The Scout Report
September 19, 2014 -- Volume 20, Number 36
A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Start School Later
Human Development Reports
Capturing the History of Biotech
Alaska Historical Society
The Stanford Astrobiology Course
PBS Learning Media
The Particle Adventure
Story Maps Illustrate Metro Area and County Population Change
Open Science World
Doctors Without Borders
James Joyce Centre
Rubin Museum of Art: Art of the Himalayas
Three Centuries On, Scotland Decides to Stand with the U.K.
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Last month, Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), issued a formal policy statement concerning School Start Times for Adolescents (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/08/19/peds.2014-1697.abstract?sid=3f739b0e-a552-4a4a-bd0a-907809e20255). In essence, the AAP called for schools to start later, citing sleep deprivation among teenagers as ?an important public health issue.? This site from Start School Later, a group advocating for ?health, safety and equity in education,? provides good, if somewhat one-sided, information on the topic. If you?re unfamiliar, start with Research & Info, which provides links to a number of informative sites about adolescent sleep needs and the impact of early school start times. Success Stories takes readers to schools around the country that have experimented with, and benefited from, later start times. If you?re inspired, you can also Get Involved. Whatever your position on the issue, this is an informative and interesting site. [CNH]
?People are the real wealth of a nation.? So began the first United Nations Development Programme?s Human Development Report almost a quarter century ago. Issued annually, subsequent reports have included such themes as Sustainability and Equity (2012) and Cultural Liberty in Today?s World (2004). The 2014 report, Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience, argues that, though the number of people living in poverty has decreased substantially in the last few decades, there is still much work to be done. In addition to the current report, which can be downloaded for free, readers may want to click on Access Media Package, which provides succinct press releases for the whole report, as well as reports by five distinct geographical regions. Interested parties may also access 24 years of previous reports. [CNH]
AlphaGalileo is designed for science journalists, but anyone with an itch for breaking academic news will enjoy this research-rich site. Readers may browse by region, including Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, North America, Oceania, and this Scout Editor?s favorite: Extraterrestrial. Next, try trawling the site by Science, Health, Society, Humanities, Arts, Applied Science, and Business for the latest illuminating research in each of these fields. AlphaGalileo also issues News Releases, usually five or six paragraphs long, that cover particularly interesting research findings. Best of all, since the Scout Report previously covered AlphaGalileo back in 2007, the site has dropped its membership requirements and visitors can browse more freely than ever. [CNH]
The Hungarian engineer Karoly Ereky coined the term ?biotechnology? in 1919 to describe his theories of how raw materials could be converted into industrial products. While humankind has been manipulating living systems and organisms in agriculture and medicine for thousands of years, the late 20th and early 21st centuries saw staggering advances in this burgeoning field, to the point that some commentators are predicting that the coming hundred years will be ?the life sciences century.? The Life Sciences Foundation website seeks to capture the past, present, and future of biotechnology through Timelines, Oral Histories, and the LSF Magazine, each easily linked to from the home page. This first section is especially worthwhile, as it features over 30 thematic timelines, including Cancer, Major Biotech Companies, and Recombinant DNA, with numerous annotated events and discoveries to explore in greater detail. [CNH]
This visually arresting site from the Alaska Historical Society is a superb resource for teachers of history and social studies, or for anyone fascinated by the 49th state. Discover Alaska?s History is a great place to start. After perusing the FAQs, readers may wish to look at the subheading, For Teachers and Students, where Alaskan history has been divided into easily digestible categories such as 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964, and Alaska Statehood and Constitutional Convention 1955/1956, with corresponding articles and links. The For Researchers section offers links to helpful resources around the web. The weekly AHS Blog is a well-composed and informative romp through Alaska?s past, with posts covering canneries and gold camps, baseball and boats. [CNH]
Where do we come from? Where are we going? Are we alone in the universe? According to The Stanford Astrobiology Course, these are the three basic questions the field of astrobiology attempts to answer. Amazingly, the entire course is offered online. Click on Where Do We Come From? for a romp through the history of life, from the Big Bang through Darwin. The Where Are We Going? link will take readers to eight lectures about the future of life, while the link Are We Alone? navigates to seven lectures about the search for life on other planets. Anyone curious about their place in the cosmos should find much to ponder in these hours of lectures from some of the most popular professors on the Stanford campus. [CNH]
This site by PBS features thousands of freely accessible videos on hundreds of topics, each of them divided by teacher-friendly category. For instance, selecting Grade 13+ in Browse By Grade & Subject turns up 4,143 results, among them 229 videos concerning English Language Arts and Literacy, 154 on the topic of World Languages, and almost 300 about Mathematics. One can also browse the site by nine subjects, including The Arts, Health and Physical Education, Preschool, Science, and Professional Development. Public School teachers will find the option to Browse Standards especially convenient when they are teaching by Common Core or National Standards. [CNH]
