The Scout Report for Science & Engineering - July 5, 2000

July 5, 2000

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


The Open Science Project: Molecule Viewers and Editors
This metasite is an excellent resource for chemical researchers and educators. It provides links to three free software programs: JchemPaint, Jmol, and OpenChem. JchemPaint, developed at the Max Planck Institute of Chemical Ecology, is a Java program for drawing 2-D chemical structures. Jmol, primarily authored by J. Daniel Gezelter of Notre Dame University, is a Java/Swing program for viewing molecular visualization and measurement. OpenChem, a large collaborative effort, is a Python-based program for investigating nanotechnology, machines and molecular structures. All three of the programs are still under construction, but each page contains helpful troubleshooting information and discussion lists. [HCS]
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Three on the Pacific Decadal Oscillation
The Pacific Decadal Oscillation--UW
The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) in the news--UW
Pacific Decadal Oscillation--TOPEX/Poseidon
During the past five years, scientists have uncovered evidence of a long-term climate pattern in the North Pacific Ocean. Known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), this long-term ocean fluctuation waxes and wanes roughly every 20 to 30 years, and has been shown to have an important influence on salmon abundance. While the El Nino of the southern Pacific Ocean may appear for a year and then disappear, the PDO tends to run in streaks of 10 to 15 years. The first Website, from researchers at the University of Washington at Seattle, provides a brief description of the phenomenon, and offers links to data, graphics, and publications. The second site, from the same authors, offers current news related to the PDO. The third site, from the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite (a cooperative effort of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, and Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales) contains satellite data, using "the precise shape of the ocean's surface and how this surface changes through time" to monitor the PDO. Researchers interested in learning more about the Pacific Decadal Oscillation will find these Websites to be excellent base references. [LXP]
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Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Software Directory
"The Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Software Directory catalogs 1240 computer programs in the fields of Geotechnical Engineering, Soil Mechanics, Rock Mechanics, Engineering Geology, Foundation Engineering, Hydrogeology, Geoenvironmental Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Data Analysis and Data Visualisation and lists 757 worldwide suppliers and publishers of these programs," says Tim Spink, the site's California-based compiler. The site's search engine can locate programs by name, publisher, or supplier. The main index is divided into lists of geotechnical, geoenvironmental, or general geological programs. Each entry furnishes the publisher, platform, status (e.g. commercial, freeware, shareware), a handy description of the program, and links to the supplier. This site provides a fast, easy way for geoscientists of all subdisciplines to locate applications for use in research. Also featured are a newsletter, related links, "What's New," and a page for software submissions. [HCS]
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South Florida Information Access (SOFIA)
DataBase Website: SOFIA
One of the US Geological Survey's Ecosystem Programs, the South Florida Ecosystem Program is an intergovernmental effort "to reestablish and maintain the ecosystem of south Florida," including the region's water regime, hydrology, and geochemical and biological processes. To restore south Florida's ecosystems, the Program relies on the collaboration of over a dozen agencies, and information is disseminated via SOFIA, the South Florida Information Access Website. At the site, users will find background information, proposed and current research programs, links to collaborating agencies, publications, and data. For information on how to access the regional data, see the project's DataBase Website. [LXP]
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Hunterian Museum Database
Dr. John Faithfull, Curator of Geology of the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow, oversees this site, which contains prototypes of museum cataloging software. The prototypes consist of searchable indices of mineralogical and fossil specimens from the Hunterian Museum. Although the site is somewhat unorganized, it can be used to search the collections quickly by keywords (such as mineral name, geologic time period, locality); wildcard searches are also possible. The search engines developed by Dr. Faithfull, INCA ("INteractive CAtalogue") and HUG (Hunterian Uncatalogued Group), are described and documented. This site is geared toward museum curators interested in computerized cataloging methods but would also be of use to researchers wishing to use the Hunterian Museum's collections. [HCS]
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Learning Resources

