The Scout Report -- Volume 18, Number 3

January 20, 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

Fostering Growth Through Innovation: Brookings Institution [pdf]

On January 13th, 2012, the Brookings Institution convened a panel of experts to discuss economic growth and innovation in the United States. Their number included John Surma of United States Steel, Thomas Connelly of DuPont, and John Bryson, the Secretary of the Department of Commerce. These discussions were videotaped and archived, and this website allows interested parties to view their remarks and the following Q&A sessions. Visitors can view the panel discussions and talks chronologically, and they include "Economic Growth and Job Creation" and "Global Competition and American Jobs". The site also includes four papers prepared for the event, including "Maintaining Employment in a Difficult Economy" by Elisabeth Jacobs" and "Identifying and Responding to the U.S. Metropolitan Employment Crisis" by Alan Berube. The site is rounded out by a list of "Related Content" including papers and briefings on technology and the innovation economy. [KMG]

UNESCO: Rio+20

The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) will be held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 and the hope is that this gathering will refocus on the original goals of the first Rio convention held in 1992. UNESCO hopes that Rio+20 will "underpin a broader, longer-term process of redressing imbalances, a rethinking of priorities, and the necessary institutional reforms to bring about coherence in economic, environmental and social policies, which benefits all members of society." On this site, visitors can learn about UNESCO's "messages" for those participating in Rio+20, which cover "Education for a Sustainable Future" and "Building Awareness for Green Policies". Moving along, the "Resources" area contains timely research documents like "From Green Economics to Green Societies" and "Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability". Also, visitors shouldn't miss the "Video" area, which includes information about UNESCO's outreach efforts in addressing the digital divide and incorporating media partners into educating the public about sustainable development. [KMG]

TSG@MIT Physics

The Technical Services Group (TSG) at MIT's Department of Physics provides teaching and technical support for undergraduate courses at the school. They are the stewards of many rooms of physics demonstrations that cover kinematics, optics, and dozens of other topics. A good place to start on this website is with a visit to the "Random Cool Demonstration!" section found on the middle of the homepage. Here visitors will find one of the dozens of physics demonstrations available here, such as "Forces of Current", which shows a wire in a magnetic field. On the left-hand of the site, visitors will find the "Demonstrations by category" listings, along with a search engine. The filter options on the search engine include "Cool Demonstrations", "Contains Video", and "Recommended for the classroom". The categories include "Electrostatics", "Dynamics", and "Color". [KMG]

The Sourcebook for Teaching Science: Employing Scientific Methods

Created by Professor Norman Herr of California State University, Northridge (CSUN) The Sourcebook for Teaching Science covers biology, chemistry, physics, and geoscience. This section of his creative sourcebook provides access to online materials that deal with the scientific method. The materials here are divided into five sections, including "Observation vs. Inference", "Brainstorming and Hypothesizing", and "Experimental Design". One of the best activities here can be found in the "Developing Observational Skills" section. Here interested parties can learn about this important step in the scientific process via the world of Faraday's famous candle observations. Moving along, the "Retinal Fatigue" exercise has participants stare at a flag for a minute in order to learn a bit about how the eye operates. [KMG]

What Do I Do Now? Laboratory Tales From Teaching Assistants [pdf]

Professor Hal White of the University of Delaware has edited this fine collection of material for those seeking to learn more about laboratory instruction at the college level. These "TA Tales" were sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and their four-year Undergraduate Science Education Grants. The materials place a premium on teaching cases, which provide "an incomplete story in which an unresolved problem is presented and left for the reader or discussants to analyze and propose reasonable action." Visitors will find well over 50 teaching cases, including "Cell Phone-Turn Off?", "Chemistory", "Doctor's Note", and "Early Dismissal". The cases cover a myriad of topics, including plagiarism, classroom etiquette, and other allegorical tales of the classroom experience. [KMG]

Scalable Computing Laboratory

The Scalable Computing Laboratory was created by the Department of Energy, Ames Lab, and Iowa State University to "improve parallel computing through clustering techniques for use in scientific and engineering computation." One of their past projects included rebuilding the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC), the first electronic digital computer. Here, visitors can read about building a working replica of the historical computer, as well as the background of the original machine and its inventors. Visitors interested in seeing the ABC in action should click on the link "Video" on the left hand side of the homepage. There are two videos here: the first is a seven-minute demonstration of the operation of the ABC and the other an eleven-minute tutorial about the ABC. The "Photos/Diagrams" link contains over two dozen photographs of the large amount of work that went into the making of the working replica of this machine, which was originally built between 1937 and 1942. [KMG]

