The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences -- Volume 1, Number 22

November 15, 2002

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


National Environmental Data Index
The National Environmental Data Index is maintained by the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration Environmental Information Service. The service provides a full text search of information from twelve governmental agencies including the US Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, and NASA. Users can choose to search from all or individual agencies, by type of information, and by several specific subjects. Results display the agency and initial hits found within each; you can then display all results including links to the specific information. The breadth of data is helpful for one-stop shoppers, but it does create long waiting times for results. So, specific search criteria is recommended. [JAB]
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New Data Set Titles for October
NASAs Global Change Master Directory Dataset Web site (last mentioned in the May 2, 1997 Scout Report) offers a free monthly list of earth science data sets. The October list contains hundreds of links with titles such as Borehole Geophysical Logs in Surficial Sediments of Canada; Air Temperature Conditions and Climatic-Geomorphological Characteristics of James Ross Island, Antarctic Peninsula; Upper Air Standard Levels; and Monthly Average Polar Sea-ice Concentration. The site provides a search feature for the extensive list, which makes checking back monthly even more worthwhile. [JAB]
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Center for International Earth Science Information Network
Columbia University offers the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (last mentioned in the February 16, 2001 Scout Report), which specializes in online data and information management, spatial data integration and training, and interdisciplinary research related to human interactions in the environment. Their Data and Information page contains links to data, data applications, online tools, and information involving climate change, environmental health, land use, and more. The site contains an eclectic accumulation of GIS and environmental information that some researchers may find very interesting. [JAB]
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Wind Energy Projects Throughout the United States
The American Wind Energy Association provides information on existing and planned wind energy projects throughout the United States. Visitors click on the US map to get a list of all current and new projects being undertaken in a particular state. For example, Wisconsin currently has three wind energy projects with a combined average energy potential of 6440 Megawatts. Tables provide the project location, owner, date online, Megawatts, Power Purchaser or User, and Turbine Units, as well as links for further individual project information. This site is a terrific resource for researchers wanting to quickly find basic wind energy information in an easily accessible manner. [JAB]
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Wide-Area Ice Detection Using Time Domain Reflectometry [.pdf]
A report entitled "Wide-Area Ice Detection Using Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR)" was recently released by the US Army Corps of Engineers' Engineer Research and Development Center. The 37-page report investigates the use of time domain reflectometry "to provide a continuous indication of the presence or absence of liquid water, solid ice, or mixed phase liquid water and ice over large areas of the airframe." Contents of the report include TDR theory, glycol concentration and freezing point determination, wing icing tests using TDR, and dialectic constant for glycol deicing and anti-icing solutions. The freely downloadable document includes photographs and other relevant graphics. [JAB]
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Washington Department of Ecology: Publications
Washington's Department of Ecology Publications page maintains an archive of more than 1500 online publications available for download. Visitors can search the archive or browse by subject, which include Agency Administration, Air Quality, Environmental Assessment, Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction, Nuclear Waste, Shorelands and Environmental Assistance, Solid Waste and Financial Assistance, Spills, Toxics Cleanup, Water Quality, and Water Resources. Besides the impressive number of available documents, the site also offers a refreshingly easy and intuitive method for finding and utilizing what is offered. [JAB]
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Atmospheric Variables Plotting Page
The Atmospheric Variables Plotting Page is part of the larger Climate Diagnostics Center Web site (last mentioned in the December 6, 2000 Scout Report for Science & Engineering ), which allows users to freely plot available data online. Inputs include date (going back to 1980); variable, such as geopotential height, eddy height, relative humidity, vector winds, and air temperature among others; analysis level, plot type, map domain, as well as several formatting options. Once obtained, the plots can be downloaded for further use, which along with the additional relevant links makes the site a useful tool for climatic data enthusiasts. [JAB]
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Soil Temperatures
For over a hundred years the Illinois State Water Survey, part of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, "has documented quality data on a wide multitude of water and atmospheric variables". Within the main Web site is the Soil Temperatures page, which provides daily publication of maps based on data from various sites across the state. These include a 10am 4 inch bare soil temperature, daily maximum and minimum 4 inch bare soil temperature, 10am 4 inch soil temperature under sod, daily maximum and minimum 4 inch soil temperature under sod, and a daily maximum and minimum 8 inch soil temperature under sod map. The simple graphics display the particular variable along with what each of the nineteen stations recorded. Although location specific, the site gives those interested a helpful resource for easily retrieving the unique data provided. [JAB]
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The Physics Van Outreach Program
The Physics Van Outreach Program is a part of the University of Illinois Physics Department, whose Web site contains some good learning tools for kids. The question database is an accumulation of over 1000 physics related questions from kids and their corresponding answers. Visitors can browse the questions by date of entry or by subject, and can even search by keyword. The major subjects covered include air; electricity and magnets; light and sound; forces; solids, liquids, and gases; and space. Each one then contains many subcategories, which contain the links to the questions asked and their answers. This site is a great place for kids to learn about the interesting everyday physics they encounter in an easy-to-read and slow modem speed friendly environment. [JAB]
