The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 2, Number 22

November 7, 2003

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




Topic In Depth


Honeypots: Tracking Hackers [pdf]

Honeypots are a relatively new technology in computer security. They are formally defined as "an information system resource whose value lies in unauthorized or illicit use of that resource." This is an intentionally broad definition, as honeypots can detect network intrusions, track online credit card fraud, and do almost everything in between. A good collection of research papers and technical articles dealing with honeypots can be found at this site. The papers come from some of the pioneers of the technology as well as authors who proposed more recent innovations like honeytokens. [CL]

How Much Information? 2003 [pdf]

The research study documented on this site is a continuation of a study conducted in 2000 that estimated "how much new information is created each year." The results of the most recent study, which were published on October 27, 2003, show the approximate amount of new information stored on film, magnetic, optical, and print media in the year 2002. This figure totaled five exabytes, or five billion gigabytes. Different kinds of information streams are also analyzed, consisting of radio, television, telephone, and the Internet. These electronic data flows accounted for nearly eighteen exabytes. Comparisons to the previous study are also drawn. The full report of the study can be downloaded as a 112-page document or viewed online. [CL]

The Illusion of Presence in Immersive Virtual Reality During an fMRI Brain Scan [pdf]

As part of a project involving the Human Interface Technology Laboratory at the University of Washington, the feasibility of using virtual reality devices during brain scans was tested. The fMRI brain scan measures brain activity when the subject is engaging in different mental activities, which are usually prompted by exposing the subject to video stimuli. The authors of this paper attempted to employ virtual reality goggles, in order to give the subject the feeling that he or she is actually immersed in the environment rather than simply viewing it on a distant television. This would, in theory, result in more accurate and representative brain scans, because immersive virtual reality gives users the illusion "that they are inside the computer-generated environment, as if it is a place they have gone." The paper shows that virtual reality has strong applications in fMRI brain scans. [CL]

Wiring up Single Molecules [pdf]

In recent years, circuit design has advanced to achieve extremely small feature sizes -- literally tens of millions of transistors can be integrated in a single chip. This progress has given rise to molecular electronics, the notion of creating electronic devices with single molecules as circuit elements. In this paper, the authors "discuss transistors, where electrons flow through discrete quantum states of a single molecule." Fabrication considerations are outlined, and the current-voltage responses of several such transistors that were fabricated by the authors are shown. The paper concludes by looking ahead to future possibilities of chemically-tailored transistors that could be designed with specific properties. [CL]

Imagine [pdf]

Programmable processors have advantages and disadvantages when compared to their non-programmable counterparts: They have added functionality, but they typically are not as fast or efficient. The goal of the Imagine project at Stanford University is "to develop a programmable architecture that achieves the performance of special purpose hardware on graphics and image/signal processing." The Imagine homepage provides a very detailed explanation of the main components and implementation methodologies used in the stream processor design. Additionally, several papers related to various aspects of the project from 2003 and before are available for download. [CL]

Digital Video Authenticator [pdf]

The Digital Video Authenticator (DVA) system "can be used to prove that a digital video has not been modified since it was first recorded." This technology is especially applicable in court cases to verify the legitimacy of any digital video entered as evidence. The DVA system is described in detail on this site. Beginning with a discussion of the DVA implementation and how it analyzes the signatures of the digital video to verify its integrity; the site proceeds to outline the system's applications and benefits. A ten-page research paper written by the developers of the system provides more technical information about the DVA. [CL]

Incentives Build Robustness in BitTorrent [pdf]

This paper describes BitTorrent, a free software system that attempts to solve bandwidth problems inherent in hosting one or more large files from a single server. In a traditional setup, a bottleneck is created when many users try to download from a server, and download rates can be slowed to a crawl. According to the author and the software's creator, BitTorrent relieves this congestion by allowing the downloaders to act as servers themselves. Each downloader can retrieve a portion of the file from the main server, and then re-distribute that portion to others. The BitTorrent software and documentation are available on this site as well. [CL]

Human-Computer Interaction and Information Management Research Needs [pdf]

