The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences -- Volume 2, Number 9

May 2, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


Atlas of Natural Hazards in the Hawaiian Coastal Zone [.pdf]
A report entitled Atlas of Natural Hazards in the Hawaiian Coastal Zone was recently released from the US Geological Survey. The stated purpose of the report is to communicate to citizens and regulatory authorities the history and relative intensity of coastal hazards in Hawaii and to provide a strong data set for planners and managers to guide the future of coastal resources. The nearly 300 page atlas can be downloaded in seven different sections or as one large document. Included in the atlas are notes on specific hazards, a ranking of hazard intensity, an overall hazard assessment, and specific technical hazard maps for each island. [JAB]
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The International Research Institute for Climate Prediction 2002 Annual Report [.pdf]
The International Research Institute for Climate Prediction of Columbia University has a mission to enhance society's capability to understand, anticipate, and manage the impacts of seasonal climate fluctuations in order to improve human welfare and the environment, especially in developing countries. The 2001 to 2002 accomplishments of the organization are highlighted in this "glossy" 80 page report. Readers will find information on specific programs underway in various parts of the world, current impacts, and future goals. Those interested will enjoy the document's attractive graphics and well laid out format. [JAB]
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Magnetic Declination and Field Value Calculator
From NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center comes the Magnetic Declination and Field Value Calculator. Users can computes the estimated values of Earth's magnetic field, including magnetic declination based on the current International Geomagnetic Reference Field. Inputs include a zip code or latitude and longitude, a specific date or range of dates, and an elevation to retrieve a number of things -- the magnetic declination and inclination; the horizontal, vertical, north, and east component of the magnetic field; magnetic field vector; and more. Researchers and professionals will appreciate this easy to use and helpful tool. [JAB]
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US Gazetteer
Offered and maintained by the US Census Bureau, the US Gazetteer data server is used to identify places to view with the Tiger Map Server and obtain census data from the 1990 Census Lookup server. Searches can be done by place name, state, or zip code to locate the specific information desired. Results include all relevant location information and the needed links to further access the myriad of data from both sources. The GIS-based Tiger Map Server is especially helpful for easily obtaining useful geographic information relevant for a whole host of research needs. [JAB]
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Earth System Science Center: Database
With a goal to search for links between the Earth's physical processes and past and future global change, Pennsylvania State's Earth System Science Center (ESSC) is a consortium of the school's Departments of Geosciences, Meteorology, Geography, and Energy, Environmental, and Mineral Economics. The Web site includes a database, which contains "geographically referenced data sets, representing both data generated by ESSC investigators, and other data needed to support their investigations." These include soil climatology and paleo-climatology data, land use information, aerial photography, and much more. Even though users are forced to use a somewhat cumbersome method of data retrieval via a hierarchical directory tree, the resources available make it well worth the effort. [JAB]
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Interactive Mapping and Geoscience Data Analysis
The Earth Sciences Department at Cornell University maintains the Interactive Mapping and Geoscience Data Analysis Web site. The site contains an interactive data retrieval Java applet that is described as giving users unprecedented ability to dynamically interact with large volumes of organized digital data sets and to map and display any parts of the data sets according to their purposes. Displayable information includes a wide range of geographical, geological, geophysical, image, and other data that can be viewed and downloaded for personal use. [JAB]
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The Oregon Climate Service
The Oregon Climate Service of the Oregon State University campus in Corvallis, Oregon, is the state repository for weather and climate information. Visitors of the site will find weather forecasts, climate data such as temperature and precipitation records, climate and weather maps, satellite data products, periodicals and reports, and much more. Some of the newest products include a report of California weather, a climate report of Oregon, and information sheets from Oregon climate stations. The site does a good job of organizing and presenting information, making it easy to find and utilize relevant data. [JAB]
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Velocity Ratio and its Application to Predicting Velocities [.pdf]
This publication from the US Geological Survey is entitled Velocity Ratio and its Application to Predicting Velocities. The purpose of the paper is "to accurately predict elastic velocities of water-saturated clastic sediments by utilizing the dependence of the velocity ratio on porosity." Readers will find information on the Biot-Gassmann theory; modeling velocities; and all relevant discussions, appendixes, and figures related to the research. Although a very specific subject, researchers involved in similar fields should find the document interesting. [JAB]
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Zoom into Maps
Zoom into Maps is a learning Web site that utilizes the Library of Congress Geography and Map Divisions digitized Map Collection. This very well designed site takes students through different subject areas including local geography, exploration and discovery, migration and settlement, environmental history, pictorial maps, and more. They will learn how to analyze maps, get to know various features they contain, and discover what can be learned from them. Interesting and non-technical text accompanies each page, which, along with the truly fascinating maps and good site design, will surely hold the attention of students for hours. [JAB]
