The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 1, Number 19

October 25, 2002

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


Self-Healing Minefield [Flash, .pdf]
The self-healing antitank minefield is an innovative system developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It employs intelligent, mobile mines that can rearrange themselves to repair any breaches in the field. This forces the enemy to destroy a much greater percentage of the total mines, rather than simply clearing a narrow path. The project's Web site has considerable material on the mines' operation, including a very illustrative multimedia demonstration. There are also briefing documents that describe future landmine systems and information on the product's development by several companies and government laboratories. [CL]
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National Nanotechnology Initiative: The Initiative and its Implementation Plan [.pdf]
This report from the National Science and Technology Council is a supplement to the President's 2003 budget. Its purpose is to emphasize the importance of nanotechnology research and highlight the accomplishments of current government efforts in order to justify additional funding for the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). The report does a very good job of describing nanotechnology and its applications for the future. The initiatives of the program are outlined, including education, manufacturing, and instrumentation research. A good insight into the major scientific achievements from the first year of the NNI is given in an appendix. [CL]
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Rewind, Repair, Replay: Three R's to Dependability [.pdf]
One of the most important features in current software applications is the undo command, which allows users to revert to previous states in their documents. A relatively unexplored concept involves system undo, a method of restoring settings in a system that were accidentally changed by the operator. This research paper discusses "a model of undo that matches the needs of human error recovery and retroactive repair." The authors begin by explaining the growing importance of such a mechanism and the issues that complicate its design. An example of a system undo model is given, and its basic implementation is described. Lastly, the report considers possible directions for future work. [CL]
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ESSCIRC 2002 [.pdf]
The 2002 European Solid-State Circuits Conference (ESSCIRC) was held toward the end of September, and nearly 200 papers presented at the conference are provided at this Web site. Professionals from all over the world, representing industry and academia, contributed their research and ideas. Most, if not all, of the papers are in English, with topics ranging from analog and digital circuits to communication systems. Possibly the easiest way to browse the large collection is by the conference's different sessions, which are separated into individual focus areas. The papers are also listed by the contributing organization or by author. [CL]
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A Lighting Reproduction Approach to Live-Action Compositing [.pdf, QuickTime, .avi]
Dr. Paul Debevec is the director of the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies. On this page of his Web site, he presents some of his recent work that involves simulating light sources for a virtual environment. This is done with a sphere of different colored lights that can produce lighting effects representative of the virtual conditions. His most recent addition is a paper presented at the SIGGRAPH 2002 computer graphics conference held in July. A video demonstration of the system, also from the conference, accompanies the paper. There are other clips and pictures that show how the system provides accurate lighting effects for an actor in a virtual environment. [CL]
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TRW: Next Generation Broadband Satellite Communication Systems [.pdf],,,00.html?ExternalTRW=/images/aiaa_1111.pdf&DIR=2
An aerospace and automotive company produced this report, which was made available by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The paper "discusses the various technologies that are being developed and utilized for increasing the network capacity, improving service performance and reducing the cost of satellite systems." The main points are new antenna designs, communication payloads, capacity enhancements, and other technological changes for next generation satellites. Several specific system components are described and compared to the performance of existing systems. [CL]
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Intellimotion: California PATH's Quarterly Newsletter [.pdf]
The California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH) researches methods for increasing highway safety, reducing congestion, and minimizing pollution and energy consumption. Intellimotion is one of its publications that highlights some of the current projects. Although it is labeled as a quarterly newsletter, Intellimotion is released on a very irregular basis. The 2002 issue covers several stories, including a project that makes vehicle navigation with the Global Positioning System extremely accurate. Another article looks at intelligent transportation systems and the issues regarding Bus Rapid Transit. Many past issues of Intellimotion are available on this Web site. This site is also reviewed in the October 25, 2002 Scout Report.
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Quantum Science Research [.pdf]
A division of Hewlett-Packard (HP) laboratories is investigating the applications of quantum science in "molecular-scale electronics." The team of researchers is trying to push the fundamental limits of size and efficiency, with focuses on technology that HP anticipates will emerge more than a decade from now. Six presentations, mostly describing the progress and results of various experiments, are given in the research section of the Web site. A particularly interesting presentation discusses the motivation for nanotechnology and self-assembled structures. Of the eleven staff members listed on the publications page, only Pavel Kornilovich has papers that can be directly accessed. [CL]
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This site from Ohio State University offers fifteen interactive tutorials that teach effective Internet practices and research methodologies. The tutorials can require up to 30 minutes each, since they provide many good examples and activities. The first few cover basic Internet tools, like Web browsers and email. Essential searching skills are introduced in the next section. A particularly valuable tutorial describes ways to evaluate a site's credentials and determine if the material is accurate. Citing Web resources and other research techniques are also given. People who are job hunting can find information on researching careers options on the Internet. [CL]
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The Semiconductor Applet Service: List of Simulation Applets
This Web site of the University of Buffalo has an impressive collection of interactive Java applets for semiconductor education. Most of the applets are appropriate for electrical engineering students. They show diodes and different kinds of transistors operating in various configurations and with changing parameters. This allows the user to see how output values respond under different conditions. Virtual oscilloscopes display current-voltage characteristics and transistor operating regions. Some of the applets show how different semiconductor materials work at the atomic level, which could be especially useful for physics students. Others simulate reading and writing of recordable compact disks. [CL]
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Research of ICM: Interactive Demos of Mathematical Computations
The Institute for Computational Mathematics at Kent State University offers this very useful tool for complex calculations. Most of the demos given on this Web site range from beginning to advanced calculus; however, there are a few conversion utilities and function plotters. The interface of the demos allows the user to input a symbolic expression to be evaluated, and the result of the operation is displayed. Some of the functions include integration, limits, Taylor Series, and more. MathML is a type of markup language for representing mathematical expression, and many of the demos provide MathML code. [CL]
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Guide to Engineering
The Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society created this resource for helping college-bound students learn about different engineering disciplines. Operated at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), the site has information on thirteen areas of study. For each discipline, there is a definition of the particular field, what people with a degree in the field do for a living, what the career opportunities are, and why it is a valid option. A few of the more broad subjects, like electrical and civil engineering, have examples of specialty areas within the field. Some of the material is specific for UIUC, but most is applicable to anyone who is not sure about engineering as a career choice. [CL]