This report was prepared by the Human-Computer Interaction and Information Management (HCI&IM) Coordinating Group and released in October 2003. It identifies the main challenges facing research and development in HCI&IM and provides motivation for greater U.S. government efforts in this area. The report highlights some of the benefits for HCI&IM advancement, including revolutionizing scientific research, "expanding the science and engineering knowledge base," and adding to the efficiency and productivity of the workforce. Existing research and development endeavors are discussed and the need for additional investment is asserted. [CL]


Miscellaneous Mathematical Utilities [pdf, exe]

This outstanding collection of online mathematical utilities allows users to perform fairly complex computations based upon calculus, linear algebra, quadratic programming, and trigonometry. Each utility is presented its own Webpage, which includes a brief description of the purpose of the utility and instructions about how to use it. An interesting discussion about computer precision is also provided, explaining how accurately numerical data can be represented on a computer. Two papers on quadratic programming are available for download as well. [CL]

Air Force Link Jr. [Macromedia Flash Reader, Macromedia Shockwave Player]

In this montage of seemingly unrelated online games and educational activities are two items worth noting. The first is called Math Mission, which helps the user practice basic arithmetic in an adventure to re-supply the International Space Station. Math Mission consists of seven animated, interactive modules that put the user in the copilot position and lead him or her through a series of calculations to determine the right amount of supplies to load and distribute. The second activity of interest is Eye in the Sky, which gives users an overview of satellites. Specifically, the Navstar Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite network is explored, and the process of building a satellite and sending it into orbit is discussed. [CL]

EE 527 Process Tutorials [pdf]

Thirteen tutorials developed by the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Washington are presented on this site. The documents are intended to give students and other interested people with a familiarity of electrical engineering principles and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) an overview of microfabrication, as well as "a little semiconductor background, and history." Some of the topics that are covered include photolithography, photoresists, and vacuum systems, to name a few. There is also an especially interesting tutorial on clean room design and operation. [CL]

Nick's Mathematical Puzzles

Anyone who wants to put their math skills to the test will find this site holds many formidable challenges. The collection of puzzles tests visitors' knowledge of "geometry, probability, number theory, algebra, calculus, and logic." Each puzzle is accompanied by a page of hints and a fully worked solution. The site's maintainer states that a pre-college math background is usually sufficient, but practiced mathematicians will likely be stumped on occasion. A new puzzle is added roughly once a week. [CL]

Theory and Techniques of Electronic Music [pdf, zip, tar]

A music professor from the University of California at San Diego, Miller Puckette, is in the process of writing a book on electronic music, and the draft version can be found on this site. The book "is about using electronic techniques to record, synthesize, process, and analyze musical sounds." It focuses exclusively on the use of computers and computer music tools in the creation and composition of electronic music. The properties of digital audio signals, sampling and modulating audio streams, and computational techniques are all covered in the book. Although it is only in an early draft form, this online book already has a tremendous amount of information and will be a valuable reference when complete. Material related to the book, including conference papers and audio examples, can be found on Puckette's homepage. [CL]

Free Electronic Book: Thinking in Java, 3rd Edition [zip]

This highly acclaimed online book is intended to provide a thorough introduction to the Java programming language. Spanning sixteen chapters plus appendices, Thinking in Java should be sufficient for all but the most advanced or obscure topics. The book covers the basics of objects, coding style, error handling, the Java input/output system, creating graphical user interfaces, and much more. The full text can be downloaded as a compressed file with additional source code to be used as examples and experimented with. Other electronic books written by the same author are also available on this site and cover C++, Python, and more. [CL]

Welcome to Brain Trax [pdf]

Educational material for courses in algebra, trigonometry, calculus I, and calculus II can be found at this unique site. Users can navigate between topics within each of these four subjects by using a visual index, which is "a graphical means of showing how different concepts relate to each other." This can help students understand the importance of one topic and its applications in another topic. The algebra section can be browsed in three different instruction levels, ranging from middle school to college level algebra. [CL]

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe: Internet Guide [pdf]

