The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences -- Volume 3, Number 4

February 20, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


The University of Wisconsin - Madison Chemistry Department: Corn Research Group

The Corn research group at the University of Wisconsin - Madison created this website to display its research efforts in surface chemistry, surface spectroscopy, and surface biochemistry. Researchers can learn how to regulate the absorption of biopolymers by chemically altering a metal surface. Students and educators can find information on the use of Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR), Polarization-Modulation Fourier Transform IR Reflection-Absorption (PM-FTIRRAS) Spectroscopy, and Optical Second Harmonic Generation (SHG) Measurement to observe chemical structures and reactivity at interfaces. The website discusses the group's long-term project on DNA computing at surfaces. Chemists can find six free useful calculation programs. [RME]

PPARC: The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council

The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), the United Kingdom's science investment agency, developed this extensive website to illustrate its work to promote the scientific research and public interest in astronomy, space science, and particle physics. Visitors can find out about the council's numerous projects including the e-science program and the KITE club. Students and researchers can find out about fellowships, training programs, grants, and post-doctoral careers. The website features the educational and public outreach program, Science and Society. [RME]

Caf Thorium: Ken Buesseler's Radiochemistry Group at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution [pdf, QuickTime]

Caf Thorium, Ken Buesseler's Radiochemistry Group at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, analyzes "marine samples for both natural and artificial radionuclides." Researchers can find out about the group's success using Neutrally Buoyant Sediment Traps (NBST) to collect particles in the ocean. Visitors can learn about the potential link between iron and glaciation. Students can obtain a handy radiation decay calculator as well as a colorful illustration explaining Thorium-234 presence in the ocean. The website offers many downloadable published articles related to the group's work. [RME]

2003 Mars Exploration Rovers Athena Science Payload: Mini-Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES) [jpeg, pdf, QuickTime]

This website was created by Arizona State University to provide current information about Mini-Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES) and details about infrared spectroscopy. Students and educators can learn about the instrument's capabilities to collect mineralogy and thermophysical data on the terrain of Mars. Scientists can view the first mineral map gathered from the Mini-TES aboard the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity. Users can find a concise technical briefing and a thorough overview of the project. Visitors can view slide shows of images of Mini-TES, the minerals it will look for on Mars, and its operational details. Although slow to load, the website also features flyover movies of the MER landing sites. [RME]

Cornell: The Atacama Telescope Project [pdf]

This website features Cornell's work to develop a large far infrared/sub-millimeter telescope to address questions related to the origin and evolution of the universe, galaxies, stars, interstellar matter, and planetary systems. Visitors can download the notes from the 2003 workshop held in Pasadena, California dealing with science, telescopes, and instrumentation. Students and educators can find brief overviews of the various scientific topics that can be examined using a 15-m class telescope. The website also provides an overview of the construction site in the Chajnantor Region of Northern Chile. [RME]

University of Tokyo: Volcano Research Center (VRC)

This website discusses the Volcano Research Center's (VRC) work to improve predictions of volcanic eruptions by conducting research on volcanic processes. Users can find out about Asama, Kirishima, Izu-Oshima, and other VRC volcano observatories. The website features information on many continuing and recent eruptions in Japan. Visitors can view many images of volcanic eruptions and disaster relief missions. Researchers can learn about the international cooperative drilling operation at the Unzen Volcano to understand the eruption mechanisms and magnetic activity. [RME]

International Geosphere -- Biosphere Programme (IGBP): the Atmospheric Tracer Transport Model Intercomparison Project (TransCom) [pdf, Microsoft Word, tar]

The Atmospheric Tracer Transport Model Intercomparison Project (TransCom) of the International Geosphere -- Biosphere Programme (IGBP) created this website to illustrate its goal of identifying uncertainties in inversion calculations of the global carbon budget. Researchers can find model descriptions and protocol for the first phase of TransCom, which compared the model outputs of fossil CO2 and seasonal biospheric CO2 source. The website provides information about the second phase which investigated the transport of sulfur hexafluoride emissions using 11 tracer transport models in order to isolate aspects of the model transport that gave rise to differences in simulated results. Lastly, users can learn about the third phase's current work to calculate the global carbon budget of the atmosphere through the use chemical tracer transport models. The website also features the results and outputs for the first two phases. [RME]

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Rogers Physical Chemistry Research Group

The Rogers research group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studies "soft materials for flexible 'macroelectronic' circuits, nanophotonic structures, microfluidic devices, and microelectromechanical systems." Researchers can learn the details about the group's four current research projects: plastic and molecular electronics, microfluidics and liquid crystals for photonics, unconventional techniques for nanofabrication, and microstructural acoustics and picosecond ultrasonics. Descriptions include educational images and a list of publications from 1992 to the present. The website presents the group's future and recent talks throughout the world. [RME]


The University of Southern Maine: O=CHem Directory [Java, Chime, QuickTime, Macromedia Shockwave Player]

