The Scout Report -- Volume 17, Number 45

November 11, 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

Flash Tutorials for Biological Sciences [Flash Player]

Over the past few years, staff members at Carnegie Mellon University's Department of Biological Sciences and the Office of Technology for Education have created an impressive suite of multimedia course materials to assist science instructors. The materials here are divided into four primary sections, including "Interactive Animations", "Biology Labs", and "Supplemental Interactives". In the "Interactive Animations" area visitors will find animations that illustrate cell membranes, transport functions (such as signal transdaction) and DNA replication. Moving on, the "Biology Labs" area contains virtual lab exercises that deal with protein purification, membrane permeability, and osmosis. Finally, the "Supplemental Interactives" contains interactive features that address topics like the ICE structure. Here users can see the operation of covalent bonds, as well as the hydrogen bonds which form the structure. [KMG]


Created by a group of educators at the University of Maryland, the goal of the MathBench biology modules is "to integrate quantitative approaches and mathematics more deeply into the undergraduate curriculum." As they note on their website "the modules are not full of equations and proofs. Instead we try to bring math to life using intuitive approaches, everyday situations, and even humor." First-time visitors to the site should click on one the "threads" on the homepage. These "threads" include population dynamics, visualization, and environmental science. The activities within each "thread" include interactive games, thought-provoking discussion questions, and activities. A great place to start is "Tragedy of the Commons" within the environmental science area. Visitors can also view their "Top Ten", which lays out the agenda for the MathBench modules in a simple list that includes such key concepts as "manipulate graphs" and "distill mathematical equations from a verbal description". [KMG]

Alpine Wildflowers of Glacier National Park, Montana, and Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

The University of Montana has a number of great digitization projects under its belt, and this particular one is worth a look for anyone with an interest in botany or alpine landscapes. On this site visitors will find a complete version of the book "Alpine Wildflowers of Glacier National Park, Montana, and Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta" by Jerry DeSanto. DeSanto was a former Glacier National Park ranger whose intention in this work was "to record personal observations together with information from the listed sources to present a complete and accurate picture of the flowering plants of Glacier, Waterton and the surrounding area." Visitors can look through the book at their leisure or search through the entire work via a helpful search engine. The photos in the book are exquisite, and even a few glances may make even the casual visitor want to visit Glacier National Park. [KMG]

Digital Dictionaries of South Asia

Based at the University of Chicago, the Digital Dictionaries of South Asia (DDSA) project was funded with monies provided by the Office of International Education and Graduate Programs at the US Department of Education. The goal of the project was bring together a range of South Asian dictionaries for scholars and others working with documents of all types. Currently, there are over 25 dictionaries available on the site, and visitors can look over a list of available titles on the homepage. Some of the languages covered here include Gujarati, Marathi, Sanskrit, and Urdu. It's a remarkable collection, and for those doing work in a range of fields (such as linguistics and comparative literature) it will be a resource they will want to share with others. [KMG]

CancerQuest: Cancer Education Curriculum

The Cancer Education Curriculum section of the CancerQuest website provides complete curricular units about cervical cancer and skin cancer. These units are part of their "Educator Resources" area, which also includes downloadable posters, interactive educational games about cancer, and video interviews with cancer survivors and clinicians. Visitors to the site will note that each unit has an interactive whiteboard that gives them access to supporting materials, such as vocabulary files, homework, discussion questions, and a quiz. The core of each unit is formed by a PowerPoint presentation and lesson plan. Also, visitors should note that the site contains an eleven-minute video-animation that describes the biological processes that are involved in the development, growth and spread of cancer. [KMG]

Designing Conference Posters

In a previous life, Colin Purrington taught evolutionary biology at Hudson University for fourteen years. Today, he engages in a wide range of pursuits, including offering high-quality tips on designing conference posters. He bills his suggestions as "gratuitous advice on how to prepare posters for scientific meetings, research conferences, and similar gathering of nerds." His humorous tone belies a distinct commitment to this area of visual representation, and his suggestions are contained with three areas: "What sections to include", "Dos and DON'Ts", and "Presenting your poster". Visitors can skip around to any of these suggestions, and they will find Purrington's style both down-to-earth and practical. The information here includes sample posters and basic suggestions about what information to include on such a poster. One area not to miss is "Making sure your poster doesn't suck", which recommends that potential poster-presenters have their friends look at their work when they aren't present and stick post-it notes with suggestions on said poster. Overall, this is a great site, and one that's worth sharing with friends and colleagues. [KMG]

