The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences -- Volume 1, Number 19

October 4, 2002

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


Global Near Real-Time Significant Wave Height Data Host
The Global Near Real-Time Altimeter Significant Wave Height Data Host program is offered by the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Users can access the data -- which includes wave height, sigma height, and sigma naught -- by choosing a date, one or both of the satellites, and inputting the latitude and longitude of the location. Although an interactive map would be helpful, the real time data (which is actually available 24 to 36 hours after the satellite overflight) and the historical data provide a unique and valuable resource for those interested. [JAB]
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Geoscience Australia
The new Geoscience Australia Web site integrates and simplifies several past sites into this one stop, all-inclusive site for Geoscience research and geospatial information. Topics range from minerals and earthquakes to geodesy and mapping, and include online tools, maps, images, data, and publications. The very useful Geoscience Portal and the Australian Spatial Data Directory are also made available. [JAB]
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The chemical finder Web site provides professionals and researchers a tool to locate chemical products, equipment, companies, catalogues, and more from around the world. The site allows users to search or browse the database and even link directly to the appropriate Web site. Although an "about" informational page on would be appreciated, the site does appear to provide unbiased information that should prove helpful. [JAB]
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World Database of Crystallographers
The World Database of Crystallographers and of Other Scientists Employing Crystallographic Methods is offered by the International Union of Crystallography. The simple database can be searched by family name, title, interests, address, and various other criteria. Results include basic information such as full name, position, institution address, degrees held, key interests, and contact information. Those seeking such specific information will appreciate this unique resource. [JAB]
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The Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies
The Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies at the University of Arkansas "brings together the considerable expertise of a network of researchers with a long-standing history of GIS development at the University." Visitors of the site will find links to geo-data delivery systems, interactive mapping programs, reports and publications, and a wide array of other geographical information related to the state. One highlight is the newly released GeoStor version 2.0, which allows users "seamless access to digital map data (GeoData) of any area in the state of Arkansas with no subscription fee." [JAB]
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Canadian Minerals Yearbook [.pdf]
Part of Natural Resources Canada Minerals and Metals Sector, the Canadian Minerals Yearbook Web site provides mineral industry information from 1994 to 2001. Downloadable files from each year include a Year in Review, Reserves of Selected Major Metals, Recent Production Decisions, and a Mineral and Metal Commodity Review. An example of the information provided comes from the 2001 Review: "In 2000, Canadian reserves of copper, nickel, lead, zinc, molybdenum, silver and gold decreased because there were no decisions to bring new mines into production and the amount of new ore discovered at existing mining operations was insufficient to replace the quantity of ore that was mined during the year." [JAB]
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Science Portal
The Australian governmental Web site, Science Portal delivers science information and services to industry, investors, and the research community. The site allows visitors to find relevant links in their field from all of Australia's research and research-related organization Web sites. The portal can be searched or browsed by various research topics including directories and databases, policy, research grants, and more. [JAB]
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Database of Zeolite Structures
The Database of Zeolite Structures is provided by the Structure Commission of the International Zeolite Association. Links include an Atlas of Zeolite Framework Types, Collection of Simulated XRD Powder Patterns for Zeolites, Catalog of Disordered Zeolite Structures, Schemes for Building Zeolite Framework Models, and Zeolite Structure References, as well as various publications. The database can be searched or browsed, and contains several useful tools such as the "input your data" link, which allows the user to enter crystallographic data not available in the database and generate the diffraction pattern. [JAB]
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The TOPEX/ Poseidon Kids Page
In an effort to disseminate information from the TOPEX/ Poseidon satellite project, the Center for Space Research and the Texas Space Grant Consortium have developed the TOPEX/ Poseidon Kids Page. This online activity for younger students explains through simple descriptions and fun illustrations how the satellite measures the height of the ocean. Additional pages include an online quiz, a downloadable coloring book, an Ask a Scientist section, and other relevant facts and information. [JAB]
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Chandra X-Ray Observatory Educational Materials
NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory Web site (last mentioned in the January 17, 2001 Scout Report for Science & Engineering ) offers an extensive Educational Materials links page. Formal educational materials are available such as lessons and activities, as well as general information pages, interactive and printable games, and more. One high school activity, for example, demonstrates Supernova Explosions using a soda can. [JAB]
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Education Index
The Education Index Web site provides a guide to "the most useful education-related sites on the Web." The links can be browsed by subject such as astronomy, chemistry, geology, and physics (among many others), or by lifestage, from prenatal and infant all the way to college and continuing education. Although the sites described do not have a date of review or rating system, users should still find the resource worthwhile. [JAB]
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Lesson Plan Central
Lesson Plan Central -- a free lesson plans, WebQuests, worksheets, student link and clipart Web site -- has a great collection of science specific links. Categorized by subject and grade level, the listed sites are are briefly described, and any new site is labeled as such. Links to just the new, cool, and clipart sites are also provided. This collection is a great way for kids and educators to find new teaching and learning aids. [JAB]
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First Science
