The Scout Report
December 19, 2014 -- Volume 20, Number 49
The Scout Report will be on vacation December 26th and January 2nd. We will return with the January 9th, 2015 Scout Report.
Best holiday wishes and see you next year,
Catherine Dixon and Craig Hase
A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Innovations for Successful Societies
The Search for Extraterrestrial Life at UC Berkeley
Sustainability Education & Economic Development (SEED)
Physics of the Universe
Propulsion Research Center
Windows to the Universe: The Sun
The Chairman Smiles
Neuroscience Research Portal
International Center for Photography
American Ballet Theatre
What We Know
Costs and Benefits of Electronic Cigarettes Still Under Scrutiny
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Innovations for Successful Societies at Princeton University has been chronicling government innovation in low- and middle-income countries since 2008. The basic idea is that development and reform efforts succeed when they take into account the cultures, conditions, histories, and geographies of the diverse populations that they seek to serve. On this site, readers may want to start with the excellent five-minute introductory video, which can be located under the About tab. From there, readers can scout the homepage, where they may peruse the 12 Focus Areas, browse the Latest Publications, and both read and listen to the Latest Interviews with development experts who are working "in the trenches." The site can be especially helpful to teachers of later high school and early college, as well as anyone with an interest in current critiques of international development work. [CNH]
The SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute at UC Berkeley searches for "electromagnetic signatures of intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations, spanning wavelengths from radio to visible light, over ten orders of magnitude in characteristic time scale." Readers can explore the goings-on at SETI on this website. For instance, the SETI Projects tab provides descriptions of the six main projects the organization is currently running. The Great Debate is another great area, featuring a video of a public debate between renowned SETI scientist, Dan Werthimer, and skeptic, Geoff Marcy. Each side presents evidence for why we should - or shouldn't - believe that there really are other advanced civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. [CNH]
Open Anthropology is the first digital-only, public journal of the American Anthropological Association. Each issue focuses on a "timely theme" and gathers anthropology articles, past and present, related to it. For instance, the October 2014 issue is titled, "World on the Move: Migration Stories." Articles on the theme include a 1920 missive by the famed ethnologist Franz Boas, groundbreaking work about "How People Moved Among Ancient Societies" (2013), and a "Narrative of an Asylum Seeker" (2004), just to name a few. Each issue is offered free of charge, with an insightful Editor's Note that describes the topic and the current articles. [CNH]
This joint effort between the American Association of Community Colleges and ecoAmerica seeks to build and further develop clean energy technology and sustainability programs at community colleges around the country. With over 470 community colleges already participating, the program has real traction. There are troves of information on this site about Solar, Wind, Green Building, Energy Efficiency, Sustainability Education, and much more. Each category boasts curricular materials, professional development resources, employment industry projections, and other great information and tools. Also of interest, are the Featured Resources (located within the Resource Center), offering information about various SEED related opportunities for educators and workforce development professionals. [CNH]
The Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) studies some important and perplexing questions: What is dark energy? Can we use wind to power whole cities? How do the smallest biological structures interact with one another? Physics of the Universe, the BNL's web page dedicated to the institution's physics experiments, is particularly fascinating. Readers may explore the page via three "frontiers:" the Energy Frontier, which delves into work at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland; the Intensity Frontier, which explains data gathered at the Daya Bay Neutrino Experiment in China; and the Cosmology Frontier, which gives an overview of some of the work being done at the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope in Chile. Physics Research News covers projects and bios, particularly those related to women doing research at Brookhaven. [CNH]
There is a reason why the magazine Popular Science cited the Propulsion Research Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville as one of the coolest student labs in the country. For one thing, they get to launch rockets. They also have state of the art research facilities and contracts with a number of private industries. Browse the About section to read the fascinating history of the lab, including the government organizations and aerospace industries that students get to collaborate with. Then check out News for videos of Methane Ignition, Schlieren Nozzles, and other wonders. [CNH]
