The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 3, Number 22

October 22, 2004

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

A Note to our Readers




Topic In Depth

A Note to our Readers

Join Us in Observing Scout's 10th Anniversary

For the past ten years, the Internet Scout Project has focused on developing better tools and services for finding, filtering, and presenting online information and metadata. From the outset, our goal at Scout has been to provide value to our users. As we mark Scout's 10th anniversary, we'd love to hear from you about your experiences using our reports, our archives, or our software. Please take a moment and email me,, with any anecdotes you'd care to share with us and others. We plan to post a sampling of your comments on the Scout website in the near future.

Warm regards,

Chris Long
Managing Editor


Javvin: Protocol Dictionary

The Javvin Company offers this online Network Protocol Suite Directory and Index. A network protocol is made up of "a formal set of rules, conventions and data structure that governs how computers exchange information over a network." This compiled online database is handy given that these protocols are defined by various organizations and technology vendors. The database organizes the protocols according to their key functions or their origin/sponsors, but the listing can be viewed alphanumerically by protocol name. The website also provides information on Javvin's products. Visitors can get a free a protocol network map poster by contributing to the protocol dictionary. [VF]

International Electrotechnical Commission [pdf, Microsoft Word]

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is "the leading global organization that prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies." Electrotechnologies include electronics, magnetics and electromagnetics, electroacoustics, multimedia, telecommunication, and energy production and distribution. The standards are developed so that "a component or system manufactured to IEC standards and manufactured in country A can be sold and used in countries B through to Z." The website provides a brief introduction to the IEC conformity assessment schemes (used to assure customers of product quality) and highlights other resources. For example, a selection from the International Electrotechnical Vocabulary (IEV), which is available for purchase in print as a series or as a CD-ROM, is posted here. Access to the database on Graphical Symbols for Use on Equipment as well as the database containing graphical symbols for use in electrotechnical diagrams requires a paid subscription. Many features of the website seem to be posted specifically for members of IEC Technical Committees and Subcommittees; however, visitors may view a list of IEC patent declarations or browse the posted requests for approval, meeting documents, and IEC reports. Also of interest are the Zones, which address issues such as approaches to color management, electromagnetic compatibility, achieving functional safety, and alternative energies. An overview of the International System of Units, or SI, is also available. [VF]

Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration in Dependability [pdf]

The Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration in Dependability (DIRC) is a joint effort among researchers from five British Universities and various disciplines "to address the dependability of computer-based systems." They define dependability broadly to encompass many facets of dependability, including reliability, security and availability. Their use of the term "computer-based systems" is also intended to emphasize the involvement of human participants and the inclusion of disciplines such as sociology and psychology as well as computer scientists and statisticians. Their work is organized into five Research Themes (Structure, Diversity, Timeliness, Responsibility and Risk), each of which is described here. Their projects are described on this website, along with a list of the people and partners involved and a selection of publications available to download, such as conference papers and technical reports. A Publications section also makes it easy to search the database by author or browse by publication type or project activity. [VF]

Center for Responsible Nanotechnology: Wise-Nano

The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology's (CRN) Wise-Nano project is "a collaborative website to study the facts and implications of advanced nanotechnology." The website is designed for researchers and intended to encourage collaboration worldwide and "to build an understanding of the technologies, their effects, and what to do about them." From this website, visitors can ask and answer questions, join or start a project, create, review, edit, or expand on articles, contribute to discussions, or find collaborators for research. The website offers an innovative approach to promote dialogue on hot topics in nanotechnology. Basically, someone poses a question and proposes a project to investigate, people gather to work on the project, which leads to articles. Although articles can also be added separately from any project, the point is that "any user can work to improve any article." For example, the main page highlights current "hot debates," which are then presented in an editable format that allows readers to make changes to the interactive articles directly online. Ultimately, this leads to a series of white papers, K-16 curricula, and other documents as well as, ideally, inspiring new projects. [VF]

University of Washington: Robotics and State Estimation Lab [pdf]

The Robotics and State Estimation Lab at the University of Washington is "interested in the development of embedded computing systems that interact autonomously with their environment in an intelligent way." The lab investigates probabilistic methods and their application to mobile robotics in order to "develop rich yet efficient methods for representing uncertainty and for reasoning under uncertainty." They evaluate these methods through application in mobile robot localization, map building, exploration, and multi-robot collaboration. Their work includes an evaluation of the CentiBots Project (see MET Report, May 9, 2003), which is posted here. Visitors are invited to view several animations illustrating particle filters and their extensions used in the study of state estimation and learning in areas such as people tracking and high-level activity recognition. Descriptions and video footage provide a nice overview of the lab's projects, such as RoboCup, Ubiquitous computing, Mapping and Exploration, and Museum Tour-guide Robots. Publications, which include reports, articles, book chapters, and workshop presentations, can be viewed and downloaded from the project pages or within the Publications section. [VF]