This online guide, published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, aims to "lead teenagers to discover the Net and show them how they can use the World Wide Web in a safe and fun manner." The guide is presented from a fictional standpoint of four students who met on a foreign exchange program. Upon returning to their respective countries, the students learn to use the Internet to stay in contact with each other. Leading them on their journey into cyberspace is their professor, with whom they had all studied under during the exchange program. Many Internet essentials are covered, including netiquette, safe online practices and scam identification, features of the Web, and more. The 64-page document is available in English, French, Spanish, and Russian versions. [CL]


Why Am I Getting All This Spam?: Unsolicited Commercial E-mail Research Six Month Report

The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) presents this insightful report, which discusses some of the key factors that make email users susceptible to spam. Based upon a study conducted by CDT, the report outlines the primary sources of spam and how the spammers obtain email addresses. By setting up 100 different email addresses and using each in a particular manner, the study's administrators documented the kinds of online behavior that result in the most spam. The report dispels some of the common myths about spam and provides suggestions for staying off the mailing lists of advertisers. A note at the end of the report recommends a free online tool that can be used to obscure email addresses when posted online. [CL]


OEMagazine is a monthly publication of the International Society for Optical Engineering. The October 2003 issue features a special focus on solid-state lighting. Four articles from the printed magazine and one online-only article discuss recent innovations in white light emitting diodes (LEDs), the energy savings that they hold over traditional lights, and the challenges that must be overcome before they can be widely deployed. A separate feature article looks at the increasing use of thermal imaging cameras for security purposes. The OEMagazine homepage offers many more past issues in an online archive. [CL]

Mobile Robotics: Your Robotics Resource

This site serves as a news and information source about the mobile robotics community. A particularly worthwhile feature, especially for designers and people interested in robot design and operation, is the collection of exclusive interviews with robotics professionals. Many articles related to research and development, robotics applications, and industry and government initiatives are also provided. An article from October 24, 2003 discusses the use of robots in surgery and the opening of a Canadian research center that focuses on this topic. The site is somewhat poorly organized, so it might take a few moments to navigate to the most interesting and informative sections. [CL]

ARES: Aerial Regional-Scale Environmental Survey of Mars [QuickTime, Windows Media Player]

Mars research has thus far entailed exclusively orbital observation and surface rovers. However, one area that has not been utilized is the space within the atmosphere above the ground. This is something NASA scientists hope to change with the development of a Mars airplane. Tentatively planned for arrival on the Red Planet in September 2008, the airplane will be able to achieve higher resolution surveys than orbiters while traversing more area than rovers. This Web site describes the specifics of the Aerial Regional-Scale Environmental Survey of Mars (ARES) mission. Pictures and video clips showing initial construction and test flights are available. News about the status and progress of the project is also provided. [CL]

The Computer Comes Home: A History of Personal Computing

The Computer Museum of America offers this excellent account of the History of Personal Computing. The site starts from the beginning of the Computer Age when designing a computer small enough to fit comfortably in a home was just a dream. Next is the birth of the integrated circuit in 1958, followed by the first central processing unit (CPU) in 1971. Several early home computers are discussed, many of which are a stark contrast to current designs. Other landmark events in personal computer history are noted, leading to the 21st Century and the future. The only unfortunate aspect of the site is that the pictures are somewhat small -- however, they are still easily discernible. [CL]

FCC Report on Digital Broadcast Content Protection [pdf]

On November 4, 2003, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a report and order stating its adoption of an "anti-piracy mechanism, also known as the 'broadcast flag,' for digital broadcast television." The move is meant to minimize the risk of illegal copying and mass Internet distribution of digital broadcasts, which could deter broadcasters from moving toward digital on a large scale. This paper is the report and order, describing in detail the FCC's motivation and the purpose of the ruling. Some of the alternatives that were considered are also noted. [CL]

ALA: A List Apart

A List Apart (ALA) is an online magazine that "explores the design, development, and meaning of web content, with a special focus on techniques and benefits of designing with web standards." Published on a very irregular basis (perhaps as new articles are contributed), ALA features between one and three articles per issue on topics ranging from usability to Cascading Style Sheets to Extensible Markup Language (XML). Each new article is accompanied by a dedicated discussion forum that allows users to share their opinions about the topic. An archive of past issues dates back to 2000. [CL]

