The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 3, Number 5

February 27, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) Association

Sponsored by The National Science Foundation, the Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) conduct engineered systems-focused interdisciplinary research, linking universities across the United States with industry. The collaborative project exposes "prospective students (both graduate and undergraduate) to industrial views in order to build competence in engineering practice and to produce engineering graduates with the depth and breadth of education needed for success in technological innovation and for effective leadership of interdisciplinary teams throughout their careers." Current centers cover a range of topics including: Microelectronic Systems and Information Technology, Earthquake Engineering, Design and Manufacturing, and Bioengineering. Visitors can read more about the work of the Centers from the extensive Achievements Showcase, or about the ERC concept through a Best Practices Manual on developing a similar university-industry partnership. Curricula developed for graduate and undergraduate instruction, and information on other education programs are also available online. [VF]

Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology

The Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (IEST) is a not-for-profit association of individuals from multiple disciplines recognized internationally for their contributions to the environmental sciences. IEST covers the areas of contamination control in electronics manufacturing and pharmaceutical processes; design, test, and evaluation of commercial and military equipment; and product reliability issues associated with commercial and military systems. The ISO Standards and Drafts developed by IEST are only available for a fee through the Publications Store. Other resources include a job board, a journal (also only for paying members) and information on technical services and professional development courses and conferences offered through IEST. [VF]

Game Theory Professional Journals

This website has a wealth of resources on game theory and its applications to economics, business, political science, computer science, and other disciplines. Some of the resources include links to journals, associations, teaching resources, and major web portals. From the links provided, visitors can read about the history of game theory, experiment with games that demonstrate key concepts in a fun, interactive way, and review course syllabi and other relevant documents on game theory. The collection is intended to provide resources that make the material more approachable for students. Educators are requested to submit lecture notes, teaching strategies, comments on textbooks, or other suggestions; while students are encouraged to submit commentary on their experiences with learning game theory. [VF]

Carnegie Mellon University: Interactive Dome Project [.ppt, Quicktime]

This website describes the Interactive Dome Project of the Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center. The project explores how interactivity can work effectively in a dome environment and the possibilities for building something "to show off the capabilities of the dome." This is the initial project in a series of many that will run a 3D engine to explore uses of the dome and ultimately build and package a prototype experience. Some psychadelic photos and quicktime videos that combine "playful interactivity with psychedelic visuals and atmospheric beats" are available online, as well as photos of the inflated dome and various hardware. Documentation is ultimately part of the project, but not yet posted online. A timeline indicates final presentations will be in May, 2004. [VF]

National Academies: The Hydrogen Economy

This news release from the National Academies reviews findings on the challenges and opportunities for a Hydrogen Economy. According to the report, "A transition to hydrogen as a major fuel in the next 50 years could significantly change the U.S. energy economy, reducing air emissions and expanding domestic energy resources, but technical, economic, and infrastructure barriers need to be overcome." A link to the full report online includes chapters on: A Framework for Thinking About the Hydrogen Economy, The Demand Side: Hydrogen End-Use Technologies, Transportation, Distribution, and Storage of Hydrogen, Supply Chains for Hydrogen and Estimated Costs of Hydrogen Supply, Implications of a Transition to Hydrogen in Vehicles for the U.S. Energy System, Carbon Capture and Storage, Hydrogen Production Technologies, and Crosscutting Issues. The Executive Summary includes some implications for policy. [VF]

University of Glasgow: Magnetic Core Memory Principles

A researcher from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Glasgow provides this website on Magnetic RAM (MRAM) -- a non-volatile memory storage system similar to Flash memory except that it uses less power and switches faster. Predicting that "2005 could see mass production of MRAM parts" to be used in powering instant-on computers and computers that are in stand-by power-savings mode (as is currently done with PDAs and laptops), the author reviews some of the physical challenges yet to be overcome. The website provides some basic information on magnetic memory and binary notation, as well as sections on: the Principle of the Magnetic Memory, The Rectangular Hysterisis Loop, A Magnetic Memory Element, Arrangement of Magnetic Core Memories, Relation between the Decimal and Binary Codes, How Numbers Are Stored in a Memory, How a Binary-Coded Decimal Digit is 'written in,' How a Digit is 'read out,' and a Complete Wiring Diagram of a Matrix Plane. [VF]