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The Remote Sensing Integrated Unit
The Remote Sensing Integrated Unit is a collection of lessons related to satellites and remote sensing. As part of the University of South Florida Making Waves Web site, the activities include seven lessons with titles such as remote sensing in history, graphing stratospheric ozone, visible and infrared imaging, and creating your own satellite. Students will learn about this potentially difficult subject by doing a variety of hands-on and easy-to-understand activities and by completing various quizzes and worksheets. The site does a good job of presenting a unique collection of resources for students and educators. [JAB]
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Science Challenge Questions and Answers
The Science Challenge Questions and Answers Web site is a collection of 196 questions and answers addressing Earth and Planetary Science topics provided by the US Geological Survey. A very non-technical site, visitors will find a one-page list of questions and answers that include: What is the age of planet Earth?; What is the largest volcano in our solar system?; Do earthquakes occur in the central portion of the United States?; What is the surface temperature of Venus?; Are there any naturally occurring dams along the Colorado River?; What is the distance from the surface of Earth to its center?; and much more. Although it doesn't contain any fancy online tricks or even graphics, the very interesting questions provide a great way for students to learn about the earth. [JAB]
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Mineralogy 4 Kids Rockin Internet Site
The Mineralogical Society of America's Mineralogy 4 Kids Rockin Internet Site is described as "The BEST Place to Learn about Rocks and Minerals." Subjects include Minerals in Your House, Mineral Groups and Properties, Mineral Games, and All About Crystals. Another activity is entitled Rock Cycle, which offers a well done graphic and description of how rocks are transformed into the three major families: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. The additional links that are provided throughout the site give visitors a chance to further explore these subjects and learn even more. Overall, the site does a good job of providing attractive graphics and well written dialogue. [JAB]
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Mineral Quizzer
Jeremy Mates, who works for the Department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington, maintains the Mineral Quizzer Web site. The quiz is described as an electronic way of testing and/or improving your working knowledge of mineral names and their formulas. Perfect for students of mineralogy, petrology, or even basic geology, users can choose the number of questions they want to answer, the mineral group to be tested, and either multiple choice or fill in the blank question types. This unique and helpful resource offers students an easy-to-use and challenging educational tool to reinforce their learning. [JAB]
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The Underground World of Caves
The University of Missouri Center for Distance and Independent Study offers the Underground World of Caves Web site. The course includes an interactive step-by-step method of completing ten lessons that include everything from cave formation, cave life, cave ecology and conservation, and caves in the US, to general caving safety, moving through a cave, rappelling in caves, and ropes and belaying. Two online exams are included, as well as a photo gallery, additional links, and more. [JAB]
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Making Energy Fun and Safe
The Making Energy Fun and Safe Web site is made possible by utility corporation Alliant Energy. The colorful cartoon feel of the site provides kids a fun way to learn the basics of electricity with topics such as What is Energy?, How Do I Use Energy?, and How Electricity Gets to Your House. Other sections of the site include ways to save energy and electricity safety at home, including many interactive games that are related to all of the topics covered. This well designed site does a great job of introducing a large amount of information in a format that is easy and fun for kids to explore. [JAB]
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Internet Geography
Created by teacher Anthony Bennett, the Internet Geography Web site seeks to be a center for shared geographical resources and knowledge. A wide range of information and teaching tools can be found here, including links to original works that describe general physical, environmental, human, and economic geography subjects. Special sections of the site are geared specifically for students and teachers; the site provides them with homework help and lessons for teaching geography. Additions are regularly made to the site, making repeated visits necessary and fruitful. [JAB]
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Cascades Volcano Observatory: Educational Outreach
Located in Vancouver, Washington, the Cascades Volcano Observatory monitors and reports on volcanic activity in the area and around the country. The related Educational Outreach Web site is provided by the US Geological Survey. Visitors will find information on current volcanic activity and news, what to do if a volcano erupts, volcano terminology, America's volcanic history, how the Cascade range got their names, volcano questions and answers, and much more. Other features of the site include activities and fun "stuff," posters and videos, and many outside links. [JAB]
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Envirolink is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to providing comprehensive, up-to-date environmental information and news. The Envirolink Web site accomplishes this by compiling and organizing a wealth of resources including timely news headlines and categorized links to hundreds of informational and organizational Web sites. Topics include everything from agriculture and air quality to waste management and water quality, each with its own subcategories and descriptions. Anyone interested in easily locating environmental information and news will appreciate this well designed and helpful site. [JAB]
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The Barringer Meteorite Crater
The Barringer Meteorite Crater is a mile wide and 570 foot deep hole in the Arizona desert that was made by a meteorite approximately 50,000 years ago. The Barringer Meteorite Crater Web site chronicles the history and science behind the craters creation, discovery, and eventual purchase by Mr. Barringer. Other links on the site include information on the environmental effects of the impact, interactive quizzes and games, a crater forum, and additional outside crater links. The quality feel of this unique site is reflected in its design and content. [JAB]
