The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences -- Volume 4, Number 1

January 7, 2005

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




Topic In Depth


Astronomy Research at Rutgers

"Astrophysics research at Rutgers ranges from late stages of stellar evolution to the early universe, and includes both observational studies at many wavelengths and theoretical work." After listing the 15 astrophysics research interests, this website summarizes the university's projects and instrumentation. Some of the summaries contain links to more in-depth information about the specific investigation. Visitors can learn about gravitational lensing; the Ultraviolet Detector Lab, which develops and tests space image sensors; and much more. [RME]

UCLA: Research in the Department of Physics and Astronomy

This UCLA website contains links to the homepages of countless physics and astronomy researchers and research groups. The comprehensive website is divided into six main areas: Condensed Matter Physics (CMP), Experimental Elementary Particle Physics (EEPP), Nuclear Physics (NP), Plasma Physics (PP), Theoretical Elementary Particles (TEP), and Astrophysics (ASTRO). Users can find out about the numerous efforts, publications, facilities, successes, conferences, and other information related to these scientific areas. [RME]

North Central Texas Water Quality [pdf, Java, gif, jpeg]

This website presents the collaborative work of Texas Water Resources Institute, the Agriculture Program at Texas A&M University, and Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) to investigate water quality protection and improvements in six Texas reservoirs. Visitors can discover the vulnerabilities of Texas's water quality and how this collaboration intends to deal with increasing threats. The website introduces three modeling projects: Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) watershed model, in-stream water-quality models (QUALTX and QUAL2E), and Water Quality Analysis Simulation Program (WASP). An online audio and visual presentation details the goals, tasks, and locations of the project. Individuals can find quarterly progress reports, presentations from the training conference, and maps of the study areas. [RME]

Phenomenology Institute [postscript]

The Phenomenology Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison pursues "a broad range of research in particle physics theory and phenomenology." At this website, users can view concise summaries of its many focuses including in neutrino physics, string theory and extra dimensions, and electroweak physics. Visitors can find links to the homepages of many of the researchers involved with the Institute. The website features the upcoming and past events held by the Institute such as the Pheno Symposiums. Individuals can examine abstracts and compressed postscripts of the phenomenology preprints since 1994 as well as articles about the newest issues in phenomenology written for the popular press. [RME]

University of Oxford: Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Planetary Physics [jpeg]

The University of Oxford's Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Planetary Physics group "focuses on the study of physical processes in the atmospheres and oceans of the Earth and other planets, using experimental and theoretical techniques." Users can discover the group's innumerable projects and research tools in the areas involving the development of instruments and carrying out experiments mostly on satellites; analyses of data; and modeling and theoretical work related primarily to climate change, the middle atmosphere, planetary atmospheres, and to laboratory experiments on fluids. Individuals can find informational materials about its facilities and capabilities. The website answers a host of questions related to climate change, the ozone, and planetary phenomena. [RME]

The Sasaki Applied Meteorology Research Institute

"The mission of the Sasaki Applied Meteorology Research Institute (SAMRI) is to foster and support the development of new applications for weather and climate information for the operational community, especially in decision-making processes." Located at the University of Oklahoma, SAMRI addresses its function as an intermediary between the university and industry and organizations at this website. Students can learn about generalized and specialized training offered by the Institute. Visitors can discover the work and achievements of the people involved with SAMRI. [RME]

Shelf Sea Oceanography and Meteorology Research Group [pdf]

The Shelf Sea Oceanography and Meteorology Research Group, located at the University of Plymouth, furnishes summaries and reports of its current and recent research projects dealing with mesoscale physical processes, sediment transport, and other shelf and coastal oceanographic and meteorological challenges. Along with discovering the objectives of the endeavors, users can download the final report of the Black Sea Ecosystem Recovery Project, which quantified "shelf-deep transport of water masses and exchanges of nutrients by mesoscale activity at the North West Black Sea shelf break." Researchers can learn about past and upcoming seminars, conferences, and other events. The website offers links to abstracts of many of the group's publications as well. [RME]

Surface Science Western [pdf]

"Surface Science Western is an analytical laboratory specializing in the surface characterization and failure analysis of materials." Located at the University of Western Ontario, the laboratory illustrates its analyses of microelectronic devices and semiconductor materials; metal finishing, plating, and corrosion; and plastics and coatings. Students can learn about secondary ion mass spectrometry, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and many other methods of surface characterization and failure analysis. Researchers can find abstracts for countless publications by the scientists at Surface Science Western and downloads of newsletters. The website features the information on the VESPERS Project (Very Sensitive Elemental and Structural Probe Employing Radiation from a Synchrotron), involving the development of a high energy x-ray beam line at the Canadian Light Source (CLS). [RME]


A Diamond's Deep History [Macromedia Flash Player]

