The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 1, Number 17

September 27, 2002

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


DoDFuelCell ERDC/CERL Programs [.pdf, .xls]
Affiliated with the Department of Defense, this Web site "summarizes the fuel cell programs managed by the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) / Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL)." The Fuel Cell Information Guide is very useful for identifying applications for fuel cell technology. It outlines four main types of fuel cells, describes how they work, and makes comparisons of their performances. These four differ in the kind of electrolyte used, which include phosphoric acid, molten carbonate, solid oxide, and proton exchange membrane. There are also suggestions and an interactive calculator that help users decide if installing fuel cells would benefit their operation. Several other resources are available outside the information guide, like overviews of various research projects and demonstrations of fuel cell capabilities. [CL]
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Cryptology ePrint Archive [.pdf, .ps, .gz]
The International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR) maintains this archive of nearly 400 research papers on various topics in cryptology. Contents date back to 1996, and new material is posted most weeks. Papers generally describe original theories about a certain topic, analyses of cryptologic methods, or proofs of specific equations. Anyone can submit their research for possible inclusion in the archive. There is not an extensive refereeing process, which allows authors to more quickly disseminate their work to the cryptology community. [CL]
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The Design of Wearable Systems: A Shift in Development Effort [.pdf]
The Wearable Group at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) conducts research on wearable computing systems. This paper compares and contrasts the group's work in the mid-1990's with current efforts. Specifically, the focus is on how advances in technology have changed the design process. Three wearable systems developed at CMU are examined, and the limiting factors in each system's design were not constant. For example, memory capacity was a key issue for the earliest design, but this was not a problem for the more recent ones. Conversely, some of the most recent obstacles were not faced in the design process from previous generations of systems. The Wearable Group's home page has additional papers and general information. [CL]
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Center for Technology and National Security Policy: Defense Horizons [.pdf]
Defense Horizons is a publication of the National Defense University's Center for Technology and National Security Policy. It presents "key research and analysis conducted by the center," and is available to the public on this Web site. Each issue explores a single topic in depth, such as biological weapons defense, nanotechnology, and Future Combat Systems. In addition to focusing on new technologies, Defense Horizons also considers military training techniques, global trade, the ramifications of implementing key policies, and the effectiveness of existing ones. It is a relatively new publication, and all fifteen issues can be viewed. [CL]
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Electronic Authentication: Issues Relating to its Selection and Use [.pdf]
This report on electronic authentication was released in August 2002 by three working groups of the Federal Public Key Infrastructure Steering Committee. The purpose of the committee is to develop "a public key infrastructure to support secure electronic commerce and electronic messaging." This is an issue of growing importance, as privacy and information protection are necessary for both personal and governmental security. The 200+ page report looks at many key topics for making electronic authentication more reliable. Several technologies are considered, such as biometrics, symmetric and asymmetric cryptography, and hybrid systems. The interoperability of different applications and the effectiveness of specific encryption algorithms are also addressed. [CL]
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Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory: Biotechnology [.pdf]
The Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) is an important research and development operation for the US Department of Energy. This page of its Web site has a large amount of material on various biotechnology applications being explored at the lab. Fact sheets about sixteen different research projects are available for download. One in particular describes the use of artificial intelligence to control bioprocesses, which has already been used in several microbiological systems. The overview of biotechnology research explains some methods of collecting samples, the facilities located at INEEL, and where much of the field work is conducted. Other sections of the laboratory's Web site cover robotics and human systems, but most deal with environmental engineering topics. [CL]
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Seventeen or Bust: A Distributed Attack on the Sierpinski Problem
Distributed computing is fast becoming the chosen tool for solving complex mathematical and scientific problems. This project, which was started in March 2002 by two university researchers, attempts to confirm or refute what is currently considered to be the smallest Sierpinski number. The project's Web site has a definition of the Sierpinski Problem and links to plenty of additional information. Anyone interested in donating their computer's idle time can download the client to start the search, after a very short registration. Several operating systems are supported, including Windows, Linux, and more. [CL]
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CableLabs: Current Projects [.pdf, .ppt]
This Web site highlights six projects being conducted by CableLabs, "a non-profit research and development consortium that is dedicated to pursuing new cable telecommunications technologies." Most of these projects are creating specifications that will improve quality and ensure interoperability of cable systems. Focuses of research include cable modems, interactive services, broadband applications, and more. Each project's home page has extensive documentation on the intended goals and access to all specifications. Some presentations are also given that give a basic overview of the project. [CL]
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New to Technology: Tips for Getting Started Using Technology in the Classroom
Intel maintains this excellent page about computer and Internet basics. The first section is the most informative, helping users "make the most of what the Web has to offer." It gives suggestions on using search engines, bookmarks, email, maintaining privacy, protecting systems from viruses, and much more. Although the material is not directly related to the classroom, it can help teachers or students become more proficient at using the Internet. The second section answers some common questions about managing students' computer use. Setting up computers in the classroom and using technology to encourage student leadership are the topics of the final two sections. [CL]
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Math Advantage [Shockwave, .pdf]
With material tailored to first through eighth grades, Math Advantage is a great way for elementary and middle school students to learn basic concepts of mathematics. There are several interactive, multimedia activities for each grade level. They are all very well made with colorful animations and sound, so children should enjoy using them. The E-Lab is another section that has over twenty Java applets for grades three to eight. Everything from counting to topics in algebra and trigonometry are covered. Large glossaries of mathematical terms are also provided. [CL]
[Back to Contents] [Flash, .pdf]
Created by the National Association of Manufacturers, GetTech prepares children and teaches them skills to succeed in technology-based careers. One of the best parts of the Web site lists six general industries,and gives examples of jobs that fall into these categories. About ten jobs are outlined for the six industries, which consist of New Manufacturing, Biotechnology and Chemistry, Information Technology, Health and Medicine, Engineering and Industrial Technology, and Arts and Design. A brief description of each job title shows that working in a technology related field can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Links to math and science resources; educational games; and other materials for parents, teachers, and students are all provided on this site. [CL]
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Robotics Education Project
NASA's Robotics Education Project is intended to raise children's interest in robotics and promote it as a possible career choice. The Web site highlights many applications of robots, such as space exploration, medicine, and mechanical automation. Multimedia games, educational activities, and lesson plans can all be found from this page. Occasionally, NASA will have Web casts of robotics events, and these can be viewed live or after the fact from the archive. News articles about specific robot uses in industry and research are also included. Some of the material links to external sources, but this is a good starting point for teaching or learning about robotics. This site is also reviewed in the September 27, 2002 Scout Report. [CL]
