The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences -- Volume 4, Number 10

May 13, 2005

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




Topic In Depth


National Exposure Research Laboratory: Environmental Sciences Division [pdf, jpeg]

"The Environmental Sciences Division (ESD) of the Office of Research and Development's National Exposure Research Laboratory conducts research, development, and technology transfer programs on environmental exposures to ecological and human receptors." Chemists can discover ESD's methods for characterizing chemical stressors and its research and monitoring of contamination. Researchers can download various models for contaminate transport, data analysis, and environmental assessments. The website provides many online scientific articles dealing with ESD's projects including spatial interpolations, the Trace Organic Analysis, and the use of a mass spectrometer in environmental forensics. [RME]

GeoSystems: Probing Earth's Deep-Time Climate and Linked Systems [pdf, jpeg]

Located at the University of Oklahoma, "GeoSystems is an interdisciplinary, community-based initiative stemming from the growing recognition that a full understanding of Earth's climate system--and our climate future--lies in examining the wealth of "alternative-Earth" climatic extremes archived in the pre-Quaternary geologic record." After reading a short introduction to the initiative, users can find contact information for a host of researchers interested in deep-time climate studies. While there does not appear to be much activity in the Forum, the Resources link offers information on upcoming and recent workshops and meetings, and images about pre-Quaternary research. [RME]

Spitzer Space Telescope [Macromedia Flash Player, jpeg]

This website, maintained by the California Institute of Technology, describes the two-and-a half-year mission of the Spitzer Space Telescope to "obtain images and spectra by detecting infrared energy, or hear, radiated by objects in space between wavelengths of three and 180 microns." Scientists can find images and explanations of the instrumentation, data and analysis, and an overview of the project at the Astronomers' Site. At the Cool Cosmos link, educators and students can find fun classroom activities, a cosmic reference guide, and astronomy tutorials. Everyone can discover the latest news and images collected by Spitzer. The materials for the general public are also offered in Spanish. [RME]

The Advanced Camera for Surveys [gif, jpeg, pdf, postscript]

The Johns Hopkins University describes the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), which was installed in the Hubble Space Telescope in 2002 to "detect light from the ultraviolet to the near infrared." Users can view a photo gallery of the filters, detectors, optical bench, astronomers, and other aspects of ACS optical and mechanical components. While some parts of the website are restricted, scientists can find abstracts and full-text scientific papers, explanations of calibration, the coronagraph and other instruments, and press releases. [RME]

Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMS): The World of Water Quality [pdf]

The United Nations Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMS) Program "provides scientifically-sound data and information on the state and trends of global inland water quality required as a basis for the sustainable management of the world's freshwater to support global environmental assessments and decision- making processes." The website offers newsletters about water quality, downloads of annual reports, links to research projects that utilize the GEMS' data, and information on education and training. Researchers can search global water quality data by location at the GEM Stat link. [RME]

WISE: Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer [jpeg, mpg, QuickTime, gif]

This University of California-Berkeley website discusses the goal of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) to "map the sky in infrared light, searching for the nearest and coolest stars, the origins of stellar and planetary systems, and the most luminous galaxies in the Universe." After reading an overview of the mission, users can find out about the science behind the mission including WISE's part in studying brown dwarfs. Professional astronomers can examine technical information about the spacecraft, its instrumentation, and data analysis. Educators and students can find classroom activities, interesting images, and informative movies and simulations. [RME]

University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) Remote Sensing Centre [gif, pdf]

The University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) Remote Sensing Centre offers "access to remotely sensed satellite data and GIS products concerned with land-cover and land-use in Papua New Guinea." The website summarizes a few of the Centre's research projects for both the government and the private sector. Researchers can find 1:50,000 scale data of the coastline of Papua New Guinea and descriptions of the Centre's 20- and 90-meter DEMs (digital elevation models). After installing an ECW plug-in, the Mapping Portal allows individuals to create maps from a wide variety of data layers including satellite imagery, mining areas, and slopes. Students and educators can find a brief overview of GIS (geographic information systems) technology and its importance in an array of problems. [RME]

Denver Basin Project [jpeg]

At this website, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science provides updates on the progress of the Museum and the USGS's research efforts to understand the geology of the Denver Basin. Researchers can find clear explanations of the current research projects including examining the paleosol, stratigraphy, and temperatures in the drill hole. Students can find explanations on radiometric dating, paleomagnetic dating, GIS, and other methods used to study the basin's geologic history. The website offers images of the workers drilling the well and descriptions of the rock layers. [RME]


Paper Plate Education [jpeg]