The University of Southern Maine's O=CHem directory features over ninety educational topics to supplement current organic chemistry textbooks. The first page is an introduction to the directory and contains a link at the bottom to the O=CHem tutorials. The lessons are equipped with helpful animations, figures, interactive sections, and problems. These comprehensive lessons are certain to help visitors with their organic chemistry skills. While most of the other links at the bottom of the first page are more relevant to Professor Newton's students, students and educators should find JME Molecular Editor and HNMR tutorials useful. [RME] Fundamentals of Physical Geography

Michael Pidwirny, an associate professor at Okanagan University College, produced this website to educate users about "the spatial characteristics of the various natural phenomenon that exist in Earth's hydrosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, and lithosphere." This online textbook includes ten chapters filled with illustrations, images, and animations. The website provides links to the glossary for many of the key concepts discussed. At the end of each chapter, students can find summaries, study questions, and additional reading suggestions. Although the internet weblinks and geo-weblog are not yet available, students searching for resources dealing with the basics of physical systems will benefit from this site. [RME]

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Astronomy Exercise Series [pdf, jpeg, tiff, Java]

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) created these numerous, stimulating astronomical exercises to get high school students excited about scientific discoveries. By applying different methods, users can learn how to determine the distances of astronomical objects in the universe such as the supernova SN 1987A, the spiral galaxy Messier 100, and the Cat's Eye Planetary Nebula. The exercises include online and downloadable instruction manuals, interactive modules, related scientific papers, and images. Teachers can find toolkits to assist in educating students about astronomical and mathematical concepts such as temperature, luminosity, intensity, units, and angles. [RME]

Bad Astronomy

Philip Plait, a professor at the physics and astronomy department at Sonoma State University, explores many popular myths and misconceptions about astronomy at this amusing and educational website. Students and educators can learn which ideas promoted by television, news, movies, and the general public are false and, more importantly, why they are false. Amateur astronomers can talk with others about an array of bad astronomy topics on the Bulletin Board. The website offers information about Philip Plait's public talks and about astronomical events. [RME]

Project Atmosphere Australia Online [pdf]

The Project Atmosphere Australia Online is a curriculum-based online project for school communities throughout the world. This expansive website contains many classroom activities including word puzzles and straightforward hands-on experiments. Teachers can find downloadable Science Modules, which provide activities for students in subjects such as the ozone layer, salinity, and the earth's climate. In the Weather Topics section, users can find additional information about the atmosphere, rain and hail, and more. By joining the email list, interested users can participate in large group projects and can communicate with other teachers, students, and meteorologists. [RME]

Science with NOAA Research online Resources [pdf]

This website, a joint effort of the NOAA research division and the College of Education at the University of South Alabama, provides "middle school science students and teachers with research and investigation experiences using on-line resources." Each of the six water and weather-related categories contain an introduction, explanation, activity, and application section. Activities include interpreting maps of wind, waves, and temperatures; taking temperature and wave measurements; and investigating hurricanes, tornadoes, and lightning. The website provides student and teacher downloads for all of the material presented. [RME]

The Adventures of Meg A. Mole -- Future Chemist [pdf]

This American Chemical Society website features Meg A. Mole's monthly visits to different chemists' job sites. Covering a variety of specialties, Meg A. Mole visited Ms. Helms at the Caldrea Company in February and Dr. Williams at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in January. Students interested in the chemistry field can discover the benefits of becoming a chemist. Visitors can learn fun personal facts about the featured chemists. Future chemists should visit this website monthly to meet the newest chemist. [RME]

Paleontological Research Institution: A Virtual journey into Earth history [pdf]

Through the extensive use of field images, this virtual journey into Earth history -- created by the Paleontological Research Institution -- allows users to discover the natural information of earth science from online field exploration. By searching by region, users can discover the Plio-Pleistocene sediments at Sarasota, the Utah Slots, the rocks of central New York, and much more. The timeline link of the website features information on the Ordovician, Devonian, Tertiary, and Quaternary periods. Students can learn about rock weathering, the creation of potholes, and rock stratigraphy. Anyone interested in the geologic history of the United States should enjoy this website. [RME]


Challenger Center [QuickTime]

"Challenger Center uses students' natural enthusiasm for space to create innovative learning experiences for imaginative young minds." After learning about the Challenger 51-L crew, users can find information about visits to the Challenger Learning Center Networks' forty six sites located across the Unites States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Within the Teacher and Community Resources link, users can find student activities, professional development opportunities, community programs, and special events. Teachers can learn about Space Day 2004 on May 6th, where young students can take a journey to uncharted galaxies. [RME]

Observing the Sky

The Observing the Sky (OtS) project, funded by NASA, functions as a guide to personal night sky observations related to changes in the sky and to current NASA discoveries and events in space. A unique attribute of this website is the real-time nightly observations by Jay Braush in rural North Dakota. Amateur astronomers can learn about asteroids, comets, auroras, planets, spacecrafts, and more. Users can submit astronomical stories to the Sky editors that may be posted on the website. Although a few of the potential information links are not yet accessible, the fabulous images, descriptions, and observing alerts available make this website worth the visit. [RME]

Geoscience Australia [pdf]

