The Scout Report
September 13, 2013 -- Volume 19, Number 37
A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Polar Oral History Program
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
Environmental Protection Agency: Water Science
The State Historical Society of Missouri
United States Department of Agriculture: Marketing and Trade
National Archives at St. Louis
Sound Waves: Coastal and Marine Research News from Across the USGS
Illinois Humanities Council
Chicago Tribune Watchdog: School Truancy
Tehran Propaganda Murals
National Information Service for Earthquake Engineering
Virtual Open Heart Surgery
Winterthur Digital Collection
Genetic testing reveals new clues to woolly mammoth extinction
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This fascinating program is administered by the American Polar Society and the Ohio State University's Byrd Polar Research Center Archival Program. With funding from the National Science Foundation, the program works to document the early years of American polar exploration by "interviewing those who were in the polar regions since the 1930s." Here visitors will find 92 interviews with a range of early polar explorers, including Lloyd Beebe, Nathaniel C. Gerson, and Ronald K. McGregor. A good place to start is with the interview of Eugene Cecil LaFond, who worked for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the 1930s and then moved on to research the Arctic while onboard the USS Nereus in the late 1940s. [KMG]
What's the best way to teach young people about geometry? Or general data analysis? The National Council of Teachers of of Mathematics (NCTM) has a few ideas on the subject and they have brought them together in the Core Math Tools Suite. This downloadable suite of interactive software tools for algebra, geometry, statistics, and related topics can be used in a range of educational settings. The General Purpose Tools area contains five tools that require strategies and skills that are highly applicable to a range of analytical skills. The site also contains How-To Pages, along with Advanced Apps such as the "Ranked Choice Voting" app, which can be used to determine voting outcomes based on various ranked choice voting methods. [KMG]
Teams of researchers at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) work to provide scientific information and innovative technologies to support the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. The materials generated by these teams are contained within four areas that include Drinking Water and Systems, Water Quality Research, Water Monitoring, and Water Tools and Technology. Within Water Quality Research, Water Risk Management Research is a true stand-out. Visitors can learn about the EPA's work on aging water infrastructure by reading recent publications, looking over the Top Questions posed to the research team, or by checking out updates about their events. Also, visitors can look over the Featured Resource on the homepage, which rotates from week to week. [KMG]
The State Historical Society of Missouri was founded in 1898 by the Missouri Press Association. Their mission today is "to collect, preserve, make available, and publish materials that enhance research and support learning opportunities in Missouri studies and the history of the Midwest." On their website, visitors can learn about their collections and research, check out membership information, and read some of their publications. The Collections & Research area contains a range of Online Resources, including features such as Missouri Place Names, Civil War eBooks, and Politics in Missouri Oral History Project. The Missouri Historical Review is also featured here under Publications, along with complete back issues of their quarterly newsletter, Missouri Times. [KMG]
Historypin is "a global community collaborating around history," and they have successfully "pinned down" over 281 thousand items to various locations around the world. Over 1,400 institutions and 50 thousand visitors have participated thus far. It's a remarkable experiment in community mapping of everything from Hurricane Sandy to sharing memories of the Queen's visits to foreign lands. Visitors can click on the Map icon to look around by place, date, or subject and it's a fun way to browse around the world through a kaleidoscope of buildings, memories, experiences, and so on. Moving on, the Tours and Collections area contains featured tours of mansions in New York City's Upper East Side, historic postcards of California, and the architecture of Bath. [KMG]
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) works on a range of initiatives to promote the work of farmers markets, organic agriculture, and other aspects of farm culture and production throughout the United States. A quick glance through the materials offers visitors access to their fact sheets, local food marketing initiatives, and the Foreign Agricultural Service. This last area is particularly intriguing as visitors can find out detailed information on trade regulations, trade negotiations, trade data, foreign reports, and market development programs. The Quick Stats area provides links to U.S., state, and county agricultural statistics for many commodities and data series. Finally, the site also contains a Market News section under Reports, which features pre-made market reports on cotton, dairy, livestock, tobacco, and fruits and vegetables. [KMG]
