The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences -- Volume 2, Number 15

July 25, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


Structural Geology on the Web
Structural Geology on the Web is an informational metadata Web site, which was started by graduate student Steven Schimmrich and is maintained by Assistant Professor Kevin Smart of the University of Oklahoma School of Geology and Geophysics. Specifically geared towards those involved or interested in structural geology, visitors to the site will find an exhaustive list of structural geologists around the world as well as links to data sets and bibliographies, structural images, software, books and journals, research and academic groups. Other helpful offerings include information about professional organizations and even upcoming meetings, all of which culminate in a well designed and helpful resource. [JAB]
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IAEA Safety Glossary
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is described as an independent intergovernmental, science and technology-based organization in the United Nations family that serves as the global focal point for nuclear cooperation. One of the many helpful online resources provided by the organization is the IAEA Safety Glossary. Visitors have access to nuclear safety and transportation related terms which they can browse alphabetically or by a complete index. Examples of the hundreds of items include ageing degradation, collective dose, emergency exposure, lifetime risk, nuclear fuel cycle, and waste package. Each of these include brief definitions, clickable related terminology, and reference information, when applicable. [JAB]
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Land Surveyor Reference Page
The goal of Land Surveyor Reference Page Web site is "to provide reference materials that are useful in the practice of Land Surveying and to promote communication within the surveying community globally." Funded by the Huntington Technology Group, the site is periodically updated to include the latest information on state rules, regulations and statutes, federal government data sources, maps, articles of interest, college and university programs, meetings and conventions, as well as links to professional organizations, land surveying message boards, and much more. While obviously helpful to the surveying professional, the site also should appeal to researchers and others doing work that involves surveying; providing them with helpful and up-to-date information. [JAB]
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GEO Data Portal
The GEO Data Portal is depicted as the authoritative source for data sets used by the United Nations Environment Network and its partners. The online database contains over 400 different variables, such as national, subregional, regional and global statistics, or as geospatial data sets. Users can search the database using keywords or can browse by region or thematic categories, including Climate Change, Freshwater, Mountains, and Socioeconomic information. Users have free access to view and create their own maps, graphs and data tables and can also download data in different formats free of charge. This is one resource that every environmental scientist, and those working in related fields, should be aware of and utilize. [JAB]
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Brownfields Cleanup and Redevelopment [pdf]
The Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfields Cleanup and Redevelopment Web site offers a wide array of helpful information and data on the extensive hazardous site cleanup program. Besides up-to-date news and stories, visitors will find official definitions of Brownfields, information on grants, laws and regulations, publications, and more. Perhaps the most helpful to professionals would be the Tools and Contacts link, which contains an interactive online mapper, Brownfields research tools from US Army Corps of Engineers labs, and a Handbook of Tools for Managing Federal Superfund Liability Risks at Brownfields and Other Sites. This site does a good job of organizing and presenting the large amount of information it contains making access to its resources quite easy. [JAB]
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On-line Data and Reports on Acid Rain, Atmospheric Deposition and Precipitation Chemistry [pdf]
The US Geological Survey maintains the On-line Data and Reports on Acid Rain, Atmospheric Deposition and Precipitation Chemistry Web site. Visitors to the site can use the interactive US map to retrieve monitoring station data including precipitation-weighted means and total wet deposition in the form of trend plots, annual data summaries, and annual to daily data sets. Other resources available include isopleth maps in the form of animations that display the spatial patterns of sulfate, nitrate, and ammonium concentrations in the National Trends Network of monitoring stations from 1985 to 2000. For further reading, those interested can peruse the numerous publications available on the site including a recent article entitled "The Effects of Atmospheric Oxygen Deposition in the Rocky Mountain of Colorado and Southern Wyoming." [JAB]
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Soil Survey Laboratory Soil Characterization Database
