The Scout Report -- Volume 18, Number 13

March 30, 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

Pathways to Science

Pathways to Science is a fantastic resource for students of all ages looking to go into a career in the STEM fields. In particular, Pathways to Science emphasizes "connecting underrepresented groups with STEM programs, funding, mentoring and resources." Visitors will find that the menu near the top of the page includes sections for K-12 Students, Undergrads, Grad Students, and Postdocs. The Undergrads section has a Resource Toolbox located at the bottom of the page that visitors will find very useful. The Resources for Students drop down box covers such topics as "Discussing Summer Research With Your Family," which is directed especially at first-generation college students and students of color, "Getting Strong Letters of Recommendation," and "Writing Essays and Personal Statements." [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 England Public Policy Center Working Papers

The regional Federal Reserve Banks located across the United States produce a range of reports on economic indicators, housing statistics, local industry, and other related topics. The New England Public Policy Center (NEPPC) at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has been archiving its working papers series since 2005, and visitors to this site can look over all of the published titles. Currently, there are over 25 papers by NEPPC staff members available here. Some of the more recent titles include "Are American Homeowners Locked Into Their Houses? The Impact of Housing Market Conditions on State-to-State Migration" and "Childhood Lead and Academic Performance in Massachusetts." The site also includes a full range of social media links, which makes it easy to share these valuable works with others. [KMG]

Octavio Medellin: Works of Art and Artistic Processes

Octavio Medellin was a celebrated artist who worked with stone, copper, and brass. Born in 1907, he created a number of unique art installations throughout Dallas in the 1950s, notably his mosaic work at Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church and the glass ceiling lights in the Mercantile Bank Building. Over the decades, he kept himself busy teaching at the University of North Texas and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts School, along with exploring the Yucatan for artistic inspiration. In 1994, he began to donate his art and slide collection to Southern Methodist University, and this online collection offers a hearty sample of these materials. Visitors can read the introductory essay on Medellin's life on the homepage, and then make their way through the 1,058 items in the digital archive. The essay is followed by links to specific works of art by Medellin, including his "Study for a Christ" and "Hanging Pix." Additionally, the site's homepage offers a rotating series of images that feature Medellin at work and various iterations of his works in progress. [KMG]

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is based in Golden, Colorado and is the "only national laboratory solely dedicated to advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies from concept to commercial application." Another aspect of NREL's work involves the creation of high-quality educational resources for those persons who would like to learn more about renewable energy. Visitors will note that the site contains five primary areas, including Renewable Energy Basics, Using Renewable Energy, and Student Resources. Under Renewable Energy Basics, visitors will find succinct summaries of renewable energy sources that include solar, wind, and biomass power. Moving on, the Using Renewable Energy area includes information designed to help different types of users, including electricity providers, farmers, homeowners, and small business owners. Finally, the Student Resources area includes materials for high school and college students, such as fact sheets on biofuels and comprehensive sites on biomass usage. [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

Biological Evolution: Evolutionary Theory

Baylor University's College of Medicine's BioEd Online website has garnered praise for years from teachers, scientists, and those with a general curiosity about the biological sciences. The collection of slide sets is a great tool for those educators looking to cover topics that include genetics, biology, and evolution. This 15-slide set, created by Tadzia GrandPre, Nancy Moreno, and Lisa Marie Meffert, provides an introduction to evolutionary theory. Visitors will find that each slide contains a few key bullet points, and an image or two that illustrates the material. Users should consider signing in for a free BioEd account, as this will allow them to create their own slide sets for future use. Among the best features here are the Speaker's Notes that accompany each slide, complete with scientific references. Also, visitors can use the keywords offered with each slide to look for topical material across all of the slide sets. [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 Habitable Planet: A Systems Approach to Environmental Science

Created by the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in association with the Harvard University Center for the Environment, this 13-part program includes an overview of the Earth's systems along with an exploration of the effects that human activities have on these systems. Each program contains interviews with scientists and other experts, and the program titles include Ecosystems, Human Population Dynamics, and Water Resources. The site also features videos, interactive lab exercises, additional visuals, an online textbook for each topic, and a helpful glossary of terms that runs from "acid rain" to "zoozanthellae." Each program is well-written and executed, and anyone looking for a bit of a refresher on these topics will find this resource most interesting. [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

NASA's Space Biology Outreach Program - Web of Life

Describing and discussing NASA's space missions and research is the goal of the Space Biology Outreach Program Web of Life. Visitors unfamiliar with space biology should definitely check out Space Biology FAQ's on the left hand side menu of the homepage. Questions covered range from those about the effect of weightlessness on the health of the astronauts to the significance of finding life on Mars to the definition of gravity. The Flight Experiments link on the same menu relates almost a dozen experiments that have been performed on space flights. Visitors can read about arterial remodeling and functional adaptations in the space experiment that used rats to model the human arterial system. Additionally, they can learn about how the blood vessels of the rats were examined to detect changes in a gravity-free environment. Finally, teachers should be sure to explore the Learning Resources section, which includes activities, resources, and links for teaching students of all ages. [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


