The Scout Report -- Volume 18, Number 26

June 29, 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

Molecular Workbench

Created by the Concord Consortium, the Molecular Workbench is "a modeling tool for designing and conducting computational experiments across science." First-time visitors can check out one of the Featured Simulations to get started. The homepage contains a number of curriculum modules which deal with chemical bonding, semiconductors, and diffusion. Visitors can learn how to create their own simulations via the online manual, which is available here as well. The Articles area is quite helpful, as it contains full-text pieces on nanoscience education, quantum chemistry, and a primer on how transistors work. A good way to look over all of the offerings here is to click on the Showcase area. Here visitors can view the Featured simulations, or look through one of five topical sections, which include Biotech and Nanotechnology. Visitors will need to install the free Molecular Workbench software, which is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac. [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 - Educators

The NASA Educators website provides teachers and others with access to high-quality classroom materials such as podcasts, lesson plans, interactive web features, and photos. Visitors can dive right in via the For Educators area, which includes topical headings like Higher Education, Informal Education, and Current Opportunities. Clicking on the Higher Education tab will take visitors to the Have You Seen area which features resources like the "What is a Planet?" lithograph and a special website about the 50th anniversary of solar system exploration. Moving on, visitors can click on NASA Television to watch excerpts from NASA's informational station. Another fun feature is the Do-It-Yourself Podcasts area. Here, interested parties can work with existing NASA audio and video clips to create their own unique media product. Finally, visitors can use the Read It section to learn about new grant opportunities, campus science activities, and so on. [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 Aurora Page [Last reviewed in the Scout Report on January 6, 1999]

Based at Michigan Tech, the Aurora Page was created by Michael Dolan and celebrates the meteorological phenomenon commonly known as the Northern Lights. For those who may not be familiar with this phenomenon, it is a natural light display that tends to happen in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the thermosphere. On the site's homepage, visitors can view a nice collection of aurora-related links culled from organizations such as NOAA, Johns Hopkins University, and NASA. Moving on, the Images area contains hundreds of high-quality photographs taken all over the world. Also, visitors who are interested in building their own automated aurora detection system will appreciate the link that provides detailed instructions for completing such a project. The site is rounded out by a collection of websites related to space exploration and astronomy. [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

Morrison Institute for Public Policy

The Morrison Institute was created in 1982 at Arizona State University with a grant provided by Marvin and June Morrison of Arizona. The Institute "bridges the gap between academic scholarship and public policy through services to public and private sector clients and independent research." Today, the Institute's work includes research on water resources, health care, human services, urban growth, and economic development. On the homepage, visitors will find the very helpful Recent Reports & Publications area, full of compelling new works such as "Digital Learning: How to Enhance the Learning of Any Child at Any Time, and in Any Place" and "Dropped? Latino Education and Arizona's Economic Future." Moving on, the Important Links area contains easy access to video and multimedia archives, along with blogs and information about upcoming seminars and presentations. Policy makers will want to make a beeline for the State Of Our State section. Here they can learn about the annual conference that provides stakeholders with information about the overall health of the state, with sections on the state's deficit problems and other germane matters. [KMG]

Computer Science Teachers Association

The Computers Science Teachers Association (CSTA) is a professional organization that helps teachers in the field learn about professional development opportunities, along with offering them the opportunity to network. This section of then CSTA's website provides access to over a dozen helpful resources, including an instructional video and a college selection website. First-time visitors should check out the Quizzes with a Theme. Here they will find a set of computer science themed quizzes developed by Professor Bruce Maxwell of Colby College. Also, the CS Unplugged Videos area is quite a bit of fun. The videos here include a one-hour computer science show in which students encounter many concepts from computer science, along with short clips of activities that can be used in the classroom. Additionally, the site includes a selection of computer games designed for young women and a link to resources promoting excitement about computer science from Carnegie Mellon University. [KMG]

Ford Foundation: Library

Every year, the Ford Foundation produces reams of working papers, policy documents, and research briefs. This section of the website provides users with access to annual reports, a multimedia area, regional brochures, and studies. Visitors interested in the operations and priorities of the Ford Foundation should definitely peruse its annual report, as it contains information about groups the Foundation funds and its thematic areas of operation. The reports here date back to 2000. The multimedia area contains video programs that cover topics like human rights, American values, and a rather intriguing program titled "Demystifying Global Finance." Scholars and policy makers will want to consider the diverse group of studies here, including "Weaving Success: Voices of Change in African Higher Education" and "Liberal Education and Civic Engagement." Also, the site includes a helpful search engine which can be used to find specific resources quickly. [KMG]

Creatures of Light

What exactly are "creatures of light?" As it happens, they are those organisms that employ bioluminescence, the "generation of light by living things." This dramatic online exhibit from the American Museum of Natural History complements an in situ exhibit that explores the world of these creatures. The materials here are divided into four primary sections, including Meet the Curator, Behind the Scenes, and Creatures. In the Creatures area, visitors can learn more about bioluminescence through a series of interactive visual features. This area also includes detailed explorations of the lives of fireflies, glowworms, and jellyfish. Moving on, the Meet the Curator area affords visitors the opportunity to learn about Dr. John Sparks and read some of his blog posts on the exhibit. Finally, the Videos area contains snippets of coverage on the creation of the exhibit, a behind-the-scenes tour with Dr. Melanie Stiassny, and a profile of researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium as they search for jellies from the deep. [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 Colorado Digital Music Library

