The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 1, Number 24

December 13, 2002

A Publication of the Internet Scout Project
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


New York Structural Biology Center
The New York Structural Biology Center (NYSBC), opened December 12, 2002, houses the "largest and most advanced cluster of high-field research magnets in the United States" for probing the three-dimensional structures of proteins. This Web site offers news, relevant publications, photos of the facility, and other information about NYSBC, a collaborative effort of nine prominent East Cost research centers. Future plans will include installation of state-of-the art cryo-electron microscopes and sample preparation resources. [RS]
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US Climate Change Science Program [.pdf]
This Web site offers a portal to the recently held Planning Workshop for Scientists and Stakeholders, convened by the Bush administration to set the research agenda for its US Climate Change Science Program (CCSP). Clicking on Library will call up the draft strategic plan for the CCSP, which may be downloaded in whole or in part. The Web site also provides an overview of the meetings and the program, along with various publications and white papers also available to download. Climate change researchers and other interested parties should find this site a useful resource for keeping tabs on the current administration's stance on the issue. [RS]
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Global Change Media Directory Search
NASA's Earth Observatory, an online publication offering free access to satellite imagery and Earth science information, provides this "searchable source of international expertise on global climate change science and policy." While it is intended primarily as a media resource, researchers may find the directory useful for its networking potential. This straightforward directory may be searched by name, topic, organization, or location. Search results yield comprehensive contact information, research expertise, and Web site URLs (where available). [RS]
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Terrestrial Environmental Science Program
The Terrestrial Environmental Science Program (TESP) at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute funds long-term monitoring projects in the following areas: Meteorology and Hydrology; Tropical Plant Reproductive Biology; and the Population Dynamics of Insect, Lizards, Birds, and Mammals. This comprehensive Web site presents detailed information about research conducted in each area, while also providing a list of related publications, a map library, and other resources. The site also includes a short but interesting section on the use of cranes for forest canopy work. [RS]
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Two on Gold Nanoparticles Extracted from Plants
No Fairy Tale: Researchers Spin Straw into Gold
Plants with the Midas Touch: Formation of Gold Nanoparticles from Alfalfa Plants
The first Web site contains a short news article from the Christian Science Monitor about the work of two University of Texas (UT) researchers who have developed a technique for extracting microscopic gold particles from wheat, alfalfa, or oats. The researchers present their approach as a preferable alternative to the expensive and pollution-generating method commonly used to fabricate gold particles for use in nanotechnology. The second Web site, from the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, is a scientific article about this research from Dr. Gardea-Torresdey, part of the UT team. [RS]
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Crop Biosecurity and Countering Agricultural Terrorism [.pdf]
This Web site from the American Phytopathologicol Society (APS) relates APS positions and recommendations on countering agricultural terrorism through crop biosecurity. The detailed white paper, which includes relevant links and some photos, indicates differences between the US government and the scientific community over how to handle agricultural bioterrorism, and identifies still unmet needs for increasing crop biosecurity. This white paper follows an earlier one used to brief government officials on the issue in March 2002. [RS]
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Skeletal Transcript Database
The Skeletal Transcript Database (STD) is a recent addition to the National Institutes of Health Skeletal Gene Database (SGD), a multi-institute project created to foster understanding of the functional genome of bone and related skeletal tissues. The SGD, including the STD, is freely available to researchers and others interested as a resource for information on normal and abnormal skeletal growth and development, as well as dysplasia. The Skeletal Transcript Database may be searched using a number of different characters, and the search engine is easy to use. The site also includes a help page and a list of relevant links. [RS]
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The Marine Mammal Center
This Web site from San Francisco's Marine Mammal Center (MMC) offers a look at current research at the facility. Research focuses primarily on marine mammal health issues, with the goal of improving the rehabilitation process for stranded animals. Visitors to this site can read brief descriptions of current projects in three areas -- Disease Studies; Clinical Technique Studies, which investigates ways to improve diagnostic tests and clinical procedures for stranded marine mammals; and Tagging Studies, intended to monitor the effectiveness of rehabilitation. The site also provides a comprehensive bibliography of publications and conference presentations by MMC researchers. [RS]