NASA: Machine Learning Systems [pdf]

The Machine Learning Systems (MLS) Group at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory conducts basic and applied research with a focus on finding "software solutions to hard problems requiring data mining, knowledge discovery, pattern recognition, and automated classification and clustering." In particular, they are building systems based on learning algorithms to be applied in the analysis of scientific data generated by NASA and JPL instruments and to develop technologies relevant for adaptive systems and autonomous spacecraft. Projects on bioinformatics, multi-angle imaging, and data transmission are described here. Several research papers are also available to download. [VF]

Mathsoft Resources

Mathsoft is a company offering consulting services and products to "help organizations create manageable engineering information." The Mathsoft Resources section includes an "eclectic" collection of unsolved mathematics problems and a series of Math Constants Essays. The essays reflect the organization's fascination with the appearance of certain constants, which "echo throughout mathematics, in seemingly independent ways." The site discusses how these constants from various subdisciplines of mathematics characterize the structure of mathematics, "just as physical constants provide 'boundary conditions' for the physical universe." They also offer a selection of links to websites with statistics, engineering and math resources. [VF]

Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems

The Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems (MITACS) is a Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE) for the Mathematical Sciences in Canada. The organization's work focuses on "the imperatives of research, education and technology transfer" applied to "the fastest growing sectors of the nation's economy." Currently, its work involves developing mathematical solutions in the areas of Biomedical & Health, Environment & Natural Resources, Information Processing, Risk & Finance, and Communication, Networks & Security. The website describes each of these Scientific Programmes and provides a link to the project website, where the publications resulting from its work are posted. The website is also available in French. [VF]


Internet Public Library

The Internet Public Library (IPL) is the product of a graduate seminar at the School of Information and Library Studies at the University of Michigan to explore "the interconnections of libraries, librarians, and librarianship with a distributed networked environment." The website offers library services via the Internet, including digital reference service and collection management. The project is also "an experiment, trying to discover and promote the most effective roles and contributions of librarians to the Internet and vice versa." The KidSpace section is designed with kids in mind and offers links to an annotated bibliography of Internet resources on various topics including The World, Computers/ Internet, Math & Science, and Sports & Recreation. A separate section for parents and teachers provides links to educational resources. Other features include a section where children under age 13 can ask the librarian a question, a Culture Quest highlighting various regions of the world, text and audio files of stories, facts about U.S. presidents, basics on HTML, and ideas for science fair projects. [VF]

Hoffer Elementary School: Low Tech, High Tech [mpg]

This website provides some low-tech ideas for using technology in the classroom. The website is a product of a collaboration between Hoffer Elementary School in California and the UCR/California Museum of Photography and is part of the museum's VidKids Media Literacy program. The photography and related media projects include a Photo Montage, a Magazine Collage, a Photoshop Gallery, and experimentation with animation and video. Several books, created through a collaborative E-mail books project, in which students took turns writing and illustrating each page, are also posted on this website. [VF]

Around the World in Eighty Problems

"20,000 Problems Under the Sea" is a website created jointly by MathPro Press and the University of Missouri-Rolla's Dept. of Mathematics and Statistics (See also the Scout Report from 1998). This section of the website offers a selection of 80 "tantalizing math problems from all over the world." Visitors can "tour" the problems, which were submitted through various competitions worldwide, all of which are listed in the Sources section from the main page of the website. Going "undersea" leads you their main page, where a search form lets you search within a database of 20,000 math problems. Other sections highlight mathematics problem books published by MathPro Press and a history of the project. [VF]