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LHS Interactive Showcase [ShockWave]
The Lawrence Hall of Science of the University of California Berkeley maintains the Interactive Showcase Web site. Eleven interactive Shockwave activities are presented based on various science themes. One called Variables allows users to change a human cannonballer's weight, angle of flight, the gun powder amount, and wind direction and speed with the goal of getting him to land in a net. Others deal with space flight, auto fuel efficiency, the human body, ideas and inventions, and more. Although the activities do not offer a huge amount of educational content, their fun quotient will surely draw students in and hopefully spark their interest in the sciences. [JAB]
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The Weather Dude
The Weather Dude is a weather education Web site offered by meteorologist Nick Walker of The Weather Channel. For kids, the site offers a great online textbook entitled Weather Basics, which explains everything from precipitation to the seasons, using simple text and fun graphics. Other fun things for kids include weather songs, questions and quizzes, weather proverbs, and more. Teachers are also provided with helpful resources such as weather activity sheets and printable blank maps, as well as many other links to weather forecasts and information that will help make teaching about weather fun. [JAB]
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GeoGame presents interactive leaning Web site, GeoGame. Here, students get to virtually travel the world discovering ten new cultures and cities from Tokyo to Nairobi. Each adventure begins by offering clues to which city is being featured, users must then choose the correct continent, country, and finally the city. Once there, the site provides information and links to learn about that particular area such as its people and culture, flag, and national anthem. Although, the educational value of the activity is not what it could be, it does give students a fun way to learn about several unique places around the globe. [JAB]
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Igneous, Metamorphic, and Sedimentary Rock Info
Igneous, Metamorphic, and Sedimentary Rock Info, is part of the University of British Columbia Introduction to Petrology course Web site. Visitors can learn the basics of petrology, and the specifics about each individual rock type. For example, the sedimentary rock page gives definitions, normal constituents, limestone and dolostone facts, and siliciclastic rock information. One of the highlights of the site lets users go through the process of rock classification by determining its grain size, composition, texture, color, and any important clasts. Overall, the site has many helpful and easy to understand features, which should assist nearly any aged student in understanding rocks and their cycle. [JAB]
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Life in the Universe
Life in the Universe is an educational pamphlet developed and distributed by the Royal Astronomical Society. The .pdf document provides information on the origin of earth, geologic time, our solar system, the predicted end of life due to an asteroid collision, using radar to detect extraterrestrial intelligence, what evidence has been found on mars and Saturn to prove life, and more. The beautifully designed document provides brilliant photographs and illustrations along with easily read text. These facts along with the almost sci-fi feel to the topics should help draw students in and encourage them to delve deeper. [JAB]
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Physical Science Information Gateway: Training
Another helpful resource from the Physical Science Information Gateway (last mentioned in the September 14, 2001 Scout Report , the Training Web site contains "free "teach yourself" Internet tutorials aimed at students, researchers and other members of staff who want to get the most out of the Internet". The topics covered include chemistry, earth science, physics, and the history and philosophy of science. Users get to tour key internet sites on each of the general topics, learn how to search for sites, get hints on what to trust online, and find out how to get the most out of the internet for their work. This is a great resource especially for kids who want to learn how to research science subjects on the Internet and hopefully make sense of the often overwhelming amount of information available. [JAB]
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Classroom Activities is the public education and outreach department of the University of Texas McDonald Observatory, which offers astronomy resources for teaches on their Classroom Activities site. The various projects are categorized by age and grade level including k-4, 5-8, and 9-12. Each provides a teachers guide, materials needed, a description of the process, any needed links (such as the StarDate Moon Phase Calculator within the Observing the Moon activity), and even printable versions of each lesson. Although not remarkable, the site does give teachers well designed and easy to accomplish activities which students should enjoy. [JAB]
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National Geographic's Dams Web site offers an interactive investigation into the good and bad impacts of dam construction. Visitors choose to view a river system before, during, or after a dam is built. Then at each time interval they can click on various sections of the river and read a short description of what is happening there. For example, after the dam is built, the reservoir that is created upstream causes several hydrological problems such as loss of water from evaporation. Although the text provided on the site is somewhat lacking, the well-done graphics and interactivity make it worth a visit. [JAB]
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Timelines are often a fun and easy way to learn a great deal about a subject. George Emery, a librarian at Canisius College, has been collecting timelines on the Internet since 1993 and kindly presents them on the AlternaTime Web site. The science and technology timeline links have titles which include science timeline, chronology of scientific developments, physics, evolutionary and geological timeline, atomic, Mendel, space program, NASA, alchemical, strange science, and dozens more. A simple but useful metasite, visitors can also find links to timelines about history and culture, arts and literature, popular culture, and science fiction. [JAB]
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General Interest Publications Online
