The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences -- Volume 2, Number 3

February 7, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


Argonne Research Programs and National Scientific User Facilities
The Argonne National Laboratory Web site offers researchers links to information concerning various activities of the agency on the Argonne Research Programs and National Scientific User Facilities page. Visitors will find reports, data, and publications produced by the US Department of Energy's largest research center, covering dozens of research topics including chemistry and chemical technology, energy systems and technology, environmental assessment, high-energy physics, material science, nuclear reactor safety and technology, transportation technology, and more. Each link brings up the respective division's Web site, which give descriptions of what is being studied, as well as any significant reports and other information that may be helpful to the public. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Earthquake Travel Times: Customized Listing of Recent Arrival Times
The US Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program Web site contains the Earthquake Travel Times Customized Listing of Recent Arrival Times online calculator. The tool allows visitors to generate a listing of the times that phases from recent earthquakes arrived at their particular seismic station. After inputting the latitude and longitude of their location, the distance and magnitude of earthquakes to consider, types of phases, and other parameters, the user gets a simple but informative readout. The data includes the date and time of the earthquake, phase codes, travel time in seconds, arrival time, direction of travel, and more. Any seismologist or other researchers in similar fields should thoroughly appreciate this simple and helpful resource. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Applied Physics Laboratory 2002 Annual Report
The John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has a core purpose to "core enhance the security of the nation through the application of science and technology." This includes research on missile, radar, sonar, sensor, chemical/ biological, and information technologies; space science and engineering, microelectronics; communications; navigation; modeling and simulation; and advanced research and technology development. The report's contents include a Message from the Director, as well as a highlights from particular areas such as Science and Technology, Civilian Space, Defense Communications, Information Operations, air and missile defense, and warfare analysis. The report, although lacking in-depth content, does provide those interested a polished glimpse into the workings and accomplishments of one of the nation's largest research facilities. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

TranStats: The Intermodal Transportation Database
Provided by the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, this site for researchers and analysts, which is aimed at providing "one stop shopping" for transportation data, allows users to search over 100 databases, download data, complete online statistics, and view online maps pertaining to data. Data subjects related to physical science includes energy use statistics, a pollution database, air quality data, emission trends, toxics inventories, greenhouse gases, and more. Although a newer browser is required to view the site and a fast modem is recommended, the very well designed site provides easy browsing and access to a host of very helpful information. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Molecular Monte Carlo Home Page
The Department of Chemical Engineering and Department of Chemistry of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art maintain the Molecular Monte Carlo Home Page. For those unaware, Monte Carlo refers to the use of "random walks" (stochastic methods) to simulate and analyze molecular systems. The main page contains descriptions of the various types of Molecular Monte Carlo such as classical, quantum, and volumetric; links to Monte Carlo tutorials including simulation basics and stochastic methods; online papers, books, and discussions; software and numerical tools; and conferences, journals, and reference databases. Updated regularly, the unique information provided on the site gives researchers a great resource for a fairly uncommon subject. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Scientific Inquiry of Onshore Federal Lands' Oil and Gas Resources and Reserves and the Extent and Nature of Restrictions or Impediments to their Development [.pdf]
The Department of Interior has released a new report entitled Scientific Inquiry of Onshore Federal Lands' Oil and Gas Resources and Reserves and the Extent and Nature of Restrictions or Impediments to their Development. The report chronicles the US's attempts to produce a comprehensive review of federal oil and gas resources and constraints on their development in five basins in the Interior West. The document contains a description of the mandate that initiated the report, a comprehensive review of the methodology used for collecting and analyzing data, and a full disclosure of findings, as well as all appropriate appendixes and figures. The most basic findings conclude that, of the more than 59 million acres surveyed, approximately 65 percent are available for some form of oil and gas leasing. The entire report, more than a hundred pages, is freely available for viewing or download. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Standards and Interoperability
The Standards and Interoperability Web site is provided by the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) to "provide a reliable network of standards-related information for use by NIMA, its contractors, and the Imagery and Geospatial Community as a whole." The main page contains links to pages that contain data architecture information from the National System for Geospatial Intelligence, geospatial and imagery standards from the oversees geospatial and imagery community, national imagery transmission format standards, and video imagery standards. NIMA's goal to present all necessary information needed to promote interoperability amongst all National System for Geospatial Intelligence systems comes very close to fruition with this helpful site. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