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Classroom Currents
PBS offers this online set of lesson plans and other learning resources to help students explore the world's oceans. The Web site provides ten interdisciplinary activities for grades K-12. The activities cover a broad range of fields, including history, poetry and literature, economics, and of course the sciences. The activities' titles Weird Sea Creatures (grades K-6 with modification) and Ocean Adaptation Wheels (grades 2-6) each have a life sciences focus. The site also includes numerous links to related PBS and other Web sites, as well as a list of recommended books. The link to The Voyage of the Odyssey: Real-Time Marine Science leads to another PBS Web site offering loads of interactive educational activities created to "not only teach the facts of science, but also impart to teachers and student the adventure of science." [RS]
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Science Friday Kids Connection [RealPlayer]
Science Friday Kids Connection (SFKC) uses Science Friday broadcasts from National Public Radio as a springboard for classroom discussion and educational activities. SFKC has created educational material for the second hour of the November 15, 2002 program - "The Hungry Gene." Intended for grades 6-8, the discussion questions and activities engage students in learning about obesity, diabetes, diet and lifestyle, and implications of the gene for obesity recently discovered in mice. Students may listen to the original broadcast (about 45 minutes long), which includes among its guests Ellen Ruppell Shell, author of The Hungry Gene: The Science of Fat and the Future of Thin. The activity descriptions include links to related external Web sites, and academic standards are listed at the end of the page.
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Walking with Beasts [.pdf, Flash, QuickTime, RealPlayer]
This BBC Web site comes loaded with interactive multimedia features on evolution and the animal kingdom. Users can view 3-D images as well as video and audio clips of prehistoric creatures, play an interactive evolution game, and much more. The Web site also includes dozens of comprehensive, downloadable lessons plans and worksheets for students age 7-14 (click on Teachers to access these materials). The lesson plans encourage offline investigation and problem solving, but also provide links to relevant features within the Walking with Beasts Web site. The use of certain online features, with their engaging visuals and interactive design, should make these lesson plans especially appealing to students. [RS]
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Two Photomicrograph Galleries from BioMEDIA
The Ciliated Protists - Phylum Ciliophora [QuickTime]
Living Bacteria Through the Microscope
BioMEDIA Associates has added two new image galleries -- ciliated protists and bacteria -- to its online collection of educational materials on the diversity of life. While many of the products created by BioMEDIA must be purchased, their image galleries may be viewed free of charge. The two new galleries each contain beautiful, colorful photos that are as much digital art as they are teaching tools for biology. Some of the images contain related roll-over text describing some aspect of the organism's biology. The ciliate gallery would be especially useful for students attempting to locate ciliate specimens under the microscope for the first time, providing them with a clear search image. The ciliate gallery also includes a free video clip about ciliate diversity, best viewed with a high-speed connection. [RS]
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Ergito: Virtual Text
Ergito's Virtual Text, started in 2000, was created to provide a more timely and interactive alternative to printed scientific textbooks at the undergraduate and graduate level. This still-developing Web site covers life science writ large, including molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, biochemistry, immunology, and so on. However, only a small number of features are available free of charge. The first chapter of the molecular biology module -- Genes are DNA -- is available for free, as is Great Experiments, a collection of essays written by authors who conducted original research that has contributed greatly to our understanding of molecular and cellular biology. Great Experiments has a recently added essay by 2001 Nobel Prize winner Paul Nurse, titled "The Discovery of cdc2 as the Key Regulator of the Cell Cycle." These essays are formatted just as the Virtual Text pages are, with downloadable figures, a glossary, an online note-taking feature (notes are automatically compiled with a summary of the essay), glossary, and more. Ergito will soon make available Techniques, another free feature offering descriptions of widely used experimental protocols. Even without free access to the larger body of material in this Web site, Ergito is a fantastic resource for learning about molecular and cellular biology. Users must complete a free registration process to access this Web site. [RS]
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Kimball's Biology Pages