First Science offers a wide range of science information in many forms and on various topics. Visitors will find articles, poems, and video clips on everything from volcanoes to telescopes. Other fun activities include games, quizzes, cartoons, picture galleries, and crossword puzzles. Students will spend hours exploring all the features of this site and can return often to discover new high quality science information and resources. [JAB]
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Air Quality Lesson Plans and Data
Offered by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, the Air Quality Lesson Plans and Data Web site provides educators with a wealth of great classroom activities. Over thirty lessons are categorized by grade level and include lesson plans on a variety of topics such as acid rain, air pressure, ozone, meteorology, and more. Included on the main page are links to other valuable resources, specifically a set of waste lesson plans (related to waste and waste management) and a link that leads to the publication Environmental Teaching Guide Vol. 2: 21 More Ways To Bring The Environment Into The Classroom.
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Dr. E's Energy Lab
Dr. E's Energy Lab is an energy learning portal for kids maintained by the US Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Visitors can choose from several energy topics on the main page: wind, geothermal, solar, alternative fuels, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. These topics, linked off the fun interactive main page, take visitors to well designed subject area pages -- each offering links to more in-depth age appropriate online information. [JAB]
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Hands-on Science Lesson Plans
Science Connection is the science outreach Web site from The University of Arizona. The Hands-on Science Lesson Plans page contains lesson plans developed or modified by Science Connection to cover a range of grade levels. Topics covered include earth science, chemistry, physics, math, and biology as well as a unique, "What Makes a Scientist" activity, which helps children learn about basic scientific principles like observation and classification. Each lesson contains a recommended grade level, instructions, and many also have downloadable worksheets or a set of relevant links. [JAB]
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Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature
Provided by the US Geological Survey Astronomy Research Program, the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature Web site contains nearly everything you ever wanted to know about naming the physical features of planets. The site provides a history of the activity, details how names are approved, and of course contains an exhaustive list. For example, did you know that an Apollo 16 astronaut named a feature he saw "Stubby"? Well, he did and the site gives its feature type, description, location, and other interesting facts. The names can be searched or browsed by several methods and for those really interested, the site even provides downloads of various data. [JAB]
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A Land Worth Living
From the BBC Nature Web site, comes the A Land Worth Living page. The site has several interactive activities related to energy conservation and recycling including the virtual energy house. Here users get to choose energy saving items to see the resulting gains to the homeowner and the environment. The site also explains recycling and sustainable living and even offers a "green" quiz and a free downloadable "A Land Worth Living" poster. [JAB]
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HubbleSite [Flash]
The interactive and graphically stunning HubbleSite is produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute's Office of Public Outreach and covers all aspects of the Hubble Telescope for the general public. The Striking Encounters multimedia activity shows how galaxies collide and how scientists study them using the telescope. Other features include a photo gallery, descriptions of discoveries that have been made using Hubble, games, educational links, and much more. [JAB]
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Geological Surveys Bureau Browse Area
Offered by the Iowa Geological Survey Bureau, the Browse Area page is a great collection of articles, photos, and maps about the state's geology geared especially to the public. Topics include Age of Dinosaurs in Iowa, Landscape Features, Satellite Image, Field Travels of Early Iowa Geologists, Meteorites in Iowa's History, Oil Exploration, and much more. This is a wonderful example of how government can provide informative and fun sites to the public without going overboard with high-end and complicated Web design. [JAB]
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A Dictionary of Units of Measurement
A Dictionary of Units of Measurement was written by Russ Rowlett, the Director of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This Web site provides information on everything from the Metric System to Viscosity Grades and many other measurement units in between. A simple but very useful site, visitors can find answers to their basic unit measurement questions or just have fun learning about some of the common and somewhat obscure ways we measure things. [JAB]
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Ocean Quest
The US Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command's mission is to "collect, interpret and apply global meteorological and oceanographic data and information for safety at sea, strategic and tactical warfare and weapons system design, development and deployment." As an additional public service, the department maintains the Ocean Quest Web site, which provides a unique perspective on various oceanographic topics. For example, visitors can learn about undersea volcanoes, ports of call, diving and pressure, dynamics of a wave, and more through basic descriptions and interesting illustrations. [JAB]
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The Geyser Observation and Study Association
The Geyser Observation and Study Association is a non-profit scientific and educational corporation who's purpose is the "collection and dissemination of information about geysers and other geothermal phenomena in Yellowstone National Park and elsewhere". The Web site has descriptions and photographs of geysers from around the world with an emphasis on Yellowstone and Old Faithful. Other features include recent and historical geyser activity information, a glossary of geyser terms, an index to geysers described on the site, a "guess the geyser" game, and other interesting links round out the site nicely. [JAB]
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Virtual Reality Moon Phase Pictures
The US Naval Observatory's Time Service Department Web site (last mentioned in the June 5, 1998 Scout Report ) has a recently added moon phase picture page. Officially called the Virtual Reality Moon Phase Pictures site, users can see a picture of the current phase of the moon, as well choose to view the phase of the Moon for any date and time from 1800 to 2199 AD. Although the pictures sometimes leave a little to be desired, the idea behind the site is pretty cool. [JAB]
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Topic In Depth

