The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 2, Number 7

April 11, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Roadmap [.pdf]
From the Office of the Secretary of Defense, this roadmap considers the expanded use and development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for the next quarter century. Completed in December 2002, the 200+ page document offers many fascinating perspectives on how this technology could grow. Looking ahead to 2027, the authors envision the evolution of military control stations "from a crew inside a multi-ton van to an individual wearing a suit tied into his own neuro-muscular system, seeing what the UAV's sensors see through a head-mounted visor." Nearly 50 goals for future unmanned aviation are identified and discussed in the roadmap. [CL]
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Making Cooltown Real [.pdf, RealPlayer, Windows Media Player]
Cooltown is Hewlett-Packard's ambitious vision of a pervasive computing environment, where mobile services, Internet, and intelligent devices are intertwined to make an omnipresent networked experience. This vision of the future makes up a high profile research effort to develop technologies that will enable such a connected world. The program's homepage has a great deal of information about current research. A large collection of white papers is presented for public viewing, and four videos related to the Cooltown project are also available. M-pulse, a monthly magazine about Cooltown developments and associated technologies, is provided to keep visitors informed about the progress of the program. [CL]
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The Next Mainstream Wireless LAN Standard [.pdf]
The use of wireless local area networks (WLANs) is rapidly spreading in businesses, homes, and public areas. This whitepaper describes a new specification for WLANs and its improvements over the current industry standard. Scheduled to be officially adopted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in June 2003, the 802.11g standard will be the first major change to WLANs since 1999. It will offer faster data rates and greater range, and will be backward compatible with existing systems. The new specification is compared with other technologies in this whitepaper, which could be helpful for those considering installing or upgrading a WLAN. [CL]
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11th AIAA/ AAAF International Conference: Space Planes and Hypersonic Systems and Technologies [.pdf]
Held in September and October 2002, the annual International Conference on Space Planes and Hypersonic Systems and Technologies featured participants from many prominent organizations. Over 100 papers submitted to the conference are available on this Web site. A common topic addressed by researchers is the development of scramjet engines, a cutting edge technology that has many applications for hypersonic flight. One particularly interesting paper from Russian scientists analyzes "future space transportation programmes" for both near and long term timelines. Other topics, such as revolutionary propulsion technologies and single stage to orbit spacecraft, are also discussed. [CL]
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Railroad and Locomotive Technology Roadmap [.pdf]
The Transportation Technology Research and Development Center at Argonne National Laboratory produced this roadmap in December 2002. The 70-page document mainly focuses on energy saving techniques to increase the fuel efficiency of diesel engines. A research objective identified in the report is to improve "total railroad average fuel efficiency by 50% by 2020," and ways to accomplish this goal are outlined. Alternative fuels, electric locomotives, and other power technologies are also discussed. The roadmap analyzes almost every system and factor involved in railroad design -- including motors, rolling resistance, and aerodynamics -- to determine how to approach the energy savings problem. [CL]
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Two on Rechargeable Batteries
New Battery Design Could Power the World's Smallest Devices
3-D Microbatteries [.pdf]
A collaboration between three universities is working to create a battery that is capable of powering microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The work, which is described in a press release from the University of California at Los Angeles, is especially important because no viable battery currently exists for these tiny devices. The three-dimensional battery will be a departure from current battery designs, which stack "positive and negative electrodes... like sheets of paper." As more electrodes are stacked to make a higher capacity battery, the size and weight increases dramatically. A short research paper describes the design of the 3-D battery, which uses densely packed rods to achieve better energy storage per volume. While the work is still in its early stages, the potential of 3-D batteries for powering microscopic devices is perhaps the most promising yet proposed. [CL]
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Nanotechnology Gallery [.pdf, .ppt, .mpg]
The NASA Ames Center for Nanotechnology (NACNT) maintains this gallery showcasing its research and accomplishments. The gallery contains images, videos, presentations, and other informative material. One of the best resources to learn about nanotechnology and its applications at NACNT is the paper titled Nano and BioTechnology Research at NASA Ames. Updated in December 2002, the document explains how nanotechnology has profound implications for spaceflight, computing, and advanced materials. Four presentations also attest to the importance of related research. Most of the videos and images show computer simulations of carbon nanotubes. [CL]
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A Survey of Socially Interactive Robots [.pdf]
The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University is very active in the development of robots whose function relies on efficient communication and interaction with people. Published in 2003, this comprehensive study looks at the history, operation, and classification of a large sampling of socially interactive robots from both industry and academia. The authors define and discuss several concepts related to human-robot interaction, such as emotion, embodiment, and personality. They also address a number of design and evaluation issues that are important for assessing a robot's social characteristics. The paper concludes with a look ahead at future research and applications for these types of robots. [CL]
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Engineering Media Lab [QuickTime, Shockwave]
The Engineering Media Lab at the University of Oklahoma (OU) is an outstanding resource for engineering students taking introductory courses in statics or dynamics. Although the database of homework and exam problems is only available to OU students, the most valuable materials are open to the general public. Online books and lectures guide users through concepts such as three-dimensional motion, friction, and vibration. The eBooks include multimedia animations to illustrate the effects of different forces on objects and rigid bodies. [CL]