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CSU Engine Web Pages
This resource on internal combustion engines comes from a mechanical engineering professor at Colorado State University. It is essentially an online textbook with three main chapters, which cover the topics of thermodynamics, heat transfer, and fluid mechanics involved in engine operation. Users should have an understanding of basic engine components, and a background in calculus would be helpful. Some of the material is fairly conceptual, while other parts involve analytical derivations. Many sections of the site have Java applets that effectively illustrate physical properties and dynamic processes. [CL]
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Surgical Robot Competition: Introducing Engineering in Medicine to Pre-College Students [.pdf]
This paper was introduced at the annual conference and exhibition of the American Society for Engineering Education in June 2002. It was presented by a group of students and a professor from John Hopkins University, who each specialize in different areas of engineering and computer science. They propose a method for integrating "off-the-shelf robotic technology with current real-world engineering challenges" to teach secondary school students about robotics and its applications in medicine. This is done in a competition, where teams of students use programmable LEGOs and sensors to design a robot that will perform a simulated tumor biopsy. Another challenge in the competition includes a camera that students use with the LEGOs to perform a telesurgery operation. [CL]
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Flash Kit [Flash]
Flash, a Web browser plug-in developed by Macromedia, is one of the most common applications for creating animated objects and effects in a Web site. This site has a wealth of tutorials and general information about "Flash and related technologies." There are literally hundreds of tutorials for both novices and experienced users. The introductory items explain concepts like basic graphics and scene creation. Other topics include interactivity, audio integration, 3D graphics, and much more. There is also information on third party applications. Anyone who is interested in sharing their knowledge of Flash design can submit their own materials to be posted on the site. [CL]
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VESTAC: Java Applets for Visualization of Statistical Concepts
This collection of over 30 Java applets is quite impressive, both in content and in presentation. Operated at a university in Belgium, Visualization of and Experimentation with Statistical Concepts (VESTAC) is the title of the project that developed these educational tools. The applets are very intricate, with many functions and graphical capabilities; they are therefore quite large and can take some time to download on a slow connection. The four main categories of material are basic concepts, statistical tests, regressions, and anova. Some of the applets have versions for both continuous and discrete distributions and analysis. [CL]
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Mars Exploration Rover Mission
Scheduled for launch in 2003, two NASA rovers will set out to explore Mars and determine whether water ever existed on the planet. This is the home page of the Mars rovers, and it has a great deal of information about the specifications and technology of the missions. Detailed descriptions of the scientific instruments equipped on each rover are provided. Color diagrams show the main components of the rovers. A special section is dedicated to the camera systems, which are used for hazard avoidance, navigation, image capture, and microscopic imaging. There are also overviews of the space craft and launch vehicles that will transport the rovers to Mars. [CL]
[Back to Contents] Crosscutting Objects for Better Modularity [.zip, .pdf, .ppt, .jar]
AspectJ is a Java extension with aspect-oriented functions and programming technology. Continuing with the open source movement, the developers have made AspectJ free for download from this Web site. The software implements "the clean modularization of crosscutting concerns" like performance optimizations, debugging support, and more. The compiler, several accompanying tools, and example programs are all provided in the release. There is also extensive documentation and a tutorial to help new users. AspectJ has been featured in many industry news reports and analyses, many of which are linked on this site. [CL]
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MCEER: Publications [.pdf]
Engineering and Organizational Issues Related to The World Trade Center Terrorist Attack is a three-volume series published by the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research. The reports liken the structural damage of the towers to what could be experienced in the event of a massive earthquake or other natural disaster. Volume One discusses the extent of damage to the buildings surrounding Ground Zero, including both towers. Photographs help convey the magnitude of destruction and how far it reached. Volume Two looks at initial efforts of interior and exterior damage assessment. Remote sensing as applied to emergency response is the subject of the final report. [CL]
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Civil Engineering
Civil Engineering is a monthly publication of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Although full access to the magazine is reserved for subscribers, each month's feature story is provided free on this Web site. These in-depth articles examine some of the most outstanding spectacles in the world of architecture and construction. High resolution photographs show the magnitude of major projects like the straightening of the leaning tower of Pisa and the design of the stadium that held the 2002 World Cup. While most of the articles deal with civil engineering triumphs, the May 2002 issue addressed the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. Feature stories dating back over a year are archived and can still be viewed. [CL]
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Caltech-MIT/ Voting Technology Project [.pdf, RealPlayer, QuickTime]
In light of the 2000 presidential election controversy and troubles with voting in Florida, the Caltech/ MIT Voting Technology Project (VTP) was formed to evaluate election systems to prevent these problems from recurring. Several studies and press releases by the VTP are documented on its home page, including one that found a "35% improvement in Florida's voting technology" for the 2002 election, as compared to past primaries. A detailed report is also presented that examines the current state of voting systems in the US and considers possible improvements. [CL]
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Dr. Dobb's Embedded Systems [.pdf]
Embedded Systems is one of the specialized sites stemming from Dr. Dobb's Journal. In addition to serving as an excellent source of news and product development articles, the site is a portal to many other Internet resources on embedded system applications. Information tailored to specific programming languages, like C++, Java, and many others, is grouped into separate categories. There are also focuses on Linux-driven handhelds and other embedded operating systems. A list of toolkits for embedded system developers is also provided, which is especially useful for finding open source solutions. [CL]
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Museum of the Future
This Web site, operated by the Ars Electronica Center in Austria, provides an online tour of a fascinating museum. It can be a little confusing to navigate at first, but it is certainly worth visiting. The main attraction is the Guide through the Museum of the Future. After clicking this link, it is important to note the language selector that chooses between German and English. Six different sections of the museum can be explored by the icons on the right, and each section has several different exhibits that are described in detail. For example, the second floor has a PingPongPlus exhibit that takes the game of Ping Pong to a new level. There are virtual reality projects and many other interesting features to read about for those who aren't lucky enough to physically visit the museum. [CL]
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The High Energy Weapons Archive: A Guide to Nuclear Weapons
Nuclear weapons are arguably the most destructive force invented by humans. The High Energy Weapons Archive has material on the history of their development, post World War II testing, and country-specific nuclear programs. There are facts about countries that could soon have nuclear weapon technology, including Iraq and Israel. Several links to government and news related sites are also given. Simply a source of information, the archive in no way condones nuclear weapons; this is stated repeatedly throughout the site and is demonstrated by the two interesting quotes at the top of the Web page. [CL]
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Topic In Depth

