The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences -- Volume 2, Number 12

Date June 13, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


National Geodetic Survey
"NOAA's National Geodetic Survey (NGS) defines and manages a national coordinate system. This network, the National Spatial Reference System, provides the foundation for transportation and communication; mapping and charting; and a multitude of scientific and engineering applications." The NGS Web site contains several helpful resources for researchers and professionals including a monthly newsletter, aeronautical data, GPS data, datasheets, a geodetic tool kit, software, and much more. The datasheets for example, are ASCII text files that contain data for survey control stations maintained by NGS that show precise latitude and longitude as well as orthometric heights or elevations. Other available data include geoid height, state plane coordinates, and Universal Transverse Mercator coordinates. [JAB]
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GeoStor [Java 3D]
GeoStor is described as an online data delivery system that allows seamless access to digital map data of any area in Arkansas, which is a free service provided by the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies of the University of Arkansas. After registering, users can search and download all available public data layers such as land use, airports, beaches, streets, counties, hydrology, land ownership, surface geology, voting districts, and dozens more. The JAVA interface is well designed making searching, accessing, and downloading the desired data surprisingly easy -- which often can be the difference between actually utilizing an online data repository system and just being a good idea. [JAB]
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International Rivers Network [pdf]
In part, the International Rivers Network's mission is to halt and reverse the degradation of river systems and to foster greater understanding, awareness and respect for rivers. The Web site offers news articles, information, and publications related to the organization's work and related topics around the world. These include the World Rivers Review, which is devoted to river issues and appropriate freshwater management; the River Revival Bulletin that summarizes recent developments in dam decommissioning and river restoration; the Water and Power Pipeline, which offers a list of the new water and energy projects that are being considered for approval; and more. Although the organization's political leanings can be detected easily, the information provided on the site should be found interesting by anyone concerned with similar issues. [JAB]
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Water Database Bibliography: Middle East Water Information Network
The University of Pennsylvania Institute for Environmental Studies (IES) maintains the IES Water Database Bibliography and the Middle East Water Information Network. The bibliographic database contains over 10,000 catalogued entries including such topics as hydrology, geography, science and technology, economics, population, politics, law, management, and strategic affairs related to the Middle East as well as other regions. Users can choose a subject area (such as environment or groundwater), a specific country, a river basin, and fill in any keyword, title, date, language, or other limiting criteria to carry out the searches. The unique subject matter of the database make it a potentially valuable resource for those whose work is, or whose interests are, related to its offerings. [JAB]
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National Park Service Data Information
The National Park Service Data and Information Web site contains several helpful links for data related to the Parks. The Data Clearinghouse link has national and regional data sets such as civil war and land status data, local and regional historic and scenic trails data sets, and information on the Virgin Islands in a well designed and easily browseable format. The Interactive Map Center allows visitors to explore the National Parks using interactive interfaces, while other links explain the National Park Service's standards and specifications, and how to use metadata correctly with other data. The unique and limited scope of the data makes the site a good example of how the Web is increasingly becoming an excellent source for hard-to-find free information. [JAB]
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International Ground Water Modeling Center [pdf]
The International Ground Water Modeling Center -- part of the Colorado School of Mines -- is described as an internationally-oriented information, education and research center for ground-water modeling. It advises on ground-water modeling problems, distributes ground-water modeling software, organizes short courses and workshops, conducts research in practical, applied areas of ground-water hydrology and modeling, and provides technical assistance on problems related to ground-water modeling. The Web site offers visitors free software downloads, software reviews, publications, short courses, news and newsletters, mailing lists, and other helpful information and tools specifically geared towards ground-water modeling and modelers. [JAB]
