The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences -- Volume 2, Number 1

January 10, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


Evaluation of Airborne Image Data for Mapping Riparian Vegetation Within the Grand Canyon
A US Geological Survey Open-File Report has recently been released entitled "Evaluation of Airborne Image Data for Mapping Riparian Vegetation Within the Grand Canyon." The 65-page document explains how the study "examined various types of remote-sensing data that have been acquired during a 12-month period over a portion of the Colorado River corridor to determine the type of data and conditions for data acquisition that provide the optimum classification results for mapping riparian vegetation." Because remote sensing is still in its early stages of development, new ways to produce more effective images are continuously and feverishly being sought. This study gives researchers and professionals good insight into how remote sensing can best be utilized for riparian and hopefully other similar vegetative areas. [JAB]
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New South Wales Environment Protection Authority Annual Report 2001-02
The latest Annual Report from the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority is available from their main Web site. The document is described as "essential reading for anyone with a personal or professional interest in environmental issues, and an indispensable reference for those formulating or evaluating policies, managing environmental resources or making decisions affecting the environment." Its contents consist of a detailed look at programs in place for air and noise, water and catchments, hazardous substances, waste, supporting the community, environmental compliance, organizational performance, and financial programs. Other topics include a year in brief, organizational structure, and a thorough appendix and index. [JAB]
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Microgravity Database
The European Space Agencies (ESA) Microgravity Database "gives scientists access to information regarding all experiments carried out on ESA and NASA missions by European scientists since the 1960s." Users choose from a physical or life sciences query form, then can search by experiment and investigators, mission and facility, publications and source, and more. Results provide the mission name, data, payload, research subject, publication information, an abstract, and any other available facts or related links. A very intuitive and well designed database, visitors should appreciate its unique and extensive content. [JAB]
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National Space Science Data Center Newsletter
The National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC) archives and provides access to a wide variety of astrophysics, space physics, solar physics, lunar, and planetary data. The NSSDC News is an online monthly newsletter that chronicles the agency's efforts and provides readers with up-to-date important information. Articles are available from 1994 to the latest December 2002 issue that contains titles such as "Don Sawyer Becomes Acting NSSDC Head," "New XML and Conversion Tools," "The Low Latitude Boundary Layer: A New Historical Review," and more. Anyone working in related fields will find the publication a timely and informative resource. [JAB]
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Data Bank
The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources Data Banks purpose is "to develop, store, process, and manage natural resources data relating to land and water resources of the State, and make the information available to government agencies and the general public in a user-friendly and timely manner." Spatial and GIS data is available, such as a dams inventory, groundwater levels, hydrologic units, and soils data. Relational/ tabular data related to groundwater, surface water, and weather are also offered, including even a metadata databank. A large of amount of free and easily accessible data is made available on the site, making it a must visit for researchers or professionals interested in the state. [JAB]
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Integrity in Scientific Research: Creating an Environment That Promotes Responsible Conduct
A new offering from the National Academies Press has been made available entitled "Integrity in Scientific Research: Creating an Environment That Promotes Responsible Conduct." The freely viewable and printable publication has chapter headings that include The Research Environment and Its Impact on Integrity in Research, Institutional Approaches to Fostering Integrity in Research, and Promoting Integrity in Research Through Education, as well as several informative appendixes. As science evolves and expands to new frontiers, ethical discussions and debate become an increasingly important topic. This publication continues this dialogue from a unique viewpoint that professionals may find valuable. [JAB]
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Spectral Atlas Central [.ps]
From the National Optical Astronomy Observatories and the Kitt Peak National Observatory, comes the Spectral Atlas Central Web site. Users can plot wavelengths covering the spectra of 3005 thru 10598, 3000 thru 10900, and 3300 thru 11100 by inputting a start and end wavelength and specifying the number of lines. The resulting plots can then be viewed or downloaded as a FITS file, Postscript file, or a line list. The specificity of subject contained on the site will certainly exclude those unfamiliar with the topic, but should be helpful for those whose work or research is similar in nature. [JAB]
