derring-do", featuring a cast of characters including Hector of Troy, Alexander the Great, Emperor Charlemagne, and the Virgin Mary. Clicking on "See Art from the exhibition", found on the middle of the homepage, visitors will find For example, The Romance of Alexander, ca. 1290, which features a plate showing Alexander exploring underwater, in a diving capsule tied to the belly of a whale. Historical fiction author Steve Berry discusses this image in accompanying audio. There are also three books presented in great detail in the exhibit: Memorable Deeds and Sayings of the Romans (Koninlijke Bibliotheek, The Hague, Ms. 66 B 13); Concerning the Fates of Illustrious Men and Women (Getty Museum, Ms. 63); and Great Chronicles of France (Bibliotheque nationale de France, Ms. fr. 2813). [DS]

Network Tools

WordPress 3.0.3

For those looking for a way to document their experiences throughout the holiday season and the New Year, WordPress might be just the ticket. This new release of the popular blogging software contains a few new plugins, including those that are designed to synchronize posts with Twitter and the "BuddyPress", which helps users build social networks for their company, school, or sports team. This version is compatible with all operating systems, including Linux. [KMG]


Designed to be a powerful suite of online creation tools, Aviary has an image editor, a screen capture tool, image markup capabilities, and five other free tools. One of the newer additions is the music creator, which gives users the ability to pick an instrument (such as the drums) and then create their own riff for use on their website. Additionally, visitors can check out items created by fellow users and their own in-house blog. This version is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

As the new year approaches, a plan to showcase Chernobyl to visitors from around the world emerges

Kiev Sees Chernobyl as Tourist Hot Spot

Ukraine plans to open Chernobyl, site of massive nuclear disaster, open to tourists in 2011

Chernobyl: now open to tourists

Chernobyl [pdf]

US Nuclear Weapons Accidents

Atomic Heritage Foundation

Commemorating various tragedies is nothing new, and for better or worse, neither is attempting to profit from them. In recent years, various operators have created new tours to look at the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and other such disasters, and the public outcry has been significant. Twenty-four years after the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, it appears that the Ukrainian government wants to open the area around the long-defunct plant to curious tourists. The interestingly named "Situations Ministry" announced this Monday that it wants to allow visitors to take in vistas of the plant, along with giving them the ability to wander around the towns and villages that were abandoned after the events of April 26, 1986. As of late, many clandestine tours of Chernobyl have been run by a wide range of skilled and less skilled tour operators, and some of them charge up to $150. Situations Ministry spokesperson Yulia Yurshova commented recently, "The Chernobyl zone isn't as scary as the whole world thinks. We want to work with big tour operators and attract Western tourists, from whom there's great demand." [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to a piece from this Monday's Wall Street Journal about this recent development in the promotion of Chernobyl as a tourist destination. The second link leads to a piece by the New York Daily News' Philip Caulfield on this story. Moving along, the third link will take interested parties to a piece from the Guardian which talks a bit more about the specifics of the tourism scheme for the region. The fourth link leads to an amazingly detailed and well-organized site on the Chernobyl disaster and its aftermath, courtesy of the United Nations Development Programme and other partners. The fifth link leads to a fine paper by Jaya Tiwari and Cleve J. Gray, which details the history of nuclear weapons accidents in the United States from 1950 to 1984. Finally, the sixth link will take users to The Atomic Heritage Foundation site, which includes information about online atomic history websites, materials for educators, and so on.

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