What is ARTStem? According to their website, ARTStem is about "promoting collaborations that explore the relationship between learning and teaching in the arts and the so-called "STEM" disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics." Visitors to the site will find tabs for the different areas of art, such as music, dance, and design, as well as for areas of science, such as math, technology, medicine, and genetics. Within the tabs are articles that discuss the intersection between art and science. The theatricality of science communication as well as the aim to alter the public's perception of climate change via investigative theater are articles visitors can find in the Theater tab. The Youtube videos on the left and right side of any page offer visitors such topics as "Using Improv Theater to Help Scientists Learn to Communicate," "Turning Brainwaves into Music Composition," or "The Chef as Scientist." [KMG]

General Interest

Picture Chicago

Over the decades, Chicago has been documented in countless books created for events like the World's Columbian Exposition and elaborate guides to local institutions such as the University of Chicago and the Rush Medical College. This digital collection from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Library brings together 617 images that tell the story of the Second City in pictures, plans, and drawings. Visitors can browse by subject, creator, subject name, place name, item type, or they can just type in their own keywords (try "parks" or "Loop" to get started). Some of the fine items included here include photographs of Chicago gangsters, the city's first taxicab, the early pneumatic tube system designed for the Chicago Post Office, and the reference room of the Chicago Public Library in 1911. Engineers and others will be delighted to learn that the site also contains the draft plans created in order to straighten the Chicago River. [KMG]

Massachusetts Historical Society: Civil War

For many people, Massachusetts' role in the Civil War may be summed up by the impressive sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens that dominates one corner of the Boston Common. It depicts Colonel Robert Shaw leading the 54th Regiment (which was made up of African Americans) down Beacon Street in 1863 before they went off to battle in South Carolina. Those persons looking to learn more about the role that Massachusetts played in the Civil War will find this website from the Massachusetts Historical Society most edifying. On the site, visitors should start their journey via the monthly feature "Massachusetts Finds Her Voice." This rotating collection contains letters from the Society's archives, including a rather evocative letter from Captain Richard Cary of the Second Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment to his wife Helen. Each of these items can be viewed in its entirety, and many of them are complemented by links to additional online resources. The site also contains a timeline of Civil War events, complete with links to related web content. Finally, the site is rounded out by a selection of classroom tools and information about Society publications. [KMG]

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) website features high quality digital images from the many thousands of works in its permanent collection. Visitors can go straight to the Art by clicking on that link near the top of the homepage. There are several ways for visitors to peruse the artworks, one of which is the Top 100 Highlights of the MFAH. Clicking on each image allows visitors to read about the artist and the artwork, as well as click on the collection in which it's located. The Collections link enables visitors to search for art by geographic region, or by featured collection, such as the John A. and Audrey Jones Beck Collection, which consists of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Early Modernist paintings acquired by a range of noted Houstonians over the decades. [KMG]

Appalachian Voices

What source of pollution threatens Appalachia more than any other? Coal mining. The website of Appalachian Voices (AV) showcases an award-winning non-profit organization that aims to reduce the impacts of coal on "the land, air and water of central and southern Appalachia." The organization "empower[s] people to defend [the] region╒s rich natural and cultural heritage by providing them with tools and strategies for successful grassroots campaigns." Visitors to the site can read about the half-dozen actions that AV is involved in by clicking on the Campaigns tab near the top of the page. Some of the campaigns include "End Mountaintop Removal," "Wautauga Riverkeeper," and "Wise Energy for Virginia." Visitors interested in reading the current and back issues of The Voice newspaper put out bimonthly by AV can find them under the tab of the same name. AV's other publication is a monthly newsletter titled "The Appalachian Advocate," which contains news about the work of AV. Visitors can sign up to receive the free newsletter by clicking on the link under the News and Reports tab near the top of the page. [KMG]

19th Century Maps by Children

Map collector and cartographer David Rumsey has done a fine public service by placing thousands of his own maps online over the past decade. In the past few years, he and his colleagues have introduced new additions to the site via their friendly and interesting blog. This particular addition features some two dozen remarkable maps created by children during the 19th century. Many of these old maps were hand drawn and colored, making them truly one-of-a-kind items. The introduction to this collection notes that "These maps have a special poignancy today in the way that they reflect the optimism of youth from another time." First up is the wonderful diagram of Connecticut from Frances A. Henshaw's "Book of Penmanship Executed at the Middlebury Female Academy." Moving on, Emma Williard's map titled "Picture of nations or perspective sketch of the course of empire" depicts the course of human history as a wide stream. Each map is accompanied by a bit of background information, and visitors are also encouraged to leave their own comments. [KMG]

Virtual Textbook of Organic Chemistry

Before his retirement in 1999, Professor William Reusch began working on a virtual organic chemistry textbook that could be used by anyone with an interest in the subject. On this site, visitors can take advantage of his labors, and the introduction to this important subject offered on the homepage is a great place to start. After entering the main area of the site, visitors will find two columns of links that serve as the main table of contents. There are over twenty five topics covered here, and they include aromaticity, alkyl halides, alcohols, and amines. Each area contains lucid text accompanied by well-organized diagrams. Additionally, the site contains practice problems, incorporated into the text, along with links to external institutions such as the University of Wisconsin that offer additional problems. One area that shouldn't be missed is the "Chemicals and Society" area. Here visitors will find a narrative essay that addresses how the incorporation of different chemicals into air, water, and soil may affect human society over time. [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

