The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 1, Number 23

December 20, 2002

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


Quantum Information Technology [.pdf]
From the research laboratories of Hewlett Packard, Quantum Information Technology provides an informative look at current work in quantum information processing and communication (QIPC). The report, published in November 2002, recognizes the potential applications of QIPC and how it could revolutionize conventional information technology. It cites cryptography, quantum computers, and quantum teleportation as motivational factors for development of this technology, offering a basic introduction to each discipline. The paper concludes with an analysis of the direction current research is taking and what the future may hold. Several links to further sources of information are also included. [CL]
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International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors [.pdf]
The International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) is created through a cooperation of many industry leaders with the purpose of setting the pace for semiconductor advancement. The main attraction of the ITRS Web page is, of course, the roadmap itself, for which the latest version is the 2002 update. Several distinct areas of semiconductor manufacturing are examined individually, including lithography, interconnect, testing, and others. The group sets goals for each of these areas and identifies obstacles that need to be overcome to meet the goals. Two time frames are used to make forecasts of future technologies, which, for the current version, is pre- and post-2007. [CL]
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Engineering and Design: Ice Engineering [.pdf]
As part of the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Ice Engineering Group solves problems stemming from ice and its effects on equipment and operations. This broad area includes ice jams that impede maritime navigation, maintenance issues, and "the destructive forces that moving ice exerts on river or coastal structures." Released on Oct. 30, 2002, the Ice Engineering Manual, given on this site, is divided into three parts. The first describes the difficulties presented by ice accumulation and how they are solved. Next, preventative measures are introduced that minimize the problem of ice jams. The last part discusses how boats navigate dangerous inland waterways during the winter. [CL]
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Light Field Mapping: Efficient Representation and Hardware Rendering of Surface Light Fields [.pdf]
The Office of the Future (OOTF) is a project of the University of North Carolina Computer Science Department. It utilizes advanced tele-immersion and graphical displays to make long distance collaboration seem natural and comfortable. This publication, which appeared at a major conference in mid-2002, is authored by researchers from Intel and the OOTF group. Focusing on computer graphics applications, the paper proposes a method of rendering complex light field data and reflectance properties of a three dimensional scene with combinations of image compression techniques and approximations. By dividing the large amount of data into small portions and processing them individually, the authors have devised an algorithm suitable for hardware accelerated graphics applications. [CL]
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The Role of Expressiveness and Attention in Human-Robot Interaction [.pdf]
In a very original study on human-robot interaction, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University conducted a series of experiments to determine if people would be more willing to interact with a robot with human-like features as opposed to one without. The particular "behaviors tested were the ability to convey expression with a humanoid face and the ability to indicate attention by turning towards the person that the robot is addressing." This publication discusses the specifics of these experiments and the results. The basis of the study involved a robot asking a passerby if they would like to participate in a poll. Interestingly, both having a face and having tracking behavior effected how many people stopped to talk to the robot. [CL]
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An Evaluation of Current High-Performance Networks [.pdf]
Up until the early 1990s, supercomputers were made with custom-built hardware and run with special-purpose software. In the past decade, however, this trend has reversed. Current computers used for large-scale scientific applications employ many standard commercial processors operating in parallel. This has resulted in less attention to software overheads and network latencies, which are the focus of this paper. The authors use a suite of benchmarks to test how different properties effect overall performance under a variety of situations. [CL]
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Palm Power [.pdf]
Military equipment often requires significant amounts of electrical power, and it is important for power supplies to be portable and to have large capacities. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency realizes this need for efficient power sources, so it is investigating alternatives to conventional batteries. High energy fuels are the primary focus of the Palm Power project. This Web site discusses the details and goals of the project in introductory sections. More specific information can be found in the Briefings section, which has a collection of presentations on different aspects of Palm Power research. [CL]
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A Multi-Class Approach for Modeling Out-of-Vocabulary Words [.pdf]
This short paper, written by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is based on speech processing and recognition. Specifically, it addresses the problem of interpreting words that are not in the vocabulary of the speech recognition software. Two similar methods are presented and compared to the authors' prior work. After describing the intricacies of their methods, they provide experimental results that show a significant increase in performance. [CL]
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NDT Resource Center
"The field of Nondestructive Testing (NDT) is a very broad, interdisciplinary field that plays a critical role in assuring that structural components and systems perform their function in a reliable and cost effective fashion." This surprisingly in-depth site offers detailed information about NDT, its applications, and the technologies used in its practice. After a brief introduction, the user can choose to learn about any of six NDT methods, including ultrasonic testing, magnetic particle testing, and others. For very motivated users, each section is accompanied by a Java-based quiz. [CL]
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Invention at Play [Flash, QuickTime]
"Invention at Play is a highly interactive, engaging and surprising traveling exhibit that focuses on the similarities between the way children and adults play and the creative processes used by innovators in science and technology." The exhibit's home page has many interactive activities for children to exercise their creative side, even if the physical exhibit is not in town. The Invention Playhouse has four open-ended games, like one that allows the user to move or rotate a large selection of objects to guide a falling ball into a cup. Many different inventors from the past and present are highlighted with the stories of their lives and creations. The final section of the site considers the importance of playing on developing creativity. [CL]
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Allen Hatcher [.pdf, .ps]
Allen Hatcher is a professor of mathematics at Cornell University. On his home page, he offers a link to download his book Algebraic Topology in its entirety. Published in 2002, the book is over 500 pages in length and is free to anyone wanting a personal copy. In addition to Algebraic Topology, there are three other books that are work-in-progress. Despite being incomplete, they could be useful to students in related classes. Several research papers written by Professor Hatcher are also given on this site. [CL]
[Back to Contents] XML
From the monstrous Sun Microsystems Web site, this page has a number of tutorials to help users learn and program in XML. The heart of the material can be found in the section titled Working with XML. It contains four main parts, each subdivided into manageable chapters to be completed at a self-defined pace. There are programming exercises and background information that lead the user through the basics as well as more specific topics. For those that aren't satisfied with what is contained in these tutorials, several links to other resources are scattered throughout the site. [CL]