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Light: A Learning Unit [QuickTime, Flash, .pdf]
A page on the General Electric Lighting Web site has four lessons about the history, technology, mathematics, and science of light. Mainly intended for elementary or middle school students, the material is divided into short articles, hands-on activities, and experiments. The lessons teach students how to identify different kinds of light bulbs, choose the most efficient bulb for different environments, and explain how modern lighting systems work. After completing the lessons, students can take the School Lighting Challenge. This useful activity helps students determine how much money is spent to light different rooms of their school. It also shows how more efficient lighting practices could save energy and money. [CL]
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Wheelchair University [.pdf]
This collection of lecture notes is intended to provide readers with a "practical learning experience on some aspect of wheelchair technology." Several topics on wheeled mobility are covered, including powered wheelchair anatomy and the development of standards. Seating biomechanics, wheelchair cushions, and other details helpful for wheelchair evaluation are given in a series of lecture slides. The last section deals with transportation safety and practices to reduce or prevent crash injuries. Resources on wheelchair research and development are given on the Wheelchair University homepage. [CL]
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Simulations/ Demonstrations
Over twenty Java applets from Rice University are presented on this site. The applets cover most of the major points taught in an introductory statistics course. One quality that makes this site stand out from others is the excellent background information presented with many applets, which lets users read about a concept and see it visually at the same time. Topics include applications of the central limit theorem, regression, analysis of variance, and many more. The applets are all very easy to use, and they are certainly valuable demonstrations for any high school or college student in statistics. [CL]
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Digital Logic Systems
The author of this Web site presents a series of modules on various topics related to Digital Logic Systems. Even though he calls them "articles," the material is quite extensive and thoroughly explains many key concepts. The first section is meant for people with little to no knowledge of digital system design. It covers the basics of logic gates and gives an example circuit that has practical value. A section on Boolean algebra has substantial information on fundamental algebraic operations, as well as introductions to truth tables and Karnaugh maps. The exclusive-OR operator and logic gate is given its own page, paying special attention to its unique behavior and accompanying theorems. Several other pages on related topics are also presented. [CL]
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Understanding Algebra
An instructor at Boise State University offers his book on elementary algebra for middle school, high school, and college students. The book spans nine chapters and covers both pre-algebra and algebra topics. Clear explanations of polynomials, systems of equations, and exponential expressions are just a few concepts addressed in the book. A particularly useful chapter provides some suggestions for approaching and solving word problems, which are often quite difficult for students. In addition to the textual elements of this Web site, four interactive, online tools are available. These tools include a graphing applet, two prime number utilities, and a "quadratic equation solver/ plotter." [CL]
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Introduction to Error Correcting Codes [.pdf]
Error correcting codes have many applications in computers and communication systems. While they have been around for several decades, anyone entering a related technical field might find a tutorial on the subject a valuable resource. This 37-page document addresses the theory and practice of many forms of error correcting codes. The first two chapters introduce the topic and give a brief overview of abstract algebra. The next three chapters deal with some common error correcting codes, including linear block codes, cyclic codes, and BCH codes. [CL]
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SOS Mathematics: Differential Equations
College students who have a firm calculus background can use this site to learn about differential equations. Six main sections explain low and high order differential equations, the Laplace transformation, Fourier series, and much more. Clear, concise descriptions of various topics are presented with equation formulations and the occasional graph or animation. Several example problems with detailed solutions are given, allowing users to practice solving equations and better understand the difficult subject matter. [CL]
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X-VRML Language [.vrml]
X-VRML is a new programming language that integrates dynamic modeling processes with virtual reality standards. According to the language's makers at the Poznan University of Economics in Poland, X-VRML is very powerful yet simple to use in virtual reality applications. A detailed description of the language's syntax and structure is given on its homepage. Four external projects that are using X-VRML technology are documented, and some virtual worlds created with the language are shown. [CL]
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Centre for the Popularisation of Mathematics [QuickTime]
Located at the University of Wales, the Centre for the Popularisation of Mathematics brings a more artistic side to the often plainly presented subject. Several online exhibits and galleries illustrate sculptures and knots that have a basis in math. One of the most interesting and famous mathematical sculptures is the Mobius Band. The centre gives a description of the Mobius Band and its significance, as well as instructions on how to create one and interesting experiments to try. Many other sculptures are presented in the same way, touching on topics of fractals and mathematics. The Knots Exhibition briefly introduces knot theory and shows many different knot configurations. [CL]
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Global TechnoScan
Global TechnoScan is a weekly online magazine that keeps track of new technologies, research and development breakthroughs, and "science and technology policy." The publication does not have a central theme or focus; rather, it takes some of the most interesting, cutting edge issues from a variety of disciplines and groups them together for quick reference. Each issue contains roughly 40 articles, many of which deal with low-key research that would likely not be widely publicized. Both industry and academia are represented. [CL]
