The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences -- Volume 3, Number 5

March 5, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


SIMBAD Astronomical Database [Java]

"The SIMBAD astronomical database provides basic data, cross-identifications, and bibliography for astronomical objects outside the solar system." Created by the Centre de Donnes astronomiques de Strasbourg (CDS) in France, the website contains over three million objects, eight and a half million identifiers, one hundred thousand bibliographical references, and four million citations of objects in papers. The data can be searched by object name, coordinates, filters, and by a list of objects. Researchers can find help by visiting the users guide and the regularly updated Dictionary of Nomenclature of Celestial Objects. [RME]

University of Wisconsin - Madison: Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

The Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Wisconsin Madison created this website to present its research in climate systems, satellite and remote sensing, and weather systems using a combination of theory, modeling, and diagnostic assessments. Users can learn how the department is utilizing and creating radiation and remote sensing technology to improve radiative transfer models and to advance the understanding of the atmosphere. This expansive website provides links to many research groups homepages, current weather and forecast data, and radar and satellite images. Students and researchers can find out about seminars and talks as well as educational and employment opportunities. [RME]

U.S. Global Change Research Information Office [pdf]

"The US Global Change Research Information Office (GCRIO) provides access to data and information on climate change research, adaptation/mitigation strategies, and technologies, and global change-related educational resources." Users can learn about GCRIOs success in predicting El Nio and La Nia events, reducing the uncertainty of rainfall events in the tropics, creating maps to record the uptake of carbon by the ocean, and more. Researchers, students, and educators can find help locating information and data about global environmental change by visiting Doctor Global Change. The website features upcoming climate-related events hosted across the United States. [RME]

Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) [Microsoft Word, pdf]

Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) "is a high-intensity high-energy X-ray source" for research in many scientific fields including materials science, physics, and chemistry. Researchers can learn about how they can join the six to seven hundred scientists who visit CHESS each year to collect data. The website features the Nobel Prize winner and CHESS user Rod MacKinnons research in the structure and function of ion channels. Users can learn about the facilities, the design of an x-ray experiment, and the experimental stations. [RME]

Geoscience Data Link

The Geoscience Data link allows users to locate data in marine, continental, and polar environments across numerous data types and disciplines. Provided by the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, visitors can search by dates, data types, regions, or missions specifics. Researchers can find metadata summaries that include the investigators, dates of records, locations, and data types available. Each record provides a link to more in-depth information about the research platform and the operator. The global bathymetry database allows users to observe maps and download grids. [RME]

University of Manitoba: Chemistry Research Group of H. Georg Schreckenbach [pdf]

This University of Manitoba website promotes the research group of H. Georg Schreckenbachs interests in "developing and applying state-of-the-art quantum chemical methods to study molecules and their properties." The website features the groups many current and completed projects with relevant images and figures including the use of density functional theory (DFT) to examine the properties of complexes that could be created with the addition of radioactive elements to the groundwater of contaminated sites. Students can find practice problems in chemical energetics and dynamics. Visitors can find a lengthy list of the groups publications. [RME]

The University of New Brunswick Chemistry Department: Ghislain Deslongchamps Home Page [Macromedia Flash Player]

The homepage of Dr. Ghislain Deslongchamps, professor of chemistry at University of New Brunswick, publicizes his groups research in computer-assisted drug design (CADD) and molecular recognition and science and its work in biochemistry education. The website provides diagrams, figures, and papers to effectively explain the group's research. While some of the materials in the education section are only accessible to Dr. Deslongchamps' current students, users can view examples of how Macromedia Flash Player can be utilized in chemistry education. The website features the presentations and lectures Dr. Deslongchamps has given recently as well as a list of publications. [RME]

Stetson University: Vibrational Holography

Dr. Kevin Riggs, with the physics department at Stetson University, produced this website to demonstrate his method of research of using non-destructive techniques "to investigate the vibrations of three-dimensional objects using wave superposition of holograms." The website provides an online paper describing research in time-average holography. Users can find countless images illustrating the vibrations of hand bells, plates, bell disks, and cymbals. Anyone interested in vibrational holography and research dealing with the subject will enjoy this website. [RME]


Bryant Creek Watershed Atlas [Macromedia Flash Player]

The Bryant Creek Watershed Project created this online atlas filled with a wealth of information on every aspect of this Missouri watershed -- even for those who do not live near the site. Teachers can find interactive, fun lesson plans for kindergarten through twelfth grade dealing with many aspects of the physical environment. Students will find an abundance of games, quizzes, and interactive modules. By taking the photo tour, visitors can learn about the fascinating unique places connected to the watershed. Users can also find materials on the biologic, historic, social, and recreational aspects of the watershed. [RME]