While diamonds play a significant role in many cultures, the Earth processes that create diamonds are less familiar to many people. With the use of Macromedia Flash Player, Thirteen/NET New York educates the public about the formation of diamonds two to three billion years ago deep underground. Users can learn about indicator minerals, kimberlite chimneys, and secondary diamond deposits. Through the colorful illustrations and animations, the website offers a great introduction to the creation of this desirable stone. [RME]

Get into EDSPACE: NASA's Educator Astronaut Program Website [Macromedia Flash Player, Real Player, QuickTime, Windows Media Player]

This Macromedia Flash Player enhanced NASA website provides students with the opportunity to experience the life of an astronaut. Users can take part in virtual training exercises and online projects. Through a series of videos and animations, visitors can discover the challenges of living in space and can meet real-life astronauts. The website features the Earth Crew challenge where teams of students, teachers, and parents from around the world can plan and complete exploration activities. Those interested in NASA careers can learn about the educational requirements and employment opportunities. [RME]

Reactions in Chemistry [Windows Media Player]

This Annenberg/CPB website offers a video workshop for high school chemistry and physical science teachers. After completing the free registration, users can gain insight on new, revolutionary approaches to teaching chemistry by viewing eight one-hour videos. The chemistry topics covered include Energetics and Dynamics, the Chemistry of Life, and Chemistry and the Environment. The workshops are a great way for educators to learn about other teachers' practices and hands-on lessons. The website also provides other related Annenberg/CPB educational resources. [RME]

Icebergs [jpeg]

At this website, Ocean World provides a host of beautiful images and effective lessons about the presence of icebergs. After discovering how they are formed, students can learn about the different colors of icebergs, their classifications, and their life cycle. The website discusses the dangers icebergs pose to humans as well as their potential benefits to desert dwellers. The hyperlinked glossary allows users to more easily understand the concepts presented. Once users have covered the materials, they can take an interactive quiz. [RME]

Energy Hog Busters Training Camp [Macromedia Flash Player, pdf]

Using Macromedia Flash Player, the Energy Outreach Colorado created this amusing, yet educational website filled with games and trivia to help children learn how to lower their families' energy consumption. The student and teacher guides, designed for grades three through eight, explore numerous energy concepts via fun activities. Through a series of games, visitors can learn which materials in their homes use excessive amounts of energy. After successfully completing the challenges, the user receives an Official Energy Hog Buster certificate. [RME]

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Chemistry Fundamentals Program

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chemistry Fundamentals Program offers an interactive review of the fundamentals of chemistry for incoming college freshman chemistry students. The basic link offers materials about chemical nomenclature, atomic structure, stoichiometry, and acid base chemistry. After learning about these essentials, users can progress to more advanced topics such as gas laws, thermodynamics, kinetics, and redox chemistry. The explanations are linked with a useful chemistry glossary. The website offers many online calculators to deal with compressibility, unit conversion, and various other chemical problems. Students can also find a helpful review of mathematics used in chemistry. [RME]

Let it Snow
Learn about Snow

These two websites introduce the reasons for the presence of snow through understandable text. At the first website, created by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, children can learn how Wilson Bently discovered that no two snow crystals are alike. The website presents the seven types of ice crystals and the ingredients that make up snow. The second website, provided by Miami University, addresses how dust affects snow precipitation. Users can find out why some snow types are better for making snowballs than others. The website also supplies translations of many Inuit words for different snow types. [RME]

Discovery Channel - Mission to Mars: A Special Report [Macromedia Flash Player]

This Discovery Channel website furnishes news articles and interactive modules about the latest information on the NASA mission to Mars and the rovers. Using Macromedia Flash Player, students can explore the equipment on the rover, view videos of the rover landing on Mars, and examine panoramas of Mars. The stereo images of the Martian landscape are amazing, especially when viewed with 3D glasses. The website offers answers to the common questions related to NASA's mission. While many of the links on the side panel were not working at the time of this review, the same headings are presented within the main part of the website and function properly. [RME]


Earthquakes [Macromedia Flash Player]

This BBC website offers interesting articles and an interactive tutorial about earthquakes. Users can find out why earthquakes occur, their dangers, and how often they occur. The website addresses the impact of aftershocks that often follow an earthquake. Visitors can obtain a timeline of recent serious earthquakes that have occurred throughout the world. Using Macromedia Flash Player, the website provides a colorful introductory tutorial describing plate locations and movements, the primary and secondary waves of an earthquake, and more. [RME]

The Year in Space: 2004 Marked by Success and Stress [Macromedia Flash Player]

This MSNBC website presents the most significant space science news of 2004. After brief synopses of the major occurrences, the website features stories on the Marvels at Mars, SpaceShipOne's Rise, and NASA's Double Vision. Visitors can view several of the best images from 2004 and vote for their favorite. Users can also vote for their top 2004 space story and 2005's top trend. The website offers links to 2002 and 2003's Year in Space articles as well as links to the stories discussed within the article. [RME]

