The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 2, Number 15

July 25, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


The James Lind Library
The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh presents the James Lind Library, an online collection launched this year to mark the 250th anniversary of the publication of Lind's Treatise of the Scurvy -- "one of the earliest accounts of a fair comparison of different medical treatments." The James Lind Library serves "to introduce people to the characteristics of fair tests and to illustrate how these tests have evolved." The Web site offers online documents from dozens of books and journal articles, and new records are added regularly. The site also offers a valuable overview of the concepts of systematic review, experimental bias, and the effects of chance. [RS]
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BioMedNet: AACR 2003
BioMedNet's Conference Reporter presents coverage of the July 2003 meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). BioMedNet's Conference Reporter is produced by "a top-notch team of professional science writers" and provides readers with "a quick but authoritative overview of what they missed by not attending a conference -- or, for those who did attend, of what happened at the sessions they missed." The AACR meeting included presentations on the therapeutic value of RNAi, haywire protein synthesis, oncogenes, and much more. Users must first complete a free registration with BioMedNet to access the conference reports. [RS]
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Nature Web Focus: SARS [pdf]
The journal Nature offers this free Web focus on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome SARS), in which "Nature's reporters pose key questions about the outbreak, and assess our preparedness to deal with future viral threats." Reader will find dozens of articles, including editorials, Science Updates, and Brief Communications from the journal. The articles trace the chronology of the SARS epidemic, and the section titled "What Have We Learned?" offers an excellent overview of what we know and what remains to be seen. [RS]
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CDC: West Nile Virus [pdf]
This Web site contains the most recent West Nile virus data from the Centers for Disease Control. The main features include a 2003 Human Case Count and updated maps representing the spread of the virus. A downloadable document outlines the CDC's West Nile virus surveillance and control program, which involves weekly data collection for wild birds, sentinel chicken flocks, human cases, veterinary cases, and mosquito surveillance. The site also provides links to general information about the virus, from the ecology and virology of West Nile to epidemiological and laboratory issues. [RS]
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Created by Fred Bervoets, DinoData is a mind-boggling online catalog of dinosaur information. Whatever dinosaur-related question you may have, chances are DinoData has an answer. Content includes classification, skeletal diagrams, a list of fossil sites, an index of dinosaur paleontologists, type species, and much, much more. Researchers and amateur dinosaur enthusiasts alike should find DinoData a valuable resource, and there's even a section for kids that includes fantastic dinosaur illustrations. Bervoets cautions users not to rely solely on the information in DinoData for research purposes, as with any other Web site. [RS]
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Missouri Botanical Garden: Madidi National Park Interactive Map [ArcIMS]
The Missouri Botanical Garden has recently added a new interactive vegetation map for Madidi National Park in Bolivia. The map allows users to "assemble different layers to produce a map of the park" and "identify features on the map, including specimen collections and collection sites." Users may also follow a link to the main Madidi project page to access the Flora of Madidi National Park database as well as various papers and field reports. [RS]
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Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation [pdf]
The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation is a research division of Carnegie Mellon University. The Hunt Institute "specializes in the history of botany and all aspects of plant science and serves the international scientific community through research and documentation." Visitors to the Web site may use a number of Institute databases, including a catalog of botanical art, an index to scientific names of organisms cited in the Linnaean dissertations, and a catalog of the Hunt Institute's library records. These and other resources are made available to meet "the reference needs of biologists, historians, conservationists, librarians, bibliographers and the public at large, especially those concerned with any aspect of the North American flora." [RS]
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The CABI Bioscience and CBS Database of Fungal Names [Microsoft Word, pdf, rtf]
This database of fungal names -- IndexFungorum -- is just one of many biological databases from CABI Bioscience, a branch of CAB International: a development agency formed from 40 member countries to "support the generation, access to and use of knowledge for sustainable agriculture, environment management, and human development." The fungal names database is a joint project of CABI Bioscience and the Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures (CBS) - an institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Users may easily search the database by fungal name, and then click on an entry to access more data. The Web site offers a free downloadable supplement to the Authors of Fungal Names (originally published in 1992).
