The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences -- Volume 3, Number 16

August 6, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


Curtin University of Technology: John de Laeter Centre of Mass Spectrometry

The John de Laeter Centre of Mass Spectrometry (JDL CMS) at the Curtin University of Technology "is a cooperative research and development organization based around a variety of mass spectrometric instrumentation." The website supplies links to the Centre's six main mass spectrometry facilities. Within each section users can find summaries of the research and the technology capabilities, links to the facilities' partners, and pertinent images. Students can discover how the technology can be used in a wide range of specialties such as forensic chemistry, mineral processing, and environmental chemistry. [RME]

Delft University: Department of Earth Observation and Space Systems [pdf]

The Department of Earth Observation and Space Systems (DEOS) at Delft University describes itself as "the centre for space systems, earth observation, and geomathematics in The Netherlands." Users can find links to the six internally renowned research groups who constitute the Department. Each link provides in-depth materials on the research, news, conferences, publications, and educational opportunities of the particular group. Students and educators can find a tutorial about photogrammetry and remote sensing. Because this website is still being modified due to the new organizational structure of DEOS, users can find a link to the old website where they can find information on past research endeavors, satellite images, software, and more. [RME]

American Mineralogist Crystal Structure Database

The American Mineralogist Crystal Structure Database website, maintained by the Mineralogical Society of America and the Mineralogical Association of Canada and sponsored by the National Science Foundation, "includes every structure published in the American Mineralogist, The Canadian Mineralogist, and the European Journal of Mineralogy." The authors are also currently adding data from Physics and Chemistry of Minerals. Users can search the data by minerals, authors, chemistry, cell parameter and symmetry, or by a simple general search. This no frills website allows users to easily find and download data. [RME]

NASA: Atlas of Extratropical Storm Tracks [txt, binary, for, pdf, gif]

At this website, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies offers an online atlas of fundamental information on extratropical storm systems in the mid-latitude during the last half of the twentieth century. Users can find maps of storm frequency and intensity and monthly and seasonal means as well as graphs of individual storm paths and the most severe storms. Researchers can download the storm track data and a FORTRAN program used to extract time and geographic subsets of the database. The website adequately describes how the computations and plots were created. [RME]

California and Carnegie Planet Research [postscript, gif, Macromedia Flash Player]

The California and Carnegie Planet Research website presents the University of California Berkeley and the Carnegie Institution of Washington's investigations of planets around other stars. In the Public link, users can find easily understandable details on the diversity of exoplanets and on planet detection techniques. Researchers can find more technical details in the Scientific Research Site including a detailed almanac of planets and data on extrasolar planets. The website features publications, employment information, and team members' rsums. The materials are riddled with outside links to help users find other great planet-related educational and research websites. [RME]

MECO - The Muon to Electron Conversion Experiment [postscript, pdf]

A part of the Rare Symmetry Violating Processes initiative in the National Science Foundation Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction program, the Muon to Electron Conversion Experiment (MECO) "is an experiment to test conservation of muon and electron number by searching for muons converting to electrons in the field of a nucleus." This website, created by the University of California at Irvine, furnishes a technical library, the management documents, project proposal, magnetic information, and links to the many collaborators. Although non-collaborators can not access MECO software or internal documents, everyone can learn a lot about the project from the numerous downloadable presentations available at this website. [RME]


Journey Through the Galaxy

This website, supported by Case Western University, "explores our solar system, stars, extra-solar planets, the theories about the past and future of the universe, and human exploration of space." The valuable materials are provided in two varieties: a regular version designed for grade school students and an advanced version intended for college students. The easily navigable website is first divided into five main topics and subsequently separated into a series of subtopics. For instance, under the Solar System link users can find five tabs containing data and tutorials on the sun, planets, asteroids, comets, and the edge of the solar system. With numerous helpful diagrams and images throughout the website, astronomy students are sure to benefit from this website. [RME]

Glenbrook South Physics Home Page [Macromedia Shockwave Player, gif]