DOE Pulse
The Department of Energies DOE Pulse bimonthly publication highlights work being done at the Department of Energy's national laboratories, which "house world-class facilities where more than 30,000 scientists and engineers perform cutting-edge research spanning DOE's science, energy, National security and environmental quality missions." Pulse provides insight into current research highlights, updates on collaborations among laboratories, and profiles of individual researchers. The latest issue, for example, contains articles on a free-electron laser for carbon nanotubes, a new device for telecommunication, a newly-developed global monitoring system that allows researchers to monitor the DZERO particle detector from their own locations, and more. The site offers those interested an easy way to stay apprised of current research and even provides email notification when new issues come available. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]


Women-Related Web Sites in Science/ Technology page
From Joan Korenman of the Department of English at the University of Maryland comes the Women-Related Web Sites in Science/ Technology page. This great collection of Web resources contains dozens of sites that in some way provide information on the contributions of women to science. Example sites include the Committee on the Status of Women in Physics; Douglass Project for Rutgers Women in Math, Science, and Engineering; Gender Equity in Education; Girls and Women in Science; Institute for Women in Trades, Technology, and Science; Stealing the Fire: Women Scientists in Fiction; and more. Educators and students alike will appreciate this compilation of important resources, which should only help to spread the knowledge and acceptance of the important role woman play in science and technological pursuits. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Community Science Action Guides
The Science Learning Network Community's Science Action Guide Web site provides educators with a number of provocative activities designed to engage students with science issues that are meaningful in their local communities. The main page is designed as a periodic table that contains links organized by subject and by grade level. Included in these are a water activity called Saving Water Everywhere, geared toward primary students; an energy activity entitled Animating Energy Online for secondary students; and various life science pages. Each lesson contains an overview of the project, instructions for successful completion, links for needed resources, and much more -- all of which help to create a better than average resource that science educators should fully appreciate. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Tales from the Underground
Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry Web site offers a very interesting interactive activity called Tales from the Underground. Kids get to explore an interactive map of Chicago neighborhoods to view the results of soil samples that were taken to determine the amounts of various pollutants they contain. Students are then able to conduct their own experiments (with help from their teacher or parent) to learn about the health of soils where they live. The site contains a wealth of additional activities, downloads, and lessons that culminate in a unique learning experience that kids will enjoy. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Beat the Heat at Arizona Science Center offers an unique energy learning activity called Beat the Heat. This fun and interactive lesson lets users design a house in a particular location and test it in various seasons to best utilize the heat of the sun for energy efficiency. You can choose various types of roofs, windows, solar panels, skylights, and plants, as well as the direction your house faces, to see how each of these variables effects your home's efficiency. This in-depth and intriguing exercise teaches some very important lessons about home energy use and conservation to students in ways they most likely haven't thought of before. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Science North: Learn and Play
Science North Museum is self-described as creating high quality science education and entertainment experiences for its visitors. The Learn and Play portion of the accompanying Web site contains a Cool Science link with a wide variety of activities including an interactive stargazer and solar system, science quizzes, a reflex tester, a geology exploration activity, and more. Other links on the Learn and Play page include descriptions and movies, additional recommended science links, and Web cams of various locations that includes those within the museum itself. Although there isn't a large amount of high quality educational material on the site, it does provide enough substance for kids to spend some time and come away with some good information. Educators may also want to explore the Schools and Teachers link for additional resources. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Dan's Wild Wild Weather Page
The Chief Meteorologist for a Huntsville, Alabama television station, Dan Satterfield maintains the Dan's Wild Wild Weather Page Web site. Original and linked descriptions, illustrations, and photographs of various weather subjects are offered on radar, tornadoes, clouds, precipitation, lighting, humidity, satellites, temperature, forecasting, hurricanes, wind, and climate. New features of the site include weather games, puzzles, and quizzes; a link to listen to various weather phenomenon; a tour of Dan's weather office; and much more. Students and teachers alike will enjoy browsing the site to discover many interesting and well presented meteorological educational offerings. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Two from the Morrison Planetarium
The Sky This Month
What's a Planetarium?
A good online resource from the California Academy of Sciences is the Morrison Planetarium Web site. Two main resources that are excellent are the Sky This Month link and the What's a Planetarium? activity. The first is a day-by-day sky watchers' guide to various stars visible from earth during each month, a listing of sunset and sunrise times at the planetarium, and some other interesting features. The What's a Planetarium? page is an interactive activity geared towards young kids in which they learn the very basics of how a planetarium works and what happens there. This is achieved by clicking through slides that consist of hand-drawn illustrations and a few lines of easily read text that are perfect for early childhood learners. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Discovering Plate Boundaries
Rice University's Earth Science Department offers the Discovering Plate Boundaries educational activity. The exercise is described as a "data rich exercise to help students discover the processes that occur at plate tectonic boundaries" and has been used successfully with 5th graders to undergraduates. The site provides the necessary downloads of maps; earthquake, volcanic, seafloor, topographic, and bathymetric data; and teacher guides and complete instructions. Because the activity can be geared towards such a large range of students, is well designed, and is easily accessible, educators will definitely appreciate the site. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]