CalTech Chemical Engineering: Fluid Mechanics [Quicktime, .pdf]

This website describes a research project focused on fluid mechanics and transport processes, with an emphasis on "problems at the interface between continuum mechanics and statistical mechanics." The John F. Brady research group uses its own computational method known as Stokesian Dynamics to study complex fluids, and develop and solve macroscopic equations to describe transport in heterogeneous media. Most of the abstracts from the more recent publications are available online. Videos produced as part of the group's research include, Diffusion in Simple Shear Flow, Stokesian Dynamics: Pressure Driven Flow of Suspensions, Stokesian Dynamics Simulation of an Electroreological Fluid, Statistical Mechanics of Bubbly Liquids, Simulation of Colloidal, and Brownian Dynamics. There are also a few presentations that are available online in the pdf format. [VF]

Lighting Research Center [pdf]

The Lighting Research Center is part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (offering the world's only M.S. degree in lighting study) and provides "objective information about lighting technologies, applications, and products." The center also provides training programs for government agencies, contractors, and other lighting professionals. Specifically, the research addresses energy efficiency, new products and technologies, lighting design, and human factors issues. The online newsletter reviews some of this research, and a number of full reports are in are available to download. Online educational courses and seminars are offered online for a fee. [VF]


Interactive Mathematics Miscellany and Puzzles [avi, JAVA]

The author of this website, Alexander Bogomolny (formber associate professor of mathematics at the University of Iowa), describes the purpose of this website as a call for mathematics appreciation in response to "math anxiety" and stereotypes. Noting that, "in pragmatic terms we need mathematics very rarely, and, when we do, the mathematics we need is mostly trivial," the author suggests that "judging Mathematics by its pragmatic value is like judging symphonia by the weight of its score." The Mathematics Miscellany and Puzzles are intended to initiate curiosity to foster learning of Mathematics. The interactive website allows visitors to respond to questions, engage in puzzles, view short animated films showing curves and 2D and 3D transformations, and read about a variety of topics. [VF]

The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL)

The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL), housed at the University of Wisconsin, builds off the core principles of teaching-as-research and learning communities to "develop a national faculty in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) committed to implementing and advancing effective teaching practices for diverse student audiences as part of their professional careers." The strategy includes the creation of a program of graduate-through-faculty development in STEM higher education that will ultimately be transferred to national universities. Visitors can browse the website for the DELTA project at the University of Wisconsin, which serves as the development laboratory (in partnership with Michigan State and Penn State) for the project. The Diversity Institute aims "to increase the retention of women and under-represented minority students in STEM disciplines through national impact on individuals who shape STEM education at the university level." More information about these programs, courses, and ways to get involved can be found at the website. Still in the early stages, the group has not posted publications or presentations, but does have an Innovative Programs Database and links to related course syllabi. [VF]

Game Theory: Games and Behavior [Flash]

Economics professor, Ariel Rubinstein, created this website to provide teachers some basic instruction in Game Theory along with "free user-friendly didactic tools for conducting web-based thought experiments." The materials are based on his experience in teaching a course in Game Theory using web-based experiments during the years 1988 to 1999. Sample problems are available in five languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian and Slovak. Some articles are available from the home page, but access to the instructional material requires instructors and students to register at no cost. A slide show reviews the registration process and demonstrates the web-based course. [VF]

Los Alamos National Laboratory: MegaMath for Elementary Students

MegaMath is a project of the Computer Research and Applications Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory that aims to make mathematics accessible to young children. The collaborative project represents the work of classroom teachers, mathematicians, students in education and computer science, elementary school and high school students, school administrators, computer scientists, and parents. An image map is used to invite viewers to explore topics in mathematics, try out games, and read about the project or browse the glossary and reference section. Teachers will find some interesting activities posted, along with related materials on: the Big Ideas and Key Concepts, Background Info, Vocabulary, NCTM Standards, Evaluation, Materials and Preparation, and information For Further Study. MegaMath invites others to join the collaboration via the Internet. [VF]

