The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences -- Volume 3, Number 1

January 9, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


NOAA Paper: Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential

At this website, NOAA's Physical Oceanography Division illustrates its research dealing with the predictions of sudden tropical cyclone intensification through the monitoring of the upper ocean thermal structure. Students can learn about the utilization of a two-layer reduced gravity ocean model to determine the relationship between the dynamic height and the mass field of the ocean. Scientists can find out how, through the examination of seven tropical cyclone basins, the division found in an association between the tropical cyclone intensity and a raise in the value of tropical cyclone heat potentials (TCHP). After viewing the examples of the intensification for three hurricanes and one typhoon, users can find daily maps of the latest TCHP, sea surface temperatures, sea height anomalies, and more. Scientists looking for long term statistics can find weekly maps and data from October 1992 to the present. [RME]

Institute of Global Environment and Society and the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies [Microsoft Word, pdf, gif, Java]

This website features the work of two groups: the Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES) and the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA). Both organizations were formed to improve the "understanding and prediction of Earth's climate variations and to share both the fruits of this research and the tools necessary to carry out this research with society as a whole." The Weather and Climate Data link features numerous maps and animations of the analyses of current conditions, weather forecasts, and climate outlooks for the world. Users can download GrADS, the interactive tool used to access, manipulate, and visualize earth science data. Researchers, educators, and students seeking meteorological information and maps dealing with topics such as soil moisture, pressure, and the maximum potential hurricane intensities will want to visit this website.

The Advanced Light Source [QuickTime, pdf]

A division of the Berkeley Laboratory, the Advanced Light Source (ALS) "is a national user facility that generates intense light for scientific and technological research." Students and educators can learn how ALS, with the use of one of the world's brightest sources of ultraviolet and soft X-ray beams and the world's first third generation synchrotron light source in its energy range, studies the properties of materials, trace metals, and the structures of atoms and molecules. The website features scientific highlights from the facility including its study of why alcohol and water don't mix. Scientists can find the technical specification of the storage ring, photon, and beamline parameters for the many microscopes at the facility. Visiting the User's Guide, qualified researchers can also find out how to become an ALS user. [RME]

Laboratory of Michael Blades [pdf]

Located within the Chemistry Department at the University of British Columbia, the Laboratory of Michael Blades studies the "development, characterization, and application of optical and mass spectroscopic methods for chemical analysis." Visitors can download posters to learn about the group's work involving two and three laser ion trap mass spectrometry and fluorescence spectroscopy. The website discusses the group's creation of atmospheric pressure plasma on a chip as a new way of forming an analytical microplasma. Researchers can also download many of the group's publications related to its work with Raman Spectroscopy. [RME]

Heiney Group Home Page

With the use of x-ray diffraction, Paul Heiney's research group at the University of Pennsylvania studies the properties of materials with unusual structural order. Researchers can learn about the group's development of a strand oven to pull single-orientation discotic strands appropriate for x-ray diffraction analysis and their ability to differentiate between the cores and tails of discotic molecules. The website also discusses the group's work with colloids and fullerenes. Visitors can find numerous abstracts for many of the groups' publications including two reports titled Liquid Crystals with Large Induced Tilt Angle and Small Layer Contraction and Network Growth in the Flocculation of Concentrated Silica Dispersions. [RME]

ALICE: A Large Ion Collider Experiment at CERN LHC [pdf, postscript, gif]

This website features the ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) collaboration's aim to "study the physics of strongly interacting matter at extreme energy densities, where the formation of a new phase of matter, the quark-gluon plasma, is expected." The Public section of the website features the construction plan for the detector located at CERN, which will be optimized for heavy-ion physics. Visitors can learn how the collaboration, consisting of one-thousand members from twenty-seven countries, will use the Large Hadron Collidor (LHC) to create quark-gluon plasma. Students and educators will find instructional materials dealing with the concept of quark matter and its presence during the Big Bang. Although the Collaboration section of the website is designed primarily for those working closely with the project, visitors can find technical reports and presentations given by the group. [RME]