The US Geological Survey maintains the General Interest Publications Online Web site. The over thirty publications include a range of subjects, with such diverse titles as Acid Rain and Our Nation's Capital; Birth of the Mountains: The Geologic Story of the Southern Appalachian Mountains; Deserts: Geology and Resources; and Eruptions of Hawaiian Volcanoes: Past, Present, and Future. Each attractive document, which can be viewed or printed freely, contains non-technical text and interesting photographs and graphics. The accessible nature of these publications make them enjoyable for a wide range of audiences interested in various physical science subjects. [JAB]
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Spacestation [High Speed Modem, IPIX, Windows]'s high-speed showcase contains several activities that are specifically designed to be used with a cable modem including the Spacestation Web site. This very impressive site allows visitors to explore the international space station in several ways. They can take a three-dimensional tour, take a spacewalk, watch videos, see a station timeline, interact with an astronaut, and much more. For those currently with the capabilities, this site provides a glimpse into the exciting future of Internet surfing. [JAB]
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Dr. Matrix Web World of Science
If you're searching for quality science related Web sites, then Dr. Matrix Web World of Science may be the place to start. Visitors will find various categories of sites that include astronomy, space technology, physics, chemistry, general science, and several others. Perhaps the most useful item on the site is the awards page, which contains Dr. Matrix's choices for best of individual subject areas in various years. Although Web site descriptions are not given, the collection of chosen sites is a great place to start if you're looking for quality material on the Web in these specific subjects. [JAB]
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Extrasolar Visions
The Extrasolar Visions Web site, maintained partly by Dr. Geoff Marcy and Dr. Paul Butler of San Francisco State University, provides a searchable guide to extra solar planets. These include planets of normal stars, pulsar planets, brown dwarfs, protoplanetary disks and protoplanets, extragalactic worlds, massive compact halo objects, and disproven or doubtful worlds. Visitors can search for these objects or view the week's 20 most popular systems, 20 most interesting systems, or the 20 most recently updated systems. Once chosen, the objects name, mass, average distance, and type is given along with a link for further information. This well designed site does a good job of combining quality information and graphics resulting in a pleasurable surfing experience for anyone exploring it. [JAB]
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Weather Photography
Ph.D. student Harold Edens describes himself as a "photographer of lightning, clouds, atmospheric optical phenomena and astronomy". His Web site entitled Weather Photography proves this by providing a stunning collection of photographs and movies of atmospheric optics, lightning, clouds, and astronomy. The author describes how the photographs were taken, what equipment was used, and even discusses many of the phenomenon being observed such as mirages and halos. An added bonus of this very interesting site is that the author generously allows free personal use of the photographs. [JAB]
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Physics and Star Trek
Created and maintained by physicist Jason Hinson, the Physics and Star Trek Web site investigates faster than light travel and subspace physics. Each topic is presented as a mix of factual information along with speculation on the author's part on how these phenomena could or could not work. Although the site consists of much text and few graphics, which may turn away some potential readers, the interesting subject will definitely appeal to hard core Star Trek or physics junkies. [JAB]
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Topic In Depth

The Color of Water
1. Why is Water Blue?
2. Common Water Quality Complaints Color Guide
3. What is Hydrologic Optics?
4. Water Color
5. Ocean Color
6. Yellowstone National Park: Emerald Spring
7. Laboratory Services
8. Secondary Drinking Water Regulations: Guidance for Nuisance Chemicals
Provided by, the Why is Water Blue? (1) Web site starts off this Topic in Depth. Visitors will learn the factors that affect the colors we see, what color water actually is, and the basic physics and chemistry behind the phenomenon. This site is hard to beat for its clear explanations as well as its interesting photographs and illustrations. The second site, entitled the Common Water Quality Complaints Color Guide (2), gives possible sources of nineteen color variations in water. For example, if water is reddish-orange, it most likely contains high iron concentrations. This unique and useful site is brought to the Web by the University of Colorado Boulder department of Geography. Next, from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, comes the What is Hydrologic Optics? (3) Web site. Explanations of water optics including scatter, attenuation, and absorption are given along with waters inherent and apparent optical properties. The fourth site, Water Color (4), is provided by Annis Water Resources Institute of Grand Valley State University. The page describes the Forel-Ule color scale, which provides a standard method for determining water color and tells why a waters color is significant. Next, from NASA's Visible Earth Web site, the Ocean Color (5) page gives a unique look at the color of oceans from around the world. The seven impressive satellite images, which include the Mississippi Delta and the Black Sea, include explanations of what is most likely causing the color differences. Anyone who has ever visited Yellowstone National Park knows that the brilliant colors of the many mineral springs are breathtaking. The sixth site, from the National Park Service, highlights one of these called Emerald Spring (6). The page describes how sulfur combines with reflected blue light, which makes the hot spring appear a magnificent emerald green. Next, the Laboratory Services (7) page of the Michigan Water Research Center Web site explores several physical measurements of water including color. The page contains a description, along with various links, regarding what substances cause the color of water to change and what is meant by true and apparent color. The last Web site, Secondary Drinking Water Regulations: Guidance for Nuisance Chemicals (8), is provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The site describes what secondary regulations are, why color is one, and what the standards are for color. [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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