The Scout Report
February 13, 2015 -- Volume 21, Number 6
A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
State House Women's Leadership Project
E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation
Medical Xpress: Neuroscience News
Time to end extreme inequality: Oxfam International
National Park Service: African American Heritage
Birds of North America
James Beard Foundation Blog
World Science Festival
40 maps that explain the Roman Empire
History: Maps of the World
New insights into the Earth?s ?inner-inner core?
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The State House Women's Leadership Project offers readers a look into the contributions women have made to the state of Massachusetts, and beyond. The exhibit includes a work of art that honors six women, including the educator, Dorothea Dix, and the suffragist and anti-slavery activist, Lucy Stone. On the site, readers may navigate a virtual tour, learn more about the women who are being honored, and read about the dramatic representation of Lucy Stone that has been performed around the state. Educators will find much to appreciate under the Resources and Curriculum sections, with a teacher's guide, resource guide, and primary source documents located under the latter. [CNH]
At 4,000-square-kilometers, Gorongosa National Park is one of the world's great wildlife preserves, featuring spectacular flora and fauna, a looming mountain peak, and sweeping grasslands and forests. Sadly, the ecosystem was profoundly stressed by the civil conflict that swept through the region in the 1980s, and many species, especially large mammals, are only just beginning to recover. The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation is situated at the heart of the preserve. It's mission, to educate a new generation of Mozambican scientists and preservation managers, is both practical and inspiring. Readers should start by watching a five-minute introductory video that outlines the project. Sections to explore include an overview of the park, explanations of biological monitoring, notes on the education of local experts, and a news blog. Beautiful videos and explanatory text are offered throughout. [CNH]
The online medical health and news service Medical Xpress features articles on a number of categories, from cancer to dentistry. The neuroscience section, featured here, offers excellent coverage of the latest developments in brain research. The punchy, approachable articles update multiple times a day, with the contributing institution and journal of original publication also listed. Articles can be organized by date, rank, and popularity, with a search function for readers who are looking for particular topics. Recent posts have covered the neuroscience of prejudice, how photoreceptors interact with light, and the remarkable memory abilities of "superagers." While banners and adds can be a bit distracting, this site is a good place to look for readers searching for the latest news on the brain. [CNH]
Urban Sketchers, a nonprofit organization based in Washington State, is designed to support a global community of sketchers - that is, people who draw on location, whether at home or traveling, whether drawing with pencil, with tablet, or with other technologies. It aims, quite simply, to "show the world, one drawing at a time." On the site, readers may be interested to read the About and FAQ tabs, which clearly outline the organization's mission. The map is also fascinating, as it shows the locations of various sketchers around the world. The most intriguing aspect of the site, however, might be the blog, which features articles, interviews with artists, and, most importantly, the drawings that sketchers have made of everything from the Singapore skyline to the residential houses of San Clemente, California. [CNH]
Oxfam made headlines when it released this report in October 2014. According to the anti-poverty confederation, the world's eighty richest individuals now own more of the planet's wealth than the billions of people who make up the world's poorest half. In addition, the wealthiest one percent of the world's population now control about 48 percent of international wealth. And, if the Oxfam predictions are correct, inequality will only continue growing. While some of the figures have been challenged, nearly everyone agrees that, as Winnie Byanyima, the executive director of Oxfam International said in a press release attached to the report, "The scale of global inequality is simply staggering." The 142-page report, replete with photographs and stories from those living in poverty, as well as endorsements from former secretary general of the UN and a Nobel Prize-winning economist, is viewable online and downloadable as a free PDF. [CNH]
This website from the National Park Service doesn't limit its celebration of African American Heritage to the month of February: the resources provided here are available all year round. Thematic sections (Stories, People, Places, Collections, and Preservation) make the site easy to scout, with each section featuring fascinating resources related to slavery, the civil rights movement, and the lives of historical figures previously overlooked in history books. For instance, site visitors can learn about York, an enslaved man whose life story has ben pieced together from the journals and letters of Lewis and Clark as he served the expedition on its 28-month journey across the wilderness. Educators may be especially drawn to the lesson plans, which can be linked to from the homepage. [CNH]
