The Scout Report -- Volume 18, Number 2

January 13, 2012

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

Digital Public Library of America [pdf]

In December 2010, 40 representatives from foundations, cultural institutions, and libraries met at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They met to discuss best approaches to building a national digital library, and with the assistance of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society they are committed to creating the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). On this website, users can learn about their ongoing work via their blog and the very useful "Workstreams" section of the site. In this area, visitors can sign up to learn about the different segments of the DPLA management team, which include "Content & Scope", "Governance", and "Legal Issues". Visitors should also visit the "News" area. Here they can watch archived DPLA plenary meetings online and also learn about other important developments. [KMG]

Woodson Research Center: Digital Collection

The mission of the Woodson Research Center at Rice University is to "support the institutional, research and public service programs of the University." Their collections include the institutional records of the institution, along with materials on United States Southern history, British history and drama, Houston, and business. As part of their work, they have contributed hundreds of items to Rice University's Digital Scholarship Archive. Visitors to the site may wish to start by looking over the William Ward Watkin architectural records sub-collection. Watkin was the first supervising architect for Rice, and visitors can learn about his life's work and the very interesting tunnel system he designed for the school. Moving on, the "early Houston histories and documents" area contains 21 primary documents including "Pen and sunlight sketches of greater Houston: the most progressive metropolis in the South" from 1913 and a fascinating document from 1880 titled "Texas: the best land for the Emigrant". [KMG]

Primer on Probability [Microsoft Word]

How did Gregor Mendel derive the Law of Segregation and the Law of Independent Assortment? Most budding geneticists know he used peas, but how exactly did he do it? This fine document from Professor Robert Merritt of Smith College provides explanations of Mendel's groundbreaking work, along with information on the basic rules of probability. The 20-page document was developed for "Your Genes, Your Chromosomes", a course that was offered through the Smith College Summer Science and Engineering Program. The document explains how to test a hypothesis using The Chi-Square Test, and also covers topics such as sex determination and sex linkage, blood group, and gene interaction. Finally, the document contains a detailed explanation of the basic rules of probability and a selection of sample problems. [KMG]

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

Electrochemical Energy Systems [pdf]

The OpenCourseWare Initiative (OCW) has produced many wonderful free course materials on urban planning, philosophy, engineering, and mathematics. This recent offering from MIT's OCW collection presents material from the spring 2011 version of "Electrochemical Energy Systems". Taught by Professor Martin Bazant, the course "introduces principles and mathematical models of electrochemical energy conversion and storage." On this page, visitors can download and peruse the syllabus, read through the course calendar, and take a look at the lecture notes. The notes cover 39 different topics, including statistical thermodynamics, forced convention in fuel cells, and ion concentration polarization. Also, visitors are welcome to look over the problem sets and provide feedback on the course. [KMG]

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

UC Davis Quantitative Biology Courses

A team of researchers and education specialists at the University of California, Davis worked together to create this set of resources for students studying biochemistry. These resources help students learn how to use computer models to answer a variety of biochemical questions. The topics covered by the learning modules offered here include acid-base chemistry, Gibbs free energy, enzyme inhibition, hemoglobin, and the Bohr effect. All told, there are ten different modules here, complete with mini-modules that teach students how to work with different graphs and other visualizations. Additionally, the site contains links to other resources in the fields of animal behavior, biomechanics, and neurobiology. [KMG]

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

"Garage Demos": Physical models of Biological Processes

Professor Diane O'Dowd is known for the creative classroom techniques she uses in her introductory biology courses at the University of California, Irvine. One day she will show up with tennis balls designed to stand in for hydrogen ions or with her daughter's old Halloween wig, which stands in for a membrane vesicle. This website provides visitors with fabulous examples of her work, known as "Garage Demos". The name comes from the fact that the materials for the demonstrations come from Professor O'Dowd's garage. Currently, the site contains ten different demonstrations, including "Tennis Ball Buffer", "Garden Hose Plasmid", and "Styrofoam Blood Cells". The videos are all linked on YouTube, so visitors can even create their own playlist. The site is rounded out by demonstrations by Professor Richard Losik at Harvard and several other demonstrations dealing with sickle cell anemia and membrane fluidity. [KMG]

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

New York State STEM Education Collaborative

This website from a collaboration of New York State education associations states its goal to "define STEM and the STEM disciplines in a fashion that will serve as a model for New York State and throughout the nation." Visitors should definitely check out the link to "2010 NYS STEM Collaborative Summer Institute" on the homepage. There is a recording of the panel discussion that took place at the Institute, which consisted of two questions, The first question considered how to effectively deliver STEM education to K-12 students, and the second examined how to generate more enthusiasm and interest for STEM from successful NYS programs already in place. Visitors can listen to the questions answered by six expert education panelists, as well as view a video of the keynote dinner speaker. The link "Important Links, Multimedia, Documents, and Related Information" contains valuable tools for visitors, including "STEM related videos", "External STEM Website Links", and "Other STEM Organizations". [KMG]