JGOFS: Joint Global Ocean Flux Study [pdf]

The Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) examines the carbon exchange between the atmosphere and the ocean in order to understand the processes influencing the fluxes of carbon and associated biogenic elements and the exchanges among the atmosphere, sea floor and continental boundaries. The website discusses JGOFS's aim to achieve the ability to predict human impacts on climate change on a global scale. Visitors can find numerous datasets associated with JGOFS's core parameters and cruises for the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Southern Oceans. After downloading the Implementation Plan, scientists can find information about JGOFS's surveys, studies, data quality, and more. Researchers will also find various publications including the Report Series and Special Issues in Peer-Reviewed Journals. [RME]

The ATSR Project [Macromedia Flash Player]

By creating infrared images of the Earth with a spatial resolution of one kilometer, the Along Track Scanning Radiometer (ATSR) instruments are beneficial for land, atmosphere, water, and Cryosphere scientific studies. After learning about the sensitivities and accuracies of the ATSR instruments, students and educators can view a presentation describing the usefulness of the collected data. The website provides abundant information dealing with data products, documentation, calibrations, validations, and more. Researchers can discover how to obtain ATSR data and can view various Average Sea Surface Temperature (ASST) maps. Everyone can enjoy samples of images collected including the Grain Coast in Western Africa and cloud formations around the South Sandwich Islands in the South Atlantic. [RME]



This Purdue University website features measurement tutorials for general chemistry students. Beginning with the subject of Units, thw site teaches users about the English and Metric systems including the prefixes and how to convert from one system to the other. Visiting the Errors link, students can find information about uncertainty, systematic errors, and random errors. At the next link, users can find assistance for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing as well as rounding significant figures. The last link addresses the concept of scientific notation. Within each link, students can also find a few practice problems along with the solutions. [RME]

Geologic History

The Fossils of Nova Scotia Museum Site created this website to educate visitors about the geologic history of Nova Scotia. Students can find lots of educational materials on the location, rock structure, and environments for the periods from the Precambrian to the Quaternary. The website discusses how the evidence within the rocks in Nova Scotia provide clues to past earthquakes, erosion of mountains, collisions of continents, and other facets of the Earth's history. Anyone interested in the geologic history will find this website fascinating. [RME]

A History of Mass Spectrometry [pdf]

The Scripps Research Institute developed this website to educate users about the history and principles of mass spectrometry. Students and educators can find numerous papers related to the topic as well as descriptions of noteworthy scientists such as Wolfgang Paul and Michael Karas. In the Information link, users can find guides to samples preparation, in-gel digest and silver stain-destain protocols, and in-solution digestion procedures. Scientists involved with this subject are encouraged to send historically relevant papers to the institute. The website also provides information on the Center for Mass Spectrometry's research, seminars, and labs. [RME]

Pre-University Chemistry Course [Macromedia Shockwave Player, Chime]

This online course created by the Chemistry Department at the University of Oxford teaches high school students the basic concepts of chemistry through the use of many Macromedia Shockwave and Chime animations and three dimensional images. After learning why chemistry is important, students can view the atomic structures of hydrogen and helium; the differences among gases, liquids, and solids; electron movements; and much more. At the end of each chapter, students can test their knowledge with a few problems. With twenty five stimulating chapters, high school chemistry students and educators can find tons of helpful materials at the website. [RME]

Membrane Channel and Pump Structures [Chime]

Dr. William McClure at Carnegie Mellon University created this helpful, interactive website for college biochemistry students. With extensive use of Chime, students and educators can view a series of three dimensional membrane channels including KcsA K+ Channel, Acetylcholine Binding Protein, and Glycerol Channel Structure. The second part of the website supplies users with several animated models of various membrane pumps and transporters. The site also provides a few links for those looking for additional educational sources. These tutorials will certainly help students with their biochemistry problems. [RME]

