The Scout Report for Science & Engineering - May 27, 1998

The Scout Report for Science & Engineering

May 27, 1998

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

The target audience of the new Scout Report for Science & Engineering is faculty, students, staff, and librarians in the life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering. Each biweekly issue offers a selective collection of Internet resources covering topics in the sciences, and related fields such as math and engineering, that have been chosen by librarians and content specialists in the given field of study.

The Scout Report for Science & Engineering is also provided via email once every two weeks. Subscription information is included at the bottom of each issue.

In This Issue
The Scout Report
* Research * Current Awareness
* Learning Resources * New Data
* General Interest * In the News

Dusty Plasma Laboratory
The Dusty Plasma Laboratory is part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). The DPL studies "micron size solid objects immersed in a plasma consisting of electrons, ions, and neutrals." A description of the "experimental approach and set up" is provided in addition to a robust list of online plasma research resources. [KH]
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Ecosystem Management Analysis Center--USDA Forest Service
The Ecosystem Management Analysis Center (EMAC) in Fort Collins, Colorado, functions as "a national center for analysis to support ecosystem planning and management." A detached unit of the USDA Forest Service's Washington Office of Ecosystem Management Coordination, EMAC offers "expertise in classification of ecological units and systems development, as well as support and training for selected computer-based analytical tools." This impressive website is organized into five main sections: Ecoregions, Analytical Tools, Courses and Training, News and Information, and About EMAC. The heart of the site is the Ecoregions section, which contains full descriptions of the Ecoregions of the United States (complete with detailed climate information, approximate area and proportionate extent of US ecoregions, and references), a detailed North American Ecoregions Map (in color, available for downloading), and a Publications section with books on Ecosystems/Geography. Also of note is the Analytical Tools section, providing information on GIS, Spectrum, IMPLAN, SNAP, Relm, and other modeling tools. Users will find additional information on courses, training opportunities, publications, conferences, and analysis questions in the remaining two sections. [LXP]
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XCOM: Photon Cross Sections Database
This database, created by the Physics Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, provides calculations of "scattering, photoelectric absorption and pair production, as well as total attenuation coefficients, in any element, compound or mixture, at energies from 1 keV to 100 GeV." Users must enter a material name, then specify a type of energy list for the output, a chemical formula, and a coefficient used for graphing. Though only one coefficient may be graphed at one time, the output table includes values for all coefficients including scattering, both coherent and incoherent, photoelectric absorption, pair production, and total attenuation. [KH]
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Two Amphibian Survey Websites--PWRC
Searchable Database of Amphibian Counts
Summary of Mean Amphibian Count CV's
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (US Geological Servey) provides these companion sites on amphibians in conjunction with the US Environmental Protection Agency, The National Park Service, SUNY Syracuse, and Pennsylvania State University. Building off the parent site, Power Analysis of Monitoring Programs (discussed in the February 4, 1998 Scout Report for Science & Engineering), the Searchable Database of Amphibian Counts "is designed for use by anyone planning a wildlife monitoring program for amphibians." The Searchable database (searchable by Taxon) provides user access to amphibian count references, while the second site allows the user "to examine patterns in how coefficients of variation (CV's) vary across taxonomic group, age class, or survey method." Though designed for amphibian research, both sites offer a clear, stepwise approach to survey methodology and can be helpful to graduate students and researchers planning wildlife monitoring programs. [LXP]
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GeoIndex, povided by the Datasurge Company, is a search engine specially geared towards geo-environmental professionals. Specific database topics include geotechnical, environmental, hydrogeology, geology, mining, and petroleum. The website is searched via phrases entered by the user. Searches can be narrowed by entering multiple phrases and limiting the search to one of the four key areas: Companies, Associations, Education, and Government. [KH]
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The E. coli Index
As part of the World Wide Web Virtual Library, the University of Birmingham (UK) has made available this new website on E. coli bacteria. The site offers a large assortment of resources ranging from the specific (E. coli abstracts, full text of E. coli research papers, E. coli as a pathogen, links to E. coli laboratories), to the more general (links to scientific journals, societies, publishers, international universities, employment opportunities, and more). In addition, users may download the most recent release of the University of Wisconsin's genome sequence data (version M52 for E. coli K-12) from the site. [LXP]
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Learning Resources
NOVA Online--Teachers
NOVA Online--Teachers offers science educators a starting point for lesson plans and scientific activities. The Hot Science section provides a multitude of activities that teachers can incorporate into their science curriculum. Topics include animals, the human body, ancient cultures, space, earth, physics, and an odds and ends compendium. Lesson Ideas and Teacher's Exchange allow teachers to share concepts and lesson plans. [KH]
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Migratory Birds of the Americas: An Annotated Bibliography--PIF
Provided by Partners in Flight (PIF), this website is an abbreviated version of the book A Guide to Bird Education Resources. A product of PIF's Migratory Birds Curriculum Assessment Project, the website fulfills part of its mission "to conserve migratory birds and their habitats, and thus global biodiversity, by promoting migratory bird education materials and programs, and by building a bird education network in the Americas." The site's main contribution is its impressive collection of educational materials in the form of Children's Books, Teaching Materials (curricula, lessons, activities, and workshops), Bird Education Videos, and Background Materials (posters, booklets, fliers, and regional materials). Updates and new materials are posted on a continual basis; information on how to contribute is provided at the site. [LXP]