Glenbrook South created this "full service physics education website" for high school students and educators. Users may want to begin by checking out the Visitor's Center, where they can learn the best way to utilize this great Internet resource. Covering basic physics topics, the site offers online tutorials, animations, interactive activities, and much more. By visiting the review session and quiz room, students can become better prepared for upcoming exams. Once schools apply for free registration, students can also partake in fifteen physics modules. [RME]

Visionlearning [Macromedia Flash Player, QuickTime, pdf]

Funded by the National Science Foundation and written by educators, "Visionlearning is an innovative educational resource designed for students, teachers, parents, or anyone interested in learning science." The Library link contains excellent learning modules for a variety of subjects including chemistry, general science, physics, astronomy, and earth science. The modules contain clear explanations, interactive animations, a glossary, current news and events, practice exercises, and biographies of prominent scientists. Educators can find additional materials to help them use technology in their classrooms. In order to obtain access to all of Visionlearning's great educational resources, users do have to complete the free and easy online registration. [RME]

The University of Texas at Austin - Rob's Granite Page [gif]

Robert Reed, a structural geologist from the University of Texas at Austin, presents research and educational materials about granite at this website. At the General Info link, users can learn about granitic phases, llano uplift, and aplites. Students can discover some of the minerals in granite through a clickable granite image. With the help of numerous pictures, visitors can discover the diversity of granite and many of its locations throughout the world. Users can take a virtual tour of the Enchanted Rock, a granite dome in central Texas. The site features a simple explanation about the color and identification of minerals. Reed also educates visitors as to how granites are like ice cream. [RME]

Obliquity's Interactive Astronomy Pages [Java]

This website, created by scientist David Harper and webmaster and mathematician Lynne Stockman, offers interactive modules about the sun, moon, and Earth. Users can calculate the distance between any two locations on Earth and determine latitudes and longitudes. The site displays the phases of the moon and lists the occurrences of eclipses. Visitors can learn about Blue Moons and when they are expected to occur. Although this site describes itself as being visually appealing without depending on any particular type of software or hardware so that it is viewable on any browser, Java is needed to convert between OSGB (the British National Grid), OSNI (the Irish Grid), and latitude/longitude. [RME]

University of Arizona: Biochemistry

This University of Arizona website provides numerous chemistry tutorials and problem sets primarily for biology students. The lessons are divided into two main categories: chemistry of life and energy reactions. Students can find clear, in-depth explanations of amino acids, pH levels, photosynthesis, metabolism, and more. Each section is filled with helpful, colorful images. The website provides outside resources which cover additional topics in biochemistry. Biochemistry students will surely find these tutorials to be a great addition to their classroom learning experience. [RME]


NASA: Apollo 11 - 35 Years Later [Macromedia Flash Player, Windows Media Player, mpg, wav, pdf]

At this website, NASA commemorates the 35th anniversary of the Apollo 11 crew's landing on the moon. Using Macromedia Flash Player, the site recreates the mission's journey from the launch on July 16, 1969 to its splashdown on July 24th. Users can view fantastic videos of Neil Armstrong's first step, a tribute to the mission, and NASA's Vision for Space Exploration. Visitors can find links to the mission's audio recordings, news articles, and additional photo and video galleries. [RME]

Malaysian Meteorological Service

The Malaysian Meteorological Service website provides "meteorological and seismological services for improved protection of life, property and the environment, increased safety on land, at sea and in the air, enhanced quality of life and sustainable economic growth." After learning its objectives, functions, history, and structure, users can discover its many services including marine and land weather forecasting and climatology data access. The site includes studies in solar UV, rainfall acidity, ozone, and other environmental factors. Visitors can find an abundance of publications and educational materials related to the Service's cause. While the information relates to the Malaysian landscape, everyone can find informative meteorological and environmental materials at the site. [RME]

California Institute of Technology: Mineral Spectroscopy Server [gif]

The California Institute of Technology created this website to provide valuable information about the color in minerals and data on mineral absorption spectra and Raman spectra. The modest site features additional information on silica polymorphs, desert varnish, ametrine, and manganese dendrite. Students can discover the technology used to collect the spectra data including the diode-array spectrometer. Researchers can find an updated, lengthy list of references of papers dealing with mineral optical spectroscopy. [RME]