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Teaching With Space [.pdf, Shockwave]
Teaching With Space is intended as a resource for teachers who want to introduce their students to space science and technology. A brief, free registration is required to access the educational modules, of which there are five in all. Among the topics are such elements as aerospace technology, "human exploration and development of space," and methods of teaching with technology. Each of the modules begins with a short quiz to assess the user's familiarity with the subject. One section contains slide presentations about the International Space Station, while others provide educational insights into various space-related concepts. Because of the amount of information presented on this site, anyone, not just teachers, could benefit from the material. [CL]
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Prime Curios!
The University of Tennessee at Martin has one of the most expansive sites devoted to prime numbers and their significance. This page "is an exciting collection of curiosities, wonders and trivia related to prime numbers." As of December 2002, there are nearly 2,000 numbers with at least one curio. Some of the smallest numbers are interesting to peruse; however, reading every curio or researching other numbers to submit to the database is probably left to the mathematicians. One thing is certain, though: the site's creators definitely love what they do. [CL]
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Internet Guide
The Internet Guide is a no-nonsense site intended for Internet newbies. It consists of several short articles that discuss the basics of Internet navigation, common terms and phrases, Netiquette, and much more. Some specific technologies are also mentioned, such as Telnet and newsgroups. The Guide occasionally refers to various products or services; however, it does not endorse any particular company, instead offering a list of several potential choices. A particularly enlightening section defines twelve common Internet error messages, which are often confusing to both novices and seasoned users. [CL]
[Back to Contents] The Garage
Although caters to an online community of Ford vehicle enthusiasts, this section of the Web site is appropriate for anyone with an interest in modern automobile operation. The best part of The Garage, as it is called, is the Engine Guide. This excellent reference describes nearly every type of engine component. Illustrations of the different parts show the associated forces and how they work together to control the engine. Another section contains eleven calculators to convert horsepower, torque, displacement, and many other basic properties. Lastly, a section on maintenance suggests a "general maintenance schedule for most domestic vehicles." [CL]
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Channel Tunnel Rail Link [.doc, .pdf]
The Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL), scheduled for completion in 2006, is "Britain's first major new railway for over a century - a high-speed line running for 109km (68 miles)." It is coined as the UK's biggest civil engineering project, largely due to the fact that it will make roughly a quarter of its route underground in a tunnel. The CTRL home page has a great deal of information about the massive undertaking, including construction photos, environmental and progress reports, and a chronology of the project. A free education pack can be downloaded that contains resources for classroom use and project ideas, with the hope of teaching children about the engineering process and methods used to build the CTRL. [CL]
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How Do People Evaluate a Web Site's Credibility? [.pdf]
As the Internet continues to grow, users are increasingly faced with the problem of evaluating the trustworthiness of Web sites. This paper presents the results of two studies conducted to determine how people approach this situation. The researchers "gathered the comments people wroteabout each site's credibility and analyzed these comments to track which features of a Web site were noticed (or went unnoticed)" when considering credibility. Eighteen aspects of Web site design are ranked according to their importance as reported by the study's subjects. The results are quite surprising, because many of the critical items were rated lower than the more aesthetic ones. [CL]
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Space Technology Hall of Fame
The Space Technology Hall of Fame is a fascinating Web site that honors "the innovators who have transformed technology originally developed for space into commercial products." Selection criteria for the induction process are given in the Hall of Famers section. It is interesting to note the weights of each criterion, with the most points given for public awareness and social benefit. The Hall of Fame was started in 1988, and descriptions of all the technologies inducted since then can be browsed by year. New inductees for 2003 will be announced in February. An online Space Challenge is also provided, which is a ten-question quiz about some interesting facts of the Hall of Fame. [CL]
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Developed jointly by the National Automotive Center and the Integrated Concepts and Research Corporation, the SmarTruck will be used by the US Army to test new technologies. The amount of gadgetry incorporated into the vehicle is enough to make James Bond jealous, and some might consider it overkill. Nonetheless, the Army apparently has a need for countermeasures like deployable oil slicks, electrified door handles, and a smoke screen. All of this, by the way, is equipped on a heavy duty pickup truck. The SmarTruck Web site has descriptions of all the notable components, pictures of the sleek design, and an outline of military and industry benefits. [CL]
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Philips: What if You Could Carry Your TV Around?
Philips Research demonstrated "the world's first matrix display that keeps functioning while being bent," and it has great expectations for the technology. Although it will probably not be commercially available for some time, it is intriguing to envision being able to unroll an e-book to read. A broad introduction to flexible displays is given on this Web site. Several potential technologies that could be used to manufacture the devices are discussed, including organic light-emitting diodes and electrophoretic displays. An article describing electronic ink is also provided. [CL]
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Engineer's Edge: Solutions by Design
Engineer's Edge is a great reference for a wide variety of engineering, design, and manufacturing information. Most of the material is in the form of online calculators and equation charts, which save users time that would otherwise be spent flipping through books. Other resources such as part specifications (e.g., drill sizes, gauge charts) and material properties are also available. Interactive conversion tools, beam statics analyzers, and calculators for many different applications are free and very easy to use. An active discussion forum allows industry workers to communicate and share ideas. No registration is required. [CL]
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Wacky Patent of the Month
Maintained by Michael Colitz, a registered patent attorney, the Wacky Patent of the Month is an amusing Web site "devoted to recognizing selected inventors and their remarkable and unconventional patented inventions." The complete original patent document is given with each item covered on the site. The highlighted patent of December 2002 is the scarecrow; however, as can be seen from the seven-year archive, some of the previously featured patents were a bit more outlandish. Most people probably never knew that chickens need eye protectors! [CL]
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New York Times: Plans for Ground Zero Unveiled [Flash]
This article from the New York Times shows several concepts for possible monuments/ buildings at Ground Zero. The interactive feature, titled Envisioning Downtown, has some very impressive content. It has excellent footage of artist impressions and computer animations of the proposed architectures, all of which are quite remarkable. Seven designs are highlighted, with descriptions of the various characteristics and a few specifications unique to each structure. Short audio clips accompany most of the sections. Users should note that, in order to view this article and the associated features, a brief, free registration is required. [CL]
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Topic In Depth