The Paper Plate Education website, created by Chuck Bueter at DePaul University, offers hands-on activities covering a range of science topics and education levels. With an abundance of paper plates and a few other common items, students can learn about the seasonal and latitudinal changes of the altitude of the noon sun, correct depictions of the phases of the moon, the interior of planets, and much more. Visitors can view images of a few individuals' paper plate projects. Because the author is always adding more materials, regular users should visit the What's New link to easily obtain the latest science activities. [RME]

The Multiwavelength Milky Way [jpeg]

NASA created this website to "present and explain how data across the electromagnetic spectrum are used by astronomers to learn about the Milky Way's shape, size, and composition." Scientists can explore the Milky Way at various wavelengths and locate technical references and data sets. The general public can view online images of the Milky Way at ten wavelength bands. Students and educators can find activities, lesson plans, and educational information about the nature of light, mapping the sky, and the Milky Way. [RME]

Particle Physics in the UK [jpeg]

Supported by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, this website was created to educate everyone about particle physics. Individuals can find archived press releases, news articles, and particle physics pictures. The website summarizes the role of particle physics in industry and offers links to educational and employment opportunities. Students and educators can find out about famous physicists and the principles of particle physics and its history. Scientists can locate high energy physics universities, groups, and experiments. [RME]

Periodic Table [Macromedia Shockwave Player]

Using the Macromedia Shockwave Player, this American Chemical Society website offers three interactive periodic tables. Students can find the basic data on each element including its atomic radius, stable isotopes, melting point, and density in the first periodic table tab. The website identifies different elemental groups by color. Users can view the electron configuration by selecting elements on the periodic table in the second tab. The last tab offers plots of the elements' electronegativity, ionization energy, and other properties. [RME]

Kinetic City [pdf]

Developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, this website offers an assortment of science experiments, games, activities, and projects. In the Shape it Up game, students can learn about land formations and processes. Users can learn the basic interactions of mixing different chemicals in the Slush Rush link. Educators can find Leader packets and information on how to start a Kinetic City club. Besides the games educating users about topics in the physical sciences, the website also offers a variety of biology-related activities. After filling out the free sign-up form, the website saves individual's power points and results. [RME]

NASA Star Gazers [jpeg, gif, pdf, QuickTime]

NASA created this educational website to "inspire and motivate students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics." Students of all ages can learn about competitions, research opportunities and internships. The website presents pictorial explanations of the Sun's structure, solar winds, electromagnetism, electromagnetic spectrum, and other phenomena related to the Sun and Earth. Educators can find classroom activities, information on National Standards, and links to a host of educational websites and materials. [RME]

The Water Cycle [Macromedia Flash Player]

This Macromedia Flash Player enhanced website, developed by the EPA, The website is divided into four sections: rain, water storage, vapor, and clouds. In the Rain section, students can discover the forms of precipitation and why it occurs. Through the short, interactive module, individuals can learn about the development of aquifers, transpiration, and condensation. This is a great website for young students to grasp the connections between different forms of water. [RME]

Acid Rain Students' Site [gif, Macromedia Flash Player]

The EPA developed this colorful website to teach students all about acid rain. First, through clear descriptions and helpful figures users can learn the characteristics of acid rain, its dangers, and how to control it. The website offers an interactive connect-the-dots, word searches, crossword puzzles, and other games. A short movie provides an overview of how the use of coal contributes to acid rain and acid rain's impacts on ecosystems and human health. The website also offers an introduction to the pH scale and tools to measure the pH. [RME]


An Assessment of Volcanic Threat and Monitoring Capabilities in the United States: Framework for a National Volcano Early Warning System [pdf]

"A National Volcano Early Warning System-NVEWS-is being formulated by the Consortium of U.S. Volcano Observatories (CUSVO) to establish a proactive, fully integrated, national-scale monitoring effort that ensures the most threatening volcanoes in the United States are properly monitored in advance of the onset of unrest and at levels commensurate with the threats posed." At this website, users can download the USGS's 62 page report detailing the current monitoring system and the proposed changes to the level of monitoring at each volcano. Visitors can discover why monitoring is needed through the descriptions of the damage volcanoes have caused in the United States since 1980 and their future threats. [RME] Best Hubble Image of All Time [jpeg]

At this website, supplies their top 20 images collected by the Hubble Space Telescope throughout the years. The website offers concise, fascinating descriptions of each of the amazing phenomenon depicted. After being astounded by the awesome spectacles, visitors can vote for their top choice. The collection provides a great way for users to learn about the diverse objects in space. [RME]

Association of Lunar & Planetary Observers [jpeg]