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The GeoIndex Search Engine, which is continually updated, contains some new features making a regular reviewing of the site worthwhile. GeoIndex is "a powerful Search Engine developed, owned and maintained by Datasurge Company to specifically fill a need for the Geo-Environmental professional" by covering geotechnical, environmental, hydrogeology, geology, mining, and petroleum topics. The highlights of the site include the clear and descriptive search results, and the well-designed and browsable "nested" categories including companies, associations, education, and government Web sites. [JAB]
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Water Quality Standards Inventory Database
The Water Quality Standards Inventory is provided by the Information Center for the Environment, a cooperative effort of environmental scientists at the University of California, Davis. The GIS-based inventory of water quality standards consists of water quality objectives and beneficial uses established by each regional board for California surface waters. Users can browse by water quality regions, Caltrans districts, California counties, waterbody name, beneficial uses (such as cold freshwater habitat), or do keyword searches. This very informative and graphically pleasing database does a good job of presenting the extensive information in an easily accessible manner, making it a terrific resource for those searching for various water information for the state. [JAB]
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Liberty Science Center: WattsUp with Electricity in Brazil and the United States
The Liberty Science Center of Jersey City, New Jersey has a mission to be an innovative learning resource for lifelong exploration of nature, humanity and technology, supporting the growth of our diverse region and promoting informed stewardship of the world. The WattsUp with Electricity in Brazil and the United States online learning resource explores various aspects of energy and energy use. Kids can explore and compare energy production, transmission, and consumption between the two countries, cool graphics, and interactive animations. This interesting site not only covers energy conservation, it also teaches kids how the sources and uses of energy in other countries vary significantly. [JAB]
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Colorado Water Knowledge
The Colorado Water Knowledge Web site is maintained by the Colorado State University Colorado Water Resources Research Institute. The site allows kids to explore all aspects of water science including general facts, a description of the water cycle, stream processes, Colorado geology and water history, major aquifers of the area, aquatic life in local waters, Colorado water laws and regulations, and much more. Although it isn't graphic intensive, the site does a good job of explaining the wide array of concepts using simple descriptions, lists of facts, and a few choice illustrations. [JAB]
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Great Web sites for Kids
The American Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) offers the Great Web Sites for Kids page. Users will find a large accumulation of recommended sites for kids under different categories such as science, which includes Astronomy and Space, Chemistry and Physics, General Science, Geology, Science Experiments, and Weather and Environment, among others. Other headings include the subjects of Geography and Maps, Biology, and Dinosaurs. Each site contains a brief description, a recommended age level, as well as a direct link . The ALSC uses several criteria in choosing a site, including one that states it "must be meaningful and useful content that educates, informs, or entertains" -- very much like its own site. [JAB]
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Provided by the British Geological Survey, the Earthquakes Web site contains numerous educational topics for kids. Best suited for junior high school students and older, the site contains information on macroseismology (or the observable effects of earthquakes on people, buildings, and nature); seismic hazards; earthquake monitoring; recent and historical earthquakes; and more. Other links on the site include a Questions and Answers page, earthquake references, and additional educational links culminating in an informative and helpful source of online science learning. [JAB]
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AQMD Kid's Page [Macromedia Flash Player]
The South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties in Southern California. The AQMD Kid's Page contains a bunch of fun and educational links and activities for students including experiments, online games, a recipe for making smog, facts on how smog has changed over the years, a glossary of related terms, and much more. Kids can even check the current smog levels in the Los Angeles area. The fun design of the colorful site includes cartoons graphics and easy-to-read text, making it attractive and educational especially for kids of younger ages. [JAB]
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Project GeoSim
Project GeoSim is a joint research project of the Departments of Computer Science and Geography at Virginia Tech. The site contains learning modules including Mental Maps, a geography quiz program; Sense of Place, which teaches about the characteristics of US counties and states; Human Population, a multimedia tutorial program; and others. Each contains a tutorial program to introduce terms and concepts of the module as well as the downloadable program to carry out the exercises. The mental maps activity, for example, allows students to test their knowledge about the location of cities and can even be configured to ask questions about population, average summer and winter temperatures, and more. This interesting educational site provides some unique offerings that educators should find worthwhile. [JAB]