The rotating first image on this site sums it all up: whether visitors are treated to "The Girl I Loved Out in the Golden West," "The Cowboy Rag," or "Dreaming on the Silv'ry Rio Grande," all of the covers invoke the American west. This musical archive contains hundreds of pieces of music, which visitors can browse alphabetically. Those with a geographical bent may wish to look over pieces of music that feature the state of Colorado. This area is quite interesting, as it includes songs like 1913's "Good Old Denver Town" and 1916's rousing "The skies are blue in Colorado." Visitors can use the Search Sheet Music section to look for items of interest by keyword and date. The site also contains copious details on the digitization process, copyright information, and other sheet music sites. One other helpful section of this site is the Collection Descriptions area. Here visitors can learn more about the specific collections areas, which include those that bring together ragtime numbers and the Western Trails collection, featuring songs that address westward migration. [KMG]

General Interest

Archaeology Magazine's Top 10 Discoveries of 2011

Since 2006, Archaeology Magazine has published an annual list of Top 10 Discoveries, and it is always interesting to see what they come up with as they scour the globe for important findings. This site presents these findings for 2011, complete with illustrations, photographs, and explanations. In 2011, the key finds included a Viking boat burial in Scotland, a Mayan female ruler in Guatemala, and an Atlantic whaler in Hawaii. Also, the site includes three listings of Sites Under Threat. Recent sites have included Altamira Cave and Pompeii. After close consideration of these sites, visitors should feel free to browse around past sites from 2006 through 2010. Visitors may also want to sign up for the free RSS feed from Archaeology Magazine and their various electronic newsletters. [KMG]

Cape Cod National Seashore

Henry David Thoreau knew Cape Cod well, once writing that "A man may stand there and put all America behind him." Today, part of the Cape has been designated Cape Cod National Seashore. Appropriately enough, the legislation to create this remarkable site was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy, who also knew and loved the area. As with many National Park websites, this one includes sections on History & Culture, Photos & Multimedia, and For Teachers. The History & Culture area includes information on the wonderful residency programs for artists, and information on the archaeology of outer Cape Cod. Further along, visitors shouldn't miss the Photos & Multimedia area, which includes several photo galleries and welcomes from the Coast Guard Beach in Eastham and Nauset Beach in Orleans. Finally, the For Teachers area includes lesson plans and information about overnight educational group opportunities. [KMG]

The Aspen Institute: Multimedia

The Aspen Institute sponsors many dozens of events every year, and its website yields an abundance of video. On this site, the Institute brings together recorded events, making it a great place to wander around if you have a few spare moments. There is always a featured video front and center on the homepage, and the other sections on the site include Events in Aspen, Aspen Policy Programs, and Book Talks. Folks with a penchant for the printed word should look over the Book Talks area for conversations with Thomas Frank, Professor David Agus, and Walter Isaacson speaking about his recent biography of Steve Jobs. The "Events in Aspen" area is a delight, and it include dozens of recorded events, including "Philanthropic Transparency: How Public Should Private Philanthropy Be?" and "Is Social Media Sparking Civic Engagement?" Finally, one video that shouldn't be missed is Madeleine Albright's "A Personal Story of Remembrance and War." [KMG]

Invitation to World Literature

From Gilgamesh to Gogol, the world has been enriched by the writings of gifted people from a wide range of cultural traditions and regions of the world. This remarkable series from the Annenberg Media organization provides a nice introduction to "great epics, plays, poetry, and other literary texts." The series was produced by the WGBH Educational Foundation, and it includes testimony and commentary from scholars, artists, writers, and translators. The thirteen programs include "The Odyssey," "My Name is Red," "Popol Vuh," and "Candidte." Visitors can view each program in its entirety and then move on to the complete series site, which includes teaching materials and activities. While all of the episodes are well-done, visitors may wish to start by viewing the episodes dedicated to "The Thousand and One Nights" and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude," which are particularly fine. [KMG]

Chemdex [Last reviewed in the Scout Report on June 9, 1997]

The Sheffield Chemdex has been online since 1993, and remains a handy resource for those persons with an interest in chemistry. The site is maintained by Mark Winter of the chemistry department at the University of Sheffield and it contains several thousand annotated links that cover everything from inorganic chemistry to chemistry puzzles and quizzes. First-time visitors will note that the homepage features a rotating selection of relevant websites culled from this archive. Visitors can also use the Guided Search area to look through several dozen topical headings, including Physical Chemistry Departments and Elements & Compounds. Additionally, the site contains links to other chemistry sites in a range of languages. Visitors with a particular topic in mind can use the keyword search to look for specific resources. The site also allows users to sign up for their RSS feed and submit questions and sites for possible inclusion. [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