Solid-State Lighting
1. Solid-State Lighting [.pdf]
2. High Brightness LEDs
3. Visible LEDs: The Trend toward High Power Emitters and Remaining Challenges for Solid State Lighting
4. Secretarial Speeches
5. Vision 2020: The Lighting Technology Roadmap [.pdf]
6. Illumination with Solid State Lighting Technology [.pdf]
7. Cool Tungsten Light Bulb in Future?
8. Silicon Strategies: Kopin Maintains LED Brightness at Reduced Voltage
Solid-state lighting is a revolutionary technology that uses semiconducting materials to create light while generating almost no heat. This is extremely energy efficient, but until recently has been impractical due to the small amount of light emitted. New developments in light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have reversed this trend, and strong interest has been shown by the US government and many research bodies.

A good introduction to the technology can be found at the Lighting Research Center (1). It has a few presentations that demonstrate the implications of solid-state lighting, as well as highlights of various research projects. The Compound Semiconductors Web site (2) is a good news source to learn about current breakthroughs. Abstracts of tutorials and industry outlooks are provided, which describe pure white light LEDs and other emerging technologies. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has a significant research effort in solid state lighting. This presentation (3), given in August 2002, describes the lab's motivation for advancing the technology. In a speech given by US Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham (4), he emphasizes the importance of solid-state lighting to reduce electricity usage. He describes the relationship between LEDs and conventional fluorescent lighting as similar to that between transistors and vacuum tubes. The Office of Building Technology offers this roadmap of lighting technology (5). The report anticipates advances in the industry over the next twenty years, with specific attention to solid state lighting. Another report is from the IEEE Journal on Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics (6). The authors discuss current trends in high-power LED development and results of the first solid-state lamp that is as intense as Thomas Edison's twenty watt bulb. A recent accomplishment at Sandia National Laboratories is outlined in this article from (7). The "tungsten photonic lattice" is capable of converting heat to visible light and could improve electrical efficiency by over 50 percent. Another efficiency-related news story comes from researchers from a semiconductor company and North Carolina State University (8). Their product reduces the voltage of a high-brightness LED to less than three volts, which was a long standing scientific hurdle. [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.

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