The Scout Report for Science & Engineering - February 17, 1999

The Scout Report for Science & Engineering

February 17, 1999

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


Learning Resources

General Interest

Current Awareness

New Data

In The News


Alaska's Water Resources
The Water Resources of Alaska homepage is provided by the US Geological Survey. The goal of this project is to study and understand Alaska's hydrology (surface water, ground water, and water quality) for use and management of the nation's water resources. The site features a list of published reports and information about current projects as well as a vast amount of hydrologic data such as surface water, ground water, water quality, glaciers, water use, and hydrologic data reports. [SN]
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North Temperate Lakes Long-Term Ecological Research (NTL-LTER)
The University of Wisconsin's world-renown Center for Limnology operates the North Temperate Lakes Long-Term Ecological Research program, emphasizing long-term ecological phenomena in urban, agricultural, and forested watersheds. This information-rich site offers general and detailed information on the North Temperate Lakes LTER's impressive array of projects. Research projects encompass several themes, including long-term trends in physical, chemical, and biological properties of lake ecosystems; the dynamics of internal and external processes affecting lake ecosystems; the temporal responses of lake ecosystems to disturbance and stress; the interaction between spatial heterogeneity and temporal variability of lake ecosystems; and lake-ecosystem properties in a broad regional context. Also of interest are descriptions of lake properties, a searchable bibliography, biodiversity and species lists, and more than a dozen online datasets ranging from Aquatic Macrophytes through Zooplankton. A query-able climate data section and Links to Other Sites of Interest round out the site. [LXP]
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Bering Sea Near-Real-Time Altimeter Data Home Page [MPEG]
The Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research has made available the Bering Sea Near-Real-Time Altimeter Data Home Page. This page provides links to "near-real-time altimeter [sea surface height, sea surface height anomaly, significant wave height, wind speed, and sea surface temperature] data from the TOPEX/Poseidon and ERS-2 satellites for monitoring mesoscale circulation variability in the Bering Sea." The data is processed in near-real-time and is usually posted within eighteen hours of overflight. Sections included at the Website are Research, Papers, and People, among others. Animations (MPEG format) of the near-real-time maps for the current month are also provided. In addition, the site features plot maps of the sea surface height anomaly in the Bering Sea. [SN]
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Missouri River Natural Resource Bibliography
Columbia Environmental Research Center (CERC) -- USGS
The US Geological Survey's Columbia (Missouri) Environmental Research Center (CERC) has provided this bibliography of some 1,200 articles and books related to the Missouri River's natural resources. Organized alphabetically by author, the bibliography can be browsed from A to Z, or users can look for subject-specific references with the associated Keyword Index. For additional information and links to the recently posted Acute Toxicity Database files, see the CERC homepage. [LXP]
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XCOM: Photon Cross Sections Database
The Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology provide XCOM, a Photon (x-rays and gamma rays) Cross Sections Database. This Web database can be used to "calculate photon cross sections for scattering, photoelectric absorption and pair production, as well as total attenuation coefficients, for any element, compound or mixture, at energies from 1keV to 100GeV." At the site, researchers can use the database to generate total or partial cross sections and attenuation coefficients for incoherent scattering, coherent scattering, photoelectric absorption, and pair production in the atomic nucleus and atomic electron fields. In addition, partial and mass interaction coefficients can be calculated for compounds. The site provides detailed information on using the database and on its limitations. This site is useful to obtain data on scattering and absorption of photons for scientific, engineering, and medical applications. A database search form is also included at the homepage, where the user can obtain photon cross section data for a single element, compound or mixture. [SN]
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Bird Monitoring in North America -- PWRC
This metapage, from the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC), serves as a central location with links to twenty important bird monitoring programs in North America. Sites range from the well-established and wide ranging North American Breeding Bird Survey, the Christmas Bird Count, and the International Shorebird Survey to more recent and smaller initiatives including the Marsh Bird Monitoring Program, the Colonial Waterbird Inventory and Monitoring Program, and Project Birdscape, among others. Whether searching for scientific information or "citizen science" efforts, users will find this hub a useful stopping place. [LXP]
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Learning Resources