Biomolecules at Kenyon: Molecular Tutorials by Students [Flash Player]

Working with funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a team of students and professors at Kenyon College has created a set of great educational resources for people interested in molecular biology. On the site, visitors will find 30 different tutorials, all of which were created with Jmol, which is a visualization tool. The tutorials are organized chronologically by year of their creation, and each tool contains an introduction, along with complete scientific references. Some of the topics covered here include restriction endonuclease, various matrix proteins, and e.coli. Additionally, visitors can browse through older tutorials, which are contained with a special archive near the bottom of the homepage. [KMG]

General Interest

Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention

Throughout the post-WWII period, architect Bertrand Goldberg brought his dramatic sculptural forms and innovative engineering to Chicago with projects like the dramatic Marina City development. This website is designed to complement an in situ exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago that affords visitors a look into Goldberg's vision. The materials here are divided into five primary areas, including "Themes", "Selected Works" and "Inside Marina City". Visitors should click on "Themes" to look over brief essays and selected items that cover Goldberg's work on towers, hospitals, and modern city planning. In the "Selected Works" area, visitors can peruse high-resolution images of Goldberg's drawings, sketches, and so on. All told, there are 208 images in this area. Finally, visitors shouldn't miss the "Inside Marina City" area. Here they will find photographs from a two-year project created by Iker Gil and Andreas E.G. Larsson designed to document the lives of residents in this rather unique structure. [KMG]

Louisiana Works Progress Administration (WPA)

During the 1930s and 1940s, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) set up hundreds of regional offices to document local conditions, history, and culture from Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Seattle, Washington. Along the way, they collected oral histories, talked to farmers, and took thousands of photographs. In Louisiana, the folks at the WPA office managed to document community activities, transportation improvements, and Native Americans. The LOUISiana Digital Library has created this fine collection of over 4,700 items from this remarkable trove of material. Visitors can browse around as they see fit, and they can also search for items by subject, title, or description. Some items here include a short history of Franklin Parish, a history of the Aaron Prescott plantation, and the text of some Acadian folk songs. [KMG]


The Waterscape website is the official British waterways leisure destination. It is "for people who care about Britain's canals and rivers" and it offers up information on canalside attractions, suggestions for walking around the canal towpaths, and materials on volunteering opportunities. First-time visitors can get started by clicking on the "Canals & Rivers" section. Here they will find a clickable map of Scotland and Britain where they can learn more about the waterways in each region. Moving along, the "Things to Do" area includes detailed leisure guides for boaters, fishers, cyclists, and avid walkers. For those who are interested in these waterways, but live across the big pond, the site also contains a "Features & Articles" area that includes longer pieces on the history of the different canals and rivers throughout the country. Finally, visitors may wish to follow the Waterscape folks via their Twitter feed. [KMG]

Old Time Radio Researchers Group

Back in middle decades of the 20th century, radio ruled the roost as millions tuned in each week to listen to the adventures of Little Orphan Annie, the Lone Ranger, and a multitude of soap operas. The Old Time Radio Researchers Group (OTRR) is a community of fans and avid listeners who work to preserve, restore and share the classic shows from what is "commonly known as the 'Golden Age of Radio' (1930-1960)". Visitors with an interest in the history of old time radio will want to make a beeline for the "Publications" page. Here they can find thousands of radio scripts for programs such as "Abbott and Costello", "Father Knows Best", and "Dragnet". Additionally, they can look over magazine articles from "Radio Dial" and articles by radio historians Jack French and others. Other sections on their website worth a visit include "OTR Art", which contains historical images of radio celebrities, disc covers, and other original artwork, and "Radio Times", the OTR groups monthly online magazine. [KMG]