Speed of Light
1. Everyday Physics: What is the Speed of Light?
2. The Light Stuff
3. Speed of Light
4. Usenet Physics FAQ
5. Speed of Light
6. Relativity Calculator
7. Lesson Plan: Speed of Light
8. Tour: Discover Light's Mysteries
The first site offered by What Why Web is entitled Everyday Physics: What is the Speed of Light? (1) The one page site describes the definition of the speed of light, how it changes passing through various medium, its historical significance, and what symbol is used for the speed of light in a vacuum. The next site from the NOVA online Einstein Revealed Web site is called The Light Stuff (2). Visitors can compare the time it would take to travel at the speed of light to various places, find objects in "Joe's Room" that slow down light, and try the Time Traveler Game which shows how time changes if you could travel very quickly. The third Web site, Speed of Light (3) offers a historical timeline of measuring the speed of light and various quizzes geared to students. Next, from the University of California at Riverside Department of Mathematics comes the Usenet Physics FAQ (4) Web site. Under the Relativity and Cosmology heading are several speed of light topics including: is the speed of light constant, why is it so high, is there an equivalent of the sonic boom for light, and more. The fifth site, which is maintained by the University of Colorado at Boulder is entitled Speed of Light (5), and has a unique interactive feature. Users can vary an electromagnetic wavelength, which travels at the speed of light, to calculate the distance it travels and time it takes to return to its original location. The 1728 Software Systems Web site, Relativity Calculator (6), offers a similar conversion applet which shows the changes that occur when objects approach the speed of light. After reading the theory behind it, follow the directions and play around with the calculator to see some of the surprising results. Offered by, the Speed of Light Lesson Plan (7) site teaches students how the NEC Research Institute was able to "bend" Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. Students are asked to read the "Breaking the Speed Limit?" article (which is provided) and then discuss several questions about the piece. The last site, part of Berkeley's Center for Science Education, is called Light Tour: Discover Light's Mysteries (8). The interactive tour lets students discover basic information about light in the Universe and how astronomers make use of light wavelengths. [JAB]
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From The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2002.

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Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2002. The Internet Scout Project (, located in the Computer Sciences Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, provides information about the Internet to the U.S. research and education community under a grant from the National Science Foundation, number NCR-9712163. The Government has certain rights in this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the entire Scout Report provided this paragraph, including the copyright notice, are preserved on all copies.

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