Learning Centre

The Meteorological Service of New Zealand developed this website to teach users about the basics of meteorology. This diverse site provides users with New Zealand climate information as well as educational materials on wind, temperature, humidity, and air pressure. In the How to Read a Map link, visitors can learn about isobars, highs, lows, air masses, and other common meteorological terms. With an abundance of interesting weather related stories, including the importance of the forecast on D-Day, everyone will find valuable information at this website. [RME]

Radar Meteorology Tutorial [pdf]

Brian McNoldy at Multi-community Environmental Storm Observatory (MESO) educates the public about the use of radar in meteorology in this pdf document. After reading about the history of radar, visitors can find out how radar can detect storms by transmitting a high-power beam of radiation. Students can learn how scatter, absorption, frequencies, scan angles, and moments impact the radar display. With the help of many example images, the author also discusses how to interpret the images collected. At the end of the online document, visitors can learn about the characteristics and capabilities of NEXRAD WSR-88D, the radar used throughout the United States. [RME]

Geology Rocks [jpeg]

Jon Hill at the University of Edinburgh and Katie Davis at Bristol University created this website to provide numerous educational materials to geology students of all ages. Students and educators can find many tutorials in sedimentology, paleontology, geophysics, and more. The website features fifty-seven geologic-related images as well as a few puzzles. With materials covering basic to post graduate topics, all geology students can benefit by visiting this exceptional website. Although educational materials for kids are not yet available, they should be provided soon so educators should revisit this website. [RME]


NASA Space Research: Membranes on Mars

This online article, produced by NASA's Office of Biological and Physical Research, discusses the research initiative to develop membranes that could solve some of the problems associated with traveling to and from Mars. With the help of a comprehensible explanation and a diagram, visitors can learn how NASA is planning to extract CO2 from the Martian atmosphere to propel rockets and rovers. The website discusses the scientists' hopes that the technology "may leverage us to actually go to Mars and live and work there someday." The article also addresses the potential use of the system as a way to decrease CO2 emissions on Earth. [RME]

Global Hydrology and Climate Center

This NASA website displays Interactive Global Geostationary Weather Satellite Images collected by GOES, GMS-5, and METEOSAT-7. Users can find captivating real-time images of visible, infrared, and water vapor for most areas of the world. Each image can be viewed as a single image or as an animation. Users not familiar with satellite images can find educational materials describing the unique features presented in each of the three types of images. The satellite composite images at the end of the website provide users with an overall sense of the weather patterns for large areas of the earth. [RME]

International Symposium Analytical Forum 2004

The Analytical Forum 2004 in Warsaw, Poland will focus on separation techniques, mass spectrometry and hyphenated techniques, environmental analysis and monitoring, and miniaturized analytical devices. Visitors can learn about the lecture topics for the confirmed plenary talks for each of the four sessions. Chemists can find information on the scientific program including abstract submissions, which are due February 28th, 2004. Interested users can find registration and accommodation information as well. Attendees will have a chance to join in the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the creation of chromatography. [RME]

Mars Exploration Rover Mission: Press Release Images

The public can now view the amazing, newly collected images of Mars thanks to this Mars Exploration Rover Mission website. The first images, made available on January 4, 2004, are black and white pictorials of the rover on the surface of Mars. On January 6, 2004, this website provided users with the first color images of Mars. Alongside each image, the NASA team has provided users with straightforward explanations. Everyone will enjoy these images of Spirit's descent, Mars' wind-polished rocks, the Martian Horizon, and much more. [RME]

National Mole Day Foundation, Inc.

"Celebrated annually on October 23 from 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m., Mole Day commemorates Avogadro's Number (6.02 x 10^23), which is a basic measuring unit in chemistry." This website presents the National Mole Day Foundation, Inc.'s actions to get everyone, especially children, excited about chemistry. Users can learn about activities held throughout the United States and the world including the next Mole day breakfast held on April 3, 2004. The website features many awards to worthy teachers and schools. Interested teachers and students can learn how to become involved in this fun, educational organization. [RME]

RSC: The Royal Society of Chemistry [pdf]