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Experiments in Electrochemistry
Provided by the Fun Science Gallery, Experiments in Electrochemistry offers both teachers and students documentation for seven simple experiments to investigate conductors, batteries, potentials, and galvanic deposition. Each experiment is accompanied by a list of materials, explanatory text, and at least one figure that facilitates a scientific understanding of the experiment. [KH]
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Online Biology Book
The Online Biology Book was created by Dr. Michael J. Farabee of Estrella Mountain Community College in Arizona. The textbook represents Farabee's many years of teaching freshman biology and offers "introductory hypertext learning modules for a wide variety of biological topics." It is organized into 41 chapters (and a glossary), all of which are revised and updated frequently. Topics include chemistry, cellular biology, genetics, thermodynamics, protein synthesis, plants and structure, animal organ systems (integumentary, respiratory, etc.), evolutionary theory, and biological diversity, among others. Each chapter is well illustrated with color images and supported by hyperlinked glossary terms. Whether seeking an introduction to or a review of general biology, this well-maintained site is worth the visit. [LXP]
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Virtual FlyLab
This site is maintained by Robert Deshamais and Gary Novak of California State University at Los Angeles. Users can play the role of a research geneticist while learning the principles of genetic inheritance. Users design matings between male and female fruit flies carrying one or more genetic mutations and then click the "mate" button. The program applies known Mendelian rules to produce offspring and then asks users to deduce the rules based on the "experimental" results. The program can demonstrate such genetic mechanisms as: Mendelian ratios for dominant/recessive traits, modifications of Mendelian ratios due to sex-linkage, monozygous lethals, or epistasis. Virtual Flylab seeks "to provide students with an experience in scientific reasoning and so does not provide information on the nature of the mutations; students must discover these for themselves". The resources at this site can serve as a supplement to a genetics lecture or lab or as a review of basic genetics. [LXP]
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General Interest
Live from the Rainforest--NASA/NSF
Passport to Knowledge
This featured rainforest website is part of Passport to Knowledge, an ongoing series of "electronic field trips to scientific frontiers." Supported by the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, public television, and other collaborators, Passport to Knowledge "encourages and permits students to interact with Real Science, Real Scientists, Real Locations, and Real Time." Divided into four sections and aimed at the K-12 level, Live from the Rainforest covers 'GEOsystems' (geographic maps, climate information), ECOsystems (images and information on trees, plants, birds, animals and insects), TEAMS (field researchers and a multimedia production crew), and INTERACT (a solid collection of hands-on discovery projects, games, multimedia demonstrations, and email interactive resources). The colorful pictures, substantive summaries, and real-time flavor make this a worthwhile stop along the learning path in the rainforest. [LXP]
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Space Radar Images of Earth (SIR-C/X-SAR)
Images from the Spaceborn Imaging Radar-C/X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) project are available from 1994 to the present. The radar was launched in 1994 to study the changing global environment. The newest images are available on the main page while older images can be viewed by selecting one of nine categories: Archaeology; Cities; Ecology & Agriculture; Geology, Interferometry; Oceans; Rivers; Snow, Ice, Glaciers; and Volcanoes. [KH]
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The Fly in Your Eye
Based on scientific information from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), author Jim Heath has recently placed this gem of a publication on Australian bush flies online. User-friendly, humorous, concise, yet fully detailed, the publication introduces readers to Australia's bush fly problem and the biological control techniques (introduction of dung beetles) implemented to overcome these insect pests. The discussion of biological control illustrates some of the benefits of this eradication approach. Whether for its biological and entomological merit, or its educational appeal, this website serves as an excellent model of how to introduce and convey a complex subject to the general public. [LXP]
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Water Recycling
This site features an innovative wastewater treatment facility at the former Triangle School in Chatham County, North Carolina. The facility, designed by a team from North Carolina State University, uses constructed wetlands, soil filters, and an aquatic ecosystem to clean and reuse the wastewater. Visitors can take a guided tour of the construction and demonstration, read an overview of alternative wastewater treatment, learn about the treatment system at the Triangle School, or view photographs of the construction. The table of contents offers an alternative method for navigating through the available information. For those interested in additional reading, the bibliography provides an extensive list of resources, both online and in print. [KH]
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ASM Biofilm Image Project
This new site, from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), provides information and images on biofilms, assemblages of "microscopic animals, plants and bacteria attached to a surface." Deleterious or beneficial, biofilms occur "when bacteria adhere, colonize and eventually form complex community structures on various surfaces." At the site, which is organized into biofilm resources, digitized images, and curricula, users can find introductory text as well as SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy), magnified photographs, and Confocal Scanning Laser Microscopy (CSLM) images. Of special note is the modest but excellent collection of related links--pointing to biofilm movies, the Center for Biofilm Engineering, an impressive collection of SPM Images, curriculum information on Unicellular Organisms, and the World of Microbes. [LXP]
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Current Awareness
(For links to additional current awareness on tables of contents, abstracts, preprints, new books, data, conferences, etc., visit the Science & Engineering Current Awareness Metapage:

Ecological Society of America NewSource
The Ecological Society of America (ESA) provides this monthly online newsletter with information pertaining to Ecology. ESA NewSource includes a long list of upcoming scientific meetings, new book reviews, employment and funding opportunities, and several updates on current focal issues (the ESA panel on vegetation classification, a call for ten percent funding increase for NSF, the Endangered Species Act, etc.). In addition, NewSource summarizes several of the important recent findings in Ecology; this month's NewSource features two reports: 1) 'Education-Survey of Scientists on Science,' a recent report by science literacy advocate Dr. Mae C. Jemison, and 2) 'Nonpoint Pollution of Surface Waters with Phosphorus and Nitrogen,' part of the ESA series Issues in Ecology (available June 10, 1998). Authored by Stephen Carpenter and others, the report presents an "in-depth look at the problems caused by urban and rural runoff and the possible solutions." [LXP]
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New Reports and Publications
Fifteen Drugs, Dyes, and Other Chemicals Newly Listed as Known or Likely Human Carcinogens
The National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEH), has provided this information on both commercial and non-commercial chemicals. The newly listed compounds are included in the 8th Report on Carcinogens Summary, the text of which is available on the NIEH homepage. [KH]

Buffers, Common-Sense Conservation--NRCS
This recent publication from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the National Conservation Buffer Team focuses on the practices, agricultural programs, and national programs that promote conservation buffers -- "strips or small areas of land in permanent vegetation" to help control potential pollutants and other environmental concerns. NRCS outlines specific programs and educational initiatives for many different types of "filter strips, field borders, grassed waterways, field windbreaks, shelterbelts, contour grass strips, and riparian (streamside) buffers." [LXP]

Handbook of Applied Superconductivity
The Institute of Physics (IoP) is publishing this new resource on superconductivity. The two-volume book covers the theory, technical aspects, and applications of superconductivity. Although the full text is not available on the web, visitors may browse through the table of contents, read the entire Foreword, and order the book for a reduced price. [KH]