This award-winning site from the Particle Data Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory abounds with information on particle physics. Featuring interactive tours of quarks, neutrinos, antimatter, extra dimensions, dark matter, accelerators, and particle detectors, the content can be read in 16 languages, including Chinese, Norwegian, and Czech. From the homepage, navigate to one of five main categories - The Standard Model, Higgs Boson, Accelerators and Particle Detectors, Exploring Unsolved Mysteries, and Particle Decays and Annihilations. Within each of the five categories, scroll through interactive slide shows to beef up your knowledge of everything subatomic. [CNH]
Who knew the Census Bureau could be this cool? These two interactive Story Maps visually display population change across the country over the last decade. Start by clicking the first map. Color codes tell you what parts of the country saw increases or decreases in population, first in 2002 (left side) and then in 2012 (right side). Click a geographical area to zoom in. Stats are available by county and metro area. A commentary on the left of the map provides an overview of general trends and the second Story Map digs into why. Did an area see a population boom because of Natural Increase? Did people move away due to Net Migration? Again, color codes and zoom capabilities tell the story. [CNH]
Launched this past spring, The Upshot is an analytical blog from The New York Times that focuses on politics, policy, and economics. The brain child of Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator David Leonhardt, the site is awash with interactive graphics and gripping narrative. The blog is continually updated, so you can start anywhere and find clear-headed, hard-hitting analysis on everything from the hardest places to live in the U.S. to the history of baseball. This first item can be found amongst the site?s ?best and most popular interactive work,? located in the middle of the page. Just make sure you set aside a few hours, because one amazing interactive leads to another fascinating graph, which leads to a colorful thought experiment, and... well, you?ll see. [CNH]
Open Science World, a webzine designed to link cutting-edge researchers with the general public, is frequently updated and remarkably diverse. Most posts clock in at a readable few hundred words. Most are dedicated to a particular, newly published research paper. After reading through Monthly Features and Recent Posts, try browsing the site by category. With eleven to choose from, including Academia, Earth, Maths & Physics, History, and Technology, readers of all stripes will find much to ponder on this erudite site. The complimentary Leave a Reply feature allows readers to keep the conversation going with comments, questions, and challenges. [CNH]
Most of us have heard of Doctors Without Borders (also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF), the Nobel Peace Prize winning, French-born international aid organization that, for the past 40 years, has made headlines and offered hope by ?go[ing] where the patients are.? But few know the full extent of what this inspiring not-for-profit actually does. What better place to find out than the Doctors Without Borders website? Start with About Us, where you will find links to the organization?s History & Principles, Leadership, and other details. Short videos tell stories of the group?s founding and continuing work in the field. Next, take a look at News & Stories, where MSF publishes Field News updates, Videos, Audio, Slideshows, Press releases, and Blogs about its work in over 70 countries around the world. [CNH]
Brooklyn is the most populated borough in New York City, but it wasn?t always so. Settled by a mix of Dutch and English colonists in the mid 1600s, what we now call Brooklyn was once divided into six independent towns. Gradually, the towns merged to form the city of Brooklyn, which was the third largest city in the United States until it became a borough of the Greater City of New York in 1898. To begin exploring this site, crafted by the New York Historical Society, click the Interactive Map. Drag your mouse over the original six towns of Bushwick, Brooklyn, Flatbush, Flatlands, Gravesend, and New Utrecht for brief histories of each, or click on the towns to view dozens of photographs and explanations from different periods of their development. Fascinating stories of how the streets of Brooklyn got their names can also be found here. [CNH]
When Forbes Magazine ranked Washington DC the coolest city in America back in August, the web exploded with commentary. A typical tweet: ?What makes DC America?s coolest city? The soul crushing architecture that lines our streets or the hordes of zombies that walk them?? News outlets form the Wire to the Los Angeles Times balked. Even the Washington Post questioned the ranking. Still, DC has a lot to offer. And this hip little site, sponsored by the city, wants to tell you all about it. The Scene features links to Eat + Drink, See + Do, and other categories. Click any photo for a short vignette. For instance, a smiling panda links you to an interview with Nicole MacCorkle, the giant panda keeper at Smithsonian?s National Zoo. [CNH]
William Faulkner, surely one of America?s greatest novelists, once called James Joyce ?a genius who was electrocuted by the divine fire.? Anyone who has wrestled with Joyce?s masterpiece Ulysses or, heaven help you, Finnegan?s Wake, would be hard pressed to disagree. Though a number of the resources listed on this site from the James Joyce Centre are local to Dublin, there are neat little tidbits for the rest of us. About Joyce, for instance, features a nippy biography of the great man. The Blog, frequently updated and always insightful, features commentary on some of Joyce?s most famous - and difficult - work. Also of interest is the site?s serializing of Robert Berry?s graphic novel adaptation of the 1922 edition of Ulysses, complete with a Reader?s Guide.