Space Shuttle Columbia News
The official US gateway to all government information,, has compiled a number of informative links that chronicle the February 2003 Shuttle Columbia disaster. Visitors can read President Bush's address to the nation regarding Columbia and its crew; review the latest information from NASA about the Shuttle mission, crew, and current investigation; and discover how the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency are assisting in the shuttle recovery and clean-up. The user-friendly does a good job of providing citizens with a well organized point of entry to links regarding recent governmental news and information. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

World Weather Information Service
The World Meteorological Organization Web site offers the World Weather Information Service page. Here, visitors will find official weather forecasts and climatological information for selected cities worldwide. Users choose a particular continent and country, and are then presented with a list of various cities they can get information on. This includes the date and time of the current forecast, minimum and maximum temperatures for that day, a general cloud description, and a monthly review of various data for that city. If for nothing else, the site does a good job of providing a very straightforward and easy way to find weather information from hundreds of cities around the globe. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

US Environmental Protection Agency's 2002 Annual Report
The report "presents a comprehensive assessment of the Agency's annual performance toward the strategic goals and objectives in the Agency's September 2000 Strategic Plan... and... focuses on environmental accomplishments and benefits to the public resulting from implementation of Agency programs." Visitors can download or read online performance results in the agency's efforts for clean air and water, preventing pollution, waste management, reducing global and cross border risks, and providing quality environmental information, as well as management accomplishments, financial statements, and various appendixes. The large document can be more easily explored by viewing the table of contents and choosing independently the chapters of interest. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Lake Water Monitoring and Analysis with Satellite Remote Sensing
From the Environmental Remote Sensing Center at the University of Wisconsin Madison comes the Lake Water Monitoring and Analysis with Satellite Remote Sensing Web site. Researchers and their cooperators have developed a method of assessing the water quality of Wisconsin's lakes from space using satellite imagery. Visitors to the site can read about how this is actually done, view an interactive map of Wisconsin that presents the results in an easy-to-use interface, and view some very interesting Landsat images from around the state. The authors of the site even provide a free downloadable map entitled Wisconsin Lake Water Quality and various additional links for related information. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

The Atlas of Canada
The Atlas of Canada Web site is maintained by the governmental Natural Resources Canada Agency. This excellent interactive mapping and informational device lets users choose from dozens of topics to map such as geology, hydrology, land cover, glaciers, wetlands, natural hazards, and sea ice, as well as several others such as people and society, economic, health, and more. Once a map loads, users can zoom in and out, pan directions, get statistics about a point of interest, and get information from a legend. Although it's a little slow to load even for a cable modem, the large amount of information that can be viewed and accessed via this online tool is quite remarkable and should be a shining example to other governments as an easy way for citizens to access important facts. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]
If you're interested in finding quality science related Web sites, give a try. The science section contains several sponsored sites as well as specific categories such as chemistry, earth science, environment, news, physics, resources, space, biology, education, and geography resources. Once a category is chosen, the links are then listed and can be reorganized by editors' picks, date added, popularity, votes, and site name. If you're so inclined, you can choose to vote on the quality of specific sites or choose to receive email newsletters that notify subscribers no more than once a week of new top 10 categories they have created. Although brief descriptions of sites would be helpful, the site is a good reference for those seeking quality internet resources. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Access Excellence Classic Collection
Another good resource from is the Activities Exchange Classic Collection Web site. The page presents links that focus on a single person or event by putting it into historical context and relating it to current science. Each contains a set of references, classroom activities, graphics, background information, and more. Some of the titles of the activities include The Discovery Of Radioactivity: The Dawn of the Nuclear Age; Radioactivity: Historical Figures; How We See: The First Steps of Human Vision; Discovery, Chance, and the Scientific Method; DNA Structure; and Development of Polio Vaccines. The pages and activities are well designed and offer educators some interesting and unique lessons for their students. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