Three New Papers from the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station [.pdf]
The USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station has made available three new publications entitled "An Old-Growth Definition for Sand Pine Forests," "An Old-Growth Definition for Tropical and Subtropical Forests in Florida," and "Theoretical Perspectives of Ethnicity and Outdoor Recreation: A Review and Synthesis of African-American and European-American Participation." The abstracts for these and former publications may be viewed online, while the full text is available for download in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format. [LXP]
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Job Openings in Science and Technology from the Chronicle of Higher Education
A jobs metasite, is a joint venture between Nature and Scientific American. Users can search for jobs via position, discipline, organization, or location. Job listings are available for locations around the world and in a variety of subjects, although the database appears to contain a majority of biology, electrical engineering, and computer science opportunities. [KH]
Formerly Job Listings in Academia, JinHE is "one of the most extensive sites devoted to employment opportunities in higher education available on the Internet." Based at the University of Texas at Austin, JinHE provides links to announcements for faculty, staff, and administrative positions and "is not restricted to teaching positions." [LXP]
[Note: Site title has changed since the original Scout Report review. Site formerly referred to in the Scout Report as "Jobs in Higher Education (JinHE)."]
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Funding Sources for Water Quality--NAL
Provided by the Water Quality Information Center at the USDA National Agricultural Library, this new resource offers a large selection of links for specific water quality funding programs and opportunities across the US government. The funding opportunities come from departments such as the DOI, EPA, FHA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, among others. [LXP]

Innovations in Magnetic Fusion Energy Diagnostic Systems
Field Work Proposals
The Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (OFES), within the US Department of Energy (DOE), is requesting proposals for "first of a kind" projects investigating magnetic fusion energy diagnostic systems. Preference will be given to projects expected to produce results within three to five years. Field work proposals are also being sought for the study of "plasma behavior in tokamaks, innovative confinement concepts, and burning plasma experiments." [KH]

ROPAs (Realizing Our Potential Awards) 1998: Medical Research Council
Aimed "at 'pump priming' new or highly speculative areas of research," the focus of ROPA funding is "to enhance collaboration between the science base and UK industry by rewarding individual researchers who have already established close ties with the private sector and are in receipt of substantial financial support from industry." Open to researchers in Universities and Research Council institutes and units, this year's MRC awards emphasize Development & Inheritance and Clinical Neurosciences & Mental Health. Application information and details are available at the site (ROPA/MRC deadline 31 July, 1998). [LXP]
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Entomological Society of America/APS Annual Meeting
The 1998 ESA Annual Meeting will be held jointly with the American Phytopathology Society in Las Vegas, from November 8-12, 1998. The theme of this year's annual meeting is "Science in Transition." The extended abstract deadline is June 8; online submission is possible. [LXP]

26th Annual Water Resources Planning & Management Conference--Call for papers
The American Society of Civil Engineers hosts an annual conference to discuss and share information about water resources planning and managment. Conference topics include urban and rural water resources, water laws and policies, and water resource systems and modeling. Deadline for submission of abstracts is August 1, 1998. [KH]