The Rubin Museum of Art is one of those special gems in the American art landscape. Donald and Shelley Rubin purchased the 25,000 square foot space on West 17th Street in Manhattan in 1998 and spent the next six years in painstaking renovations. Today, the museum displays more than 1,000 Himalayan art objects, including sculptures, paintings, textiles, and ritual objects spanning 18 centuries of Tibetan, Chinese, Indian, Nepalese, Mongolian, and Bhutanese art. From the homepage, viewers can start by looking over the upcoming Events, then move onto current Exhibitions. This last section is a great find for teachers and educators, as many of the exhibitions include some form of interactive activity or virtual exploration through the vivid and colorful displays at the museum. [CNH]
BirdWatchingDaily.com is the website of BirdWatching Magazine, but does such a good job of providing interactive features and repurposing magazine content that even subscribers will find additional things to like at the site. One example is Hotspots Near You, where beginner birders can find the best places to find birds near their homes. There are 10 choices under Getting Started, including What to do if you find a baby bird, Birdfeeding basics, Facts about birds, and Basics of bird-friendly yards. The Special features section re-prints page spreads from the magazine that can be read online or downloaded as a PDF. Armchair birdwatchers will enjoy the photo galleries, and anyone can submit photos for the Photo of the Week Contest. [DS]
Email, text, twitter, chat. Communication has become fast, easy, and - as the lettrs website would like to remind you - disposable. This app allows you to write and send beautiful letters using a variety of templates. You can post letters publicly, send them privately over text and email, and even, for a small fee, mail them via USPS. This nifty app is currently available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. [CNH]
Watchup wants to reinvent the way you watch the news. Starting is easy- just turn it on and, based on your location, newscasts begin to play. As you pick and choose what draws you, Watchup learns your interests, and feeds you more on that. Meanwhile, it suggests contextualizing articles to accompany the broadcasts. Think of it as Pandora for news junkies. Available for iPhone (iOS 7.0 and later) and Android (3.0 and up). [CNH]
Scotland Rejects Independence in Record-Breaking Referendum
Scotland: UK news
U.K.?s price for keeping Scotland: More autonomy
What Happened Last Time Scotland Tried for Greater Independence?
The History Behind the Scottish Independence Vote
Five secessionist movements that could learn from Scotland
Though Scotland has counted itself a part of Great Britain since the Acts of Union in 1707, the alliance has never enjoyed unanimous support. From the Battle of Culloden in 1746 to the 1997 devolution of powers, the Scots have always felt a little ambiguous about their place as citizens of the greater United Kingdom. Still, polls in the 1970s found that only 17% of Scots wanted complete independence from the United Kingdom, and that number didn?t seem to rise much over the decades. So it came as a bit of a surprise when SNP leader, Alex Salmond, managed to talk David Cameron, the British prime minister, into allowing a referendum with a single, simple question: ?Should Scotland be an independent country?? [CNH]
The first link takes readers to NBC?s account of the decisive referendum, in which 55.3% of Scottish voters cast their ballots to stick with the United Kingdom. The second link, from the Guardian, offers a broad overview of the events, with articles, videos, and commentaries about the referendum. Next, have a look at USA Today?s coverage of the concessions the British government made to keep Scotland in the union. Links four and five provide background, with an article from Time Magazine illuminating Scotland?s quest for independence in the 1970s and a broad overview from the History Channel covering over 700 years of Scottish-English diplomacy. Last, an article from CNN details other separatist movements around the world and what they might learn from Scotland?s efforts.
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|Tyler A. Stank
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