The Scout Report
September 12, 2014 -- Volume 20, Number 35
A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Global Warming Science
Teach and Learn Wisconsin History
Geography: Maps, Country Information, Quizzes
DiracDelta Science & Engineering Encyclopedia
Rock Music Timeline
The Canadian Nuclear FAQ
Nuclear: Greenpeace International
Forces of Nature: National Geographic Education
The Mars Society
German Expressionism Collection at The University of Maryland
The Center for Popular Economics: Economics for People, Not Profits
Aspen Institute: Skills for America's Future
Jack the Ripper Finally (Mis)Identified?
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Open Library is an open, editable library catalog with an attractive facade and a lofty mission. The mission? To build an online catalog with a web page for every book ever published. The best part? You can help. From the homepage, click Sign Up, then create a free Open Library account in two simple steps. From there, add new books, write descriptions, manage lists, and generally enjoy contributing to one of the most exciting library projects on the web. Of course, you don’t need an account to browse the site, with its 20 million records (and counting). Simply click Authors, Subjects, Recently, or Lists to search the site by category, or type a keyword into the general search function. [CNH]
MIT OpenCourseWare, a free online education initiative, was launched in 2002. Starting with 50 courses, by 2007 the university had posted over 1,800 courses in 33 academic disciplines. This revealing undergraduate module, based on a class taught by four MIT professors in 2012, focuses on the fundamental physical processes that shape climate. The course also covers evidence of past and present climate change, an overview of climate models, and discussions of climate change consequences. Navigating the system is easy. Begin with the Course Home page; then look over the Syllabus and Calendar before browsing the Readings, Lecture Notes, Assignments, and Projects. [CNH]
Whether you’re a teacher or just a history buff, the Teach and Learn Wisconsin History section of the Wisconsin Historical Society website has plenty to offer. Think about beginning with A Short History of Wisconsin, which provides synopses of five distinct periods, starting with Ancient Land and First Peoples and culminating in The Progressive Era. Wisconsin History Essays proffer dozens of short treatises on local history topics, like “Polka Rhythms Bandstand” and “A Hostile Mob Surrounds Wisconsin Soldiers.” Also take a look at the Wisconsin Communities area with 82 historical essays about towns and cities throughout the state. Lastly, the site provides dozens of biographies in the Historical Figures section. These brief essays can be refined by subject, county, or community and include such notable figures as John Nolen, Governor Alexander W. Randall, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. [CNH]
The CurioCity E-Zine from Let’s Talk Science is geared toward precocious teens, but there is plenty for adults to enjoy as well. Readers can browse articles in a variety of subjects, including Consumer Science, Entertainment, Environment, Health, In the News, Sports, and Tech Buzz. Typical offerings include gems like “Throwaway Sex Organs” (re: sea slugs) and “Can Eating Peanuts Cure Peanut Allergies?” The site also offers dozens of short videos on topics as diverse as Neil Armstrong on Being an Engineer, and The Math and Mystery of Murmurations. Also, dig into the Themes section, where topics are divided by Biotechnology, Sky Science, and Spotlight on Energy. Teachers will especially want to explore the Educators link, where they can register for free curriculum-based, classroom-ready resources on STEM subjects. [CNH]
In 1984 the National Council for Geographic Education and the Association of American Geographers defined five themes of geography. What themes? Location, Place, Human-Environment Interaction, Movement, and Region. This site from About.com, with its attractive layout and accessible articles, makes clear just how fascinating and complex the field of geography really is. Start with the newsfeed, The Latest in Geography, to get a handle on what’s breaking now in terms of research and writing. Then move on to Geography Categories, where you can explore Maps, Country Information, Physical Geography, and more. A Free email newsletter is also available, allowing readers to effortlessly connect with essential articles, such as “What will happen if Scots vote to become independent in September?” [CNH]
Featuring dozens of categories – from Algebra to Audio, from Thermodynamics to Trigonometry – this science and engineering encyclopedia by the consulting firm DiracDelta won’t disappoint. For a fun jaunt, click the Read More Quotes link, which displays famous extracts from scientists and philosophers. For instance, this quip from Niels Bohr: “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” Then browse the site for Subjects (listed in alphabetical order), Calculations, and Conversions. This last section is particularly helpful when considering complex conversions to and from metric measurements. The Links page is another helpful facet of the site and offers resources from around the web, arranged by alphabetized category. Last listed in the Scout Report back in 2007, this is a timeless resource for the engineer in all of us. [CNH]