The Association of Lunar & Planetary Observers' website, created by Richard Hill at the University of Arizona, acts as a forum and provides educational materials for both professional and amateur astronomers interested in solar system observations. The website first presents materials about its directors, staff, and membership. Then, visitors can find a wide range of interesting materials such as images of auroras and eclipses, articles about Mars, and a guide to meteorite identification at the Section links. Users can find links to the JPL Ephemeris Generator, the Solar System Simulator, and other astronomy resource sites. [RME]

NOAA Great Lakes Ice Atlas [pdf, RealPlayer, QuickTime, Windows Media Player]

This website presents the results of the analysis of Great Lakes ice charts dating back to 1960. After learning about the methods used to produce this online atlas, users can view the original ice charts. Researchers can find data on first ice, last ice, ice duration, and other ice related statistics. Students and educators can learn about variations in ice cover through the animations of ice cover time series. The website offers downloads of a few of the references and technical issues. [RME]

Mount Wilson Observatory Association [jpeg, pdf]

"The Mount Wilson Observatory Association (MWOA) is a volunteer organization supporting the Mount Wilson Observatory." The website features schedules and information on free public lectures and walking tours and other events. Users can learn about the history of the century-old observatory and its science projects. Individuals can take an online tour of the observatory and can view a live image from the tower. The website also offers downloads of Association publications and membership information. [RME]

Planet Earth: Earth Sciences for Society [pdf, jpeg]

The Planet Earth: Earth Sciences for Society website, produced by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), promotes the International Year of Planet Earth's goal "to demonstrate new and exciting ways in which Earth sciences can help future generations meet the challenges involved in ensuring a safer and more prosperous world." The website offers pdf files of the project's Business Plan and Status Report. Students and teachers can find educational text and images about trends in Earth Science, humans' impacts on the landscape, the intricate components of the Earth, and need for a good understanding of Earth systems in order for humans to sustain and grow. Users can learn about the structure, future plans, and organizers of the International Year. [RME]

Quantum Diaries [RealPlayer, jpeg]

At this Interactions' website, individuals can "follow physicists from around the world as they live the World Year of Physics." Students and educators can discover what it is like to be a physicist through biographies of their lives, videos, photos, and blogs. The website presents events for the World Year of Physics 2005. Researchers can find links describing basic physics research by scientists in the United States. The website offers a great way for individuals to connect with physicists from all over the world. [RME]

The Clay Minerals Society [pdf, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Word]

"The Clay Minerals Society (CMS) is an international community of scientists who promote research in and disseminate information on clay science and technology." The website provides downloads of materials dealing with various aspects of mineralogy, geochemistry, and petrology. Researchers can find out about annual meetings, awards and grants, and publications. Students and educators can find information on teaching materials, clay science workshops, and games. The website offers physical and chemical data for Source and Special Clays. [RME]

Topic In Depth

Exploring Caves

National Speleological Society [jpeg]
Explore Caves [pdf]
The Cave of Lascaux [gif]
Virtual Cave [jpeg]
Naracoorte Caves National Park [gif]
Matienzo Caves [gif, pdf, jpeg]
The Jamaican Caves Organisation

First, the National Speleological Society (NSS) promotes its efforts to "study, explore, and conserve cave and karst resources; protect access to caves; encourage responsible management of caves and their unique environments; and promote responsible caving" (1). The website provides descriptions and pictures of many cave preserves, information on cave-related events, and numerous links to outside educational materials. The second website, produced by the USGS, allows students to investigate America's caves, cave animals, and cave types (2 ). The website provides a teacher's guide and fun fictional cave stories. Third, the Ministry of Culture and Communication presents a virtual tour of the Cave of Lascaux in France (3). Users can learn about the cave's creation and importance during prehistoric times. Next, cave researcher, Dave Bunnell provides a virtual tour of solution caves, erosional caves, sea caves, and lava tube caves (4). Through in-depth descriptions and enlightening images and figures, students and educators can obtain considerable knowledge about cave features and formations. Fifth, the government of South Australia furnishes virtual tours of the many caves in Naracoorte Caves National Park (5). The website offers an enlightening tutorial on the accumulation of sediment layers and fossils within the caves. The sixth website, produced by Lancaster University, describes the 26-square-kilometer cave of Matienzo in Northern Spain (6). Visitors can find descriptions and images of 2,286 cave sites, view surface photos, and learn about scientific work that has taken place at the cave. Lastly, the Jamaican Caves Organisation promotes its mission "to further the exploration, and preservation, of the caves, sinkholes, and underground rivers of Jamaica" (7). The website presents the latest news, field notes, current projects, and guidance for cavers in Jamaica. [RME]

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From The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2005.

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Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2005. 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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