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Mathematical Visualization Toolkit
The Mathematical Visualization Toolkit (MVT) is a multi-function Java applet developed at the University of Colorado at Boulder. It has several plotting tools, as well as a couple of numerical tools. A basic function plotter works the same way as most graphing calculators, but the versatility of the applet is seen in the other more specialized options. For example, two of the tools plot and solve ordinary differential equations. Vector and gradient fields can also be plotted. A numerical integrator and root finder are fairly straightforward, but they do not support symbolic computations. There is extensive online documentation and help material to assist users of the MVT. [CL]
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PerfectXML [.pdf]
PerfectXML is a great place to get started with using XML or learn about advanced applications and new XML technologies. The free library is probably the most valuable source of information on the site. Over 100 sample chapters from numerous books can be viewed, covering a wide range of XML topics. There are also links to XML editors, conversion tools, and many other software resources. Some are free, others have a free trial version, and others are only available in commercial versions. Tech news articles, certification information, and online quizzes are all available from this site. PerfectXML is constantly updated. [CL]
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A Calculus Review
A professor of mathematics at San Jose State University created this online review of calculus concepts. It is divided into three main categories: integration, derivatives, and limits. Each section begins with some review material, explaining the necessary rules and equations. After reading the review, users can then take an interactive quiz over what they just learned. There is one quiz on limits and two on derivatives. The integration section is a bit more in depth, with focuses on two different methods and special integrands. All of the quizzes consist of twelve questions, and there is an explanation of each question's solution. [CL]
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EDUCAUSE Quarterly [.pdf]
EDUCAUSE Quarterly "is a practitioner's journal about managing and using information resources in higher education." It deals with many issues about implementing information technology (IT) practices as learning tools. The material is suitable for anyone interested in IT applications, but is particularly useful for those who work in computer services or other IT organizational positions. This site offers full text articles from the journal at no cost, and several back issues can be viewed as well. The current edition considers such topics as open source software, IT investments, Web services, a student information system, and maintaining technology hardware. [CL]
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EnviroMission [Flash, QuickTime]
EnviroMission is an Australian company that intends to construct a massive solar tower between New South Wales and Victoria. Scheduled for completion in 2005, the energy producing tower is remarkable in a number of ways. Most notably, the tower will be about one kilometer tall, taller than any other manmade structure. Furthermore, it is not a conventional solar power installation, as it will not generate electricity directly from solar panels. Instead, it will heat the air at the base of the tower, and the resulting rush of air upward through the tower will turn large turbines. The EnviroMission Web site has a video animation of how the tower will look when it is completed, as well as plenty of information about its design and operation. Several news articles from around the world are also included that attest to the grandness of the project. [CL]
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Semiconductor Fabtech: The Daily Resource for the IC Industry [.pdf]
Anyone involved in the semiconductor industry or integrated circuit production will find Semiconductor Fabtech a valuable resource to stay up to date in this constantly changing field. The online edition of this journal has many specialized sections dealing with wafer processing, materials and gases, environmental issues, lithography, fabrication and yield management, and clean room operations. Breaking news and feature articles are given for each of these topics. New products are reviewed in the Product Briefings section, but the number of items is somewhat limited. Full text access to the print version of the journal is only available with a subscription. [CL]
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Top500 Supercomputer Sites
Twice a year, the Top500 Project releases a list of the 500 sites with the most powerful supercomputers. The purpose of the list is "to provide a reliable basis for tracking and detecting trends in high-performance computing." The latest version was unveiled in June, and this site examines some of the most important developments and newcomers to the list. Most important is the recently constructed Earth Simulator in Japan, which was rated almost five times more powerful than second place. Additional analysis shows other information about the direction of supercomputing, such as performance projections and country shares of the top 500. A detailed report on recent supercomputers, looking at different architectural classes, can be also found on the site. [CL]
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Online Shuttle Press Kit [.pdf]
The Online Shuttle Press Kit is a collaborative effort between NASA, the United Space Alliance, and Boeing. The large collection of documents contains information about many space shuttle missions, both for previous flights as well as ones that are scheduled. The material is very complete and describes virtually every aspect of the missions. Details on the main objectives, crewmembers, scheduled launch date and location, spacewalks, shuttle payload, and scientific experiments are all presented. In addition to mission information, a special section on the International Space Station discusses its history and future, with an emphasis on the shuttle's contribution to its construction. [CL]
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EERI/IAEE Encyclopedia of Housing Construction Types in Seismically-Prone Areas of the World [.pdf]
This online Encyclopedia of Housing Construction Types is a joint project between two prominent earthquake engineering organizations. It is intended to help engineers make buildings in regions of high seismic activity less susceptible to damage, and hopefully save lives. A large amount of housing information is given for many different countries. Hazard maps show areas that are most at risk. Building descriptions describe common construction types and structural features, and suggest seismic strengthening technologies that can be implemented. Much of the encyclopedia's material is contributed by architects and engineers around the world, and more volunteers are welcome. [CL]
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Recording Technology History
Most people don't give much thought to the technology that lets them watch a movie or listen to music on their CD players. Steve Schoenherr, a history professor at the University of San Diego, has. On this Web site, he chronicles virtually every major advance in recording technology. Some of the information is surprising, even humorous; anyone with a taste for antiques will find it interesting. The timeline covers everything from Thomas Edison's groundbreaking patent in 1877 to laserdiscs. It is not all vintage history, however. The material continues to present day, with IMAX and DVDs. This site is very well organized and is updated often. [CL]
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Augmented Reality: A New Way of Seeing
While no one can predict with certainty what computer systems of the future will be like, this feature from Scientific American makes some informed guesses. Published in April 2002, the article examines current developments and trends in computer design. The extrapolations made by the author are focused on augmented reality, which "refers to computer displays that add virtual information to a user's sensory perceptions." Possible high-tech devices of the future -- like a video see-through display -- and the technological innovations needed to make them into a reality are considered. [CL]
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Capsule Pipelines
Capsule pipelines are a kind of tube transportation that uses hydraulics or pneumatics as a means of propulsion. This topic is somewhat ambiguous, because capsule pipelines are not widely used and several definitions exist. This site attempts to clarify what they are and explains their potential as a viable, or even superior, form of transportation. It briefly gives some history of capsule pipeline use and describes how they can be used in modern society. An overview of the technology that drives them is provided. There is also a section that introduces capsule pipelines to children. Several links to news and publications about tube transportation and related topics are given in the library section. [CL]
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Topic In Depth