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San Diego Natural History Museum: Glow: Living Lights [pdf]
The San Diego Natural History Museum (SDNHM) has recently added a downloadable Teacher's Guide to its Web site for Glow: Living Lights -- "the first-ever museum exhibition to explore the phenomenon of bioluminescence." The 48-page Teacher's Guide is loaded with great lesson plans for grades 3-6. The activities may be used without a visit to the actual exhibit, although the Teacher's Guide also includes useful material for those lucky enough to make the trip. Glow: Living Lights "is an excellent platform for a number of scientific disciplines, including chemistry, biology, ecology, and oceanography." In addition to the Teacher's Guide, this Web site provides a fun, general guide to bioluminescence geared toward kids, which includes games, quick facts, a glossary, and related Web links. [RS]
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The Astrobiology Curriculum [pdf]
TERC, in conjunction with NASA's Astrobiology Institute, has developed a set of educational materials for grades 5-12 (but written with 9th graders in mind). Using the field of astrobiology as a springboard, the lesson plans are designed to help students learn "that scientific knowledge is not a set of accumulated facts, but is a dynamic and, at times, confusing and amorphous set of current speculations." And if you're going to introduce confusion and amorphous speculation into the classroom, you're probably safest with astrobiology, an inherently fascinating field that should keep students interested and engaged. A series of downloadable resource guides are currently available, which "enable students to examine the nature of life, what it requires, its limits, and where it might be found." [RS]
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Office of Science Education: LifeWorks: Explore Health and Medical Science Careers
The National Institutes of Health Office of Science Education presents LifeWorks, an online guide to exploring careers in the health and medical sciences. LifeWorks offers a number of features such as Career Finder -- a searchable database of over 100 career descriptions. Details include required education and average salary. The site also features interviews with people working in the health and medical fields. While no formal lesson plans are provided, LifeWorks should be a useful resource for students who may be interested in pursuing health-related careers. [RS]
[Back to Contents] America's Oceans in Crisis
The recently published report from the Pew Oceans Commission on the state of America's ocean ecosystems provides the basis for this Actionbioscience learning activity. Students read an abridged reprint of the report's executive summary, and discuss coastal development, overexploitation of marine resources, pollution and runoff, policy change, and other related topics. The site provides a number of well-selected Web links for learning more about the plight of America's ocean resources, including a link to the original Pew Oceans Commission report and another to a U.S. Navy Web site offering excellent background information and educational quizzes. [RS]
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AskERIC Lesson Plans: All About Fish [Microsoft PowerPoint, pdf]
This site contains a lesson plan for 1st graders offered through AskERIC, the Web-based service of the Educational Resources Information Center. The lesson, submitted by Ana Nolan, has students study the characteristics of fish and create a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting fish with humans. The site includes a downloadable PowerPoint presentation that nicely reviews fish ecology and anatomy, and provides a short exercise in fish identification. Downloadable worksheets for the comparing/contrasting activity are also included. The lesson requires three 30-minute sessions to complete. [RS]
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Environmental Education Station
The Environmental Education Station functions primarily as a portal to environmental information on the Internet. Offered through Centre College and University of the South, this Web site contains an excellent collection of links to detailed information on various environmental topics, including global warming, environmental audits, land reclamation, biodiversity, and more. The Environmental Education Station also includes a fairly extensive index of syllabi and readings for environmental science courses in universities across the U.S. Readers will find lectures, interactive resources, and other materials under the Miscellaneous heading in the Teaching Materials section. The site also offers a public domain image gallery, which could be of use in putting together lectures, presentations, and the like. [RS]
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GreenCOM Resource Center
"GreenCOM promotes the practice of strategic participatory communications worldwide and conducts projects in USAID countries." Environmental educators and communicators are welcome to browse the GreenCOM Resource Center's "unparalleled" collection of over 3,000 titles in at least 20 languages. Educational materials in this collection cannot be downloaded from the Web, but the database should be valuable nonetheless for locating materials of interest. If the publisher listed for a title is GreenCOM, users may email GreenCOM for a copy. [RS]
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Daily Lesson Plan: Healthy Hearts
This Daily Lesson Plan from the New York Times Learning Network has students explore the causes and cures of diseases affecting the cardiopulmonary system. Designed for grades 6-12, the lesson covers pulse-taking, cardiopulmonary anatomy, cardiopulmonary diseases and advanced technological treatments, and so on. The lesson is based on a recent NYT article, which may be accessed for free and without registration. Helpful Web links are provided for the group research portion of the lesson plan, and the suggested extension activities provide interesting ways to explore cardiopulmonary issues in greater depth. [RS]
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Smithsonian National Zoological Park: Giant Pandas: 2003 Pregnancy Watch
Mei Xiang, a female panda at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., may or may not be pregnant. With pandas, it's hard to tell. Since Mei Xiang and Tian Tian mated on April 4, 2003, Zoo scientists have kept a close eye on the giant panda to try to determine whether Mei will have a true pregnancy or a "pseudopregnancy," in which she would exhibit the signs of a true pregnancy even if no fertilization occurred. Visitors to this Web site will find the latest updates from the 2003 Pregnancy Watch, a volunteer-based program that began in July. The site also provides links to a mountain of online panda-related resources, including panda cams, a photo gallery, information about panda habitat, profiles of the Mei and Tian, and much more. [RS]
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Science Museum: Treat Yourself [Macromedia Flash Player]