Electrical Engineering Circuits Archive
The Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Washington has made available the Electrical Engineering Circuits Archive Website. The site centers around a database and aims to collect circuit designs for access by engineering students and professionals. An email address is provided for users to submit materials for inclusion into the database. Information on Circuits, Data Sheets, Models, Microprocessors, Reading Capacitors, and Resistor Codes is available. A highlight of this site is the Consumer Electronics Design Library of Instructional Material. Included in the library are Text Modules, Lecture Notes, Lab Manuals, and Student Technology and Project Reports. [SN]
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Biodiversity: Measuring the Variety of Nature
Created by researchers at the Natural History Museum in London in response to the 1993 Convention on Biological Diversity, this magnificent site is an Internet learning laboratory for modeling (and thinking about) biodiversity and conservation. Four main sections form the heart of the site: Measuring Biodiversity Value, Measuring Rarity and Endimism, Assessing Conservation Priority and Gap Analysis, and Developments in Biogeography. In each section, hyperlinked text and spectacularly colorful graphics introduce readers to several approaches, methods, theories, and examples pertaining to biodiversity and conservation. The site's Key References section is a fully annotated reference list, including summaries of each reference. A Publications section (current through 1999) and list of selected Websites round out the site. [LXP]
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Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry
York University presents the Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry Website, a great learning resource for anyone interested in gaining a general idea about atmospheric chemistry. The site is divided into sections including Photochemical Smog/ Tropospheric Ozone, Global Warming, Stratospheric Ozone Depletion, Acidic Deposition, and Toxic Air Pollutants. Each section provides a brief summary and links to related resources. [SN]
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Journey North
Journey North, an Annenberg/CPB "Learner Online" science education program, uses the Internet to track migration and signs of spring. Each year, students and teachers across North America go online (beginning on Groundhog's Day), to share their observations of the changing seasons. Targeting K-12 and high school students, the colorful homepage offers several interactive features -- from student or teacher discussion lists to the information-rich section Spring 1999. To get oriented, begin at How to use Journey North and click on the Orientation link. Then, select among several options. The Migrations project provides updated locations of a dozen birds and animals, from Bald Eagles to Hummingbirds, Manatees to Monarch butterflies, and Whooping Cranes to Whales. The Journey North News Calendar provides participants with an overview of upcoming information for focal species. And Signs of Spring uses indices like ice-out, leaf-out, and frogs to track the season's progress. This site could serve as a wonderful virtual lab for teachers seeking ways to integrate local classroom activities with global processes. [LXP]
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An Introduction to Particle Physics
The Particle Physics Department at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) provides the Introduction to Particle Physics homepage. Particle physics is defined as "the study of the basic elements of matter and the forces acting among determine the fundamental laws that control the make-up of matter and the physical universe." The Introduction provides more information on Accelerators, Detectors, Antimatter, Big Bang Science, and Dark Matter. Further information can be found in The Big Bang and The Top Quark sections, both of which provide images and in-depth summaries. Users can navigate via a contents page or through links at the bottom of the page. [SN]
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General Interest

NASA Astrobiology Institute [Frames]
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and other leading academic or research organizations have joined together to create the NASA Astrobiology Institute. The institute's objectives are to promote, conduct, and lead integrated astrobiology (study of life in the universe) research and to train young researchers. Sections included at the Website are News & Views, Operations, and Learning Center. [SN]
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NOAA La Nina Page
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has assembled this informative metasite on La Nina, an extreme phase of a naturally occurring climate cycle known as "El Nino" or "the Southern Oscillation." Unlike El Nino, the La Nina phase is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. NOAA's La Nina Page draws from several sources (universities to government agencies) to provide information on this phenomenon. Begin with the Frequently Asked Questions link or examine animations of current and former ocean temperature conditions, monthly US temperature and precipitation maps, predictions of future climate patterns, and a series of descriptions of the impacts of La Nina. A detailed summary of the La Nina summit, held last summer in Colorado, rounds out the site. [LXP]
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The Core: Uranium Institute
The Uranium Institute (UI) is an international organization comprised of members who are involved in all "stages of the production of nuclear generated electricity" in the hopes of promoting the use of nuclear energy to supply energy demands, while minimizing environmental risks. The goals of the Institute are to monitor the outlook for the world's nuclear fuel markets, provide a forum between the nuclear fuel industry and the international organizations concerned with environmental issues as well as energy policy, and to make the public gain a general understanding of the nuclear fuel cycle. Sections are divided into three categories: Features, the UI, and the Industry. Although the site is somewhat news-oriented, it informs users about industries involved with nuclear-generated electricity and how they manage radioactive waste. [SN]
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The Boreal Toad Homepage -- USGS [Frames]
The Midcontinent Ecological Science Center (US Geological Survey) provides this colorful site on Boreal Toads. From basic life history facts to distribution maps, the site introduces visitors to the basic ecology of Boreal toads. The Life Cycle section describes and illustrates the transition from eggs to tadpoles to toads, while the Hibernation section describes the physiological mechanisms behind how toads overwinter harsh environmental conditions. Users will find useful links to related sites under Hot Links. Although several parts of the site (including Research) are still under construction, it is still a helpful resource. [LXP]
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How Things Work [Java]
Complete Computer Solutions makes available the How Things Work Website. This is an excellent learning resource for anyone who has ever wondered about the workings of items such as oxygen tents or speedometers or materials such as porcelain. The site briefly summarizes a plethora of topics ranging from accordions to X-rays. This site is well worth a visit. [SN]
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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:

Galileo Spacecraft Finds Thin Atmosphere in Callisto
The Galileo Mission
The Galileo Spacecraft "has detected a thin carbon dioxide atmosphere on Jupiter's moon Callisto, and has confirmed the existence of carbon dioxide on Callisto's surface." This epiphany is very exciting because it means that all of Jupiter's Galilean moons, Callisto, Europa, Io, and Ganymede, have some form of atmosphere. The first site is a news release from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The second Website is the homepage of the Galileo Mission. At this site, the user will find more information pertaining to the mission, and images and data from Jupiter. [SN]
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New Publications

A Bibliography on Bison -- NPWRC
Originally published in 1992 by the University of Wyoming's Agricultural Experiment Station in Laramie, this searchable bibliography on bison is now available online at the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Website (NPWRC) (first discussed in the October 15, 1997 Scout Report for Science and Engineering). The bibliography lists research "literature (including selected agency reports and unpublished theses) on North American bison (Bison bison) with selected literature concerning European bison (Bison bonasus)." Although the bulk of citations span several decades, note that historical and archeological literature has been omitted, unless applicable to bison biology or management. The bibliography may also be browsed by section, namely: Classification and Paleoecology, Social Organization and Behavior, Foraging and Habitat Ecology, Growth and Bioenergentics, Diseases and Parasites, Census and Capture Techniques, Herd Status and Management, and General and Miscellaneous. [LXP]

Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering: Fall 1997 Supplemental Tables [HTML, .pdf, .xls]
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released supplemental tables (in Excel format) for a report on Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering for the period fall 1997. Contents range from Trends in Graduate Enrollment to Students in Engineering, and cover mechanisms of support as well as racial/ ethnic statistics. [LXP]

NIST Form Factor, Attenuation, and Scattering Tables
The National Institute of Standards and Technology has published the article, NIST Form Factor, Attenuation, and Scattering Tables. This paper describes and computes "the primary interactions of x-rays with isolated atoms from Z=1(hydrogen) to Z=92(uranium) within a self-consistent Dirac-Hartree-Fock framework." Sections included in the paper are Introduction and Importance of Form Factors, Form Factors and Standard Definitions, Available Tabulations and Basis of Current Formalism, Basic Transform Equations, Avoidance of Singularities, Avoidance of Imprecision, Integration Precision Requirements, Choice of Interpolation Formalism, and Results for Hydrogen and Helium, among others. [SN]

Prime Case of Chaos [.pdf]
The American Mathematical Society has made available online the article, "Prime Case of Chaos." The article discusses "conjectural links between the Riemann zeta function and chaotic quantum-mechanical systems." Additional full-text articles and tables of contents from each of the four volumes of What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences are also available. [SN]

Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC)/NASA Ames Workshop on: Emerging Opportunities and Issues in Nanotubes and Nanoelectronics
The SRC/ NASA Ames Workshop on Emerging Opportunities and Issues in Nanotubes and Nanoelectronics was held November 12-13, 1998 to "explore and develop long term strategy for research in nanotubes that addresses the post-100nm needs of the microelectronics industry and the display industry." This workshop report is currently available online. [SN]
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Job Openings in Science and Technology from the Chronicle of Higher Education
Formerly an entirely free service, the Chronicle of Higher Education now charges a fee to access the current week's job listings. Extensive postings for the previous week are freely available, however. [LXP]
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Four new funding opportunities from the National Science Foundation (NSF)
Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Educational and Innovation Program
Human Dimensions of the Arctic System (HARC)
Minority Graduate Education
NSF Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education
NSF's new research initiative, CISE Educational and Innovation Program, hopes to encourage innovative "educational activities at the undergraduate level in CISE disciplines by encouraging the transfer of research results into the undergraduate curriculum." The proposal deadline is May 14, 1999. Another research initiative, Human Dimensions of the Arctic System (HARC), is designed "to enhance understanding of human interaction with physical and biological environmental change in the Arctic," HARC research will focus "exclusively on current and potential impacts on or by human activity that may be expected to occur in response to global change." The deadline for full proposals is April 30, 1999. The Minority Graduate Education research initiative hopes to increase the number of minority doctoral candidates entering the physical and life sciences, mathematics, and engineering. The deadline for proposal submission is April 19, 1999. NSF has also announced a program to provide "fellowships and associated training that will enable graduate students and advanced undergraduates in the sciences, mathematics, engineering, and technology to serve in K-12 schools as resources knowledgeable about both the content and applications of science, mathematics, engineering, and technology." A letter of intent is requested (not required) by April 1, 1999. [LXP][SN]