Since the 1950s, rock and roll has exerted a major influence on American – and, more recently, global – culture. Impacting everything from fashion to politics, the history of the contemporary U.S. cannot be easily separated from the history of its popular music. This modest but interesting site traces the history of rock music by decade, from its roots in the African American Rhythm and Blues to the grunge craze of the 1990s. Along the way, readers can glean interesting tidbits (did you know that the term “rock and roll” was coined by Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed?) from well-constructed essays, and view classic photos of rockers across the generations. The site is structured by decade for easy browsing. [CNH]
This highly pro-nuclear website offers information not only about nuclear energy in Canada, but about this controversial energy resource more generally. Start with the Introduction and Disclaimer, where Dr. Jeremy Whitlock, the author of the site and a reactor physicist at an Ottawa Valley nuclear power plant, explains the purpose and limitations of the site. Then have a look at the dozens of questions Dr. Whitlock answers with erudite – and opinionated – precision, covering such broad topics as Cost and Benefits, Safety and Liability, Waste Management, and Security and Non-Proliferation. Also, take a look at the excellent Links and Further Information pages, as well as the Editorials page, which features dozens of pro-nuclear missives. In all, interested readers will find this page well argued and informative. [CNH]
For an anti-nuclear perspective, look no further than Greenpeace. The venerable environmental organization, now in its 43rd year, seeks to “end the nuclear age” because it believes nuclear power “is an unacceptable risk to the environment and to humanity.” Each of the links offers informative – and opinionated – arguments against the proliferation of nuclear power. Start with the site’s gloss of the Fukushima Disaster, where you will find Fact Sheets, Publications, and Downloads related to the March 2011 meltdown. Next, peruse the Safety page with links to Nuclear Terrorism, Accidents, Reactors, and Radiation. Nuclear Waste is up next, where you can learn about Reprocessing, Storage, Transport, and Russia. Finally, read about Proliferation, with links to Plutonium and Dirty Bombs. [CNH]
This dynamic site from National Geographic Education features invigorating ganders into four of nature’s most devastating forces. Start with Tornadoes. Six sections – What is a Tornado, What Causes Tornadoes, and Characteristics of Tornadoes, among others – provide an informative overview of these sudden, sometimes devastating wind events. Next, take a look at Volcanoes, and click on headings like Where Do Volcanoes Occur? and How Do Volcanoes Erupt? Hurricanes and Earthquakes each deserve careful attention, especially the interactive, Spin Off Your Own Hurricane, where you can learn how hurricanes are made by building one yourself. [CNH]
This fascinating site, brought to fruition by Dutch Sinologist Stefan R. Landsberger, seeks to provide “a visual chronicle of the history of modern China” through the exhibition of over 5,000 People’s Republic of China propaganda posters. Viewers may want to start with the Gallery of Chinese Propaganda Posters – an overview of 200 highlights from the collection. A visit to Our Most Visited Theme Pages and Recently Added Posters also pays intellectual dividends (Iron Women and Foxy Ladies is an especially great find). But perhaps the true gem of the site is the 200 theme presentations found under the Themes link, where readers can explore categories such as Before the People’s Republic, Campaigns – 1949-1965, Models and Martyrs, and Mao Zedong. [CNH]
If you’re interested in Mars, this site is for you. The Mars Society seeks to “further the exploration and settlement of the Red Planet” through public outreach, support for government-sponsored Mars missions, and private-enterprise expeditions. After perusing the Society’s homepage, mosey down to the Education offerings. There you will find a backlog of blog posts concerning all things Martian. Within the Education section, For Teachers features a great Links Database that will lead readers to a whole compendium of external sites related to the planet Mars. Also, don’t miss out on the Multimedia page, which links out to images and videos of Mars and exhibits the breaking science surrounding this most fascinating of planets. [CNH]
Exploring and Collecting History Online (Echo) has been actively collecting the history of science, technology, and industry since 2001. This directory includes links to over 5,000 sites. Each site includes a brief description, and a number of sites are also reviewed. Browse by Category (e.g. Business and Industry, Consumer Technology, or Philosophy of Science), by Historical Period (such as Ancient, Modern, or Middle Ages), or by Content (Primary Source and Secondary Source, Educational, or Artifacts, among many others). In addition, Search and Advanced Search options will please those of us accustomed to academic archives and web resources. [CNH]
Set against the backdrop of the Weimar Republic, German Expressionism developed in reaction to the bourgeois pretensions of the European middle classes between the two World Wars. Though the movement is difficult to define – and though the artists themselves rarely saw themselves as part of a definable movement – German Expressionism was associated with politics, literature, economics, music, and film, in addition to visual art. The University of Maryland’s Hornbake Library North provides access to an impressive cache of German Expressionist art. From the homepage, viewers may navigate to About German Expressionism, where they will find a short, illuminating essay on the roots and development of the movement. Next, think about checking out the individual artists highlighted on the site, such as F.T. Marinetti and the famous playwright, Bertolt Brecht. [CNH]