The National Soil Survey Center (NSSC), as part of the Natural Resource Conservation Service, maintains the Soil Survey Laboratory Soil Characterization Database. The application allows users to generate, print and download reports containing soil characterization data held by the NSSC Soil Survey Laboratory. Users are able to choose the location and particular pedon for each query and report generation. The reports are titled Primary Characterization Data and contain the site location, pedon number, sample layer depth, percentage of various sized soil particles, bulk density, water content, mineral content, and much more. Scientists and other professionals will appreciate the easy access to valuable information the site provides. [JAB]
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Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services, seeks "to serve the public by using the best science, taking responsive public health actions, and providing trusted health information to prevent harmful exposures and disease related to toxic substances." Visitors of the site will find toxicological and interaction profiles of nearly 300 substances, a national exposure registry, a link to the Hazardous Substance Release and Health Effects Database, hazardous waste site maps and lists, publications, and much more. [JAB]
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My Water Supply
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum offers several online exhibits for kids, including the My Water Supply Web site geared towards students grade 6 through 12. The site's goal is to document drinking water sources throughout the world through individual stories and photographs by having kids investigate and submit information about their water resources. As the students investigate their areas' water resources, it is hoped that they gain a deeper understanding of the water's importance and then will work towards water protection. Students can also view water supply information submitted by others in the growing database to compare and contrast others' experiences. And, although the number of actual submittals is not yet extensive, as more classrooms contribute more students will learn the important lessons the site is trying to share. [JAB]
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Energy Tutorial
The University of California at Irvine's National Fuel Cell Research Center maintains the Energy Tutorial Web site. This well designed online tutorial takes students through more than twenty subject areas, including energy, fossil fuels, solar energy, biomass and waste, energy conversion, fuel cells, environmental impacts, and much more. Each topic includes non-technical text, photographs, graphs, and other interesting graphics, as well as a short quiz and additional links on the topic. The easily navigable tutorial could be adapted for nearly any grade level making it an excellent addition to any environmentally-related curriculum. [JAB]
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ARM Education Center: Lesson Plans
The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program is described as an important part of the US Department of Energy's strategy to understand global climate change. The ARM Education and Outreach Program offers the Lesson Plans Web site that strives to create basic science lessons related to weather and climate for K-12. Educators will find lessons on outgassing, air density and temperature, air pressure, winds, making clouds, the effect of solar radiation on land and sea, coastal erosion, acid rain, and many more -- each with a complete description of methods and materials needed. Other resources that can be found on the site include an extensive atmospheric science glossary, a learn how to graph activity, specific lessons that utilize ARM's Program data, quizzes, and related links. [JAB]
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Fun Science Gallery
The Fun Science Gallery Web site "promotes laboratory activities such as performing scientific experiments or building instruments. It makes an effort to supply the information and methods to create fully functional instruments and to carry out genuine research activities to which people might become dedicated for the rest of their lives." Educators will find a wide array of lessons and articles with titles such as: From Lenses to Optical Instruments, A Sidereal Indicator, A Stereoscopic Microscope, Experiments in Electrochemistry, The Necklace of Democritus, A One-Dollar Compound Microscope, and many others. The unique and original offerings of the site represent a top-notch resource that is best suited for high school students but could be easily adapted to younger and older students alike. [JAB]
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The Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences
A wonderful collection of biographies and information on the many contributions of African American scientists are available at this site. Fields of work highlighted include biochemistry, biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, genetics, meteorology, geology, oceanography, and several other sciences. Continually updated, the site offers many new contributions since its last review, including special highlighted areas for woman and for the first African Americans who earned doctoral degrees in their field. Each biography includes a photograph (if available) and a brief description of the person's life and work. This important site, which would be a good addition to K-8 curriculums, may help to inspire students to work towards realizing their dreams as well as giving students a look at the bigger picture of the world of science. [JAB]
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GEMS Teacher's Guides: Online Activities page [Flash]