In 2011, the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) moved into a new purpose-built facility in St. Louis. This transition was an important step for a center that houses over 2. 5 million cubic feet of records. On their homepage, visitors can look at the "NPRC Records Holdings, Overview" section to learn about the records they have on-site, which include the official personnel folders of former federal civil servants whose employments ended after 1951 and the military personnel files from all service branches for veterans with a discharge date of 1951 or after. Visitors can learn how to request documents from the facility or learn about other nearby records sites. Additionally, visitors can view an information pamphlet about their work and also learn about upcoming events sponsored at the facility, such as research workshops and lectures. [KMG]
Open your eyes and your interest in coastal and marine research by exploring this most informative publication. Created by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), this monthly newsletter was started in 1999 to provide the public and other parties with access to timely research findings and updates from the various units of the USGS. The newsletter contains sections such as Fieldwork, Research, Meetings, and Awards. A good place to start is the Recent Highlights from Past Issues area. Some of the gems here include scientific explorations of Hurricane Sandy's long-term effects and the juvenile surf smelt and sand lance populations in Puget Sound. Units contributing news pieces to Sound Waves include the Great Lakes Science Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, Louisiana. [KMG]
Brown dwarfs, numerosity maps, and social learning in bird migration are but a few of the topics covered within these excellent podcasts offered up by Science magazine. The audio explorations here date back to 2005 and users can browse around at their leisure. Some of the recent offerings include conversations about North Korean volcanoes, faulty ribosomes, and how pesticides might be used to prevent suicides. Each podcast is between 44 and 47 minutes in length and visitors can read along with a complete transcript for each installment. Needless to say, the materials here can be utilized in the classroom or for the general edification of those wishing to know more about the natural world. [KMG]
Based in Chicago, the Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) is "an educational organization dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities." Their work emphasizes the analysis, interpretation, and exchange of ideas through grant-making activities, lecture series, and community events work to enhance the lives of Illinois residents. On their website, visitors can read through their Who We Are section to learn more about their work and also check out the Watch, Listen, and Learn area to view past presentations and events. Some of the series featured here cover Conversations on Oil and Water and profiles of Illinois writers and artists. Visitors interested in applying for a grant from the IHC should click on the Grants area to learn about their guidelines and the application process. [KMG]
Large, urban public school districts are faced with a host of problems, including budget cutbacks and student truancy and absenteeism. The Chicago Tribune launched this investigative report into the problems of truancy and absenteeism in the Chicago Public School system and it is well worth a closer look. On the site, visitors can read through four primary areas: The Crisis, Solutions, Lives in the Balance, and Updates. The first area gives visitors access to articles, podcasts, and interviews profiling social workers, education experts, and others working to solve this most pernicious problem. Moving on, the Solutions area looks at how other cities in Illinois are hoping to address this problem via dedicated case workers and other social service professionals. Finally, the Updates area provides links to articles detailing up-to-the-minute coverage of how the problem is being addressed by politicians, community groups, and educational experts. [KMG]
Public art is part of any great society and it should have the ability to amuse, provoke, cajole, soothe, and excite. In Tehran, massive propaganda murals decorate both public and private buildings and many people gather around to look at and discuss them as a part of their walks and explorations around the city. This digital collection from the Harvard College Library offers 130 of these murals for general consideration. On the site, visitors can view all of the murals in exquisite detail including artist name and date of creation. Visitors can also view their own slideshow of selected images. The murals have wonderful titles and celebrate religion, nature, political leaders, children, and other such topics. [KMG]
Based at the University of California, Berkeley, the National Information Service for Earthquake Engineering (NISEE) is a public service of the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center. NISEE was started in 1972 and the site contains hundreds of publicly sponsored technical reports, research papers, data sets, and other materials related to scholarly investigations in this field. Visitors can wander around the archives of posted papers and such or they can just look at the scrolling feed of newly added works. Additionally, users can use the Tag Cloud to locate works clustered around a certain word or phrase. [KMG]