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Analytical Chemistry Springboard
The Analytical Chemistry Springboard Web site is provided by Umea University Department of Chemistry. The metadata site provides a large number of annotated links that relate to analytical chemistry. Categories include Atomic Spectroscopy, Chemometrics, Electron Spectroscopy, Mass Spectrometry, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, X-Ray Spectroscopy, and many more. Another section on the site provides links to informational resources such as newsgroups, nonprofit organizations, and scientific literature sources. Each site has a brief description, a direct link, and informational icons that tell if the site is new, updated, or contains graphics -- all of which culminate in a simple but very helpful resource for those working in a related field. [JAB]
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Eco Kids [Flash]
Offered by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Eco Kids Web site provides an interactive place for kids to learn about environmental topics. The main page allows users to download screensavers and wallpaper by clicking on various objects in the room; play games about wildlife, science, and the environment; and learn about many related topics. On the Eco Information Notebook page, kids can browse the virtual environmental notebook to get information on science and nature, energy, wildlife, and other environmental issues such as climate change and pollution. The colorful and interactive site provides kids with a wealth of educational material in a fun and engaging format. [JAB]
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Tutorial on Balancing Equations [Flash]
Dr. Yue-Ling Wong of the Wake Forest University Computer Science Department maintains the online Tutorial on Balancing Equations. Students interactively get to choose the types of atoms in a methane, ethane, propane, and ethanol equation; enter the atom counts for the equation and the product; and then attempt to balance the equation. The program tells you if you are right or wrong and gives the right answers whenever you request them. Twelve other more advance chemical equations are available as well, making the site more than just a Web programming example. In all, it's a good learning tool for introductory chemistry students. [JAB]
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A project of the Ramapo Catskill Library System of Middletown, New York, KidsClick! was created as "a logical step in addressing concerns about the role of public libraries in guiding their young users to valuable and age appropriate web sites." Kids can browse the database of sites by a wide range of subjects (which are actually organized by the Dewey Decimal System), such as the environment, natural disasters, space, geography, geology, physics, and many more. Each listing contains a description of the site, if it contains illustrations, its suggested reading level, and its primary category, as well as a direct link. The sites can also be searched by keyword, subject, title, description, reading level, picture content, and URL. In addition to all of the helpful resources for students, educators are also offered links to related lesson plans for download. [JAB]
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Victor the Vector
OCEAN98 is a nonprofit NGO "aiming to promote and to provide information and
education to broad international audiences on all aspects of the importance of oceans, seas, and coastal waters for all life on Earth." The OCEAN98 Web site provides the Victor the Vector online educational activity for kids ages 8-12. Its a story-based activity that follows the adventures of Victor through the Gulf Stream ocean current and his encounters with various sea animals and people along the way. The well written and illustrated story does a great job of providing an interesting and fun educational tool that students will definitely enjoy exploring. [JAB]
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From the American Museum of Natural History comes the online exhibit on the life and legacy of Albert Einstein. Students (who should probably be at least of high school age) can learn about Einsteins revolutionary thinking; his work with light, time, energy, and gravity; his thoughts on peace and war, on being a global citizen, and his legacy according to the museum. Although fairly brief, the site contains some interesting photographs and does a good job of describing the uniqueness of one of history's greatest minds. [JAB]
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Seaworld: Water
An educational lesson plan entitled Water is offered by the Seaworld teacher resources Web site. Objectives of the unit include having students identify the three phases of water, discuss the hydrologic cycle, describe the structure of the water molecule and the properties of water, explain ocean currents, and more. The well designed lesson allows students to study various topics by reading provided text and completing the activities described such as measuring salt content in water and estimating water usage for a day. The simple but effective lesson plan is geared towards grades 4-8, but most likely could be attempted by younger students as well. [JAB]