Rising Up: Hale Woodruff's Murals from Talladega College

In 1938, Talladega College commissioned Hale Woodruff, an African-American muralist, to paint six murals that were installed in the Savery Library on campus, where they remained for more than 70 years. In 2011, the murals were removed from the walls of the Library as part of a collaborative project between Talladega College and the High Museum to conserve the murals, which are on display at the Museum until September 2012. At the website, visitors can not only see images of conservators literally peeling the murals off the library walls, but also examine digital versions of the artwork. For example, zoom in on the Portrait of Cinqu, one of the leaders of the Amistad rebellion, to see biographical information, or follow another link to see a comparison of the figure of a dead mutineer with Gricault's "The Raft of the Medusa," an art historical icon with which Woodruff would have been familiar. Other murals in the series are: The Trial of the Amistad Captives, The Repatriation of the Freed Captives, The Underground Railroad, Opening Day atTalladega College, and The Building ofSavery Library. [DS]

Frontline: Digital Nation

How is technology changing our lives? It's a very difficult question to answer, but this engaging program from Frontline takes first steps into this brave new digital world. On a note that appears on the site's homepage, Rachel Dretzin (the producer) remarks that "Digital Nation is an effort to define this new space and to put some walls around it." On the homepage, visitors can watch the entire 90-minute program and also view special segments such as Living Faster, Relationships, Waging War, and Virtual Worlds. The Virtual Worlds area is particularly compelling, as it looks at how virtual reality is being used to treat the post-traumatic stress disorder experienced by soldiers. Visitors are encouraged to share their own experiences (Your Stories). Interested parties may want to explore the excellent "Interviews" area, which features conversations with experts from Stanford, MIT, and Wired magazine. Finally, the Your Thoughts area is a great way to learn how other people from around the Web feel about this subject. [KMG]

American RadioWorks: Who Needs An English Major?

Today, the most popular college major in the United States is business. Other popular majors can be found in the allied health sciences and related disciplines. But why might it be important to have people majoring in English? Is it a part of a vital and flourishing democracy? This thoughtful installment of the "Tomorrow's College" series looks into the ways in which liberal arts colleges are responding to life in the 21st century. Visitors can listen to the entire program here or tune in to shorter segments, which include "An Old School Made New" and "New Pressures on Liberal Education." One of the most interesting segments here is "Profiting from Plato." This particular profile takes a look at the American Public University System, which happens to be a for-profit, online school that believes the liberal arts can be a money maker. Finally, visitors can download the documentary and read a transcript of the program. [KMG]

Network Tools


The function of the Pomodoro application is fairly simple. It givers users a 25-minute block of time to complete a task. After the timer sounds off at the conclusion of the 25 minutes, users will receive a five minute break to collect their thoughts. Interestingly, this application is part of a broader time-management technique developed in the 1980s, which users can read about on the site. This version is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

CorkBoard in the Cloud 1.0.1

If you're looking for an online corkboard that exists in the cloud, look no further than this handy application. With this application, visitors can add items from anywhere, and they can sync the corkboard with any of their devices. This particular version is compatible with all operating systems running iOS 5 or Mac OS X 10.7. [KMG]

In The News

Can "Big Data" tell us new things about big cities?

Urban research: the laws of the city

Why Bigger Cities Are Greener Cities

The Economic Productivity of Urban Areas: Disentangling General Scale Effects from Local Exceptionability

Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis

SENSEable City Lab

IBM: Smarter Cities

How do cities work? Can we make them work more efficiently and economically? These queries have claimed the attention of many brilliant minds over the centuries. Increasingly, urban planners and researchers point to the use of "Big Data" as a means of exploring these questions. Today, many organizations (such as the United Nations) share their statistics freely, and scientists, planners, and others have used this information to create mobile apps and other information-age tools. One recent revelation from Geoffrey West and Luis Bettencourt of the Santa Fe Institute is quite noteworthy. Using a wide range of data, they found that cities scale up in a rather efficient fashion. They noted that when a city's size doubles, incomes, patents, savings, and other signs of wealth rise by around 15 percent. Correspondingly, the "bits of infrastructure" (such as the number of gas stations) decrease by about 15 percent per inhabitant. Other studies at places like the Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London have looked into what Twitter messages reveal about a city's structure and economic activity. These are early days indeed, and it will be interesting to see what else the use of "Big Data" will tell us about urban form, structure, and process. [KMG]

The first link will take interested parties to a news story from last week's The Economist about the use of large data sets to reveal new patterns and processes going on in and around large urban areas. The second link will whisk users away to an intriguing piece from the The Atlantic Cities blog by Richard Florida about why bigger cities tend to be greener places. Moving along, the third link leads to the full text of the technical report previously mentioned by Geoffrey West, Luis Bettencourt, and their colleagues at the Santa Fe Institute. The fourth link will take visitors to the homepage of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. Here visitors can learn about the Centre's research program, listen to podcasts, and take a look at academic works. The fifth link will take visitors to the homepage of the SENSEable City Lab at MIT, which features information about the Lab's research and upcoming events. The final link opens IBM's Smarter Lab website. Here visitors can learn about IBM's work on helping city agencies use data more effectively to streamline certain operations and functions of government. [KMG]

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