Audio Mining
1. Audio Mining: The Next Big Thing?
2. Let's Hear It for Audio Mining [.pdf]
3. Phonetic Searching of Digital Audio
4. From Multimedia Retrieval to Knowledge Management [.pdf]
5. The Center for Spoken Language Research: The National Gallery of the Spoken Word
6. MAMI: Musical Audio-Mining [.pdf]
7. Tools Help Pinpoint the Right Words
8. W3C: Voice Extensible Markup Language (VoiceXML) Version 2.0
Occasionally referred to as audio indexing, audio mining is a computerized task involving the processing of an audio file, extracting the dialog and creating a textual transcript, and searching the transcript for certain words or phrases. Considering the amount of audio content on the Internet and other sources, it is clear that audio mining is a growing technology.

To get an idea of what audio mining is and how it can be used, people can read this article from the Cutter Consortium (1). It lists six broad areas that can benefit from using the technology and briefly discusses each one. A more detailed introduction is offered on the Leavitt Communications Web site (2). This article delves into how audio mining works by giving a basic technical understanding of the process. A new method of searching an audio file, dubbed the "phonetic search engine," is compared to traditional methods in this white paper (3). A publication from the Compaq Cambridge Research Laboratory (4) discusses ways of collecting and analyzing information from an audio file. It also mentions SpeechBot, a Web-based tool for multimedia retrieval. Several papers can be downloaded from the home page of a research project studying the National Gallery of the Spoken Word (5). The repository is comprised of massive historical audio content, and the team at the University of Colorado is investigating phrase recognition to index the data. Have you ever had a tune stuck in your head, but not known the name of the artist or song title? The Musical Audio-Mining project (6) is working on ways to search for information about a song simply by humming part of it. Audio mining can also be used in the War on Terrorism, as is described in this article of Federal Computer Week (7). Massive amounts of recorded phone conversations are intercepted by the government each day, and audio mining would be an efficient way to sort through irrelevant material and catch suspicious activity. The World Wide Web Consortium released this draft of the Voice Extensible Markup Language (8), which could have applications for the audio mining community. [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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