The Dawn of Animal Life
The Miller Museum Online Exhibit, the Dawn of Animal Life, is provided by the Miller Museum of Geology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Patrons can explore the evolution of life from three billion to about 500 million years ago by clicking on the various links, which include the formation of the earth, eukaryotic cells, the oldest known animal fossils, the ediacarian fauna, the mistaken point fossil assemblage, and the world's oldest complex animal fossils found in Newfoundland called Charnia. The site offers non-technical descriptions of where the fossils were found, what their significance is, and a host of very interesting photographs of the fossils themselves. Although the fossils presented are limited to certain locations, the site does a good job of explaining how they help researchers learn about the past around the globe. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Topic In Depth

Historic Maps
1. Map Library
2. Maps of the Roman Empire
3. History of Cartography
4. American Memory Collections
5. Perry-Castaeda Library Map Collection: Historical Maps
6. Color Landforms Atlas of the United States
8. Maps and Geography
The first site about historical maps is the US Military Academy at West Point's History Department's Map Library (1). The page contains links to dozens of maps related to warfare from ancient times, the American Revolution, and the Napoleonic wars to the World Wars and other modern conflicts. Although map descriptions are not given and the main page seemed to have a problem loading correctly, the site does give a very interesting glimpse into the geography and history of conflict. The second offering is from The Dalton School called Maps of the Roman Empire (2). Visitors will find dozens of interesting maps with titles such as the Roman Empire circa 120 AD; Trade Routes; 18 Centuries of Roman Empire; and maps of how the empire expanded, barbarian migrations, and more. Next, the History of Cartography (3) Web site is maintained by the University of Wisconsin Geography Department. The well designed page contains six volumes of information relating to cartographic changes from ancient times to the twentieth century. Full descriptions and images are available from this unique research, editorial, and publishing project. The fourth site from the Library of Congress Historical Collections is entitled American Memory Collections (4). The page contains various links to civil war maps, panoramic maps, revolutionary era maps, and other very impressive collections. The Perry-Castaeda Library Map Collection: Historical Maps Web site (5) of the University of Texas at Austin is the next offering. This extensive site contains a well organized collection of historical maps of Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia and the Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, Polar Regions and Oceans, Russia and the Former Soviet Republics, Texas, the US, and the World. The sixth site is maintained by John Hopkins University called Color Landforms Atlas of the United States (6). The main page contains links to maps from all fifty states, which include large historical maps from 1895, county maps, and shaded relief maps. The next site, (7), is provided by Britain's national mapping agency and the Landmark Information Group. The site gives online access to Britain's most extensive digital historical map archive, which can be searched and browsed by a variety of subjects to view maps of Buckingham Palace, Edinburgh Castle, and Oxford University, among others. The last historical maps Web site is the Maps and Geography (8) search engine from National Geographic online. Users can search by general historical maps, Lewis and Clark maps, New England and New York maps, Civil War, and World Maps to find and view an impressive and interesting collection. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Below are the copyright statements to be included when reproducing annotations from The NSDL Scout Report for the Physical Sciences.

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 Physical Sciences, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2002.

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, 1994-2002. 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.

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.

Joel Brieske -- Editor
Ted Schroeder -- Managing Editor
Rachael Bower -- Director
Edward Almasy -- Technical Director
Max Grinnell -- Contributor
Rachel Sohmer -- Contributor
Cavin Leske -- Contributor
Wayne Hayes -- Contributor
Laura Boyle -- Contributor
Yasuhiro Sasahira -- Contributor
Debra Shapiro -- Contributor
David Sleasman -- Internet Cataloger
Colin Holden -- Assistant Internet Cataloger
Barry Wiegan -- Software Engineer
Pat Coulthard -- Technical Specialist
Noah Diewald -- Technical Specialist
Andy Yaco-Mink -- Website Designer

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