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Common Criteria [.pdf, .zip]
"The Common Criteria represents the outcome of a series of efforts to develop criteria for evaluation of IT security that are broadly useful within the international community." Providing an international support environment to developers and computer security professionals, this Web site is a focal point for information, news, and events related to the Common Criteria. Documentation, such as evaluation methodology and introductory overviews, is given online. Users are invited to comment on several draft papers to assist in the development of guidelines and practices. Many different products security evaluations are also given. [CL]
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The Source: x86-64 [.tar, .bz2, .pdf]
Advanced Micro Devices' new x86-64 microprocessor architecture is studied on this site, with the objective of porting open source software to the 64-bit platform. Developers can choose from many different resources available online, including a basic introduction to the x86-64 assembly language and instruction operation codes. An advanced x86-64 system simulator can be downloaded for GNU/ Linux users, as well as thorough information about the architecture. Eventually, open source titles will be included on this site, but currently, only technical information and resources for developers porting the software are available. [CL]
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Energy Star [.pdf]
As summer approaches, energy providers are preparing for the few days per year when their systems will be pushed to the limit. To help reduce the enormous electricity demand from air conditioners, people can follow several tips on energy conservation given on this site. A number of informative guides and fact sheets explain proper maintenance and usage practices that can help to maximize energy efficiency. A particularly interesting document is the Home Heating and Cooling Tutorial, which illustrates how ducts, ceiling fans, programmable thermostats, and heating and cooling elements work together to maintain a comfortable temperature. [CL]
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The Rion-Antirion Bridge [iPIX, Flash]
Located in Greece, the Corinth Gulf Strait is the site of the Rion-Antirion Bridge construction project. This Web site has a great deal of information regarding the project and its progression. When completed in 2004, the bridge will span three kilometers and will be able to withstand a collision with a tanker or an earthquake measuring seven on the Richter scale. These impressive specifications will be the result of six years of work. The engineering principles and techniques used to design the bridge are described on this site, and several pictures and panoramic views of different stages of the bridge's construction are included. [CL]
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The Stony Brook Algorithm Repository [.tar, .gz, .zip]
A computer science professor at the State University of New York maintains this online repository, which serves "as a comprehensive collection of algorithm implementations for over seventy of the most fundamental problems in combinatorial algorithms." The algorithms are implemented in a variety of programming languages, from C++ to FORTRAN. Seven general categories are listed to facilitate finding a particular implementation. The code for each algorithm was gathered from many different sources and is now housed in one spot on this site, making it easy for programmers to use pre-written code for common problems rather than having to write their own. [CL]
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Topic In Depth

Data Storage
1. The Storage Spectrum
2. Memory Hierarchy in Cache-Based Systems [.pdf]
3. Colossal Storage Corp. [.pdf]
4. Beyond DVD: Holographic Storage
5. Coping with the Ultrascale Tsunami of Scientific Data [.pdf]
6. CASTOR [.doc, .ppt]
7. Mega-Data Stored in Mini-Spaces
8. DSstar: NASA Satellite Data Managed by ADIC SW Soars Past 1 Petabyte
Even as home computers are being equipped with hard drives more massive than most users need, the scientific community is facing challenges of inadequate data storage systems. Experiments conducted in research facilities can produce unimaginable amounts of information, and computer scientists are working on ways to handle and manage it.

Virtually every modern computer system incorporates several different storage technologies to process data efficiently. A gentle introduction to registers, caches, and other forms of memory is given on this site (1). A more advanced description of computer architecture and memory hierarchy is offered by Sun Microsystems (2). The paper explains the importance of having small, fast caches in the microprocessor to improve performance and reduce the delay of accessing the large, slow hard drive. Colossal Storage (3) is a company specializing in a new method of holographic data storage. While current technologies are hindered by area density, the proposed technology will expand into three dimensions and use the disk's volume to write data. Although the company's homepage is a bit poorly organized, some interesting insights into the technology and several white papers are available. InPhase Technologies is another company exploring holographic storage; however, its goal is to create a device that could be the successor to the DVD. In this article (4), the potential capabilities and specifications of such a device are discussed. A working prototype has already been demonstrated, paving the way for future commercially viable drives based on the technology. A short paper by the Department of Energy Office of Science (5) describes the impending rush of data generated by future scientific applications. It outlines the obstacles that must be overcome, including data mobility, extraction and analysis, and storage hardware. Possibly the most ambitious storage system ever created will be used to capture data from the world's most advanced particle physics facility. The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) will begin operating its Large Hadron Collider in 2007. The system that will collect and manage data from this instrument is described on this page (6). Documentation about the architecture and operation of the CERN Advanced STORage Manager (CASTOR) is provided. A news article from January 2003 (7) describes a new hard drive that can fit gigabytes of data in a tiny space. Said to measure about an inch wide, the Microdrive will be used in portable multimedia devices like digital video cameras. The second part of the article tells of the IBM Millipede project, which uses nanotechnology to make storage devices with less area than a dime. Satellites that monitor the Earth's environment have provided NASA with over a petabyte (a million gigabytes) of data. This article (8) discusses this remarkable achievement and how the system allows constant access to all of the information. [CL]
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From The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2003.

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