The Surf Report: Quilts

Wisconsin Educational Communications Board (ECB) publishes the Surf Report, a review of instructional websites on a variety of topics, including Mathematics. This webpage provides some helpful links on integrating art and quilts with mathematics or social studies instruction. From this website, visitors can read about how teachers and students have learned with quilts, read stories about quilting, review a history of Quilts and Quiltmaking in America: 1978-1996, visit galleries, and explore other online resources. The resources might be helpful for teachers looking to develop instruction that integrates mathematics and diverse cultures. [VF]

Math Magic

Math Forum (formerly from Swarthmore College, discussed in the October 20, 1995 issue of The Scout Report) hosts this website of materials from the MathMagic K-12 telecommunications project developed in El Paso, Texas by Alan A. Hodson. The project aims to "provide motivation for students to use computer technology while increasing problem-solving strategies and communications skills." Materials are posted by grade level (K-3, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12). Each grade section includes over 20 documents with sample problems and games to try out.

University of Colorado at Boulder: Discovery Learning Center (DLC)

The University of Colorado at Boulder established the Engineering Center Complex in order to support Discovery Learning, a project in which "undergraduates work alongside graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, faculty, and industry representatives, as collaborative partners on original research." Summer research internships and other opportunities are also available for the K-12 community. The website devotes significant attention to the (elaborate) Discovery Learning Center (DLC) building design by including Architectural Diagrams and Floorplans and a photo gallery of the facility. The DLC is "designed to support vertically integrated research teams working on interdisciplinary projects, ranging from genomics-based research to the latest in space experiments." The Research section provides links to the websites of the eleven projects within this facility: Biotechnology/Biomaterials Discovery Laboratory, Center for Drinking Water Optimization, Center for LifeLong Learning and Design, Colorado Center for Information Storage, Colorado Space Grant Consortium, Coleman Computing Discovery House, Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Systems Laboratory, Small Communicating Computer Laboratory, Space Experiments Institute, Micro/Nano Electro- Mechanical Systems, and BP 3-D Visualization Laboratory Biotech/Biolab. [VF]


4000 Years of Women in Science

The central claim of this website is that people (both women and men) have been active in science for as long as we have been human, noting that "Science -- the creation of structure for our world -- technology -- the use of structure in our world -- and mathematics -- the common language of structure -- all have been part of our human progress, through every step of our path to the present." They suggest since "most myths and religions place the beginnings of agriculture, of laws, of civilization, of mathematics, of calendars, time keeping and medicine into the hands of women," why would we not think these goddesses may have represented actual people? The website discusses the definition of science and scientific success, and provides biographical information about over 125 women in science, dating as far back as 634 BCE and leading into 1900. The growing collection also includes some photos. The sources for their data come from the bibliography listed online and "'private communications' with knowledgeable individuals." Visitors are invited to email with any contributions they might have to add to this collection. [VF]

Washington State University: Ask Dr Universe

Washington State University hosts this website, Ask Dr Universe, "for kids of all ages." Visitors can ask Dr. Universe -- "your access to university research" -- about any topic, not just science. A webform is used to submit questions. And although Dr. Universe is currently experiencing an overload, answers to submitted questions are posted daily. The Big Questions are organized alphabetically by topic, including Leap Year (What's the point of leap year?), and War (Why is there war in the world?), just to name a couple. Visitors can also find answers by searching the archives, or browsing some of the more recent entries. The Links page offers a variety of links for kids and parents to enjoy. [VF]

Invent Now: Inventors Hall of Fame

The catch phrase of Invent Now, a non-profit organization sponsored by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is: "fostering the inventive spirit in all of us." The website posts the Inventors Hall of Fame, featuring men and women responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social and economic progress possible." The annual selection includes inventors nominated by peers from the field and the public. The website also posts information on programs offered for kids (grades 2-6), their parents and teachers, and college students interested in inventing. The Workshop section is a "growing resource for information on how to patent, where to find other great museums, invention sites and competitions for inventive people like you." [VF]

Popular Science: Technology

The Popular Science website, posts a range of articles on Science, Technology, History, Philosophy, Arts, and News & Ideas. Links to related books available through are provided at the end of each of the (fairly short) articles. The February 2004 issue of the Technology section highlights stories on the internet, space technology and cyborgs. The website also includes information on the Nobel Prize, including a list of all the Nobel Prize winners through 2001. [VF]

