The Scout Report -- Volume 17, Number 22

June 3, 2011

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

Research and Education

General Interest

Network Tools

In The News

Research and Education

MIT OpenCourseWare: Principles of Engineering Practice [pdf]

Engineering can be a difficult subject, and bringing together groups to create new technologies in energy production, bioengineering, and communications can present a wide range of logistical challenges. This fine course from MIT's OpenCourseWare presents materials from the spring 2010 version of Professor Lionel C. Kimerling's "Principles of Engineering Practice", and it tackles some of these aforementioned challenges. On the site, visitors can look over selected lecture notes from the course, the syllabus, lab materials, and case studies. The case studies are quite interesting, and they represent ideas and projects presented by students in the course. The titles of these presentations and case studies include "Solar Electricity: Problems, Constraints and Solutions" and "Summary of Options for the Growth of Solar Electricity". Also, interested parties can use the "Related Resources" area to view lectures from the course and read helpful documents like "Preserving Your Patent Rights". [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

Physics Education [pdf]

Based at Harvard University, the Mazur Group is headed by Professor Eric Mazur who teaches physics and applied physics. Professor Mazur, his lab colleagues, and students worked to create this website on physics education. The site brings their own research into the classroom experience and provides resources for teaching physics. The "Areas of Research" includes information on collaborative learning via peer instruction, gender differences in introductory physics courses, and the value of classroom demonstrations. Each of these areas contains a brief summary of the Mazur Group's work in each area, and visitors can sign up for updates. Further down on the site, visitors can look through a book on peer instruction (complete with resource material) and the proceedings from a National Science Foundation conference that deals with teaching physics. [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

Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Research

Created in 2007, this website is a superb tool for learning about the ethical dilemmas engineers face in areas such as emerging technologies, environment, safety and sustainability, and responsible research. Visitors can learn about various ethical dilemmas via the site's collection of "Cases", "Essays & Articles", "Instructional Resources", and "Other Resources". The "Cases" link contains a fascinating collection of historical cases, hypothetical cases, fictionalized cases, numerical problems, and scenarios. Visitors will find cases that address a killer robot, reverse engineering, Internet privacy, and the real case of a "computerized radiation therapy machine and its software flaws, which caused massive overdoses to patients." The "Instructional Resources" link provides various university syllabi for courses on computers and the Internet, as well as a syllabus for a course for both young people and senior citizens which addresses the future of technology. Visitors will also find an informational article on the misuse of emerging technologies, entitled "Antibiotic Resistance and Dual Use". [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

Andover-Harvard Library: Holocaust Rescue and Relief: Digitized Records of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

A humanitarian crisis was brewing in Prague in 1939, and the Reverend Waitstill Sharp and his wife Martha went to investigate when they heard about it. From their initial work the Universal Unitarian Service Committee (UUSC) was born, and they eventually worked to establish food and clothing distribution centers, hospitals, and homes for children. The Andover-Harvard Theological Library is the official archive for the records of the Committee, and they have worked with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to digitize approximately 257 boxes of UUSC material dating from 1939 to 1967. Visitors can get started by clicking on the collection name on the homepage, and then reading the scope and content note for each area. The sections here include "Executive Director Records", "General Administrative Records", and "Special Initiatives". The site presents a rather unique record of the UUSC's activities over a 25-year period, and it is a collection that is quite well organized and worth viewing. [KMG]

MAA Math Alert

Those persons who teach and study mathematics may already know about the Mathematical Association of America's website (MAA) and some of its various features. One particularly noteworthy feature is the MAA Math Alert newsletter, and it is well regarded for its coverage of MAA events, grant opportunities, new electronic books, and teaching tips. Each month, the newsletter covers these types of stories, and educators will find the "Featured Articles" area quite helpful. Recent articles of note in this area include "Move Your Lecture into the Digital Age" and "Bad Math, Bad Thinking". While there isn't a search engine as yet for the Math Alerts, it does not require much time to look through the back issues for items of note. [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

Cells Alive (Last reviewed in the Scout Report, January 25, 2002)

The Scout Report last profiled the Cells Alive website a number of years ago, and since then a number of new features have been added. The site was created by scientist Jim Sullivan, and it includes images, animations, and descriptions that tell about the function of various cells. On the site visitors can browse through three main sections: "Contents", "Interactive", and "Galleries". In the "Immunology" section, visitors can check out "Allergy and Mites", "Making Antibodies", and even take a quick quiz to test what they have learned so far. Moving on, the "Interactive" area features cell models, puzzles, and visual demonstrations of mitosis and meiosis. Visitors won't want to miss the "How Big is a?" animation which offers a comparison of the relative sizes of cells and organisms sitting on a pinhead. The site is rounded out by a set of galleries that show the dynamics of bacterial growth and apoptosis, which is the natural phenomenon when a cell commits suicide. [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 Air and Space Museum: Webcast Archive