Celebrating 100 Years of Flight

December 17, 2003 marks the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' historic achievement, and to commemorate the event the American Society of Mechanical Engineers has developed this site. Several notable stories of flight are documented, including the Enola Gay, the Concorde, and the Boeing 767-80, which was "the prototype for most jet transports." Teacher resources and news articles related to the centennial of flight are available. An archive of paper airplane models is also included to give children and adults something to do in their spare time. [CL]

Topic In Depth


1. U.S. Issues New $20 Bill Featuring Color, Added Security
2. Anti-Counterfeiting
3. Watermarking Introduction [pdf]
4. Digital Watermarking World
5. Quality Evaluation of Watermarked Audio Tracks [pdf]
6. Visible Encryption: Using Paper as a Secure Channel [pdf]
7. Hardware Implementation Perspectives of Digital Video Watermarking Algorithms [pdf]
8. The Information Hiding Homepage: Digital Watermarking & Steganography

On October 9, 2003, a redesigned version of the $20 bill went into circulation in the U.S. Among other features, the bill includes watermarks that can be used to verify its authenticity. Traditional watermarking techniques are intended to prevent duplication, and digital watermarks have a similar purpose. They can be embedded into virtually any digital media, including images, audio and video, and even program code. Digital watermarks are usually imperceptible to humans and are designed to be read by a computer to communicate information such as copyright ownership and legal uses of the watermarked media.

The first site (1) contains two articles about the new $20 bill: one from a government news release and one from the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Each article gives some facts about U.S. currency in general and the security features integrated into the redesigned bill. The Money Factory (2) has a section devoted to anti-counterfeiting techniques used in the making of money. The easily overlooked links at the right side of the page explore topics such as Advanced Copier & Printer Technology and the history of the security printer used by the U.S. government. Moving on to digital watermarking, a good introduction to the subject can be found here (3). The site explains the purpose and applications of digital watermarking. A separate section provides information about the Certimark project, which is developing a benchmark to evaluate characteristics of watermarks. Watermarking World (4) is a hub for information related to digital watermarking. Besides maintaining a frequently asked questions list and links to industry and academic research, the site serves as an online forum for the watermarking community. An algorithm used to embed watermarks in audio tracks is evaluated in this paper (5). The authors experimented with different parameters of the algorithm to achieve a balance between sound quality and watermark robustness. Another interesting research paper considers how to maintain a digital watermark on electronic documents when they are printed and re-scanned (6). Since no digital information can be transferred from an electronic document to a hard copy, the watermark clearly must be visible on the page. However, a certain degree of loss is inherent in the scanning process, and the authors propose a method of dealing with this information loss and recognizing visible watermarks for re-integration into the electronic version. The April 2003 issue of the IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing includes this paper on hardware implementation of digital video watermarking (7). This is a unique approach since most watermarking algorithms are realized in software, but a wholly hardware implementation has the advantage of being smaller and having lower power consumption due to its dedicated functionality. The Information Hiding Homepage (8) has a good collection of resources related to digital watermarking, fingerprinting, and other forms of steganography (the technical term for information hiding). Two examples of image downgrading are given, as well as insights into MP3 steganography. [CL]

Below are the copyright statements to be included when reproducing annotations from The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, and Technology.

The single phrase below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing any portion of this report, in any format:

From The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2003.

The paragraph below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing the entire report, in any format:

Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2003. 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.

Internet Scout Project Team
Cavin Leske Editor
John Morgan Managing Editor
Rachael Bower Co-Director
Edward Almasy Co-Director
Rachel Sohmer Contributor
Max Grinnell Contributor
Debra Shapiro Contributor
Rachel Enright Contributor
David Sleasman Internet Cataloger
Todd Scudiere Assistant Internet Cataloger
Barry Wiegan Software Engineer
Justin Rush Technical Specialist
Michael Grossheim Technical Specialist
Andy Yaco-Mink Website Designer
David Mayer Website Designer

For information on additional contributors, see the Internet Scout Project staff page.