Created by NESTA, the National Earth Sciences Teachers Association, Windows to the Universe provides a wealth of resources for teaching and learning the geosciences. In addition to basic facts about the sun, the Culture section leads to information on myths, artwork, and beliefs about the sun from a wide variety of cultures, including Aztec, Norse, Inuit, African, and Greek and Roman. The site design is in need of some upgrading, and there are ads - for products and services of interest to the education community - however, teachers can become educator members, for a small yearly fee, to get the ad-free version of the site. Despite its 1990s look, educators will find plenty here to put to use in their classrooms. [DS]
The New Historian is an online magazine that offers breaking news about the most recent historical discoveries, views, and reviews. The homepage is continually updated and always interesting. For instance, the December 18, 2014 page features articles about the collapse of the Maya civilization, Viking presence in Canada, and a synopsis of Two Centuries of Hostility between Russia and Chechnya. The site also features editorials and an active twitter account. If you're looking for refreshing historical content for a class full of students or your own personal indulgence, the New Historian is a great place to start. Excitingly, the New Historian app was just released earlier this week, ensuring readers are never too far from the latest history news. [CNH]
The 145 posters gathered together on the International Institute of Social History website represent some of the best propaganda efforts of the former Soviet Union, China, and Cuba. In the Soviet Posters section, readers can peruse representations from the Revolution of 1917, the subsequent civil war, the Five Year Plans of the 1930s, and Stalin's dictatorship. The Chinese posters include rare works of art from the 1949 overthrow of the Nationalists, triumphant images propagating the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, and, of course, wonderful portraits of Chairman Mao Zedong. As for the Cuban posters, they tend to focus on the nation building activities of the 1960s, when Fidel Castro steered the country through U.S. invasion, the Missile Crisis, and many socialist reforms. Besides being historically informative, the posters collected here are strikingly beautiful, often drawn or painted by artists at the height of their crafts. [CNH]
The Neuroscience Research Portal, constructed by the University Libraries at George Mason University, combines the features of a blog, search engine, and resource database to share and distribute information about all things related to the brain. The Resources section features annotated web sites, databases, e-books, e-journals, search engines, and image collections. The Latest Issues section links to the Tables of Contents of recent neuroscience-related journals for your reading pleasure, while the Link Library provides an impressive array of useful websites, such as BrainInfo and The Whole Brain Atlas. Readers can search the site by keyword search and browsing and the site also hosts searches for Science.gov, Google Scholar, Mason E-Journals, and Neuroportal Resources. [CNH]
The International Center for Photography (ICP) boasts a beautiful museum in midtown Manhattan. But readers who can't get to New York City may still enjoy breathtaking images on ICP's website. For instance, view Sebastiao Salgado's astonishing photograph of sea ice, on display under the Current Exhibitions tab. Or have a look at the Traveling Exhibitions link, where you will find windows into worlds as diverse as the crime scene photographs of Weegee, Cuba in Revolution, and the rise and fall of Apartheid. ICP has also been hosting an ambitious series of panel discussions, lectures, and film screenings about climate change - all which can be watched live on your computer. These can be found under ICP Talks: Climate Change. Whatever your interest, the International Center for Photography museum website delights and provokes. [CNH]
FiveThirtyEight began in 2008 as an independent polling aggregation website. Founded by now-famous statistical analyst, Nate Silver, the site published articles accurately predicting several election cycles. The New York Times bought FiveThirtyEight in 2010 and sold it to ESPN in early 2014. These days readers can expect a punchy online magazine that dissects sports, politics, economics, science, and other topics using a numbers-crunching lens. Points of interest include DataLab, the site's "data-driven takes on the daily news," and Interactives, which feature charts, graphs, tables and other visually stimulating representations of complex information. [CNH]