Eye on the Sky: Lessons for the Elementary Classroom [gif, pdf, Macromedia Flash Player]

The Eye on the Sky contains hands-on, entertaining scientific activities dealing with the Sun-Earth system developed by U.C. Berkeley for the primary grades. Teachers can find fifteen fun lessons plans dealing with the sun topics such as eclipses, sundials, and shadows. In the Changing Weather link, students can create their own weather journal through an interactive module. Parents and teachers will find tips for tutoring early literacy. Students can travel to the far North and South and learn about the mysteries of auroras through the Macromedia Flash Player-based tutorial. [RME]

American Iron and Steel Institute: How a blast furnace works

At this website, the American Iron and Steel Institute discusses the blast furnaces function "to chemically reduce and physically convert iron oxides" into hot metal. Through an intricate diagram and thorough discussion, students can learn about the chemistry of hot metals and the complex procedure. The website provides a detailed review of the physical equipment of the blast furnace and a detailed illustration of the plant. Visitors can find a short description of the history of blast furnaces role in the production of steel from iron oxides. [RME]

The University of North Carolina: Weather and Climate

Developed by the University of North Carolina as a supplement to an elementary college level class, this website provides online materials for all aspects of weather and climate. Visitors can find tutorials dealing with weather basics, forecasts, the atmosphere, flooding, and weather systems. The information is filled with helpful images, pictures, and diagrams to assist users with their understanding of the materials. Anyone looking for educational materials about the basics of meteorology will benefit from this website. [RME]

Center for Synchrotron Radiation Research and Instrumentation: Periodic Table

This interactive periodic table created by the Center for Synchrotron Radiation Research and Instrumentation provides x-ray properties for the elements. For each element, users can find data on its chemical properties, edge energies, edge jumps, and fluorescence yield. By adding an energy value, users can receive x-ray cross-sections at that energy, which includes photoelectric, coherent, and incoherent data. The website also provides a link providing the computer technology used to calculate the x-ray cross sections. Those involved with radiation research will find this reference useful. [RME]

Kennesaw State University: Interdisciplinary Science Laboratory Exercises [pdf, Macromedia Shockwave Player, Macromedia Flash Player, RealOne Player]

Kennesaw State University provides these educational and enjoyable laboratory modules focused on various topics in environmental science. Physics students and educators can find tutorials dealing with energy and the laws of thermodynamics. Utilized in virtually all real-life experiments, students can learn the basics of statistics and graphing. Through the incorporation of videos, animations, downloadable activities, and interactive tools, students in biochemistry, earth, and other science fields can find enjoyable instructive materials at this website. [RME]

Annenberg/CPB Project: The Science of Light [Java]

The Annenberg/CPB Project provides educators with online classroom activities and background information about light in color and the laws of light. The website features three interactive activities that teach students about light traveling in a straight line, light properties related to distance, and angles of incidence and refraction. In the Light with Color link, students can learn about subtractive colors and how color printers work by experimenting with cyan, magenta, and yellow. Students are sure to become enthusiastic about the science of light with these fun, educational tutorials. [RME]

Cornell: Athena Mars Exploration Rovers

This Cornell website offers educators, students, and the public easily understandable materials dealing with Mars exploration. At the Kids link, students can discover fun, Martian activities, ask scientists questions, learn about the Martian sundial project, and more. Educators can find lots classroom supplementary materials to excite their students about astronomy and the planet Mars. The website provides general information about the two Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity along with news stories and a short summary of the missions to Mars from 1992 to the present. [RME]


Caltech: 2004 DW [gif]

This website created by Caltech describes the finding of a new Kuiper belt object on February 17, 2004. Known as 2004 DW, initial observations indicate that the object may be the largest discovery in the solar system since Pluto was found in 1930. Visitors can learn about the hypothesized size, distance, orbit, and composition. Users, curious of why the object was named 2004 DW, can learn about the Minor Planet Center and the International Astronomical Union's naming rules. The website also provides an image of the discovery. [RME]

Southern California Swell Model

The Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP) created the Southern and Central Swell Model experiments for those with a general interest in oceanography. After learning how the model works, users can view several up-to-date graphics illustrating regional and detailed swell heights on maps and plots. Although acknowledging possible errors, the website provides three day forecasts for coastal waves, tides, and swell heights. The Frequently Asked Questions link provides sufficient information on how to interpret the materials. All those interested in Californian coastal information from boaters and residents to researchers can find assistance at this website. [RME]

