The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences -- Volume 3, Number 12

June 11, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology's Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research

The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology's Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research examines the elements of clouds that create lightning, hail, and rain. After reading a short introduction to the Laboratory, users can view the present and past research activities, which include lightning propagation in thunderclouds and lightning triggering. The website contains numerous images of the equipment, the scientists in action, and weather phenomena. Researchers can learn about the E100 Electric Field Meter and other scientific instruments the Laboratory has created. The website presents many abstracts of research results. [RME]

Bilbao Crystallographic Server [pdf]

Developed by the Materials Laboratory at the University of Basque Country, Spain, the Bilbao Crystallographic Server supplies crystallographic programs and databases using the International Tables for Crystallography. The website is divided into six sections to help users gather their needed information efficiently. Within each section, users can chose specific criteria to find data and can view it with either the conventional or non conventional setting. The site provides articles discussing the Server that have been published in journals and conference papers. Several forums exist allowing researchers to converse with one another. [RME]

Durham University Astronomical Instrumentation Group

"The astronomical instrumentation group (AIG) in the Durham University Department of Physics designs and constructs state-of-the-art instruments for optical and near-infrared astronomy." At this site, users can discover the many projects undertaken by the group in adaptive optics and astronomical spectroscopy. The website, filled with colorful diagrams, features many of the group's new developments such as the Liquid Crystal Lenses and the Future Adaptive Optics Systems. Visitors can discover the many individual members' accomplishments and research interests. Researchers can find a lengthy list of selected papers and can download a number of them. [RME]

Southwest Washington Coastal Erosion Study [Arc/Info]

The Columbia River is experiencing a far too common problem of disastrous coastal erosion that has been causing grave concern in its community. Because of this, the US Geological Survey Coastal and Marine Geology Program and the Washington Department of Ecology created the Southwest Washington Coastal Erosion Study to predict management scale coastal change, and provide "coastal communities with decision support tools for integrating scientific research with coastal decision making and long-term land use planning efforts." Visitors can discover the study's approach, findings, and participants. The lengthy, informative research link provides information about the study's five key components: coastal change, sediment budget, coastal processes, predictive modeling, and management support. The authors are currently compiling the data collected. Presently, researchers can find data about the beach profiles and the shorelines. The website offers a great, thorough glossary to assist users with unfamiliar terminology. [RME]

University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology: Atmospheric Physics Group

The Atmospheric Physics Group at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology presents its current research in radiative transfer, precipitation and cloud electrification, boundary layer processes, aerosol properties, cloud physics and chemistry, and atmospheric pollution in the urban environment. Students and researchers can find in-depth descriptions of the group's field methods and instrumentation including the cloud chambers and aerosol labs. Visitors can learn about many of the employees' research projects and publications. The site also provides information and links about the University's Facility for Atmospheric Measurements and the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements. [RME]

The University of Birmingham - Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences Research: Earth Surface Systems

The University of Birmingham introduces the goal of its department of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences' (GEES) research to link climate, hydrology, geomorphology, and ecology studies in order to build integrated models of fluvial systems. Users can find ample information about the goals and significance in its many projects which include riparian hydroecology, hydrology of cold environments, hydrogeomorphology, and channel sedimentation dynamics. Most of the materials contain an abundance of links to help users fully understand the Earth Surface Systems research. Along with the research of the staff, the site supplies introductions to many of the PhD research students' work. [RME]

Education supplies numerous case studies about responsible decision making in product development to supplement the curriculum in second semester general chemistry courses. Created by Kennesaw State University, the twelve modules present real world problems and discuss how chemistry knowledge, modern culture, and responsible decision-making are connected in the development of new products. For instance, students can learn about organic chemistry through the case study about the creation of NutraSweet. The website discusses five main components of its development: chemical concepts, physical and chemical properties, food additives requirements, marketing chemical production, and public perception. The site then provides problems for each concept and helps students link them together. Overall, through the modules, students will gain valuable chemistry knowledge and learn how to apply this knowledge to actual problems. [RME]

Earth Science World [Java]

The American Geological Institute's Earth Science World website serves as a gateway to the geosciences. Visitors can find climate data for stations throughout the world. Users can search great images of volcanoes, lakes, minerals, dunes, and much more. The site provides a helpful interactive geological time scale. Educators and students can discover activities and themes for future Earth Science Weeks, which are held in October every year since 1998. The site also furnishes a fun, interactive game to educate users about oil exploration. Individuals interested in earth science can find information on careers and education programs. [RME]

Crystallography Tutorial

Michael R. Sawaya, a researcher at UCLA, provides crystallographic software tutorials to help researchers and students determine their crystal structure. First, users can discover four procedures they should perform to characterize their crystal after they have a native dataset. Students can find helpful, detailed information about six molecular replacement programs and about the phasing process. Lastly, the website discusses how to choose the best graphics program. Throughout the site, the author supplies many references and abstracts so that users know where to find further information. [RME]

Passport to Knowledge: To Mars with MER

Passport to Knowledge created this website to present the cutting edge research and new discoveries made possible by the Mars Exploration Rovers. Students can find general information and a history of the exploration of the Red Planet. The site features biographies and interviews with many of the exploration researchers. Educators can discover many fun, hands-on activities that can be added to their curriculum. The collection of videos of the Mar's adventures is a fabulous part of the site. Visitors can also find links to resources in Spanish. [RME]

NASAexplores: Express Lessons and Online Resources [pdf]

NASAexplores offers weekly educational articles and lesson plans dealing with current NASA projects. The lessons are created for three different grade levels: kindergarten through fourth, fifth through eighth, and ninth through twelfth. Educators and students can find countless archived materials. Each lesson plan and activity meets the requirements of the national education standards. The website features beneficial glossaries for different grade levels. In the Just for Fun link, students can find astronaut profiles, puzzles, maps, scavenger hunts, and much more. [RME]