John Kimball, retired professor of biology, created this online biology textbook as an alternative to the static and linear nature of printed texts. In addition to adding updated material to the already extensive library of pages, this Web site now includes a number of search options for quickly finding pages of interest, and also offers short news blurbs with links to relevant pages. Individual pages contain detailed text and useful diagrams, and are liberally sprinkled with hypertext links to related pages. [RS]
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Virtual Tour of the Ear
Created by Perry C. Hanavan of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Virtual Tour of the Ear offers a comprehensive collection of links to ear-related Web pages (mostly from university Web sites). Each link relates to some aspect of the hearing mechanism, and may include text descriptions, tutorials, photos, and/or diagrams. Even though some of the links provided are not longer valid, this Web site should prove useful to students looking for a centralized resource for education material about the ear and hearing. [RS]
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The Eye: Structure and Function [.pdf]
This Web site contains a straightforward lesson plan for 6-8th graders from The lesson plan has students conduct online and library research on the diversity of eyes in the animal kingdom. Links to useful Web sites are provided, as is a short glossary. Users can download a printable version of the lesson plan. The lesson plan, which takes 1-2 class periods to complete, includes a student evaluation guide that emphasized research and presentation skills, as well as capacity for group work. [RS]
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Edible Vaccines
A great feature from the Why Files, this Web site introduces the research of plant biologist Charles Arntzen of Arizona State University, a pioneer in the development of edible vaccines. Written in entertaining and readable Why Files style, this easy-to-navigate Web site explains how edible vaccines are made, how they work, how they may significantly increase vaccination rates in developing countries, and so on. Relevant links to archived Why Files stories and other sources are provided. [RS]
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Sahara Wildlife [RealPlayer]
This site forms part of a larger companion Web site for Sahara, a two-hour documentary from PBS. Visitors can access a collection of fantastic images and information on Saharan animals. Well-designed and easy to use, the site provides interesting background information about each animal, as well as a number of photos, range maps, and narrated video clips from the documentary - "innovative and intriguing shots that tell the story of the Sahara through the eyes of its own creatures." [RS]
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We Have Conquered Pain: A Celebration of Ether 1846-1996
The use of general anesthesia was first demonstrated to the world's medical community in an operating theater at the Massachusetts General Hospital; so, it is fitting that Massachusetts General should provide this online history of anesthesia. In a straightforward format with text and images, the pages of this Web site describe the agony of surgery before the use of ether, and chronicles developments in anesthesiology to the present day. While somewhat hard to navigate, visitors must return to the main page to access different sections of the story. Even still, this Web site provides a detailed yet highly readable overview of a medical advancement we are now lucky enough to take for granted. [RS]
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Two on Tools Use by New Caledonian Crows
Crows Reveal Talent for Technology
Behavioural Ecology Research Group
The first Web site contains an article from New Scientist detailing the intriguing findings of an Oxford research team working with New Caledonian crows. In it, readers are introduced to Betty, a crow that has "challenged the chimpanzee's reputation as the most proficient toolmaker in the animal world." The second Web site is the homepage of the Behavioral Ecology Group at Oxford that works with Betty, along with other New Caledonian crows and European Starlings, in investigating "animal and human decision-making with the tools of experimental psychology and of evolutionary biology." This well-designed Web site provides and interesting and highly readable account of ongoing research in this field. [RS]
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Orchid Hunter
This Web site complements the recently aired NOVA documentary Orchid Hunter, which follows orchid enthusiast Tom Hart Dyke on his mission find previously undescribed orchid species in one of the most politically unstable parts of Irian Jaya. In chronicling Tom's (mis)adventures, the program explores this "all-consuming passion that for some people seems to be more precious than life itself." This Web site offers a stunning Orchid Gallery, containing a sample of the amazing diversity of orchid species. Another feature of the Web site - A Plant with Smarts - includes an article and video clip in which Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief, reflects on the orchid's "clever and unplantlike determination to survive." [RS]
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Peon Woman III and the Kennewick Man
Scientist: Oldest American Skull Found
Kennewick Man Virtual Interpretive Center