Undergraduate Research Ethics Cases

How do you help undergraduate students learn about research ethics? Well you might try the three case studies developed by the University of Delaware's Undergraduate Science Education Program and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute designed to help students learn about this important subject. On this site, visitors will find the following studies: "Tripped Up", "Helping Hand", and "Organic Reactions". Each study describes a potentially tricky or nuanced ethical conundrum that an undergraduate student might encounter. For example, "Tripped Up" involves a student whose scientific results are "too hot for public consumption" and is told by his supervisor that he cannot present the findings at a national meeting. Each case study is complemented by a set of discussion questions and additional resources. [KMG]

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

General Interest

Lincoln Park Architectural Photographs

The Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago is home to a number of architectural landmarks, including 19th century mansions with bold mansard roofs, a former seminary on the grounds of DePaul University, and other delights. In 2000, DePaul sociologist Wanda Harold set out to photograph a number of these unique structures. This digital collection includes 200 of her images, and this project was made possible in part through a grant from the Library Services and Technology Act. First-time visitors can get started by using a clickable map of Lincoln Park to explore the photos, and they can also browse around by architect or street. Visitors shouldn't miss the photos of the workers' cottages at 1756 N. Clybourn and 2715 N. Kenmore Avenue. Overall, the site is a nice resource for students of Chicago architecture and urban geography. [KMG]

National Geographic: Maps

Many people have fond memories of the special maps created as inserts placed in the National Geographic magazine from time to time. This rather special section of the National Geographic's website provides interested parties with a dazzling array of thematic maps that document the European exploration of North America, ecological zones, and the world of the poet Basho. Visitors might do well to start by looking over the "Editors' Picks" area. Here they will find atlas jigsaw puzzles to play online and "EarthPulse: A Visual Guide to Trends". The "EarthPulse" area includes vital statistics about global population trends, economic opportunity, and more. The site also includes the "Atlas Explorer", which allows users to explore detailed political maps of the USA, Africa, Europe, and the world's oceans. [KMG]

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

The Colonial Echo [pdf]

The College of William & Mary is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the United States, and they have a rich history interwoven with the history of the U.S. and the state of Virginia. Recently, they have begun adding a wide range of institutional documents to their digital archive. This section of the site features The Colonial Echo, which has served as the student yearbook of the College since 1899. The yearbook includes information about student groups and activities, campus events, scenes of campus, and materials on university administrators. The digitization project was made possible via funds from Professors Emeriti Richard Sherman and Armand Galfo. These unique documents capture moments of college frivolity, seriousness of purpose, and gravitas. [KMG]

Print by Print: The Baltimore Museum of Art [Flash Player]

The Baltimore Museum of Art presents this online exhibition, which amounts to a handy study guide on printmaking, and covers both common topics treated in prints, and the technology of printmaking. The exhibit compares the work of two pairs of printmakers, Albrecht Drer and Odilon Redon, and William Hogarth and Andrew Raftery. The two pairs are separated by wide spans of time and distance - Drer worked in Germany in the 15th century, while Redon worked in 19th century France. William Hogarth is best known for his satirical depictions of urban life in England in the 18th century, while Andrew Raftery portrays 20th and 21st century American life. Redon and Drer's visions of apocalypse are compared here, as are Hogarth's series A Harlot's Progress, 1732, and Raftery's Open House, Five Engraved Scenes, 2008. Two additional sections explore contemporary printmaking, adding the work of six more artists to Raftery's and explaining printmaking techniques. [DS]

Salvadori Center

The Salvadori Center was established in New York City in 1976, when Professor Salvadori of Columbia University was challenged by the New York Academy of Sciences to improve the teaching of math and science in middle schools. Visitors can read the about the vision and values of the Salvadori Center in the "About Us" link, which explains that "[u]sing the urban landscape of buildings, tunnels, and bridges,...[it] introduces teachers to the wonder, beauty, and logic of architecture and engineering, who then share it with their students." The "Resource Center" tab near the top of the page has a link to the "Salvadori Curriculum", which has been created for Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, Art, and Math. Visitors will note that the inclusion of non-STEM subjects offers a well-rounded approach to learning that still addresses the STEM subjects. Examples of some of the lessons that are taught in the Language Arts curriculum include asking students to legally protect their new ergonomic chair design, invent or improve upon a product they currently use, and produce a radio program telling the story of a school building, from the building's point of view. [KMG]