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Virtually Hawaii
Virtually Hawaii is provided by researchers at the University of Hawaii, Proxemy Research, Terra Systems, and private company sponsors. Visitors can explore virtual field trips of the Hawaiian Islands, participate in remote sensing tutorials, work with an interactive spectral imager, view space and aircraft images, and more. The virtual field trip of the "big island" includes a simulated flight, a ground tour, a kids tour, and a link to six ways to enjoy Kilauea Volcano. An interesting and informative site, everyone from kids to grandparents will enjoy its content and ease of use. [JAB]
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Geologic Information about Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands [.pdf]
The Geologic Information about Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Web site highlights selected US Geological Survey research on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The single page site contains a list of links with titles that include The Mineral Industry of Puerto Rico and the Administered Islands, Seismic and Tsunami Hazard in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands National Park, Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Puerto Rico, and Sand and Gravel Resources of Puerto Rico. The links include reports, downloadable documents, maps, and other informative publications on these important Caribbean islands. [JAB]
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The World of Amber
The World of Amber Web site is maintained by Susie Ward Aber of Emporia State University Earth Science Department. Like the title of the site proclaims, if you're interested in amber, this is the place to be. The easily understood descriptions and interesting photographs cover topics such as what amber actually is, its physical properties, types of amber, life in amber, uses of amber, geologic occurrences, identification, and much more. This simple but effective site is not only educational, it's also a pleasure to explore. [JAB]
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The Mysterious Life of Caves [Flash]
Another exceptional site from PBS online and Nova is entitled the Mysterious Life of Caves. Visitors can read an interview with a microbiologist about bacteria that live where nothing else can and from a journalist on caving 1,200 feet down a cave. The interactive section of the site includes a photographic journey through Lechuguilla, "one of the most strikingly decorated caves in the Americas" and a fascinating and very well done interactive Flash animation of how caves form. Anyone interested in caving, geology, or just nature in general will appreciate and enjoy this site. [JAB]
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Amateur Astronomy Clubs and Organizations
Provided by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the Amateur Astronomy Clubs and Organizations page contains a database of clubs throughout the world. Users can browse by country and by state to locate the club of interest and a direct link to their Web site. The dozens of sites provided are from nearly every state in the US and seven countries including Canada, Mexico, Europe, South America, Asia, Australia/ New Zealand, and Africa. [JAB]
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Topic In Depth

Voltage Drop
1. Frequently Asked Questions: Voltage Drop
2. Basics of Electricity
3. Voltage Drop in Cables
4. Lesson Plans: Voltage Drop
5. Explanation of Voltage Drop in a Series Circuit
6. Voltage Drop Calculator
7. The Hazards of Voltage Drop
8. Elementary Electricity
The first site with information on voltage drop is provided by Power and System Innovations on their Frequently Asked Questions: Voltage Drop (1) page. Visitors can read what voltage drop is, what causes it, what happens as a result of it, and what the maximum recommended voltage drop is. The second site, Basics of Electricity (2), is part of General Electric's Lighting for Business Web site. Through descriptions and illustrations, the site explains what voltage drop is and gives examples of how it is calculated using Ohm's law. The next site is a lab worksheet that is part of a class from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of Montana State University called Voltage Drop in Cables (3). The objective of the lesson is to determine the internal resistance of an extension cord and choose the proper wire size for a particular application. Students are given an explanation of the procedure and a number of questions to answer related to the exercise. The Oregon Building Congress offers the Lesson Plans (4) Web site and the downloadable Voltage Drop educational activity. The lesson, which is suggested to be contained within a unit on formulas and solving literal equations, explores the concept of voltage drop that is encountered in basic wiring. The fifth site entitled Explanation of Voltage Drop in a Series Circuit (5) is offered by the Horizons Electronic Lesson Plan Resource. The page describes voltage drop as an electronic concept, gives a formula determining voltage drop, provides a schematic that helps illustrate the concept, and offers a quiz and answer sheet. Next, from, is the online Voltage Drop Calculator (6). Users input the type and size of wire being used, the voltage and phase, circuit length, and amp load to calculate voltage drop and several other parameters. The seventh site, entitled The Hazards of Voltage Drop (7), is provided within the Electrical Construction Maintenance Web site. The page describes how electrical equipment can overheat or even power down if it operates below its voltage rating. It also provides a thorough explanation of how to determine the load's operating voltage. The last site, maintained by Williamson Labs (8), is a comprehensive learning site called Elementary Electricity. Visitors will find a wealth of information here, including fun descriptions, graphics, and animations on all aspects of electricity including voltage drop. [JAB]
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From The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2003.

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Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2003. 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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