Provided by the Australian Government, Geoscience Australia is an expansive website featuring the research and geospatial information the agency provides for the benefit of economic, environmental, and social communities. Visitors can obtain Australian maps for a variety of geologic datasets including the geomagnetic fields, gravity surveys, and crustal elements. The online tools provide data of recent earthquakes and sunrise and sunset times. Students and teachers can find fun, educational online activities dealing with remote sensing, minerals, and the Australian geography. Anyone interested in Australia's geologic and geographic environment from its geodesy to its marine and coastal environments will want to visit this vast website. [RME]

European Association of Chemistry and the Environment [Microsoft Word, pdf]

Founded in 2000, the European Association of Chemistry and the Environment (ACE) is a non-profit organization created to facilitate communication among academics, education, and public and private groups who share a common goal of protecting the environment. Users can learn about the ECA's collaboration network, env-chem discussion list, and young researcher award. Scientists can learn how to submit papers to the new Springer journal, Environmental Chemistry Letters. The website features future and past meetings held throughout Europe. Interested chemists can find membership opportunities here as well. [RME]

Watching Brief: Ocean Carbon Sequestration - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO [Microsoft Word, pdf]

This website features the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission's (IOC) role to provide a summary of the current scientific and legal issues of carbon sequestration of CO2. Researchers can learn about carbon mitigation options and download summaries of the panel's assessment of climate change. Students and educators can learn how coastal and marine environments may be impacted by the climate changes. Visitors can find summaries of international laws dealing with ocean sequestration of carbon dioxide. The website also offers printer-friendly versions of the information provided. [RME]

American Chemical Society: Division of Geochemistry, Inc. [pdf, QuickTime]

The American Chemical Society Division of Geochemistry provides a forum for scientists "interested in the theories of physical sciences and the empirical observation of biology, geology, and chemistry." After reading a thorough history of the division, users can find past newsletters with abstracts from scientific meetings. To add a little fun to a user's visit, the website features geochemical anthems and geochemical trivia. Creative visitors can submit geochemical-related jokes. Geochemists can learn about membership benefits and download an application. [RME]

Accelerators and Nobel Laureates

This online article written by Sven Kullander at the Nobel e-Museum discusses the importance of particle accelerators to physics in a historical context. After studying their basic operatation, users can then learn about the many accelerator inventions and their assistance in various discoveries such as x-rays and electrons. The website provides links to descriptions of the many Nobel Prize winners who have utilized accelerators in their important work. Users can view images of the large accelerators from all over the world including the United Kingdom, Sweden, and the United State. [RME]

Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences

The National Academy of Sciences is opening the new Marian Koshland Science Museum in April of 2004 in Washington, DC. Visitors can discover how the museum "will feature state-of-the-art exhibits that present the complexities of science in an engaging and accessible way to the general public." Users can learn about the opening exhibits including The Wonders of Science, Global Warming Facts, and Our Future. The website also provides information on student internship opportunities. As the grand opening comes closer, users can expect new, more detailed information to be provided at this site. [RME]

Topic In Depth

The Physics of Sports

1 Sport Science [Macromedia Shockwave Player, QuickTime]
2 The Science of Sports
3 The Physics of Basketball
4 The physics of skiing
5 Physics and Acoustics of Baseball and Softball Bats [gif]
6 Physics in Sports [QuickTime]
7 Football Physics [QuickTime]
8 The Physics of Scuba Diving

This topic in depth provides information about the relationship between physics and sports. First, the Exploratorium Museum provides fun, educational information and animations about the science of baseball, cycling, skateboarding, hockey, and surfing (1). Visitors can also learn about the way a ball bounces and how a foot's shape affects sports performance. Next, Randolph-Macon Woman's College addresses the physical concepts that affect swinging a bat, kicking a soccer ball, throwing a football, and bouncing a basketball (2). Through this educational website, students can find simple, relevant examples to help them understand Newton's laws. At the third website,Tom Robinson at Kent School District discusses the basic physics principles such as inertia and friction that apply to basketball (3). High school students and educators can learn about the theory of basketball shots and lay-ups in this concise explanation. Next, David Eyre at the University of Utah summarizes answers to some of the common questions he receives about the physics of skiing (4). With the assistance of figures and mathematical equations, visitors can learn about the side cut and turning radius of a ski as well as the relationship between weight and speed. The fifth website (5), created by Dr. Russell at Kettering University addresses the general physics concepts concerning baseball and softball bats and bat vibrations. Although some of the links are still under construction, students and educators can learn a lot about ball-bat collisions with the many images, figures, and animations. Next, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign investigates the notion that people use physics every time they participate in a sport (6). With the use of QuickTime videos, the website discusses Newton's first three laws and the concept of universal gravitation. In the seventh website (7), Dr. Tim Gay at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln discusses the physical concepts related to football such as vectors, impulse, and atoms. The website provides seven current as well as archived QuickTime videos of entertaining lectures to help students understand physical concepts. Lastly, David Baxter explores the physical aspects of scuba diving that people experience in the high pressure environment (8). Visitors can find out about pressure, buoyancy, sound, light, and thermal insulation. [RME]

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