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Dig: The Archeology Magazine for Kids, Parents, and Teachers [Macromedia Flash Player, pdf]
Dig magazine is published by Cobblestone Publishing Company, a division of the Cricket Magazine Group, in cooperation with the Archaeological Institute of America. "Dig brings the excitement, mystery, wonder, and fun of archaeology, paleontology, and earth sciences to children 8 - 13 years old in a style that both entertains and educates its young readers." The Parents and Teachers Web site contains several free teacher's guides, online quizzes, activities and games, other archeological resources, and more. Although the magazine is not fully available for free online, the other resources provided on the site make it worth utilizing. [JAB]
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Web-Based Tutorials in GIS
The Web-Based Tutorials in GIS Web site is maintained by David Hastings of NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center. This simple, one-page site contains a list of links offering online courses in various aspects of Geographic Information Systems. The Short Course in GIS contains chapter titles such as: What is GIS, GIS on the World Wide Web, Frequently Asked Questions, GIS Terminology, Data Character and Quality, Where to Find Public Global Data, and more. Students interested in learning the basics of GIS or even some of the more involved topics should appreciate this free resource. [JAB]
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The Office of River Protection [pdf]
The Office of River Protection was created in 1998 to manage the US Department of Energy's "largest, most complex environmental cleanup project" called the Hanford Tank. This is where sixty percent, by volume, of the nation's high-level radioactive waste is being stored in deteriorating tanks near the Columbia River. The Web site includes a host of public information including a description of the program, technical and cost facts, related publications (such as public briefings and environmental impact statements), and much more. Anyone interested in water quality or nuclear waste issues, or who lives near the site, will surely be interested in exploring the site to learn more about this important project. [JAB]
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Alaska Science Forum
The Alaska Science Forum Web site is provided by the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The forum consists of articles written about various science subjects by scientists from the Geophysical Institute. Categories include the aurora, earthquakes, fun science facts, historic Alaska, mountains, rocks and geology, volcanoes, weather, and more. One of the latest articles, by Ned Rozell, is titled: Bogs, Permafrost and the Global Carbon Equation. Each of the articles is listed along with the author's name and a direct link to the online publication, most of which are fairly short and geared towards nonscientists making reading easy and interesting. [JAB]
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Map Showing Oil and Gas Fields and Geologic Provinces of Africa
The US Geological Survey offers the Map Showing Oil and Gas Fields and Geologic Provinces of Africa Web site and report. The agency's goal for the pieces includes assessing the undiscovered and technically recoverable oil and gas resources of the world. The site includes various descriptions of what the map depicts and how data was processed using Geographic Information Systems. Once the interactive map is activated, users can search and click the map of Africa to view geologic provinces, oil and gas fields, as well as the various surface geological classifications. Although the interface is a bit cumbersome and works best with a fast Internet connection, the unique information provided should draw the attention of those interested in geology. [JAB]
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Complete Sun and Moon Data for One Day
The Complete Sun and Moon Data for One Day Web site is maintained by the US Naval Observatory's Astronomical Applications Department. This site allows users to obtain the times of sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset, transits of the Sun and Moon, the beginning and end of civil twilight, and information on the Moon's phase, by simply typing in the necessary information. A city or town name or latitude and longitude in degrees and minutes is required. Anyone interested in astronomy or similar subjects will appreciate this easy-to-use and helpful tool. [JAB]
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The Glossary of Nuclear Science Terms
The Isotopes Project of the Berkeley National Laboratory "has played a seminal role in modernizing the nuclear data information system and developing effective data dissemination techniques." As part of the project, the Glossary of Nuclear Science Terms site is quite unique in that it focuses on radioactive decay and contains animated images to illustrate the dozens of terms. These include everything from alpha and beta decay to spontaneous fission and cold fusion. Other links on the page contain an interactive Table of the Isotopes and a Glossary of Astrophysics Terms, culminating in a good mix of learning resources for those interested. [JAB]