Bell Museum Live presents The Watershed Game [QuickTime]

The Watershed Game provides a fun approach to learning about watersheds. This module, created by Bell Museum, is divided into two main levels: novice and intermediate. The novice section, designed for third and fourth grade students and users unfamiliar with watersheds, presents a great introduction to watersheds through interactive questions. The intermediate level is divided into four parts: national park, agriculture, neighborhood, and city. The website provides explorations for the four different watershed settings using QuickTime. Users can discover how their decisions would impact stream quality by playing the role of land use planners. [RME]


The New Zealand GeoNet Project

"The New Zealand GeoNet Project provides real-time monitoring and data collection for rapid response and research into earthquake, volcano, landslide and tsunami hazards." At the website, researchers can obtain seismic, GPS time series, landslide, quake, and strong motion data. Through the use of remote cameras, the site furnishes pictures of five of New Zealand's volcanoes. Students and educators can find an abundance of information about the country's natural hazards along with many wonderful, informational images and figures. New Zealanders can report occurrences of quakes and landslides to the website. [RME]

Lightning Wizard [Java, mpg, Windows Media Player]

Oscar van der Velde, who currently has a Ph.D. position at the Laboratoire d'Arologie in Toulouse, created this website to display his incredible images of weather phenomena. Users can find five galleries of images: Aurora and Noctilucent Clouds, Seasons, Thunderstorms, Clouds and Atmospheric Optics, and Various Photographs. With each of the amazing images, visitors can find a short explanation of the phenomenon. Users can view fantastic short videos of lightning, time-lapsed cloud movement, and a tornado. The author also supplies a great deal of convective weather maps for Europe and the United States. [RME]

The pages of Mats Mattsson about aurora borealis, astrophotography, and some other phenomena of light in the sky.

Mats Mattsson, a member of the group Amateur Astronomers of Stockholm (STAR), presents his fabulous pictures of the sky at this website. The images at the site are divided into a series of links which include Auroras, Halos, Rainbows, Crepuscular rays, and the sun. With each category, the author has provided a short introduction to the phenomenon presented. Users can learn about the equipment Mats Mattsson uses to collect the great images in Stockholm. Because he adds new images frequently, recurrent visits to the What's New link will reveal the latest extraordinary images. [RME]

Manchester Astronomical Society [pdf]

The Manchester Astronomical Society, self proclaimed as having the longest continuous history of any provincial astronomical society in England, discusses its history and purpose. At the website, visitors can view the Society's quarterly magazine and can learn about the history and facilities of the Godlee Observatory. The site covers several of the latest news and events in astronomy. Amateur astronomers can find many helpful articles about observing including safety tips and photography. Users can learn about Society's copy of the extremely rare eighteenth century star atlas. [RME]

Western Cave Conservancy [pdf]

"The Western Cave Conservancy is dedicated to securing permanent protection for threatened caves in the western United States." The website provides a great summary about the reasons for the need for cave protection. Visitors can learn about the Conservancy's current efforts to save Rippled Cave and Marble Mountain Quarry Cave. Users can view numerous images of these two caves as well as pictures of the Conservancy at work. The website provides downloads to the Conservancy's newsletters and minutes and meeting notes. [RME]

Los Alamos National Laboratory: Squeezing more juice out of solar panels

One of Los Alamos National Laboratory's goals is to help the nation find better sources of energy and improve energy producing technology. At this website, users can learn about the Laboratory's scientists, Richard Schaller and Victor Klimov, ability to generate greater electrical current in a solar cell configuration. The site discusses the history of the research method used by the scientists, called carrier multiplication, which was discovered in the 1950s. Visitors can discover how the observations of PbSe nanocrystals by the two scientists may lead to a new innovation of solar cells that could create up to thirty five percent more electrical output than present solar cells. [RME]

Topic In Depth

The Big Bang Theory and the Expansion of the Universe

The Study of the Universe
Expansion of the Universe
Expansion of the Universe [mpg]
Evolution of the Universe
The Big Bang
Take a trip through the Big Bang [Macromedia Shockwave Player]
Did the Universe Have a Beginning?
Galaxy Find Stirs Big Bang Debate

First, NASA furnishes a fabulous tutorial about the big bang theory and the evolution of the universe (1). Visitors can discover the foundation of the big bang theory, the observational tests, and the limitations and extensions of the theory. The second website, developed by Maxine Phaisalakani at the University of Toronto, introduces in a slide show presentation research that led to the discovery of the expansion of the universe (2). The site addresses many astronomical concepts including the big bang theory, dark matter, and the Doppler Effect. Next, The Online Journey Through Astronomy offers educational materials about studies leading to the discoveries of distant galaxies and the expansion of the universe (3). The website supplies two short animations illustrating the formation of the universe. The fourth site, created by, provides an online chapter about the past, present, and future of the universe (4). Students and educators can find links to a useful glossary and a list of additional readings. Next, PBS presents a timeline of the universe from the Big Bang to the future (5). This interactive website offers concise introductions to many of the key developments of the universe including the formation of elements, the earliest life forms, and the dark era. At the next site, the physicist, Patricia Schwarz, presents numerous animations, illustrations, and text dealing with the Big Bang Theory (6). Users can learn about the observations and knowledge that provide the framework for the theory. Next, Meta Research discusses hypotheses and assumptions about the big bang theory and the expansion of the universe (7). Visitors can find out why some scientists have qualms with the theorized phenomenon. Lastly, CNN provides an article about a group of Australian scientists' findings of a new string of galaxies that could challenge the big bang theory (8). Visitors can learn how scientists use computer simulation models to test astronomical theories. [RME]

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