How does open heart surgery work? Without taking the time to get a formal medical degree, it can be quite hard to find out first-hand. Fortunately, this site from the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) takes you inside a virtual operating room to try your hand at performing this procedure. Visitors can look over the interactive Menu to first learn about the anatomy of this region of the body. It's a good place to start and users can proceed to look through the ten (simplified) steps to performing such a complicated operation. Along the way, visitors are given the opportunity to learn about the science behind each step and it's all quite fascinating. It's a great resource for budding scientists, medical professionals, and those who are generally curious about the human body. [KMG]
The Winterthur Museum in Wilmington, Delaware is one of the premier museums of American material culture, located in the childhood home of industrialist and collector Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969). For those unable to visit in person, the Winterthur Digital Collection includes detailed records, many accompanied by images, for the majority of the approximately 90,000 collection objects - including ceramics, furniture, glass, prints, paintings, metalwork, and textiles, most dating from about 1600 to 1860. At the main page to the online collection, artifacts are organized into searchable categories, such as Ceramics, Glass, Furniture, or Textiles and Needlework. Searchers can click a check box to limit to only those items that have images, and there is also an advanced search function, handy for known item searching. Textiles and needlework is one of the largest collection areas at over 18,000 items; limiting to items with images only reduces the number to about 8,000. [DS]
What if you could create beautiful visual notes to explain various concepts quickly and without much fuss? It would be rather useful and such a thing is possible with Classmint. This application allows users to create interactive study notes with annotations, audio content, and images explaining everything from ecology to Euclidean geometry. Visitors can check out the tutorial, then create a login and go ahead and get started. This version is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]
Would you like a personal assistant but are currently unable to afford such a luxury? Fileee can help you in this regard as it will help organize all of your paper and digital documents in one system. Visitors just need to sign up for a free account and then go ahead and drag and drop PDFs, word documents, and pictures of documents into their new dropbox. It's a wonderful service and it is compatible with all operating systems.[KMG]
What killed off the woolly mammoths?
Woolly mammoth extinction due to warming climate
New woolly mammoth lineage discovered
Humans acquitted of mammoth murder
Hendrik Poinar: Bring back the wooly mammoth!
What killed the woolly mammoth? Did pre-historic humans hunt them into extinction or did a changing climate wipe out the species? In a study published in this week's Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences), a team of researchers, based at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, have found new evidence supporting the role of climate change in the woolly mammoth's untimely end. The scientists, lead by Dr. Love Dalen, collected and analyzed DNA from 88 specimens from Siberia, Europe, and North America. These samples were then added to existing genetic datasets collected by other groups in earlier studies. The result? A comprehensive computer model documenting changes in the animal's population dynamics across time. Most notably, the model suggests the species experienced a series of local extinctions, expansions, and migrations as the planet went through unusually warm and cool periods. A particularly warm period about 120,000 years ago nearly wiped out the entire mammoth population, long before human hunters would have been a serious threat. The population then gradually recovered as the planet entered another ice age, only to meet its eventual extinction in mainland areas around 11,000 years ago as forest and tundra took over the mammoth's grassland habitats, dealing the fatal blow. [CBD]
The first link will take visitors to the October issue of Discover magazine, which covers human and climate roles and theories behind the woolly mammoth's extinction. The second link will take users to an article in this week's Guardian, featuring background information on the large, hairy mammals as well as wonderful graphics depicting genetically distinct populations and patterns of migration. The third link highlights a genetically distinct group of mammoths that roamed Europe until about 34,000 years ago. Moving along, the fourth link provides a somewhat more whimsical interpretation of the findings, featuring Qs From Kids: Could a Mammoth and Elephant Mate? Visitors interested in this discussion might appreciate the fifth link, highlighting a wonderful TEDxDeExtinction talk by Hendrik Poinar on the possibility of a Jurassic-Park-like revival of the woolly creatures. Finally, the last link will take visitors to National Geographic and a series of videos documenting Siberian tusk-hunters and the process of tracking and unearthing these ancient remains.
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