Prisoners' Dilemna

Prisoners' Dilemma is a "non-zero-sum" game studied by studied by people in a variety of disciplines, including biology, sociology, and public policy. In this game, "how to maximize one's own payoff depends on the strategy adopted by one's partner." This website offers an interactive cyberspace version of the game -- essentially letting you choose to cooperate or compete with cyber partner known as Serendip and then posting the scores. Some references and articles give background information on "what's so important about this game." From this website, visitors can check out Serendip's other interactive exhibits, articles, links to other resources, and a forum area for comments on topics including Brain and Behavior, Complex Systems, Genes and Behavior, Science and Culture, and Science Education. [VF]

The British Wind Energy Association

The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) is the professional Association for the UK wind industry, which represents over 300 companies. The BWEA released a report February 24, 2004 showing that "over a gigawatt of new wind capacity will be installed in the UK over the next 24 months, with an investment of over 1 billion and an end result of enough clean electricity to power a million homes." The Media section provides more information on the survey and provides a link to a full list of projects due to be built in 2004 along with a map showing the locations of the wind farms. The Wind Energy section answers some Frequently Asked Questions about wind energy and provides more information about inshore and offshore wind energy, including best practice guidelines, color photos, and video footage of "wind energy in action." [VF]

Measure 4 Measure: Calculation Resources Online

The Measure 4 Measure website includes an expansive collection of links to interactive websites that "estimate, calculate, evaluate, translate, etc." From this one location, you can find out where to go to convert to and from various units, calculate a given heat index, or identify potential health risks by responding to various survey questions. The websites are organized into five categories: Science/Math, Health, Finance, All 'Round the House, and A Measure Of Everything Else. [VF]

Perception Technology: Power in Numbers

Large scale research problems require super computers to perform various research calculations within a reasonable period of time. This website links PC owners to websites where you can support this research work by downloading small chunks of the data to let it process while the PC is switched on but not being used. Some examples are the Cancer Research Project or the search for extraterrestrial intelligence with SETI@home. [VF]

Topic In Depth

Heated Debates Over Open Source Software

1. Nature: Openness makes software better sooner
2. Is Open Source Fertile Ground for Foul Play?
3. Mircosoft Approach to Source Code Sharing Balances Accessibility with Responsibility
4. GNU Project: Information on Licenses
5. Open Source Initiative (OSI)
6. Daemon News
7. on History of Open Source
8. O'Rielly: Open Source Resources

Open source code has allowed for the proliferation of open source software that competes with the big guns of software development, like Microsoft. Tempers run high, with the key issues focused on differing philosophies on the best business model to use and disputes over copyright, leading to lawsuits and heated online discussions. This issue of Topic in Depth provides an overview of open source software, and a selection of websites that discuss some of the pros and cons to the different approaches to software development.

Some argue that open source is the best way to improve software, because developers can share the code and discuss issues. This article from Nature reviews some of those arguments (1). posts this article, which offers a counter argument (2) by raising concerns about security. Security has been a key issue for Microsoft -- along with copyright -- and it posts this statement on the company website regarding its "Approach to Source Code Sharing Balances Accessibility with Responsibility" (3).
More information on copyright issues can be found on the GNU Project website (4 ). The GNU project was initiated by Richard Stallman and sponsored by the Free Software Foundation, which "supports the freedoms of speech, press, and association on the Internet, the right to use encryption software for private communication, and the right to write software unimpeded by private monopolies." The Open Source Initiative (OSI) emphasizes the management and promotion of the Open Source Definition "for the good of the community" and provides some basic information on open source software (5 ). Another online news source on open source software -- Daemon News(6 )-- posts an article that argues for other ways open source can be a learning tool in "Teaching Kids to Think for Themselves." This website provides a brief history of open source software (7), tracing the initiation of open source software to Stallman and his colleagues during "the 'hacker' culture of U.S. computer science laboratories." For more on the extent of open source software now available, see O'Reilly's list of resources (8 ). [VF]

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
Valerie Farnsworth Editor
John Morgan Managing Editor
Rachael Bower Co-Director
Edward Almasy Co-Director
Nathan Larson Contributor
Max Grinnell Contributor
Debra Shapiro Contributor
Rachel Enright Contributor
Todd Bruns Internet Cataloger
Barry Wiegan Software Engineer
Justin Rush Technical Specialist
Michael Grossheim Technical Specialist
Andy Yaco-Mink Website Designer

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