NASA Glenn Learning Technologies Project

The NASA Glenn Learning Technologies (GLT) Project sums up their work as "seeking revolutionary technologies for educational applications, and sharing Aerospace Technology through Web-based resources, computer simulations, and videoconferences." The simulations, available free online in Java, are a series of interactive computer programs intended to give students hands-on, inquiry-based learning in science and math. The programs are "constantly being modified and upgraded based on your input" and engage students in investigating aerodynamics or modeling rockets and jet engines. Each simulation is complemented by a review of the mathematics standards addressed and the mathematics behind the model. A section on Aeronautics Resources provides a series of Beginners Guides on topics such as aerodynamics and propulsion as well as each of the simulation programs available on this website. Resources on mathematics and physics are also provided. From here, teachers can find out more about free videoconferencing or webcasting with NASA experts or access a variety of resources such as teacher-created webpages, workshops, standards, and web-creation guides. The NASA's Digital Learning Network (DLN), which gives learners at all levels an opportunity to interact directly with NASA experts through videoconferencing or webcasting recently addressed topics such as Flight Control Surfaces and the reasons for spacecraft failures. The website also describes the Internet Access Research Projects at NASA, which are "developing networking solutions for schools in non-traditional settings to ease the ability for these schools to get connected." [VF]

Learn North Carolina

Learn North Carolina is a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education providing Internet resources to improve K-12 education in North Carolina. The resources include articles on educational practices and professional development, a section called LEARNing Illuminations offering "multimedia explorations of educational practices, using video, audio, text, and images to take you from theory to practice in innovative ways of teaching," and lesson plans and WebQuests created by North Carolina educators and partner organizations. Many of the resources are correlated to specific goals and objectives of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, which are also linked to from this website. Other resources relating to issues of interest to beginning teachers and for students, such as online courses and tools, tutorials, articles, and reference materials for making better use of the Web, are also available. [VF]

100th Day of School

This website, created by children's books author Joan Holub, is dedicated to encouraging and enhancing 100th Day celebrations in schools. The 100th Day of School is "a math celebration that is a fun way to teach basic math concepts to children" and is most commonly celebrated in grades K-2 and take place between mid-January to mid-February. Students count each day they go to school one by one until they reach the 100th day and on the 100th day, the entire class or school celebrates with a variety of activities. The activities can address topics such as counting, sorting, measuring, sequencing, graphing, and classifying. This website offers 300 ideas on ways to celebrate the 100th Day of School, which were contributed by teachers, librarians, principals, media specialists, and other educators. Also provided are links to related websites and a list of books on the 100th Day of School. [VF]

ThinkQuest: October 2004 Competition

ThinkQuest, sponsored by the Oracle Education Foundation, is "an international website-building competition" in which teams of students and teachers build websites on educational topics. The websites are then published in the ThinkQuest Library and prizes are awarded to top-scoring teams. The October 2004 competition is now open to teams of three to six students, ages nine to 19 who have six months to build a website. ThinkQuest teams are "encouraged to be creative and original when choosing their topics," which can be an "open category" of their choice or fit into one of the following categories: clothing, money, transportation, communication, or plants. Examples within each category are provided. Additional information on the rules, evaluation criteria, steps for entering, FAQ, and Coach Resources are also provided. [VF]

Curriculum Archive

The Curriculum Archive is "a repository for lessons and curriculum for all grade levels and subject areas." The Archive is a place to share ideas, but also a chance to earn some money. Apparently, authors are paid 100% of "the income produced by advertising on their lesson(s) and the associated discussion forum(s)." Lesson contributions can be searched using several search criteria, such as grade level and subject area. Lessons are posted in a table format, showing the lesson title and rating, as well as grade levels and subject areas addressed by the lesson. A separate section also lists the highest rated and most recent postings. Users are encouraged to provide feedback on the website and the lessons. To maintain quality, submitted lessons are reviewed for consideration of inclusion and, if selected, reformatted for online posting. The discussion forum, unfortunately, is overloaded by postings from advertisers and the advertisements throughout the website can be quite distracting. [VF]


Robot Hall of Fame [QuickTime]

The School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University's Robot Hall of Fame honors "landmark achievements in robotics technology and the increasing contributions of robots to human endeavors." The website groups robots into two categories: Robots from Science and Robots from Science Fiction. Robots from Science includes "real robots that have served useful or potentially useful functions and demonstrated unique skills in accomplishing the purpose for which they were created." The Robots from Science Fiction, which are fictional robots, are honored for the inspiration they have provided and for helping "form our opinions about the functions and values of real robots." The Inductees honored for 2004 include ASIMO, Shakey, ASTRO BOY, Robby, the Robot, and C-3PO. A separate page is dedicated to each Inductee, where visitors will find an overview of the robot, video footage or photos, and other information. The Jury, which selects the robots each year, is made up of international scholars, researchers, writers, and designers. The website also includes a running list of nominations and invites others to include their own nominations. [VF]