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Surf Your Watershed

This U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website allows users to locate, use and share environmental information about their state and watershed. Using the interactive map, users can locate their watershed and discover geologic, chemical, and geographical information. Visitors can learn how to adopt a watershed and locate citizen-based groups. The Watershed Atlas provides data and geo-spatial information dealing with watershed protection and restoration including demographics, downstream effects, and vulnerability. Informed users can find out how to add valuable materials about a specific watershed to this website. [RME]

Met Office: Weather and Climate

The United Kingdom's MET office created this website to provide users with weather and climate information for the British Isles and the world. Travelers can find out the latest weather forecasts and general climate patterns for various cities and countries. Users can enjoy the satellite imagery of weather patterns for the continents and the earth. Residents can view animations of the latest rainfall in the United Kingdom. The website provides resourceful materials and illustrations on typhoons and hurricanes. Everyone can read about the latest, strange weather occurrences around the world. [RME]

Earth Science Picture of the Day

Administered by the Universities Space Research Association, this website features a new fantastic image, picture, graphic, or artwork everyday dealing with an aspect of earth science. Visitors can find information about the featured phenomenon in the caption and from provided links. Archives dating back to September 2000 include images of Hurricane Andrew, Typhoon Bilis, Aorounga Impact Crater, and the Cheltenham Badlands. Visitors are encouraged to submit images, captions, and related links. [RME]

Institute of Materials, Minerals, and Mining [pdf]

The Institute of Materials, Minerals, and Mining's website provides information about the institute's efforts to become a "leading international professional body for the advancement of materials, minerals, and mining to governments, industry, academia, the public and the professions." Researchers can learn about the Institute's main event of 2004, the Materials Congress, along with many other seminars and conferences. Students can discover scholarship opportunities, career opportunities, and more. Everyone can take advantage of the technical enquiry and the library-style assistance provided by the Materials Information Services. [RME]

University of Utah: A New Step in Spintronics "Organic Spin Valves" Shown as feasible for New Electronic Devices

This news release from the University of Utah discusses the physics department's discovery of "a new generation of faster, cheaper computers and electronics by building the first 'organic spin valves.'" The physicists, who recently published their findings in Nature, developed semiconductors made of organic material that operate similar to switch valves to direct the flow of electrical current. The website educates users about spintronics and spin valves and their relationship to semiconductors. Visitors can learn how the new invention can be applied to computer memory chips and air pollution, magnetic fields, radiation, and light sensors. [RME]

CSTC 2004: 15th Canadian Symposium on Theoretical Chemistry

This website provides information about the 15th Canadian Symposium on Theoretical Chemistry, held July 10th through the 14th in Sainte-Adle, Qubec. Theoretical chemists from around the world can find out about the presentations emphasizing new quantum mechanical approaches in electronic structure and chemical dynamics. The website features information about the conference site, registration details, and a list of the speakers and chairs as well as links to their homepages. Researchers can learn how to submit abstracts, which are due May 31, 2004. [RME]

Topic In Depth

Radiometric Dating

1 Radiometric Dating: How do we determine the age of a rock?
2 Museum Victoria: 2 Radiometric Dating
3 University of Central Arkansas: Radiometric Dating
4 Tulane University: Radiometric Dating
5 Marine Reservoir Correction Database
6 Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre
7 Countertop Chemistry Experiment 32: Radioactive Decay of Candium
8 Nuclear Chemistry: Radioactive Decay

The first website (1), created by Pamela J. W. Gore at Georgia Perimeter College, provides a concise explanation of the geologic principles of radiometric dating. Students can learn about the fundamentals of half lives, isotopes, and dating minerals. Secondly, the Museum Victoria offers a useful overview of radioactive decay of Potassium-40 and Carbon-14 (2). The website discusses the benefits of isotopes for the research interests of geologists and physicists. Next, Dr. Ben Waggoner at the University of Central Arkansas provides an online educational slide show discussing the assumptions, objections, and accuracy of radiometric dating (3). With an abundance of figures and images, visitors can learn about dateable materials, decay principles, and more. The fourth website, developed by Professor Stephen A. Nelson at Tulane University, provides a detailed mathematical explanation of the principles of radiometric dating (4). Users can view the data utilized for the corrections and can access the on-line form of CALIB, which converts radiocarbon ages to calendar years. The sixth website describes the Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre's work utilizing luminescence and radiocarbon dating (6). Through this expansive website, visitors can learn about the centre's many research projects including radioactive contamination, isotope geology, and environmental gamma spectrometry. Next, the North Carolina State University provides a fun, educational activity about radioactive isotope decay (7). Students can learn about the half lives of elements with the use of only candy, bags, and graph paper. Lastly, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill chemistry department discusses five different types of radioactive decay (8). After examining the numerous equations, students can test their dating skills by solving the practice problems. [RME]

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