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Earths Timeline
Provided by MSNBC News Web site, the Earths Timeline interactive activity chronicles the history of the earth. The main page describes how radiometric dating and fossils have been used to develop the contemporary geologic timescale. Users can click on one of four major geologic time divisions, including the Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic, to get specific information on the individual subdivisions of geologic time and to see how the continents have shifted. These sections then tell how many years ago they occurred and what was occurring on the earth at that time. The Holocene Epoch, for example, which spans from 10,000 years ago to the present, has experienced the retreat of the last glaciers, the rise of sea levels, and human existence. [JAB]
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Paleontological Research Institution: Touring the Collections
The Paleontological Research Institution has a museum containing "a world-class collection, containing everything from dinosaur eggs of China to one of the most comprehensive Paleozoic trilobite, brachiopod, coral and crinoid collections in the United States." The Touring the Collections page allows visitors to view some of the museums most valued items. Students can currently choose from either arthropods or echinoderms, and then from several subcategories from the virtual specimen drawers. The arthropods, for example, contains Chelicerates, Crustaceans, Insects, and Trilobita. Each drawer has a description of the particular class and pictures of the specimen, which, when clicked, contain its order, family, genus, species, rock unit, age, and location. This is a great accompanying site for those studying paleontology, geology, biology, and probably several other subjects. [JAB]
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Floods: The Awesome Power [.pdf]
A newly released publication from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service, and the Red Cross is entitled "Floods: The Awesome Power." The citizen-focused sixteen-page preparedness guide explains "flood-related hazards and suggests life-saving actions you can take." Readers will learn what flash floods are, what to do if youre caught in your vehicle during a flash flood, what river floods are, how tropical cyclones create floods, where to get current weather information, what your local community can do to be more prepared for floods, and much more. The graphics rich and non-technical publication with its potentially life-saving information is definitely worth a read. [JAB]
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Total Solar Eclipse of 2002 December 04
NASAs Goddard Space Flight Centers Eclipse Home Page has a wide range of information from the December 4, 2002 total solar eclipse event. The site contains a computer animation of the eclipse path, low and high resolution maps of regions during the eclipse and of its total path, tables of eclipse information, coordinates of the path, a lunar limb profile, tips on observing and photographing the eclipse, and other related information and links. Any amateur stargazer should fully utilize this valuable resource for past and future eclipse event information, data, and suggestions. [JAB]
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Climate of 2002 Preliminary Annual Review
The National Climatic Data Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has made available the Climate of 2002 Preliminary Annual Review Web site. Visitors will find numerous charts; graphs; tables; and descriptions of global temperatures, temperature trends, regional temperatures, and global precipitation. A US climate summary, as well as information on significant events, the Atlantic hurricane season, and the western US wildfire season, is also available. The site has something for those interested in a quick look and for anyone wanting to delve a little deeper into the weather of 2002. [JAB]
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The Online Books Page
Hosted by the University of Pennsylvania Library, the Online Books Page Web site "facilitates access to books that are freely readable over the Internet...and aims to encourage the development of such online books, for the benefit and edification of all." The over 18,000 listings can be searched or browsed by author, title, and subject, of which every major physical science subject is represented. Each listing is linked to an outside Web site, making its availability unpredictable, but the shear number of books that are accessible make the Online Books Page a great resource. [JAB]
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Sky Chart
The Sky and Telescope Web site, which is the companion site to the long running magazine of the same name, hosts the online interactive Sky Chart. Users can choose from any location on earth by inputting a city or a latitude and longitude, after which they then choose the direction they want to view in the sky. The tool allows anyone to view an image of the sky from any location on earth, which is pretty darn cool. The ease of use is another highlight of the Sky Chart, making it easily accessible to non-technical people and for learners of all ages. [JAB]