American Chemical Society - Chemistry Education Resources

The chemistry education resources that the American Chemical Society has placed on its website are quite impressive, and are a must see for teachers, motivated students, and even parents. Visitors will find "Classroom Resources" that range from "Elementary/Middle School" to "Two-Year Colleges" to "Graduate Education", near the top of the homepage. Also included on the Education Resources page are the categories of "Exams, Assessments, Study Aids", "Professional and Program Development", and "Student Programs". The latter category offers some "Games" with fun names in the Elementary and Middle School section. There is "Avogadro's Element Hunt", where students help Avogadro, a mole with glasses and green shoes, to find chemical elements in three rooms of his house. "Meg A. Mole's Bouncy Ball Factory" has a blue-shoed mole making a ball out of starch, borax and glue, but she waits for the student to decide how much of each goes into the mixer. [KMG]

CTSciNet: The Clinical and Translational Scientist Career Network [pdf]

Are you interested in talking with other scientists about their work? Well then you might check out the Clinical and Translational Scientist Career Network (CTSciNet) website, which is a great resource for activities such as professional development and timely information about genome research and cardiac electrophysiology. First-time visitors should look over the "Recent Articles" area to get a feel for their work. Moving along, visitors can also read pieces from "Science Translational Medicine". This journal "promotes cross-fertilization among basic, translational, and clinical research practitioners and trainees from established and emerging scientific disciplines." Visitors shouldn't miss the CTSciNet Groups area, as they can join "Team Science" to discuss group work in the scientific enterprise and the "Journal Club", which is focused on sharing interesting articles and reviews. The site doesn't have a Twitter feed, but visitors can sign up for their RSS feed here. [KMG]

General Interest

Canadian Heritage

As a department of the Canadian government, Canadian Heritage is "responsible for national policies and programs that promote Canadian content, foster cultural participation, active citizenship and participation in Canada's civic life, and strengthen connections among Canadians." On their homepage, visitors can read through the "Headlines" area to get a sense for the programs they sponsor, which include investments in the Yukon's arts scene and programs for aboriginal youth. Visitors won't want to miss the "Events & Initiatives" area. Here they can learn about the "Canada Day Poster Challenge" and a special website created to celebrate the history and culture of the War of 1812. On the left-hand side of the site, visitors can use the "Topics" area to learn more about Canadian culture and traditions. Here interested parties can learn about the Canadian national anthem, provincial symbols, heritage objects, and the monarchy in Canada. [KMG]

Temple University: City Parks Association Photographs

In the past several years, the Temple University Libraries have expanded their digital collections to include images from the Housing Association of the Delaware Valley, the influential Impulse Dance Annuals, and clippings from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. This particular collection brings together over 1200 photographs from the City Parks Association of Philadelphia. The Association was chartered in 1888, and it features images that document the city's parks and general living conditions around the city. The archive contains some fascinating shots of notable intersections throughout the city, including 17th and Market and 19th and the Parkway as well as a number of great aerial images of South Philadelphia. It's quite fascinating to see the Benjamin Franklin Parkway before the construction of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and those photos should not be missed. [KMG]

South Georgia Historic Newspapers Archive

A number of institutions around the United States have been working day and night to digitize regional and small town newspapers from the 19th and 20th centuries. This website presents the fruits of one such project, crafted by the Digital Library of Georgia with funds administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The archive provides access to papers from southern Georgia from the years 1845-1922, and it includes the Albany News, the Americus Times Recorder, and the Valdosta Times. Visitors can search the newspapers by year, title, city, or keyword. Students of Southern history, journalism, and other related topics will find that this site merits numerous return visits. [KMG]

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species conveys information about plant and animal species on its website, and is regarded as "the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species." Visitors will find that the website is divided up into the seven categories they use to classify the threat to plants and animals. The categories are "Extinct", "Extinct in the Wild", "Critically Endangered", "Endangered", "Vulnerable", "Near Threatened", and "Least Concern". Visitors can click on each category to see an alphabetical list of the species, or to search by other criteria. The "Photos" section has pictures of threatened species by type from 2000-2011. Each photo has a brief paragraph about the state of the species next to it. Visitors shouldn't miss the photos of the Red-Crested Tree Rat, Blessed Poison Frog, or the Violet-Spotted Reef Lobster. [KMG]

Art for the Sky

This is a website about the fabulous projects that conceptual artist Daniel Dancer has been producing with the help of field artist Stan Herd, schoolchildren, and the public since the 1980s. His works are described as "[a]dventures in Team-Building and Perception to Deepen Our Relationship to Sky, Earth & One Another." Visitors must check out the "Sky Gallery" on this website to see many animal and environmentally themed works of sky art. There are so many images that impress in the Sky Gallery, but in the "Schools" section there is a standout, the "Sea - Turtle - Sky", depicting an endangered loggerhead sea turtle, made up of students and teachers in Tallahassee, Florida. Visitors will also thoroughly enjoy the "Videos" section of the Sky Gallery, which contains dozens of short videos of many of the projects and their creation. [KMG]