GVCO: Grants to Voluntary Conservation Organisations [.pdf, Word]
Environment Australia has posted the 1999 guidelines for grants to voluntary conservation organizations. The program "provides funding towards administrative costs of community based environmental organisations which are involved in the conservation and protection of the environment." Details and application forms are available online. [LXP]
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The Sixth International Meeting on the Biology of Nitric Oxide
The Sixth International Meeting on the Biology of Nitric Oxide will be held in Stockholm, Sweden September 5-8, 1999. Information on registration and submission of abstracts is provided online; the deadline for abstracts and advance registration is April 30, 1999. [LXP]

XXI International Congress of Entomology
The XXI International Congress of Entomology will be held in Iguazu Falls, Brazil August 20-26, 2000. Sessions and symposia cover dozens of topics including acarology, chemical and physiological ecology, forest entomology, systematics and phylogeny, ecology of pesticides, and resistance and toxicology, among many others. Information for registration and submission of abstracts is provided online; the abstract submission deadline is December 31, 1999. [LXP]

Machine Learning in Game Playing
The sixteenth International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML-99) will take place June 27-30, 1999 in Bled, Slovenia. A workshop, Machine Learning in Game Playing, has been added to the conference. The objective of this workshop is to bring together machine learning scientists and specialists to discuss the "specific problems posed by games, to spell out main issues that deserve further attention and to promote further research along these lines." A list of researchers will deliver talks that will serve as a basis for research paper sessions. The abstract deadline is March 31, 1999. [SN]

Artificial Intelligence & Cognitive Science
The Tenth Irish Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science will be held September 1-3, 1999 in University College Cork, Ireland. This conference will be a forum for both basic and applied research in case-based reasoning, cognitive modeling, constraint processing, data mining, intelligent agents, intelligent information retrieval, knowledge representation and reasoning, learning, natural language, neural networks, perception, and planning and scheduling. The abstract deadline is May 21, 1999. [SN]
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New Data

1997-Newly Available Agency Data Sets That are Significantly Global Change Related
The US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has recently made available this metasite consisting of online datasets from 1997 that relate to global change. The data sets include those from "observations, the merging of multiple data sets and ones produced by models." In addition to the Interagency Data, other data are available from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, Department of Interior, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and from the National Science Foundation (NSF). URLs for most of the datasets are provided at the Website. [SN]
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The ARS Pesticide Properties Database
Maintained by the Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) Remote Sensing and Modeling Lab, the ARS Pesticide Properties Database "is a compendium of chemical and physical properties of 324 widely used pesticides." The database, organized alphabetically, focuses on "16 of the most important properties" affecting pesticide transport and degradation characteristics under different soil and weather conditions. For each pesticide, users will find information on CASRN, Molecular formula, Molecular weight, Physical state, Boiling point, Melting point, Decomposition point, Heat of vaporization, Rate Constants-Hydrolysis (Photolysis), Vapor pressure, Water solubility, Organic solubility, Henry's Law, Octanol/ water partitioning, Acid dissociation, Soil sorption, Field dissipation, and Soil halflife (aerobic, anaerobic). Also provided are several sections describing the properties and units of pesticide parameters, a Coden list, and links to a few related sites. [LXP]
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Comprehensive Ocean - Atmosphere Data Set LMRF Arctic Subset
The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) (mentioned in the February 3, 1999 Scout Report for Science & Engineering) has made available the Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (COADS) LMRF (data format) Arctic Subset. COADS is the result of a collaboration between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, and the National Science Foundation. This data set contains information regarding "marine surface weather reports for the region north of 65 degrees N from ships, drifting ice stations and buoys." The parameters that were taken into consideration while measuring this data are air and sea temperature, cloudiness, humidity, winds, and present weather information. This data are downloadable via FTP. [SN]
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Encarsia Species of the World: A Searchable Database
Hosted by Texas A&M University, this searchable database on Encarsia contains taxonomic and biological information for all known species within this large genus of parasitic wasps (family Aphelinidae). Widely used in biological and natural control of armored scale pests and whitefly, Encarsia are relatively well-studied. Use of the database requires familiarity with latin names of Encarsia and hosts; typical returns include taxonomic information (Genus, Species, Author, Year, Species Group, Original description, and Redescriptions) and biological information (Host Family, Type of Biology, Hosts, Distribution, and References). [LXP]
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In The News