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: ToxFAQs [pdf]

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) provides this website to educate the public about contaminants found at hazardous waste sites. The information for each substance is presented as an easy to understand fact sheet. The materials are written in English and Spanish and can be viewed in standard HTML format or in the pdf format. Users can find out the basic characteristics of the substances, environmental and human health impacts, and the exposure risks. The site also features suggestions on where to find additional information. [RME]

The Moon as Seen from the Northern Hemisphere [gif, avi]

Photographer Michael Myers supplies amazing telescopic photos and movies of the moon and moon lore. Through this enjoyable website, visitors can learn about earthshine, waning moons, blue moons, lunar eclipses, full moons, and more. Users can view a three and a half week time-lapse movie of the phases of the moon. As an entertaining addition to the site, the author illustrates a few of the popular moon illusions such as the Man in the Moon and the Lady in the Moon. Photographers can discover Myers' lunar photo techniques. [RME]

Discover Canada's Geoscience Heritage

Through the Discover Canada's Geoscience Heritage, visitors can "capture the spirit of adventure and travel back...through text and images to discover the rich scientific heritage of [the] nation." Users can find images and information on Canadian minerals and fossils, landscape, natural disasters, and much more. The site contains inspiring photographs of geologists at work. Users are reminded that while this website offers a great representation of the history of Canadian geoscience by providing original text written by Geological Survey officers, the information does contain outdated stereotypical beliefs and terminology. [RME]

Topic In Depth

Rogue Waves

Rogue Waves
Ship-Sinking Monster Waves Revealed by ESA Satellites
MaxWave [pdf, jpeg, zip, postscript, Microsoft PowerPoint]
Rogue Waves and Explorations of Coastal Wave Characteristics
Rogue Waves [RealOne Player]
Freak Waves [Macromedia Flash Player]
Joint Time-Frequency Properties of Freak Waves [pdf]

While many people in the nautical world have told stories of large freak ocean waves for years, in the past most people had dismissed the seemingly unlikely rogue waves as myths. New oceanographic research, however, has validated these tales.

First, the Environmental Literacy Council provides an introduction to rogue waves (1). Students and educators can learn about the many mysteries that surround the giant waves. Next, the European Space Agency (ESA) describes its findings of the widespread existence of very large ocean waves that may actually be a leading cause of the sinking of large ships (2). Users can learn about the advantages of using radar satellites to investigate the oceans. The third website presents the MaxWave research project's investigations of low frequency wave fields, extreme individual waves, and wave groups for deep and shallow waters (3). While data is not yet available, users can download publications and find information on meetings, conferences, and international participants. At the fourth site, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) present its past and future investigations dealing with rogue waves (4). Visitors can learn how conventional wave measurements and their assumptions make it difficult to discover freak waves. The fifth site, produced by the Mount Washington Observatory, provides a text and audio report by Robin White on rogue waves and the destruction the deadly waves can create (5). Users can learn ways in which the waves may develop. Next, PBS furnishes a summary of rogue waves and identifies where they are more likely to occur (6). Visitors can find a variety of fun, educational animations including wave simulations. Lastly, the University of Texas at Austin provides a pdf scientific paper discussing research that has helped scientists to distinguish between freak and non-freak waves (7). Students and researchers can discover and view graphs of the joint time-frequency characteristics of a freak waves. [RME]

Below are the copyright statements to be included when reproducing annotations from The NSDL Scout Report for the Physical Sciences.

The single phrase below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing any portion of this report, in any format:

From The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2003.

The paragraph below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing the entire report, in any format:

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.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, or the National Science Foundation.

Internet Scout Project Team
Rachel Enright Editor
John Morgan Managing Editor
Rachael Bower Co-Director
Edward Almasy Co-Director
Nathan Larson Contributor
Valerie Farnsworth Contributor
Debra Shapiro Contributor
Max Grinnell Contributor
Todd Bruns Internet Cataloger
Barry Wiegan Software Engineer
Justin Rush Technical Specialist
Michael Grossheim Technical Specialist
Andy Yaco-Mink Website Designer

For information on additional contributors, see the Internet Scout Project staff page.