Do you want to listen in to a talk about how the Apollo space program got launched? Or maybe you would like to learn about the science behind the spacesuit? Both subjects, and many more, are covered on this collection of webcasts from the National Air and Space Museum. The talks date back to 2007 and visitors can search through them at their leisure to find something that might catch their fancy. Some of the more recent talks include "Exploring Mercury by Spacecraft: The MESSENGER Mission" and "The Solar Dynamics Observatory: The Sun Up Close and Personal". Visitors can also learn about each speaker via a short bio and sign up for their Twitter feed here as well. [KMG]

General Interest

Lessons Learned: A Planning Toolsite

Congress established the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 1965, and since then the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to "support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities." This collection from the NEA is a "comprehensive compendium of planning advice from a variety of professional arts consultants, many of whom were associated with the NEA Advancement Program of 1980-1996." In addition to offering grant funds, the NEA also offers management assistance, thus "planning grants" have become an important piece of the support offered by the NEA. This compendium brings together the ideas and perspectives of many planning consultants including arts administrators, writers, teachers, artists, board members, and more. There are 6 sections here, and they are divided into themes including "Looking in the Mirror", "First Steps", "The Conversation", and "Moving On". Some of the highlights here include "Casting Your Long Range Plan" by Joseph Wesley Zeigler and "Who's On First: Resolving Problems of Implementation in Public-Sector Planning". The site is rounded out by a list of recommended reading and short bios of each contributor. [KMG]

U.S. West: Photographs, Manuscripts, and Imprints

This marvelous digital collection draws on materials held in the collection of Southern Methodist University's DeGolyer Library. The Library holds over 500,000 images that document the American West, borderlands, exploration, and the development of the Western railroads. This particular collection brings together over 540 digitized items, including Alexander Gardner's 1867 portfolio, "Across the Continent on the Kansas Pacific Railroad (Route of the 35th Parallel)". Also part of the collections here are postcards of cowgirls, Native Americans in Oklahoma, and lantern slides of Mexico and California. Visitors should not miss the "Stereographs of the Dakota Territory", which include late 19th century images of Deadwood and Crook City. The site is rounded out by a photographic study by William Henry Jackson titled "Les geysers d'Amerique". [KMG]

Ration Coupons on the Home Front, 1942-1945

During World War II, the United States government started the mandatory rationing of items, including gasoline, food, tires, cars, and footwear. Not surprisingly, this program created an extensive paper trail that included booklets, stamps, and various coupons. This recent digital collection from the Duke University Libraries brings together these materials as they were issued by the Office of Price Administration from 1942-1945. Visitors should start with a visit to the "History" sections, which provides a chronology of rationing during the war period, along with information on the "thermal zone" chart which was created to account for regional needs for heat, and therefore fuel, within the United States. It's fun to look around the site by subject heading, and they include "boats", "coffee", and "stoves". There's quite a trove of ephemera here, and it will delight any student of American history. [KMG]

National Arborists

This website is for those who have trees, tree care problems, or those seeking general information on tree services. On the left-hand menu of any page, visitors will find such information as diseases, insects and removal, as well as information on identification, care and pruning. Visitors shouldn't miss the link for Sudden Oak Death, which is under the "Tree Diseases" section. The link explains that Sudden Oak Death is a disease that has killed several different types of oak trees in California, and one of the first symptoms of the disease is a dark red sap that is exuded from dark spots on the bark. The photos in the link show trees that look remarkably like they are bleeding. Also, suggestions on preventive measures to attempt to control the disease are offered. The "Tree Insects" section has links to four insects which wreak havoc on trees, along with detailed photos and prevention or eradication measures. [KMG]

Pigments Through the Ages

This fascinating online exhibit deals with the use of pigment and provides visitors with an "Overview", "History of Use", "Making the Pigment" and "Technical Details" for dozens of pigments that are "some of the most historically important in art". Visitors can click on "Choose a Pigment" to see a 3D image of such beauties as Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine, Naples Yellow, and Orpiment. Visitors can see a timeline of when these pigments were discovered, if they have continued being used, and in what form, artificial or natural. Carbon Black and Bone Black were the earliest pigments, and are still used today, and Titanium White is the most recent discovery, and it came into existence in 1921. The "Make Paintings" link is where visitors will probably have the most fun on the site, as they can see the progress of a painting in watercolor, pastels, oil, acrylic and the now little used method of egg tempera. Additionally, each technique is explained in detail, highlighted by photos that visitors can zoom in on for closer scrutiny. [KMG]