This special new journal from the Nature Publishing Group features the latest breaking research in the wide world of plants. Readers may like to start with the current issue (Vol 1, issue 2, February 2015), which features investigations into ethnobotany (the study of interactions between people and plants), an expose concerning Newton's prescient speculations on plant hydrodynamics, and empirical investigations of rice yields. Each issue features original research, news, editorials, reviews, and other helpful information and commentary related to the science of plants. While some of the articles are written for specialists, many can be read by anyone fascinated by plants and how we study them. [CNH]
Launched by brothers Hadi and Ali Partovi, Code.org has raised big money from donors like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg for its unapologetic promotion of computer science education. On the site, readers may participate in the Hour of Code challenge, which teaches basic coding skills to students and adults who have no previous experience. The instructions are simple and easy to follow. Other programs include Play Lab, Flappy Code, and a course of 20 hour-long lessons in ascending order of complexity. For readers who are seeking for ways to introduce students to computer programming - or who want to learn the basics themselves - this site is a welcome resource. [CNH]
Sing Out!, the nonprofit organization and magazine that sprouted from the progressive folk scene in the early 1950s, seeks to "preserve and support the cultural diversity and heritage of all traditional and contemporary folk musics, and to encourage making folk music a part of our everyday lives." While the magazine requires a subscription, there is much on the website that may be accessed free of charge. After scouting the homepage, readers may like to check out the News, Reviews, & More tab, where they can access reviews of recently released folk and Americana albums, peruse columns and blogs, and participate in the discussion forums. The Folk Song Index, a collaborative project with Oberlin College Libraries, is another great feature on this site. Users can Search the database by Title, Composer, or First line of verse, or browse already compiled Anthologies, such as "Folk Songs and Ballads of Scotland." [CNH]
Scientia Salon is "an online magazine that looks like a blog." While this description might strike some as odd, it captures the atmosphere of the site, which is dedicated to discussions of philosophy and the natural and social sciences, quite well. Perhaps the greatest talent of founder and editor Guiseppe Arcimboldo, is his ability to draw on brilliant minds from academia and the public sphere and engage them in meaningful ways. Recently, a phalanx of articles has taken on the topic of free will. Other entries have tackled the moral basis of capitalism and several discussions of atheism, religious tolerance, and evolutionary theory. [CNH]
The Audubon field guides have sold over 18 million copies since Alfred A. Knopf published the first illustrated and descriptive books in 1934. This informative website, which features beautiful drawings and photographs as well as extensive descriptions of birds from around North America, is intuitive and pleasing to the eye. Readers can start by typing the name of a bird into the search function, or by sorting the guide by taxonomic family or region. Each record provides detailed information, including facts about Habitat, Migration, and Feeding Behavior. Perhaps best of all, a Songs and Calls section lets readers experience the song of the Acadian Flycatcher or the rhythms of the Acorn Woodpecker. [CNH]
Laughing Squid, which was founded in San Francisco in 1995 as a film and video production company, has been an award-winning arts, culture, and technology blog since 2003. Readers may look to this offbeat weblog for what's breaking these days in music, painting, sculpture, comics, and culture. With a backlog of around 4,000 posts, this is one of the deepest blogs on the web, and since it often updates within minutes, the landscape of Laughing Squid is always inextricably in motion. Many posts feature videos of artists and their work, such as a recent post about U-Ram Choe's "Gorgeous Metal Insect Sculptures That Glow and Flap Their Wings." Readers can subscribe to receive a daily email update on the blog posts published each day, or follow the Laughing Squid on a variety of social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. [CNH]
The James Beard Foundation functions as a hot bed for foodies. It hosts awards, organizes dinners with selected chefs, publishes industry publications like JBF Events, and, since March 2009, the foundation has hosted a blog that focuses on food in all its facets. Recent entries have offered up a coconut brownie recipe and linked to the Reel Food Media Contest, which highlights sustainable and ethical farming practices. The blog is updated daily. The archives, which include thousands of entries, are easily searchable by date, or by categories such as Ask a Chef, Drinks, Recipes, and Staff Picks. [CNH]