The American Ballet Theatre was founded in New York in 1939 by a group of dancers, choreographers, and producers enthralled with the magnetic Russian-born ballet master, Mikhail Mordkin. The group began to tour in 1957 and has spanned the globe multiple times since. Exhibition items include vintage posters, such as the 1940 advertisement of John Kriza performing Billy the Kid. Other items include photographs of performances and visiting dignitaries, a letter from President Eisenhower, and even watercolors. A brief, informative explanation accompanies each item. [CNH]
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has created this website dedicated to the science of climate change. The site is divided into three main parts: What We Know, Hear From Scientists, and About the Initiative. What We Know lists the facts of climate change (for instance, that there is an overwhelming consensus in the scientific community that climate change is real and dangerous) in a clear, articulate write-up. Hear From Scientists lists short, educational videos with prominent scientists in the field. The videos are typically about 4 to 5 minutes in length and the "What We Know" video is a great place to start for a summary. Finally, About the Initiative tells the story of the site and how to promote knowledge about climate science in the public sphere. [CNH]
Like many classical Japanese arts, Bunraku, Japanese puppet theater, is refined, complex, and collaborative. While interest has ebbed and flowed over the centuries, UNESCO has officially recognized Bunraku as a "masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity," and the last several decades have seen a resurgence of popularity. This collection, largely donated and curated by Barbara Curtis Adachi, who grew up in Japan and spent several decades traveling with and documenting the Japanese National Bunraku Troupe, is one of the richest and most extensive documentations of Bunraku performance and culture in the world. Browse the Images on the site by Plays, Performers, Characters, or Kashira (conductor), or explore the numerous photo albums documenting this rich performance tradition. [CNH]
Photozeen is an educational platform for photographers. It teaches users how to take better pictures through a process of skills tips, feedback, and community connections. The app revolves around "quests," which start with general topics and then narrow to hone basic photography skills. Photozeen is currently available for iPads and iPhones running iOS 6.0+ and will soon be available for Android users. [CNH]
Telegram is a cloud-based mobile and desktop messaging app with a specific focus on security and speed. If you're concerned about your data privacy when messaging others, Telegram may be for you. There are two big advantages of using Telegram - it's open source and it's entirely cloud-based - so even if you don't have your phone, you can still access all of your data from your computer. Users can even set a timer for messages to self-destruct, erasing it from the receiving device as well. Telegram is available across all platforms. [CBD]
Can e-cigarettes actually help smokers quit?
E-cigarettes can help smokers quit or cut down heavily, say researchers
Electronic cigarettes and health: Vapour Trail
Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation and reduction
Are E-Cigarettes Less Harmful? Yes and No, New Study Suggests
E-cigarettes: The lingering questions
A decade ago, no one had ever heard of an electronic cigarette. Now, the U.S. sales for "e-cigs" are set to reach $1.7 billion by the end of this year and "vape" boutiques span the country from coast to coast. The success of this new technology rests on two basic claims. First, far from being just another addictive tobacco delivery system, proponents hope that electronic cigarettes can actually help smokers quit tobacco altogether. Second, many believe that e-cigarettes are less harmful than their traditional counterparts. To date, the empirical evidence for these claims has been slim. But two new studies published this fall add to our knowledge. The first, a review of the scientific literature on electronic cigarettes and smoking cessation, lends some (very minor) support to the idea that this new technology might make quitting a little easier. The second, a study of e-cigarette vapors, found mixed results. On the one hand, the authors concluded that e-cigarettes do, indeed, emit less carcinogenic materials than traditional cigarettes. On the other hand, the heavy metals contained in e-cig vapors were still recognized as a health concern. [CNH]
The first three links take readers to coverage of the study on the possible smoking cessation benefits of e-cigarettes from Science Magazine, The Guardian, and the Economist, respectively. The fourth link navigates to the study itself, published this week by a group of British researchers. Next, readers may peruse an article on the Inside Science website, which reports on a study that examined second hand smoke from both traditional and electronic cigarettes. Lastly, Nature provides an in-depth look at the competing claims of e-cigarette proponents and detractors.
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|Internet Scout Team|
|Catherine Dixon||[CBD]||Managing Editor|
|Debra Shapiro||[DS]||Contributing Editor|
|Kendra Bouda||[KAB]||Metadata and Information Specialist|
|Sara Sacks||[SS]||Internet Cataloger|
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