Iowa Mathematics and Science Education Partnership: For Parents

The Iowa Mathematics and Science Education Partnership (IMSEP) encourages students of all ages to pursue the study or teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. The study of these subjects will help them compete for the 6.3 million jobs requiring such skills, which will be in existence around the globe by 2014. Visitors to this website who have children that are in grades K-12 or an institute of higher education in Iowa, or any other part of the United States, will find a great resources to inspire "children towards STEM fields, preparing them to tackle tomorrows challenges." The "How to Encourage" link is great for parents and caregivers who wish to encourage attitudes and aptitudes toward STEM subjects. An A to Z list is provided, and it includes "Grow" crystals in a jar, and "Identify" the trees in the neighborhood. Visitors will find the "Resources" link comprised of dozens of pages of games, videos, and projects, such as "Computer Science Unplugged!", which provides games and puzzles involving "cards, string, crayons, and lots of running around". [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

RTI International

Located in North Carolina, the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) is a research institute that is "dedicated to improving the human condition by turning knowledge into practice." Visitors interested in seeing some of the projects RTI is working on will find the "Ongoing Projects" link under the "RTI Newsroom" tab helpful. There is a 3.5 minute slideshow that shows a relevant image, gives a brief description of the project, and states who RTI is doing the study for, such as a government organization, foreign government, or non-governmental organization (NGO). The "Published Research" tab near the top of the page provides free PDFs of their published work, or full citations of where a RTI article can be found, if not in their own publications. Visitors should check out the report "Child Maltreatment Within Military Families" to see a good example of an RTI research brief. The brief contains a research priorities box and a definitions box to make it easier for visitors to understand the findings. Additionally, the other publications available on the site include books/chapters, reports, and journal articles. [KMG]

Calder's Portraits: A New Language

We usually think of Alexander Calder as the artist who create mobiles, primarily from wire and brightly colored metal pieces. However, there was more to Alexander Calder and this exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery showcases a series of portraits that he began making in the 1920s. Fifteen Calder portraits can be seen in the online gallery on the website. Most of the portraits are wire sculptures, such as John D. Rockefeller, swinging a golf club, or tennis great Helen Wills Moody, with racket in hand. Wills is the lone female portrayed. There are also four self-portraits of Calder. [DS]

Network Tools


Compfight describes its purpose as "a search engine tailored for visual inspiration." It is a bit different than other mainstream photo search engines, and visitors can get started by clicking on the "Show me what compfight can do" link. Compfight returns grids of images organized by license type, text tags, and those that are "safe" for all audiences. Visitors can also sign up for their Twitter feed and also send them feedback. Compfight is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

After a series of negotiations with political party leaders, Germany decides to phase out the use of nuclear power

Germany pulls plug on nuclear power

Nuclear power in Germany: The reasons behind Chancellor Merkel's U-turn

France Criticizes German Nuclear Retreat

German nuclear energy history: a timeline,,15117199,00.html

Nuclear Power Global Status [pdf]

HowStuffWorks: "How Nuclear Power Works"

There has been some concern throughout the world community regarding nuclear power plant safety since the disaster in Japan back in March 2011. Despite this general cautiousness, many members of the scientific community were surprised by an announcement from Germany's environment minister this past Sunday. After much consideration, Norbert Roettgen announced that Germany will close all of its nuclear power plants by 2022. Currently, Germany has seventeen nuclear reactors, eight of which are off the electricity grid as of this writing. The agreement was reached after an intense set of negotiations between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of the three major government parties in Germany. The debate about whether to shutter all of Germany's nuclear plants has been a divisive policy issue in the country since the 1970s, and it is one that remains controversial among other members of the European Union. Germany has also elected to keep the equivalent of two power stations on stand-by after 2022, but it remains to be seen how this will work in practice. [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to a news article on the recent decision from this Tuesday's Sydney Morning Herald. The second link will take users to an investigative piece by Stephen Evans of the BBC's Berlin office on the reasons that Chancellor Merkel changed her mind about nuclear power. The third link whisks interested parties to an article from Bloomberg exploring France's critical reaction to Germany's recent decision to phase out its nuclear plants. Moving on, the fourth link leads to a helpful timeline of German nuclear power events from Deutsche Welle. The fifth link leads to a report on the prospects for nuclear power generation around the world, authored by Alan McDonald of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Finally, the last link leads to a very helpful overview of how nuclear power works, courtesy of the dedicated team at the HowStuffWorks website.

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