The first Web site contains a CNN news article relating the delayed discovery of what may be the oldest human skull ever found in the Americas. Because the remains of Peon Woman III - who lived around 13,000 years ago - were found in Mexico and not the US, researcher will be able to study the DNA and structure of the skull without the objection of Native American groups, who have the right to claim and rebury ancestral remains under US law. The Kennewick Man, on the other hand, found near the Columbia River in Kennewick, Washington, has created friction between scientists and the Native American community. The second Web site contains archived news coverage of this controversy from the Tri-City Herals, a Washington state-based paper. Users may also find background information and links to additional resources about the Kennewick Man in this Web site. [RS]
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Glimmering Goldfish
Lyn Duedall hosts this Web site on the care and feeding of goldfish. Goldfish owners or anyone interested in acquiring goldfish should find this comprehensive Web site tremendously useful. The collection of goldfish photos and the section on goldfish lifespan have been recently updated. Other topics covered include numerous health issues, humane disposal of unwanted fish, determining goldfish gender, fishtank pests, and much more. Even those not interested in owning goldfish may find this colorful and informative site a worthwhile stop for a casual visit. [RS]
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Environmental Ethics
Dr. Ron Epstein of San Francisco State University has compiled this comprehensive online source of information on environmental ethics. The site is simply presented, consisting of a straightforward menu of topics that link mostly to related external Web pages. Topics covered include environmental effects of war, genetic engineering, cloning, indigenous peoples, and much more. While some of the provided links appear to be duds, anyone interested in exploring the field of environmental ethics should find this convenient and well-organized collection of links useful. [RS]
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Topic In Depth

Traveling: Illness and Injury
1. The Aviation Health Institute
2. International Society for Mountain Medicine
3. Outdoor Action Guide to Hypothermia and Cold Weather Injuries
4. Dehydration and Heat Stroke
5. Health and Medical Advice for International Travel
6. Health Information for Travelers to Tropical South America
7. Food and Water Precautions and Travelers' Diarrhea Prevention
8. The Straight Dope: Can the Candir Fish Swim Upstream Into Your Urethra?
Going somewhere over the holidays? This collection of Web sites should help travelers stay informed and healthy while traveling abroad. The first Web site is the home page the Aviation Health Institute, a nonprofit organization devoted to researching health effects of traveling by plane (1). The Web site focuses on deep vein thrombosis, offering news items, research summaries, prevention tips, and more. For those planning ski trips or other mountain activities, the next two Web sites are worth a visit. The first is a comprehensive source for information on altitude sickness from the International Society for Mountain Medicine (2), and the next offers detailed information on hypothermia, frostbite, and other cold weather injuries (3). Both sites provide prevention and treatment information. Those headed for warmer regions should find the Web site on heat-related illnesses from the University of Maryland a useful resource (4). Of course, travelers must worry about more than exposure to elements. The next four Web sites provide detailed information on diseases and parasites -- tropical ones in particular. The health and medical advice provided by ComeUnity is intended for those traveling to Asia for adoption purposes, but the clearly presented information in this Web site should prove useful for any traveler (5). A little dengue fever with your feijoada? Travelers to Brazil and other South American countries may want to check out this Web site from the Centers for Disease Control (6), which offers information on dengue (increased dengue activity noted in Brazil), malaria, and Chagas disease, as well as vaccination information and tips on how to stay healthy. The following Web site (7), also from the CDC, is a comprehensive resource for information on intestinal problems due to contaminated food and water -- a common problem when traveling. The last Web site contains an entertaining if somewhat disturbing article from the Straight Dope about the tiny blood-sucking tropical catfish that will sometimes mistake the human urethra for the gill cavities of a large fish -- its usual dining venue (8). [RS]
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From The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2002.

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Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2002. The Internet Scout Project (, located in the Computer Sciences Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, provides information about the Internet to the U.S. research and education community under a grant from the National Science Foundation, number NCR-9712163. The Government has certain rights in this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the entire Scout Report provided this paragraph, including the copyright notice, are preserved on all copies.

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