Chinese Space Program
1. China National Space Administration
2. China
3. China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology [Flash, .pdf]
4. Shanghai Astronomical Observatory (SHAO)
5. Molecular Clouds and Star Formation (STARFM) [.pdf, .ps, .gz]
6. The Next Great Leap Forward - China Readies Shenzhou 4
7. Space Race is on. Again
8. Dragon Space: Your Portal to China
China will soon make history by sending the first Chinese man to space. Scheduled for sometime in 2003, it will be the first step toward China's highly ambitious plans for space exploration.

The China National Space Administration Web site (1) has a detailed description of the country's space policy. Aerospace China, a journal published online by the administration, has information on space development plans and other issues. The history of China's space program is recounted by the online Encyclopedia Astronautica (2). Several influential scientists and their contributions to Chinese rocketry and satellite technology are highlighted. The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (3) sent the first Chinese satellite into space. Its home page showcases eight launch vehicles and offers an extensive technical description of the LM-3C model. The work of various research groups at the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory (4) deals with topics ranging from satellite dynamics to stellar astronomy. Some of the groups have details of their projects and facilities online. Another observatory studies molecular clouds and star formation (5). A large collection of its research papers are provided on its Web site. A news article from (6) discusses the forthcoming launch of the Shenzhou IV spacecraft, scheduled for later this year. It is generating considerable interest, since it is said to be identical to China's first manned spacecraft, expected to launch in 2003. Another article (7) considers China's rapidly developing space program. With the tremendous effort and lofty goals for moon bases and Mars missions, the author argues that China could eventually rival the US. Many more news stories about the Chinese space program can be found on the Dragon Space Web site (8). [CL]
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From The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology, 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.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, or the National Science Foundation.

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