University of New Hampshire Library: Literature & Poetry

The University of New Hampshire Library has a range of interesting digital collections, including correspondence from Civil War soldiers, town reports, and intercollegiate athletics. This particular area of the collection focuses on work related to unique literature and poetry items in the library's holdings. Perhaps the most curious item in the collection is the poem "The Boy Made of Meat" by Pulitzer Prize winner W.D. Snodgrass. The poem was drafted in 1962, and 20 years later, the artist Gillian Tyler decided to publish a limited edition of the work, complete with wood engravings. This item can be viewed in its entirety here, and it's a good place to start. The collection also contains several different volumes of works for children, including Edwin Erle Sparks' "A Book of Famous Explorers" and "Gritili's children: a story for children and for those who love children" by Johanna Spyri, who is best known for writing "Heidi." The site is rounded out by its collection of past issues of "The Granite Monthly," a magazine "devoted to literature, history, and state progress." [KMG]

Gaugin and Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise

On first glance, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) website for Gaugin and Polynesia appears to be for those who can visit in person, but once located, the Explore the Art link (on the far right) takes virtual visitors to a wealth of online exhibition content. There are five chronological chapters, covering the timeline of Gaugin's journeys to Tahiti and other tropical islands. For each chapter, there are curatorial videos, image galleries, and maps. For example, "Chapter 3, 1891 - 1893, Gaugin Leaves France for Tahiti," begins with two SAM curators and an affiliated academic discussing an ironic aspect of Gaugin's travels. Gaugin left France seeking unspoiled nature, but he found an established French bourgeoisie in the islands, especially in Papeete, the Tahitian capital. One of the images in the Chapter 3 image gallery, Woman with a Flower (1891) illustrates this irony. The painting is composed as a traditional portrait, showing the subject, a Tahitian woman who is dressed in European style, seated in a chair with a flower in her hand, the background apparently a flowered wallpaper. Gaugin sets up the contrasts, in the curator's words, by painting this "beautiful, exotic, by European standards, face, combined with this dowdy nightgown of a dress, and then these flowers floating around her head." [DS]

Network Tools


Have you ever wanted to tweak the appearance of your Gmail account? This is now possible, courtesy of BrandMyMail. First-time users can watch the short video on the homepage to learn about the functionality of the program, gather some insights into how one might best utilize its primary features. Visitors can add social media links to their emails, create different layouts, and tweak the colors for individual expression and uniqueness. This version is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]


Those persons who do their own website design will find TextImages most useful. Developed by Stefan Trost, this helpful tool allows users to integrate text written on images into their websites. Visitors can create single text images with this application, along with a wide range of pictures. Visitors also have the ability to precisely adjust the writing, design, format, style, colors, fonts, margins, and spacing as they see fit. The tool is particularly useful for those who want headings or other recurring text to look the same regardless of browser or available fonts. This version is compatible with Windows 7, XP, and Vista. [KMG]

In The News

As the Tate Modern prepares to open a Damien Hirst retrospective, critics and others offer comment

Damien Hirst retrospective: Is nothing sacred?

'Damien Hirst should not be in the Tate' says critic

Damien Hirsts are the sub-prime of the art world

Damien Hirst on death, drink and diamonds

Damien Hirst's Live Stream: Not So Very Lively

Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst is a lighting rod of controversy in the modern art world, and while some art critics find his work insufferable, his work commands a king's ransom in the marketplace. Perhaps his most well-known work is "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living," or a tiger shark immersed in formaldehyde. This week, Hirst entered the headlines again (and perhaps he never left) as The Economist and other publications began to comment on a major retrospective of his work prepared to open at the Tate Modern in London on April 4th. Interestingly enough, several of the works in the exhibit were loaned for the show by Hirst himself, who is known for being a savvy investor in his own work. The criticisms have already started, as art critic Julian Spalding commented in the Telegraph that "Hirst should not be in the Tate. He's not an artist. What separates Michelangelo from Hirst is that Michelangelo was an artist and Hirst isn't." This is not an unfamiliar charge against Hirst and his work, and it will be interesting to see how visitors and others in the art world respond to this major show. [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to a short review of the new Hirst show, courtesy of last week's Economist. The second link will take interested parties to a piece from Tuesday's Telegraph which contains commentary from art critic Julian Spalding on Hirst's work. The third link will whisk users away to a more detailed and elaborate piece from Spalding which urges those who own works by Hirst to sell them as soon as possible. Moving along, the fourth link leads to an interview with Hirst in which he comments on Francis Bacon, psychology, and the importance of art history. The fifth link leads to a review from the Wall Street Journal's "Speakeasy" blog of Hirst's new live streaming art studio feed. Finally, visitors can check out the feed themselves via the last link, which leads to the official homepage of the Damien Hirst studio.

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