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Music Acoustics
The Music Acoustics Web site is maintained by the University of New South Wales School of Physics. General topics covered include what a decibel is, what interference beats are, what a sound spectrum is, what acoustic impedance is, and others. Specific instrument questions are also answered, such as waves in strings, flute and clarinet acoustics, Helmholz resonance, and pipes and harmonics. This very interesting site, with its many illustrations and animations, along with its easily-read text, answers all the questions youve ever had on the physics of music and many of the ones you never knew you wanted to ask. [JAB]
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Environmental News Network
The Environmental News Network (ENN) has as its primary goal to educate the world
about environmental issues facing our Earth. People can freely read articles that change daily on the latest news that effects our planet, read stories from major environmental organizations, search past stories, learn about upcoming events on the provided calendar, listen online to EarthNews Radio, and more. An example of a current in-depth article describes how fossil fuels today are depleted 100,000 times faster than they form and how, by 2010, world energy consumption is expected to increase almost 50 percent. Although the site may be slightly biased, it does provide easy access to a wealth of environmental news and information; those interested can even subscribe for email delivery of the latest ENN articles. [JAB]
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The Messier Catalog
The Students for the Exploration and Development of Space of the University of Arizona maintains The Messier Catalog Web site. Named after the French astronomer who first discovered the objects, the catalog describes and features what are considered to be some of the most beautiful nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies in the sky. Visitors can read about Messier and about each individual object in the actual catalog, which includes a picture, its distance, brightness, the history of its discovery and observations, and much more. Although its a bit unorganized and difficult to navigate at first, the site provides a lot of unique information and beautiful pictures, which anyone even slightly interested in astronomy should enjoy. [JAB]
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Topic In Depth

History of Energy
1. Milestones in the History of Energy and Its Uses
2. Botticelli's Famous History of Energy Timeline!time.html
3. History of Offshore
4. Hydropower
5. Illustrated History of Wind Power Development
6. The Energy Time Machine
7. History, Theory, and Operation of Fuel Cells
8. Solar Physics Information
This latest Topic in Depth delves in the Webs offerings on the history of energy. The first site is maintained by the US Department of Energy, which is called Milestones in the History of Energy and Its Uses (1). From fire to the discovery of nuclear energy, the site gives short descriptions on significant events in the history of energy for each century, events by particular fuel type, events by energy uses, how energy uses have changed, energy consumption changes, and more. The next site entitled Botticelli's Famous History of Energy Timeline (2) is provided by the Association for the Promotion and Advancement of Science Education. Visitors, especially kids, should enjoy the simple and brief explanations on energy discoveries and uses from ancient times until the 1900s, along with the additional links on coal and petroleum. One specific segment of the energy industry is offshore oil and gas exploration. The National Ocean Industries Associations Web site explores this topic on its History of Offshore (3) page. The site describes how this technique started, how it has evolved, and how its been regulated. The fourth page, Hydropower (4), is part of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology course Web site. Water power is explored from the origin of the waterwheel around 100 BC to large hydroelectric dams of today. Although graphics are not used extensively, the easily read narrative and provided links give a good introduction to the topic. The next site, from TelosNet, is called the Illustrated History of Wind Power Development (5). The contents include a case for wind power use, its early history, 20th century developments, the future of wind power, and more. From Energy Quest of the California Energy Commission, the Energy Time Machine (6) Web site gives an extensive look at the history of energy. Users choose from dozens of specific eras to locate and discover educational tidbits such as, in 1814, when the first American steam-powered warship was launched. The seventh site, brought to the Web by Dias-Analytic, is called the History, Theory and Operation Of Fuel Cells (7). Described is the background and history of how fuels (hydrogen and oxygen) produce electrical energy by means of a chemical reaction. The last site explains the history of solar energy. As part of the High Altitude Observatory Web site, the Solar Physics Information (8) page tells visitors the history of solar physics, including great moments in its history, how the sun works, what a sunspot is, and other interesting topics worth exploring. [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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