This website promotes the Royal Society of Chemistry's (RSC) role as one of the top independent organizations for advancing chemistry in Europe. Both industrial and academic chemists can learn about the society's professional training activities, conferences, and numerous awards, metals, and lectureships. Visitors can learn about RSC's six scientific divisions and seventy interest groups, which support all aspects of the chemical sciences. With its many educational activities, students and teachers will surely find valuable information at this website. Potential members can learn about the benefits of belonging to the society including access to RSC's online resources, professional support area, library, and journals. [RME]

The Council for Geoscience [zip, pdf]

This Council for Geoscience (CGS) website illustrates its work to map, survey, investigate, and assess the geologic components of South Africa. Through this expansive website, visitors can learn about CGS's publications, scientific units, Library and Information Center, and much more. The website promotes the Kaapvaal Magnetotelluric Project, which is the largest MT experiment in the world. Along with information about how to obtain copies of the many detailed and color coded mineral maps created by SAMINDABA (the South African Mineral Deposits Database), visitors will also find detailed descriptions of the mining productions, the geologic materials, and economic potentials for each Province. With so much to offer, users interested in any part of South Africa's geology will find this website valuable. [RME]

Questacon [Macromedia Flash Player, QuickTime, pdf]

Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre in Canberra, Australia, promotes a "greater understanding and awareness of science and technology within the community" by creating a fun, educational, and interactive atmosphere. After taking the virtual tour, students and educators can learn about the center's science shows, the Questacon balloon, the traveling Shell Questacon Science Show, and much more. The website features fun online activities for kids including a Star Lab and Dinosaurs Alive. Middle and high school students can find information about photonics, the Invention Convention, and recent advances in many of the sciences including astrophysics, geoscience, and quantum physics. By visiting this website, users will understand why Questacon is Australia's leading interactive science and technology center [RME]

Topic In Depth

Black Holes

1 SETI: Black Holes
2 No Escape: The Truth about Black Holes [QuickTime]
3 Black Holes [QuickTime, pdf, wav]
4 Black Hole Thermodynamics
5 The Thermodynamics of Black Holes
6 Entropy of Black Holes [pdf]
7 Chandra "Hears" a Supermassive Black Hole in Perseus [QuickTime]
8 The True Shape of Black Holes

The first website (1), created by the Department of Physics at Syracuse University, provides an educational, easily understandable explanation of the characteristics of a black hole. Students can learn the consequences a spacecraft would face if it traveled near or through the horizon of a black hole. The next website (2 ), created by the Amazing Space education group of the Space Telescope Science Institute's Office of Public Outreach, provides an online interactive exploration of black holes. Through this large, vibrant website, students can learn about stellar, supermassive, and miniature black holes. Teachers can find many amazing images, lesson plans, and other scientific background information. NASA created the next website (3) as a directory to many websites discussing black holes. Visitors can listen to the sound of a black hole, ask a NASA scientist questions, take a journey into a Black Hole, and much more. Wikipedia (4) investigates the questions related to how classical theories of thermodynamics are upheld within black holes. Students and educators will find links for many of the physical terms used within the descriptions to obtain further information. Robert M. Wald at the University of Chicago discusses Hawking radiation, the generalized second law, the thermodynamics of black holes, and entropy (5). This more advanced description provides numerous references and equations, as well as a discussion on issues the author feels are unresolved. J.E. Avron at the Israel Institute of Technology provides a straightforward discussion of the thermodynamics and entropy of black holes for those not familiar with the theory of general relativity (6). Through this pdf document, students can learn about the Planck scale, the temperature of black holes, and the LaPlace argument. The last two websites are online news articles describing the latest developments of black holes. After a fifty-three hour observation, NASA scientists have concluded that the central region of the Perseus galaxy cluster is producing sound waves with a frequency over a million billion times lower than the limits of human hearing (7). After learning how these sound waves are thought to have been created, visitors can view an animation of the waves generated in the Perseus Cluster. The last website (8), provided by, investigates the question "If I had the opportunity to look at a black hole, would it look like a hole all the way around or just a hole above and below a funnel?" Visitors can also learn the about the spinning of black holes. [RME]

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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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