The Center for Popular Economics is an unabashedly progressive nonprofit collective of political economists based in Amherst, Massachusetts. Whether or not you jive with the Center’s highly interventionist and liberal-leaning analyses, there is plenty to ponder on its web site. If you’re local, think about looking over the Summer Workshop Series. Otherwise, readers may want to navigate to Resources, where they can download free PDF copies of Economics for the 99% Booklet/Zine, an accessible 36-page treatise outlining the Center’s position on enlightened economics. Here, you will also find the Economic Timeline and Narrative, a graphically based gloss of the last 100 years or so of economic history, that can also be downloaded for free. Readers may also enjoy the Center’s Blog, which is frequently updated with topics ranging from student debt to Community Supported Agriculture. [CNH]
Skills for America's Future (SAF) is a program of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C., with campuses in Aspen, CO and Maryland. SAF aims to address the gap between the skills that employers need and the skills possessed by people who need jobs. The three main strategies SAF proposes to close the gap are: bring together economic development and skills development; demonstrate the efficacy of employer-community college partnerships; and enhance the demand-driven capacity of existing workforce intermediaries. SAF is developing a network of employer/community college partnerships. Currently, 17 successful examples are listed in the Models for Success area of the website, such as DuPont Washington Works, a partnership between DuPont and West Virginia University at Parkersburg, to train skilled workers for chemical operations, or Gap for Community Colleges, a workforce preparedness program, that teaches students resume writing, communication skills, and time management skills, to prepare them for entry-level retail management as well as career advancement. [DS]
As far as the staff at Scout is concerned, ads are the bitter cup of the web surfing experience. Enter Adblock Plus, a free browser extension that 300 million users have already downloaded. This handy installation blocks ads all over the web, including YouTube and Facebook. Compatible with Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. [CNH]
In a world of great apps, Hyperlapse, released last week by Instagram, is unique – even amazing. A few years ago, professional photographers needed backpacks worth of equipment to shoot time lapse videos. Now, with this image stabilizing technology, you can create high quality time lapse videos from your iPhone. That’s pretty special. This app requires iOS 7.0 and is not yet available for Android. [CNH]
Jack the Ripper ‘identified in new book’
126 years later, notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper ID’d?
Case Solved on Jack the Ripper? Not So Fast
Jack the Ripper murder mystery: Polish immigrant was NOT the killer, says expert on notorious murders
Jack the Ripper - Metropolitan Police Service
Jack the Ripper: Accused hairdresser Aaron Kosminski only the latest in a long line of suspects
In the autumn of 1888, five prostitutes were brutally murdered in London’s impoverished Whitechapel neighborhood. In each case, the women’s throats were cut and their abdomens viciously stabbed. In each case, the bodies were laid out in strange and provocative poses. The police never managed to identify a killer, and speculation has raged ever since, spurring books, articles, documentaries, and, more recently, websites of questionable utility. It’s no surprise, then, that this week’s newest revelatory declaration, put forth by a self-proclaimed “armchair detective” and a molecular biologist, sparked a wave of excited international headlines. So, was Jack the Ripper actually a Polish barber named Andrew Kosminski? Or will this murder spree remain unsolved for years to come? Either way, the mystery behind this 126-year-old case is quite alluring. [CNH]
The first link features a BBC radio interview with Russell Edwards and Dr. Jari Louhelainen, the two investigators who claim they have conclusively identified “the Whitechapel Killer.” The second link, from CBS News, provides an informative gloss of the findings, based on DNA testing from a 126-year-old shawl. The third link, from the Smithsonian, raises some questions about the findings and this discourse really heats up with the fourth link, a refutation of the new DNA-based assertions. The Metropolitan Police in London provide their own synopsis of the Jack the Ripper mystery, featured here in the fifth link, with brief summaries of the suspects, the crimes, and other source information. Finally, follow the sixth link to find an abbreviated list of men and women who have been accused of the murders over the years.
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|Internet Scout Team|
|Catherine Dixon||[CBD]||Managing Editor|
|Kendra Bouda||[KAB]||Metadata and Information Specialist|
|Sara Sacks||[SS]||Internet Cataloger|
|Elzbieta Beck||[EB]||Internet Cataloger|
|Corey Halpin||[CRH]||Software Engineer|
|Kyle Piefer||[KP]||Web Developer|
|Zev Weiss||[ZW]||Technical Specialist|
|Tyler A. Stank||[TAS]||Technical Specialist|
|Chris Wirz||[CW]||Administrative Coordinator|
|Annie Ayres||[AA]||Administrative Assistant|
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