The World Science Festival was launched in 2008, with a huge live event that starred celebrities like actor Alan Alda and cosmologist Stephen Hawking. Since then, the organization has hosted more live events and launched its own website, which boasts videos, articles, and links to science around the web. Interested readers may like to watch the fast paced introductory video that is posted under the About WSF tab at the bottom of the homepage. From there readers may easily peruse the site, which is beautifully laid out with exceptional photographs, cartoons, and artwork. Articles are organized by sections, such as Today in Science, Conversations, and More from the World Science Festival. Special Sections congregate around themes like deception, climate change, and the biochemistry of autumn colors. There is also a convenient search function on the homepage. [CNH]
If you like your history presented visually and in a popular, Internet style, this site is for you. The set of 40 maps begins with an animated map, that depicts the rise and fall of the Roman Empire by landmass, from 500 BC to 476 AD. Map #3 provides an interesting insight into the size of the Roman Empire, relative to the transportation technologies of the day. Plotted by researchers at Stanford University, readers can use this map to determine travel time from London to Rome - about 3 weeks. There's also a map on the route of Hannibal's famous invasion of Rome with elephants. Compiled by editorial staff and artists at Vox Media, this map collection includes a few errata listed at the end. Many of the maps and sources are linked to Wikipedia articles, which in turn cite published histories - so it appears that Vox has done due diligence. [DS]
This app, which is designed to be compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch (iOS 5.0+) features 178 historical maps from around the world, organized by category or era. The maps are interactive and intended to highlight geopolitical and geographic shifts over time. Perfect for history teachers, or anyone fascinated by history. [CNH]
We all know the dangers of relying too faithfully on Wikipedia, which can sometimes lead us astray. But the platform remains a productive resource for initial forays into obscure topics. Wikipanion streamlines users' Wiki browsing and search activities with history grouped by visitor date, advanced bookmarking, and multiple search methods. Think of it as a quick and easy way to explore Wikipedia. Users can upgrade to Wikipanion Plus for a small fee, but there is plenty to enjoy here, including a fun link to Wiktionary, which will provide a dictionary type entry for each term entered. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch running iOS 7.0 or later. [CNH]
Heart of Earth?s inner core revealed
Scientists find oddly behaving ?inner-inner core? at Earth?s center
Scientists Find Mysterious Magnetism in Earth?s Inner Core
Earth?s Inner Core Found To Have a Core Of Its Own
National Geographic Education: Core
Equatorial anisotropy in the inner part of Earth?s inner core from autocorrelation of earthquake coda
When most of us think of the Earth, we think of oceans, islands, savannas, forests, deserts, mountains, and the swirling weather patterns that comprise our atmosphere. Yet a lot goes on under the surface of the ?blue planet.? Geologists usually speak about the Earth as composed of three distinct layers: the crust, which is the solid outer layer where all known life exists; the mantle, that oozing, super-hot layer of magma just below the crust that sometimes erupts from volcanoes; and the core, which is composed of two distinct layers, the inner core and the outer core.
For the past decade, scientists have also been speaking about the ?inner-inner core,? another layer that is thought to reside one layer deeper, at the very center of the Earth. This layer is made of the same super-heated solid iron that composes the rest of the inner core. However, research published in Nature this week proposes that the iron crystals in this deepest layer of the planet's core are aligned east to west, precisely perpendicular to the north-south axis of the rest of the inner core. The findings have important implications for how we think about the ancient history of Earth?s formation. According to Professor Simon Redfern of the University of Cambridge, ?If this is true, it would imply that something very substantial happened to flip the orientation of the core to turn the alignment of crystals in the inner core north-south as seen today in its outer parts.? What that substantial event may have been still remains to be discovered. [CNH]
The first three links, from the BBC, CNET, and the Discover Magazine Blog, report on the findings published by Xiaodong Song, of the University of Illinois. Next, readers may follow the Huffington Post link to Jacqueline Howard?s article and her excellent video explication of the layers of the Earth. The fifth link will take readers to a broad educational overview of the layers of the earth, from National Geographic, while readers may follow the sixth link to the Nature website, where the original article can be read in full.
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|Catherine Dixon||[CBD]||Managing Editor|
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