The New Madrid Compendium: A Comprehensive Source of References for the 1811-1812 Earthquakes [jpeg, Internet Explorer]

"The New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812 were one of the most dramatic natural disasters to strike the North American continent." At this website, the Center for Earthquake Research and Information (ERI) supplies numerous archived eyewitness accounts to these earthquakes. Visitors can search through reports about these earthquakes from three databases. Researchers can find countless references of documents and maps. The website lists items still wanted by ERI to complete this project as well. [RME]

National Public Radio (NPR): Space [Real Player, Windows Media Player, jpeg]

At this website, the National Public Radio (NPR) offers the latest Space-related news, research, and events. The fascinating articles include links to external websites and related stories, numerous images, useful graphics, and the ability to email the story to friends. Users can search through archived articles as well. For those who like to listen while they work, NPR offers audio for all the stories presented at the website. [RME]

Live Science

Imaginova, the producers of, have launched the new website, covering "new discoveries, intellectual adventures, and the idiosyncrasies of the world around us." While the fascinating materials cover most science and technology fields, the Forces of Nature and Environment links are most relevant to the physical sciences. Through the exciting articles and astonishing images, users are kept up-to-date on the latest science news and events. Visitors can easily browse the articles by topic and view the most recent postings. [RME]

Sierra Nature Notes: An Online Journal of Natural History News in the Sierra Nevada [pdf]

This Yosemite Association website offers fascinating stories concerning the newest discoveries of Sierra Nevada's natural history. The stories covered include the changes in the Sierra Nevada's hydroclimate and the understanding of prehistoric earthquakes through lichens. After reading the most current news stories on the front page, users can view archived articles divided by topics. The well written stories along with remarkable pictures and helpful figures allow visitors to obtain a better understanding of the fascinating landscape. Interested users can submit their email addresses to receive the newest Nature Notes articles. [RME]

American Chemical Society (ACS) Regional Industrial Innovation Awards Program

The American Chemical Society's (ACS) "Regional Industrial Innovation Awards Program celebrates the successful innovations of industrial chemists and chemical engineers that contribute to the health of their local and regional economy and the corporate leadership for its advancement of a healthy economy." The website illustrates the significance of a nomination and describes the criteria and eligibility for a nominee. Users can find out about the honorees' exciting opportunity to present their innovations at a symposium. Visitors can read synopses of the outstanding developments of past recipients. [RME]

NASA: Year in Review 2004 [Macromedia Flash Player]

Through the use of Macromedia Flash Player, this NASA website revisits the key NASA space exploration events and missions of 2004. Users can view videos illustrating the Vision for Space Exploration and articles describing the advances to help make the vision a reality. The website discusses the redesigning of the Shuttle External Fuel Tank and its significance in flight missions. Visitors can find out about the newest NASA research, watch a photo essay of the Cassini mission to Saturn, drive a Mars rover to explore the geology of that planet, learn about the next generation of NASA astronauts, and much more. Individuals can view photos, hear accounts, and read articles about the three crews that lived on the International Space Station in 2004. [RME]

Topic In Depth


Pacific Tsunami Warning Center
Tsunami Society [pdf]
West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center [gif]
The National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program [pdf]
FEMA for Kids: Tsunami
Pacific Tsunami Museum
Tsunami Data at the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) [jpeg, gif]

First, "the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, provides warnings for teletsunamis to most countries in the Pacific Basin as well as to Hawaii and all other US interests in the Pacific outside of Alaska and the US West Coast" (1). Users can find a lengthy discussion about the general attributes of tsunamis. The second website, provided by Wikipedia, describes the characteristics and occurrences of tsunamis (2). Visitors can find out about recent tsunamis that have taken place throughout the world. Next, the Tsunami Society presents its efforts to "disseminate knowledge about tsunamis and their hazards" (3). Researchers can learn about past and upcoming symposiums, Society awards, and more. At the fourth website, the National Weather Service provides tsunami information for the most recent earthquakes with magnitudes between 4.0 and 6.5 occurring off the West Coast of the United States (4 ). Visitors can also experience a virtual earthquake. Next, the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program illustrates its efforts to reduce the damages caused by tsunami through warning guidance, mitigation, and hazard assessment (5). The website provides numerous links to educational sites for children. The sixth website, developed by FEMA, supplies colorful descriptions of tsunamis for children (6). Users can find tsunami photos, a game, and information about survival kits. Next, the Pacific Tsunami Museum explains its goal "to promote public tsunami education for the people of Hawaii and the Pacific Region" (7). Visitors can view tsunami pictures and images from the Hilo Bay web camera. The website is equipped with a handy tsunami glossary as well as a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions page. Lastly, the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) furnishes tsunami data for events from 49 B.C. to the present for the Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas, and the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans (8). Visitors can find an interactive map detailing the events and a series of tsunami slides. [RME]

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Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2004. 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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