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Midwestern Regional Climate Center
The Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC) is a cooperative program of the Illinois State Water Survey and the National Climatic Data Center. Its mission is to better explain climate and its impacts on the Midwest, provide practical solutions to specific climate problems, and allow us to develop climate information for the Midwest. Visitors of the site can view climate maps of temperature and precipitation from current and past months as well as recent seasons. Other links on the site provide drought information, significant and historical weather events data, and many other educational resources perfect for anyone living or interested in the Midwest. [JAB]
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Yosemite in Depth: Geology [Macromedia Flash Reader]
The National Park Service maintains the Yosemite National Park Web site and the corresponding Geology in Depth page. This interactive and attractive Web site gives an overview of the geologic history of the site, tells how the Sierra Nevada range formed, explains the basics of granitic rock, shows how glaciers carved out the canyons, and much more. Highlights of the site include an interactive animation of how granitic rock is formed as well as the highlighted terms throughout the text which pop up definitions when clicked. This interesting site does a good job of clearly illustrating these potentially difficult subjects using graphics, animations, and clear descriptions. [JAB]
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Lifelines and Earthquake Hazards in the Greater Seattle Area
The Lifelines and Earthquake Hazards in the Greater Seattle Area Web site is part of the US Geological Survey's Pacific Northwest Geologic Mapping and Urban Hazards Program. The site and the corresponding map are "designed to give citizens, engineers, planners, and decision-makers an overview of lifelines and earthquake hazards in the greater Seattle area." These lifelines include major electric power transmission lines and substations, water supply pipelines, major sewer pipelines and treatment plants, liquid fuel pipelines, natural gas pipelines, and major ports and airports. Visitors to the site can view and print various versions of the map, read descriptions of the geologic setting and damage susceptibility of the area, and how best to prepare for the next inevitable earthquake. [JAB]
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Topic In Depth

Gases: Characteristics and Properties
1. Ideal and Real Gas Laws
2. Gas Laws
3. Welcome to the Pressure Camber
4. Air Filled Balloon in Liquid Nitrogen
5. Ideal Gas Equations
6. Characteristics of Gases
7. Molecular Model for an Ideal Gas
8. Gases and Their Properties
The first site related to ideal gas, called Ideal and Real Gas Laws, is maintained by Liina Ladon of Townsen University (1 ). Visitors can read about the properties of ideal gases, what the ideal gas law is, how to use it, and much more. The next site, titled Gas Laws, (2 ) is offered by the Ohio State University Department of Chemistry. This interactive site contains Shockwave movies of animations and audio files that describe what a gas is, the Ideal Gas Law equation, mixtures of gases, and problems using the ideal gas law. The University of Oregon site, Virtual Laboratory, teaches about the ideal gas law on the Welcome to the Pressure Chamber page (3 ). Those who enjoy online interaction will enjoy being able to control the action of a piston in a pressure chamber to see how the gases inside react. The fourth site includes another fun multimedia activity related to ideal gases provided by the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Western Washington University. The Air Filled Balloon in Liquid Nitrogen (4 ) movie shows an actual experiment of the effects on a balloon that's covered with liquid nitrogen. The page contains some additional information on the science behind the observations. The next site, called Ideal Gas Equations (5 ) is an online calculator that's part of Kean University's Department of Geology and Meteorology Web site. Users can calculate the pressure, volume, or temperature of a gas by inputting known variables into the various forms. Several methods and variations of calculating the values are provided as well as brief instructions. The next page from North Carolina State University's Basic Concepts in Environmental Science Web site is called Characteristics of Gases (6). Part of a larger learning module, the lesson plans objective is to use the ideal gas law to determine gas volumes at different absolute temperatures and absolute pressures. Everything needed to conduct the activity is provided including links to a volume calculator and practice problems. The seventh site is another animation that illustrates how gases react, called Molecular Model for an Ideal Gas (7 ). By changing the number of molecules in the chamber, their velocity, and the pressure and width of the container, users get to see how the molecules react to the conditions. The last site, Gases and Their Properties, is maintained by the Electronic Teaching Assistance Program
(8 ). Students learn about the history of gas science, how gas laws describe ideal gases, what Dalton's Law and Graham's Law are, and much more. [JAB]

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