Treat Yourself, a Wellcome Trust exhibition at London's Science Museum, "is about the vast array of actions and therapies that people have used over the last 300 years or so to enhance their health, to feel better." Click on the link to the Wellcome Trust's mini-site to explore this fascinating exhibit on medical self-help "from sea bathing to amulets, from quack cures to abstinence." The virtual exhibit is nicely presented - an engaging stop for any reader. Treat Yourself is just one of a series of Wellcome Trust exhibitions at the Science Museum that explore medicine in the context of science, art, and history. [RS]
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Historical Anatomies on the Web [jpeg]
Historical Anatomies on the Web is a digital project of the National Library of Medicine offering selected images from illustrated anatomical atlases spanning the 15th to 20th centuries. The atlases represented in this collection were chosen primarily for their historical and artistic significance, but anyone with an interest in medicine or the history of medical science should find this Web site appealing. All images may be downloaded free of charge, and new items will continue to be added to the online collection. [RS]
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eMedicine Consumer Health
This Web site is the consumer health version of, "the largest and most current Clinical Knowledge Base available to physicians and health professionals." Launched in May 2003, eMedicine Consumer Health offers over 5,500 pages of health-related information geared toward the general reader. This extremely comprehensive site is organized into three main sections: Heath Resources, First Aid and Emergency, and Life and Wellness. For users not looking for specific information, Featured Resources on the main page offers a good place to start. [RS]
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VN Illustrated Database of Mexican Biodiversity [aiff, wav, jpg]
Viva Natura (VN), a conservation organization based in Puerto Vallarta, "is an initiative focused on understanding and conservation of nature." Its pilot project is this Web site, which presents the biodiversity of Mexico. The site includes an excellent photo collection featuring Mexico's plants, animals, and different habitat types. Similarly, a library of animal sound clips lets visitors get better acquainted with some of the Mexican bird, mammal, amphibian, and reptile species. A catalog of thematic maps is also available. And finally, the VN Fun and Educative Page offers links to slideshows, puzzles, interactive features, and other great ways to learn more about Mexico's natural resources. [RS]
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Whyfiles: Zoonotic Disease Go Global
This recent Whyfiles feature offers a detailed look at zoonotic diseases, or those diseases that spread to people from other animals. Zoonotic diseases, such as monkeypox and West Nile virus, make up two-thirds of all infectious diseases and may represent a growing threat. This 4-page Whyfiles piece provides an insightful and easy-to-understand discussion of emerging zoonotic diseases, including a short section on the hazards presented by our own household pets. [RS]
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The Hormone Foundation [pdf]
The Hormone Foundation, the public education affiliate of The Endocrine Society, "is dedicated to serving as a resource for the public by promoting the prevention, treatment and cure of hormone-related conditions." Visitors to this Web site will find a rich resource of information on menopause, pituitary imbalances, polycystic ovary syndrome, testosterone and men's health, breast cancer, and much more. The site has recently added Web pages and downloadable publications addressing menopause management, the pros and cons of menopause treatment, and an explanation of what endocrinologists do. Visitors will also find the latest related news and events, fact sheets, an online physician referral database, and other useful features. [RS]
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The National Gardening Association
This is the homepage of the National Gardening Association, a nonprofit organization established "to help gardeners, and to help people through gardening." The Web site contains loads of garden-related information, including over 2,000 articles, 30,000 FAQs, seed swap programs, a zone finder, pest control library, and much more. The site does advertise some retail items, but all information in this extensive online resource is available free of charge. [RS]
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Topic In Depth

1. The Straight Dope: Is it Possible for Fraternal Twins to Have Different Fathers?
2. Scientific American: Do Genes Influence Whether Someone Has Twins, Either Identical or Fraternal?
3. MSNBC: Fraternal Twins Can Share Placenta?
4. Wisconsin Twin Project
5. ABC Science: Health Report: Twin Studies
6. Nature: Science Update: What the Double Helix Can't Tell You
7. Conjoined Twins
8. Find Your Star Wars Twin
This collection of Web sites about twins and twin biology starts with a short feature from The Straight Dope (1), which explains the phenomenon of superfecundation. Next is a more extensive piece from Scientific American (2), offering an interesting look at the role genetics may play in the chance of having fraternal twins. The following Web site contains a brief MSNBC story on the recent findings that fraternal, or nonidentical, twins can share the same placenta (3). The Wisconsin Twin Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a long-scale psychological study focused on "the genetic and environmental influences on normal development of twins in the family context." Visitors to the project's Web site (4) will find detailed information about the ongoing research as well as FAQs for general background information. On the topic of twin studies, the next Web site contains a transcript from a recent Health Report story from the Australian Broadcasting Company's Radio National. The transcript is an interview with a researcher working with the Swedish Twin Registry (the largest twin register in the world), an important resource for studying the "relative importance of genetic and environmental influences for behavioral characteristics and diseases (5). The journal Nature offers an interesting article on how the environment in the womb can have profound effects on a child's future health without altering its DNA sequence (6). The following Web site, created by Varun Tankala, offers an excellent introduction to the phenomenon of conjoined twins (7). And with the final Web site, you need not spend another restless night wondering which Star Wars character is your cosmic twin. Not as frivolous as it might seem, this Web site, created by Jeff Potter, contains a well-accepted personality test developed by a University of California-Berkeley psychologist. Users can take the test, find their Star Wars twin, and help advance the field of psychology while you're at it (8).

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