Science Connects

Science Connects has been chosen to run the STEMNET program for the West of Scotland, and their work will be of great interest to science educators. The STEM ambassador program is what distinguishes the STEMNET program from other STEM programs. The UK-wide program works with "volunteers from a wide range of disciplines, such as forensic science, geology, mechanical engineering, parasitology...etc. who want to share their enthusiasm for their careers to encourage pupils to take an interest in STEM Subjects." The "Case Studies" tab on the left side of any page offers visitors a look at what some ambassadors have done with their field of study. Visitors should check out case study #4, about one Dr. Linda Thomson, who teaches young kids about chemistry and forensics. Visitors will also want to check out case study #9, about Alistair McNeil, who happens to be a health, safety and environment manager who recommends a career in construction. All told, the site is well worth a visit for those interested in promoting STEM education. [KMG]

Nuclear Threat Initiative Research Library

Established in 2001 as a private entity, and re-established as a non-profit in 2003, the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) desires to "strengthen global security by reducing the risk of use and preventing the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and to work to build the trust, transparency and security." Visitors will find the "Research Library" to be very thorough, as it includes sections like "Country Profiles", CNS Nonproliferation "Databases", "Inventory of International Nonproliferation Organizations and Regimes", and "NIS Nuclear Trafficking". Visitors interested in reading open source documents on issues of proliferation and delivery of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of eight governments, such as China, India, France, Israel and Russia, can find them under the "Official Documents" link at the top of any page. Some of the documents include China's "Laws and Regulations", Russia's "State Duma" and Pakistan's "Mission to the United Nations". [KMG]

Network Tools


Would you like to countdown? Or count up? Well then TickCounter might be worth checking out. TickCounter lets users create their own countdown clock so that they can keep tabs on important events and dates. Visitors can customize the clock for the time zone of their choice, and they can also give each event or date a name for easy reference. TickCounter is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]


Wajam allows visitors the ability to use their social networks to look for information. Visitors just need to install the Wajam Social Search extension in their browser, and then go ahead and search normally. The results that are returned will be based on what their friends share on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. It's an interesting way to search around the web, and this version is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

A new archaeological discovery in Libya attracts international attention

Lost cities discovered after Gadhafi

Lost castles of forgotten civilization found in Libyan desert

Castles in the desert

Archaeologist grateful NATO raids spared Libyan ancient sites, but some old coins stolen

NPR: Hope Amid Ruins: Clues To The Future In Libya's Past

Herodotus: On Libya

The people of Libya have been working to establish a new form of government in the past several months, and there have been a few additional interesting discoveries along the way. This week a team of researchers from the University of Leicester announced that they had discovered a set of castle-like structures and several "lost cities" in the southwestern corner of Libya. Lead-researcher David Mattingly noted, "It is like someone coming to England and suddenly discovering all the medieval castles. These settlements had been unremarked and unrecorded under the Gadhafi regime." In February, Mattingly and his colleagues made a quick exit as the revolts started in Libya, but before they left they were able to make some remarkable finds. These "lost cities" were created by the Garamantes, who had done much to establish remote oases and create important trade linkages across the Sahara. Mattingly and his colleagues hope to return shortly to continue working with the Libyan antiquities services on exploring and excavating these elaborate structures. [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to an article about these "lost cities" from this Monday's Toronto Sun. The second link will whisk visitors away to an article from this Tuesday's Mirror about this fantastic discovery. Moving along, the third link will take interested parties to the official press release from the University of Leicester about this work. Visitors can look at a few satellite images of the sites and learn more about the digs. The fourth link will take users to a recent piece from the Washington Post which talks about the tragic loss of thousands of old coins from a Benghazi bank vault during the recent Libyan revolution. The fifth link leads to a nice piece of reporting from NPR about the exciting promise of future archaeological digs in Libya. The final link leads to the famous remarks made by Herodotus about Libya in his "Histories" which begin: "For my part I am astonished that men should have ever have divided Libya"

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