Ocean vents were "factories of life"
1. Ocean vents were "factories of life"
2. Clues to life's origins
3. Springing to life under the sea
4. Vent Fluid Chemistry and the Microbial Habitat
5. First time ever retrieval of "black smokers" from ocean floor reveals one of Earth's strangest and most enigmatic ecosystems
6. Brief scientific background on sulfide chimneys (black smokers)
7. Creatures of the Thermal Vents
8. Sea Chimneys Hold Clues on Life in Harsh Habitats
9. William Wilcock's Research Group
This week's In the News focuses on discoveries that provide support for the theory that deep sea hydrothermal vents may have been the "factories of life" three and half billion years ago when Earth's atmosphere did not consist of any oxygen. A recent article published in Science (February 5, 1999, 283:831-833) discusses how scientists at Nagaoka University created an environment similar to a submarine hydrothermal system. Submarine hydrothermals are transition zones where hot water rises from a vent into the cold environment of the surrounding water. The hydrothermal vent sites are termed "black smokers" or sulfide chimneys and are formed when heated water containing metals and volcanic gases rises into the cold deep ocean from hot regions below the seafloor. These scientists added fluid containing the amino acid, glycine, to the simulated environment. They found that glycine polymerizes (one unit is added to the amino acid in a step-wise manner) in the hot region, is released into the cold region where its bonds are solidified, and re-enters the hot region and polymerizes again. The heat from the hot region drives this reaction. The repeated circulation of glycine through the hot and cold water regions of the simulated hydrothermal vents created oligopeptides of glycine. It is suggested that "life probably started with organic chemicals forming into amino acids...from which the first hydrogen-consuming microbes emerged" (3). Researchers at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory suggest that ammonia (NH3) production occurred in early Earth's crust and in hydrothermal vents. Furthermore, organic chemicals such as nitrogen and hydrogen are necessary to form amino acids, which are the basic components of living things. Chris German, of the Southampton Oceanography Centre, spotted a "a hot spring more than 9,000 feet under the Atlantic Ocean where a volcanic vent poured out hydrogen and provided conditions for hydrogen sulfide oxidizing microbes" to survive. Life forms such as giant clams, pale mussels, white crabs, and Pompeii worms (Nature, 1998, 391:545-546) have also been found on these sulfur chimneys. These creatures are dependent on bacteria, which use hydrogen sulfide from vent water as a primary energy source. Scientists hope that studying these ecosystems may shed light on the origin of life on Earth as well as on other worlds in our solar system. The nine resources listed above provide background information and insights into these discoveries.
The first news resource, from BBC News Online, (1) provides a brief summary of the aforementioned Science article. The second and third articles are also from BBC News Online (2-3). The second article discusses how the conversion of nitrogen to ammonia could have occurred in hydrothermal vents. The third article argues that the "discovery of a hydrogen-spewing black smoker" makes the theory of life originating in a hot hydrogen environment more plausible. The fourth article, from the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), provides a summary of ecosystems surviving in deep-sea hydrothermal vents that depend on Earth's internal heat instead of sunlight (4). The fifth and sixth articles, news releases from the University of Washington, provide information on how life has been found in actively forming sulfide chimneys (5) and background information on sulfide chimneys (6). The seventh article, made available by the Smithsonian Institution, discusses how chemicals such as hydrogen sulfide are the key to life in these hydrothermal vents (7). The eighth article, provided by New York Times, details the life forms found on sulfide chimneys that were recently recovered from the Ocean floor (8). In this article, scientists from the University of Washington describe tubeworms found on the outside of the chimney as well as the microbes, which could be the most primitive life forms, found inside of the sulfide chimney. At the ninth site, from William Wilcock's research group at the University of Washington, users will find information about the current and future research efforts into hydrothermal vents (9). [SN]
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