The Scientist - Multimedia

The Scientist magazine is written for life science professionals, but promises it to be "concise, accurate, accessible, and entertaining." The magazine's online version has a great Multimedia section on its website that has "Videos", "Slideshows" and "Infographics". Visitors shouldn't miss the story titled "Bat Hunt" from the January 2012 issue, which profiles a mammologist working in the South Sudan. The photographs in included this story are excellent, and visitors will be amazed by the photo of the wide-eyed fruit bat cradling its baby. Back on the homepage, the Infographics section contains stories accompanied by colorful, easy-to-follow diagrams, and it is also well worth a look. [KMG]

Places Reflecting America's Diverse Cultures: A Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary

This marvelous travel itinerary was created by the National Park Service's Heritage Education Services, in cooperation with the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers. The itinerary features over 150 exciting destinations that represent the broad range of the cultural heritage of the United States. This site includes descriptions of each site, thematic essays, and maps. There are three essays here, and visitors would do well to start with "America, the Nation of Nations" by Alan M. Kraut. Visitors can also click on the "List of Sites" which are organized into one of seven sections, such as "Hispanic" or "Pacific Islander". Moving on, visitors can use the interactive map of the United States to locate the sites that are of most interest to them. [KMG]

Native Voices: Native People's Concepts of Health and Illness

Understanding Native people's ideas about wellness and general health is a complex process, and this online exhibit does a good job of providing an introduction to the subject. Created by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the website has an introductory video and welcome message from Donald A.B. Lindberg, MD, the director of the NLM. After this, visitors should click on the "Exhibition" tab. Here they can browse through four sections (such as "Healing Ways") to learn about the transformations of Native populations' ideas about health, death, and healers over the centuries. The "Timeline" tab provides a detailed look at events from 100,000 BC to the present day that have shaped Native peoples' perceptions of these related phenomena. The site is rounded out by a "Resources" area, which includes lesson plans and a list of suggested readings. [KMG]

Network Tools


Sometimes you'd just like to be able to find a lightly used sofa or an old record player without much fuss. Treshr offers users the ability to do just that with its helpful mashup that brings listings from Freecycle and Craigslist together with Google Maps. Visitors can search the listings for items of interest and they can also learn more about Treshr via their "FAQ" area. Currently, the listings are only available in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, but they will be expanding over the coming months. [KMG]


Keeping track of friends and associates on Twitter can be a burdensome affair. Fortunately, PeepNote offers some assistance with this particular social media dilemma. Visitors can use the application to tag and filter their Twitter contacts as they see fit, and they can also receive a weekly report on their Twitter activity. The application also includes a search engine for locating associates by notes or tags. This version is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

The independence debate is revived in Scotland

Scotland's referendum: If at first you don't succeed

The independence debate in Scotland: Interviewing Alex Salmond, the man who wants to break up Britain

The only way to save the Union is to stop throwing cash at the Scots - and treat them as equals

Europe's regions go it alone at their peril [Free Registration may be required]

Scottish Parliament

BBC: Scottish History

In 1707, the sovereign state of Scotland was joined together with England to create the Kingdom of Great Britain. Over three hundred years later, there are still Scots who would like to see an end to this union. There have been some steps made in this direction through the process known as devolution. In 1999, the Scottish Parliament was (re) created and they retain authority over some home affairs. Most recently, there has been talk of another referendum on the matter of Scottish independence led by Alex Salmond, who serves as the head of the pro-independence Scottish National Party. Salmond and his colleagues are hoping to hold a referendum on the matter in 2014, and it may be a bit of an uphill battle on the ballot. According to a recent poll, only about a third of all Scots want to break away from the union. There have been some grumblings in the south as some English members of parliament (MPs) complain that Britain subsidizes the public services in Scotland. Conversely, the Scots argue that Britain receives generous revenues from North Sea oil and gas revenues. It's a situation that merits closer attention, and no doubt there will be increased coverage if the referendum makes it to a ballot. [KMG]

The first link will take interested parties to a piece from last week's The Economist on the question of Scottish devolution and possible independence. Moving along, the second link leads to an interview with Alex Salmon, courtesy of the "Bagehot" column in The Economist. The third link leads to an opinion piece from the Daily Mail by Melanie Phillips which weighs in on this developing situation. The fourth link will take users to a piece from this Tuesday's Financial Times on the increase in regionalist and separatist movements across Europe as of late. The fifth link will whisk visitors to the homepage of the Scottish Parliament. The last link leads to a page created by the BBC which provides visitors with information about the history of Scotland. All of the sections are quite interesting, but visitors won't want to miss the "Birth of a Nation" and "The Enlightenment" areas.

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