Centre for Educational Technology

Created by the University of Cape Town in South Africa, the aim of the Centre for Educational Technology is to "realise the principles expressed in the University" technology policy. In order to meet that lofty goal, the Centre for Educational Technology (CET) is hard at work in the areas of curriculum development, learning technologies, staff development, and research. Visitors are introduced to the work of talented University of Cape Town students in the "UCT Stories" on the homepage of the website, and when clicking "Read more", can view "related files", such as a film clip, screen shot, or download. Visitors will find the "Projects" tab contains informative individual downloadable reports on information and communication technologies (ICT) of the eight African countries involved in the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA). Some of the countries involved in the partnership include Ghana, Kenya, and Egypt, and visitors can find statistics on infrastructure, higher education enrollment, internet access, and usage in the reports. [KMG]

The Virtual Museum of Japanese Arts

This website of traditional Japanese treasures and culture was produced for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, and it is a virtual museum that includes physical objects and other more intangible items of cultural patrimony, such as fighting styles and performance art. Visitors can scroll over any of the seven "galleries" to read a description of what types of work are contained within. The "Fine Arts" gallery is defined as those visual arts primarily concerned with the creation of beauty, such as architecture and gardens, painting, sculpture, and Ukiyoe. Upon choosing a section of the gallery, visitors can click on it, see examples of the art form, and read about the history of these traditions. The "Cafe" gallery is particularly interesting, and it is described as a "'refreshment space' enjoy learning more about the Japanese culture and traditions from many exotic perspectives." The Virtual Museum Theatre allows visitors to watch "Movies of Japanese Festivals" and "Movies of Japanese Martial Arts". An exhibit of Wagashi representing all seasons of the year, and celebrations, are worth a look and can also be found in the "Cafe" gallery. [KMG]

Network Tools


What would you use to send a very important document? Perhaps you could just send it using a regular email program, but maybe you should consider using Doocuments. This cloud computing tool allows users to take existing documents and add a layer with new features. These features include an expiration date, access certification, watermarks, and a feature that will only allow certain pages to be printed. This version is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]


If you have a particular desire to create an interactive timeline of materials and resources you have found online, Themeefy may be worth a look. The Themeefy application allows users to create their own interactive "magazine" that brings together photos, videos, weblinks, notes, and social content from any website they choose, along with social media sites. Visitors can use the "Themeefy 101" tutorial on the site to get started, and they can also look over examples of what current Themeefy users have created thus far. Themeefy is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

Is the Old Better Than the New? A Study That Puts the Stradivarius to the Test

In Classic v. Modern Violins, Beauty Is in Ear of the Beholder [Free registration may be required]

Aesthetics and money: Fiddling with the mind

Stradivarius Fails Sound Test versus Newbie Violins

Stradivarius v. modern violins: why this latest study strikes a discordant note

Rare Violins Play Starring Role in Concert

Stradivarius Violins

What makes an instrument crafted by Antonio Stradivari so valuable? Was it is masterful craftsmanship? Is it their relative rarity? It is a question that has puzzled musicologists, economists, scientists, and others for decades. A recent scientific study conducted by Professor Claudia Fritz and Joseph Curtin attempted to find out if a Stradivarius was in fact a "better" instrument than more modern (and much less pricey) instruments. The two applied the standards of modern scientific inquiry to the matter by taking a trip to the Eighth International Violin Competition of Indianapolis and asked a group of musicians to play a range of violins, including three modern instruments and two Stradivari violins. Unlike previous "blind" trails, the musicians did not know which instruments they were playing. Overall, the tests looked at playability, projection, tone colors, and response. At the end of the test period, 13 of the 21 musicians said that they would prefer one of the more modern violins. The entire findings were recently published this Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and they have created a great deal of conversation and consternation throughout the world of classical musicians, scholars, auctioneers, and of course, luthiers. Commenting on the findings, noted luthier Sam Zygmuntowicz remarked that the study "puts cold water on some old myths and should certainly be good news to young musicians who yearn for violins that they will never afford." [KMG]

The first link will take users to a New York Times article by Nicholas Wade about this recent study performed by Professor Fritz and Joseph Curtin. The second link will take interested parties to a piece from last week's The Economist about the details of the study. Moving along, the third link will whisk visitors away to a Scientific American "60 Second Science" podcast about the study. The fourth link leads to a piece from the Guardian's Steven Isserlis who argues that the findings of this musical experiment may be quite muddled, largely due to the fact that the players were not identified. The fifth link leads to a great piece from the Voice of America about a recent concert at the Library of Congress which featured performances that utilized two instruments crafted by Stradivarius. The final link will take visitors to a fine website that provides information about Stradivarius, his work, and a list of auction prices for his instruments.

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