Children At Risk Conference: Environmental Health Issues in the Great Lakes Region--EPA
Co-sponsored by US EPA-Region 5, the Office of Children's Health Protection, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, this two-day conference (July 8-9, 1998) will focus on "significant environmental health threats to children in the Great Lakes region." Registration is due by June 26, 1998 and application information is available at the site. [LXP]
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New Data
CalFlora Database [Java]
A collaborative project of the USDA Forest Service, the UC Berkeley Digital Library Project, the Bioinformatics Working Group (Texas A&M University), the UC Davis Information Center for the Environment, and others, the CalFlora database "contains geographic and ecological distribution information for 8363 California vascular plant taxa, including links to other online sources for California flora data." The database may be searched by any of a dozen selections within five main fields: Group (Phylogenetic Category, Lifeform, and Lifeform adjective), Distribution (County, Plant Community, etc.), Rare Plants (Federal listing, State listing, etc.), Habitat Information (General, Substrate, etc.), Nomenclature (Family, Genus, common name, etc.) and Miscellaneous (CalFlora record number and PLANTS code). Typical returns provide, at the finest (species) level, a summary including Common Name, Category (Dicot, Monocot), Lifeform (tree, shrub, etc.), Status (native or exotic), Range, Distribution, Plant Communities, Elevation, and several code numbers. Note that the distribution information is particularly detailed as it not only lists occurrence by county but provides a detailed GIS map (Java) of occurrence within California as well. There is also an option to download data at the site. [LXP]
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Ocean Drilling Program--Leg 172
Leg 172 data from the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) is now available for public access. Data may be obtained by searching the database, for which a link is provided. New predefined queries for paleontology data have also been added to the database. [KH]
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SWISS-PROT: Annotated Protein Sequence Database--SIB
SWISS-PROT, provided by the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, is a "curated protein sequence database" that provides, with minimal redundancy and "a high level of integration with other databases," descriptions of "the function of a protein, its domains structure, post-translational modifications" and variants, as well as a host of other information. Access to the SWISS-PROT database is available via "description or identification (any word in the DE, OS, OG, GN and ID lines)," by accession number (AC line), author (RA line), citation (RL line), or full text search. Lengthy returns offer information in several dozen fields, including taxonomic hierarchy, journal references, and sequence information. [LXP]
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Water Resources for Alaska GIS datasets--USGS
Three datasets are available for downloading from the US Geological Survey's Alaska Geospatial Data Clearinghouse. Users can view the metadata and a sample graphic; download options include the Arc/Info polygon coverages for the Kuskokwim River, the Unalakleet drainage areas, and Alaska precipitation. The first two data sets were obtained from USGS 1:63360 quadrangle maps while the precipitation was derived from a 1:2,000,000 scale map. [KH]
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In the News
Modern Technologies--Satellites
1. Satellite Basics from PanAmSat
2. Satellite System from PanAmSat
3. The Satellite Encyclopedia
4. Satellite Networks & Architectures Branch
5. Unmanned Spacecraft and Satellite Links
6. Satellite Remote Sensing and Archaeology
7. Geosynchronous Operational Environmental Satellites
8. Canada Center for Remote Sensing--Environmental Monitoring Section
The world's increasing dependence on satellites was recently made clear when a PanAmSat communications satellite went down, disrupting communication and data transmission around the world. The eight resources in this week's In the News highlight satellites, and the many important roles they play in our lives. Today, satellites are used to convey a wealth of information, from communications to important scientific data.

(1 and 2) PanAmSat offers these two sites, featuring basic information on satellites and statistics on PanAmSat satellites, in particular. Satellite System includes a polar chart, a text-based chart, sun outages, and look angles. (3) The Satellite Encyclopedia was developed by Tag's Broadcasting Services in France. The Encyclopedia includes an alphabetical index of all satellites in orbit, maps, satellite missions, and a glossary of terms. (4) The Satellite Networks & Architectures Branch of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Lewis Research Center performs research in the five areas related to satellite communications: next generation architectures, applications, data protocols, asynchronous transfer mode, and satellite link technologies. (5) Another site from NASA, Unmanned Spacecraft and Satellite Links, is a compilation of links to a variety of sites in six key areas: lunar and planetary spacecraft, space science and space observations, communications satellites, remote sensing and earth observation, military and navigation spacecraft, and university programs. (6) This site, created by Martin Fowler of the United Kingdom, provides a sample application for the use of satellites. Included are satellite images, a bibliography, and additional web sites. (7) The Geosynchronous Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) homepage provides a wealth of information about the project, as well as images, and background information on these satellites, which are used to predict weather around the world. (8) The homepage for the Environmental Monitoring Section of the Canada Center for Remote Sensing (CCRS) includes a brief overview of the program and descriptions and links to ongoing projects. Visitors can consult this wonderful resource to learn about the multiple applications of satellites. [KH]
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The Scout Report for Science & Engineering is published every other Wednesday by the Internet Scout Project, located in the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Computer Sciences.

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