Provided by Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California-Berkeley, the goal of the GEMS Web site is to provide hours of family fun while developing inquiry skills and building positive attitudes toward science and learning. Although a majority of the products and activates on the site must be ordered, several are provided free of charge on the GEMS Teacher's Guides: Online Activities page. These quality products include Star Clock and Alien Juice bar activities, among others. The Juice bar activity, for example, lets students learn about acids and bases and the pH scale through an interactive and colorful online game. [JAB]
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Thomas S. Warren Museum of Fluorescence: About Fluorescence
The Warren Museum "was founded in 1999 to better share the wonders of fluorescence with the public and to serve as an educational facility for teachers." The interesting site provides a thorough description of what fluorescence and phosphorescence is, the various types of fluorescence, their uses, and much more. The Specimen Photos link offers more than a dozen examples of naturally occurring fluorescence materials such as fluorite and calcite along with brief descriptions. Visitors are also are given specific information on how to best use the site for educational purposes, making it a great and unique resource for teachers searching for something new to share with their students. [JAB]
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The Science Museum of Minnesota: Thinking Fountain
The Science Museum of Minnesota offers the extensive Welcome to the Thinking Fountain educational Web site. The many science activities provided on the site include: Bubbles, chromatography, density, friction, inventions, optics, light, recycling, and more. Visitors to the site can browse the activities alphabetically or by theme cluster, or can click on the interactive graphic on the main page. This site does a good job of providing quality lessons for science students in various grade levels; lessons that, besides being fun to complete, also help explain some of the more confusing science topics students confront. [JAB]
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US Geological Survey's Guide to Federal Environmental Laws and Regulations
This site is provided to aid government agencies (at the federal, state and local levels), private industry, academia, the general public, and public interest groups with an overview of the major environmental statutes and corresponding regulations. Visitors can choose from several subject areas including air quality, fish and wildlife conservation, solid and hazardous substances, water quality, endangered species, public land resources, and more. Although not exhaustive, the guide makes getting concise, basic information on environmental regulations easy and accessible. [JAB]
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The Library of Congress Federal Research Division: Country Studies
The Federal Research Division (FRD) provides customized research and analytical services on foreign and domestic topics to United States Government and District of Columbia agencies. This Web site "presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world and examines the interrelationships of those systems and the ways they are shaped by cultural factors." The online books can be searched or browsed by particular country and include everything from a country profile, history, and physical environment description to economy, government, and national security information. Perhaps the most unique part of the site is an attempt to include only lesser known areas, making the conglomeration a good source of uncommon knowledge. [JAB]
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Autopedia: Physics of Racing Series is described as "the comprehensive internet source for automotive related information, where consumers can find information related to Autos, Boats, Trucks, Minivans, Motorcycles, RVs and Sport Utilities." Provided by the site and written by physicist Brian Beckman, the Physics of Racing Series offers an interesting look into the science behind racing and race cars. Visitors can read descriptions and view graphics on the subjects of weight transfer, keeping your tires stuck to the ground, there is no such thing as centrifugal force, speed and horsepower, the traction budget, simulating car dynamics with a computer program, grip angle, braking, and much more. Any physics or racing enthusiast will appreciate the interesting and out-of-the-ordinary information provided on the site. [JAB]
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San Francisco Environment [pdf]
San Francisco, California's official government Web site contains the SF Environment page. Their mission is to improve, enhance, and preserve the environment and to promote San Francisco's long-term environmental well-being. Not only a great source of facts for San Franciscans, the site also offers some interesting resources for others seeking environmental information on recycling, green building, energy issues, toxics reduction, transportation and clean air, and more. The green building page, for example, contains well designed and informative fact sheets on the elements of building green, worker productivity, PVC alternatives, green building tools, and green building links. [JAB]
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The Spacetime Wrinkles Web site, chronicling the life and legacy of Albert Einstein, is provided by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Visitors can learn who Einstein was, what gravity is, where black holes lurk, and much more. The multimedia offerings of the site include movies by University of Illinois staff describing various phenomena and animations of wormholes, black holes, and more. The site does a good job of explaining many of science's most complicated concepts giving even the most non-technical-minded person a clear glimpse into the workings of our universe. [JAB]