Statistical Quotes

This webpage, produced by a statistical consultant and IT manager in Germany, offers a collection of quotations and jokes on statistics. The sections include: citations on statistics by statisticians, remarks or "comments to think over," and jokes. Links to similar websites with quotes and jokes on statistics are also provided. [VF]

NIST Metric Information and Conversions: In the Kitchen

This website from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides information on the metric system and useful conversions to know when cooking. A printer-friendly version of the website can serve as a poster with handy conversions to keep in your kitchen. The Capsule History section provides an overview of America's metric history and the slow process of "metrication." Also provided here are answers to some commonly asked questions about the metric system and All You Will Need to Know About Metric (For Your Everyday Life). Other helpful Metric Conversion Cards are also posted. [VF]

USGS Earthquake

This article from the USGS highlights current research by USGS scientists and colleagues at the Southern California Earthquake Center using Global Positioning System technology to "track minute changes in the Earth's surface around Los Angeles and assess the risk of future earthquakes." The research is based out of the Image of PKRD station and is part of the Southern California Integrated GPS Network, which "watches over the city day and night." Using GPS technology, the station is are monitoring earthquake hazards in urban areas such as Los Angeles and along the San Andreas Fault System. From this website, visitors can view a picture of the PKRD station and read more about the research and an overview of Earthquake Research in the Satellite Age. [VF]

NPR: An Artist of Music and Math [RealPlayer]

This article and audio file from National Public Radio highlights the work of Manjul Bhargava, a professor at Princeton University. He is an expert in number theory and "a master of the tabla, a small Indian hand drum used to create music with rhythmic, precise patterns." In this article, Bhargava describes the mathematical and improvisational aspects of classical Indian music. The article is part of a Morning Edition series exploring the intersection of art and science. An audio file lets visitors listen to Bhargava playing the tabla. [VF]

EurekaAlert: Nanotechnology in Context

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) created EurekAlert! to serve as an online press service to distribute science-related news to reporters and news media. The In Context section highlights a particular area of science, which in this case is nanotechnology. The website offers an overview of nanotechnology and posts several research papers, news releases, essays, background articles, a calendar of upcoming meetings, a glossary of terms and links to other related online resources. [VF]

Fuel Cells 2000 [Microsoft Word, pdf]

Fuel Cells 2000, an organization dedicated to informing the public about fuel cells, offers this website with an interactive map listing companies and research organizations connected with the U.S. fuel cell industry. A second map shows U.S. Fuel Cell Installations and Vehicle Demonstrations. Links to the organizations' websites make this an easy-to-use resource for finding out more about fuel cells and looking up local demonstrations. Visitors can also download a full directory of nearly 1000 fuel-cell related companies and organizations and a chart showing fuel cell installations worldwide. (Unfortunately, many of the other links on this website were not working at the time of this writing.) [VF]

Two on Fractal Music

Fractal Music
and Fractal Music Lab [Java]

This first website offers a collection of fractal music using images created by G.W.F. Albrecht. The technology and mathematics which this presentation draws on is described on the second website. The second website, developed by David Strohbeen, offers some basic information about fractals and fractal music. He has also posted some samples of his music and invites visitors to download software for creating fractal music and to submit their own compositions.

Topic In Depth


Computational molecular biology, which now is commonly called bioinformatics, draws on mathematics and computer science to inform research in biology. This evolving area of research advances our knowledge of biological systems and contributes to medical research, but also raises ethical issues and demands increased collaboration among scientists. These issues are reviewed in this issue of Topic in Depth.

Biocomputing in a Nutshell
NRC: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists
What is Bioinformatics?
Open Bioinformatics Foundation
University of British Columbia: Bioinformatics Links Directory
European BioInformatics Institute
The American Journal of Bioethics

The first website (1) offers a broad introduction to bioinformatics. The second website (2) provides a summary of a report from the National Research Council outlining some of the contributions of bioinformatics research and suggests ways to promote collaboration among the diverse disciplines within graduate and undergraduate programs. The author of this next website (3) provides links to various definitions of bioinformatics and offers a brief review of the origins of the field. Another interesting facet of this work, which can probably be traced to the field's history, is the sharing of tools and resources over the Internet. For example, researchers can share their open source code software on websites such as this one from the Open Bioinformatics Foundation (4) or search this directory from the University of British Columbia (5) to find everything from the genome of the SARS virus to basic guidelines and tools. Some interesting research projects are described on this website from the European bioInformatics Institute (6). Finally, a review of some of the ethical issues raised by this work are posted on this website (7 ). [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 1994-2004.

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, 1994-2004. 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.