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An Introduction and Virtual Geologic Field Trip to the Permian Reef Complex, Guadalupe and Delaware Mountains, New Mexico-West Texas
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the Permian Reef Complex of the Guadalupe Mountains? Probably not, but Dr. Peter A. Scholle, the Director and State Geologist of the New Mexico Bureau of Mines & Mineral Resources of New Mexico Tech has provided a complete virtual field trip for those who would. Visitors can read and view pictures of the area, the structural history of the mountains, the stratigraphic setting, depositional and diagenetic patterns, and much more. The graphics and well written text would be reason enough to pay the site a visit, but the field trip road logs and site descriptions offer added interest and usability for anyone interested in visiting the area. [JAB]
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Uranium Information Centre: Information on Nuclear Energy for Electricity [pdf]
The Uranium Information Centre of Melbourne, Australia maintains the Information on Nuclear Energy for Electricity Web site. This extensive collection contains downloadable pdf documents with titles such as Electricity Today and Tomorrow, The "Front" and "Back" End of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle, and Environment and Health and Safety Issues. Some other unique and interesting information can also be found on the topics of Uranium in Australia, an Overview of Nuclear Energy, Who Buys Australia's Uranium, Decommissioning Nuclear Facilities, and Transporting Radioactive Materials. Anyone interested in nuclear energy or concerned with proliferation will find the site thorough and informative. [JAB]
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Calvin Photographic Collection
The Calvin Photographic Collection is made possible by Samuel Calvin (1873-1911), a Professor of Natural Sciences at the University of Iowa, who used his photographs to illustrate specific geological features for class instruction, public lectures, and publications. The interesting photographs chronicle geological landscapes and features, mines, quarries, mills, portraits of his family, colleagues, and classes in the field. Besides being able to view the photographic collection on the Web site --which include a slide show, a scrapbook of themed photographs, and images by location-- visitors can also read a biography about the interesting life of Professor Calvin. [JAB]
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Topic In Depth

1 What is an orbit?
2 Orbit Diagrams
3 Moon Phases
4 Orbits
5 Satellite Orbits: Gravitational Assist from Planets
6 Planetary Orbit Exercise
7 Planetary Physical Data
8 Circular Motion and Planetary Motion
This Topic in Depth explores the Web's offerings on Orbits. The first site is offered by Northwestern University and asks: What is an orbit? (1 ). The site answers questions such as What causes an orbit to happen?, What is a satellite?, What travels in an orbit?, and Are there orbits within orbits?. A great starting site for this subject, visitors should come away with a broad and clear description of the topic. The second site, called Orbit Diagrams (2 ) is provided by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The diagrams are "intended to aid in the visualization of the three-dimensional nature of the orbits and how they are orientated with respect to the orbit of the earth." Next, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Astronomy comes the Moon Phases (3 ) interactive Web site. Users are able to animate the moon's orbit in various phases and views as well as learn all the names of the phases. The fourth site is another virtual visualization tool provided by NASA's Near Earth Object Program called Orbits (4 ). The site lets users enter the designation or name of any asteroid or comet and then view the three-dimensional orbit of that object. The next site, maintained by the Conservation, Astronomy, Physics and Soaring Page, is called Satellite Orbits - Gravitational Assist from Planets (5 ). The site contains information on Kepler's Laws, which apply to elliptical orbits involving two bodies, hyperbolic orbits, relative motion, and the gravitational sphere of influence. The sixth site is an educational lesson provided by Dr. Richard L. Bowman of Bridgewater College called Planetary Orbit Exercise (6 ). Students are given information on Keplar's Laws of Planetary Motion, a list of definitions, links to outside sites for additional information, and then several questions to answer. The Planetary Physical Data (7 ) page is part of the larger Smithsonian Center for Earth and Planetary Studies Web site. Visitors will find a list of planets along with various information such as their relative sidereal period of orbit, mean orbital velocity, orbital eccentricity, and much more. The last site related to orbits is an educational activity provided by the Physics Classroom called Circular Motion and Planetary Motion (8 ). Four lessons are presented including Motion Characteristics for Circular Motion, Applications of Circular Motion, Universal Gravitation, and Planetary and Satellite Motion. Each contain clear and well written descriptions along with all the necessary information for successful completion. [JAB]
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