List of World Bumblebees
Provided by the London Museum of Natural History, this site indexes the bumblebees (genus Bombus) of the world. The list is searchable by biogeographic region or species name. The introduction page features a clickable map showing bumblebee densities of the world, a scatterplot showing the relationship between date of first description, taxonomic synonymies and range size (to demonstrate possible bias), and links to references. This site also holds a clickable cladogram (after Williams, 1995) of subspecies of Bombus with links to biogeographic maps and information. The colorful bumblebee images and informative figures (.gif) make this site a goldmine for entomology students and researchers. [HCS]
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Soil Communities--BLM
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Idaho provides this electronic resource on soil communities. With introductory text, illustrations, and references, these pages provide a general overview of soil communities, including Biological Crusts, Fungi, Bacteria, Protozoa, Nematodes, and Arthropods. The site also introduces general readers to Soil Food Webs and Burrowing Mammals, with an emphasis on the western United States. A series of select links to soil-related resources rounds out the site. [LXP]
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This site, provided by the American Society for Microbiology, showcases a searchable database of over 150 images of microbes. The images, submitted by professional microbiologists, have been carefully reviewed for their educational quality and are presented in formats ranging from high-powered microscopic stills to QuickTime animations and film footage. Each image includes a background summary of the organism and notes the research project the image is taken from; some give Spanish or Portuguese translations. Examples of interesting images include scanning electron micrographs of a cytotoxic lymphocyte destroying a tumor and a QuickTime animation of the microorganism-macrophage interaction of the immune system. This site also includes curriculum resources, searchable by keyword or core concept, and a link to the new e-journal _Microbiology Educaton_(PDF, .html). [HCS]
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Satellite Tracking Threatened Species--NASA
The Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center have combined forces to produce this Website on the use of satellite tracking to monitor migration routes of endangered birds. Targeting the general public, the site introduces readers to satellite tracking (using Direct Readout technology), offers animations of bird flight paths (see the section entitled Birdtracks), and gives additional information on birds (in the Bird Data Archives, select a bird and watch its flight path through time). While bird information is limited to several larger species (due to the size/weight of attached transmitters), the resource serves as a useful information base for anyone wishing to learn more about satellite tracking. [LXP]
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General Interest

Sierra Student Coalition
The Sierra Student Coalition (SSC) is the student-run arm of the Sierra Club, one of the leading conservation organizations in North America. The SSC Website offers information for students wishing to become involved in environmental protection, with an emphasis on activism. The site includes an Events calendar, contact information for regional offices, training and internship opportunities, and a list of resources for incoming activists. Although not all sections of the site are updated, this site, for and by students, is a fine resource that provides opportunities for further student involvement. [LXP]
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The Meteoritical Society
The Meteoritical Society, which provides this interesting Website, is an international scholarly society formed to promote the study of meteors and meteorites, interplanetary dust, lunar samples, and other extraterrestrial materials. The site acquaints visitors with such phenomena as tektites (impact glass), moon rocks, and space dust by featuring referenced overview articles, authored by scholars and researchers, which deal with the various objects and materials. Each summary includes one or more photographs or figures (.gif). News from the Society, meeting information, and links are also provided. [HCS]
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Canada's Aquatic Environments
This interactive, educational website from the University of Guelph introduces viewers to the aquatic Habitats (lakes, rivers, oceans, wetlands), Animals (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals), and Plants (phytoplankton, fungi, macrophytes, lichens) of Canada. Each section provides a descriptive overview with color photographs and illustrations highlighting certain species or places. The section on Human Interactions provides information on water management and policy (including invasive species, aquaculture, etc.), and the Research in Canada section allows users to search for researchers working in particular provinces. The site contains a wide variety of information and will be of interest to the general viewer as well as to the inquisitive student. [LXP]
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European Butterflies
Photographer and butterfly enthusiast Mario Maier combined the talent of several European photographers to produce this magnificent European Butterflies Website. Available in English or German, the site offers crystal-clear color images of hundreds of butterfly species, organized by each of seven Families: Papilionidae, Pieridae, Danaidae, Libytheidae, Nymphalidae, Satyridae, and Lycaenidae. Accompanying each photograph is the species' name (both scientific and common) and a brief synopsis of basic life history traits (some synopses in German only). Although the site does not identify itself as an educational/ research resource, the spectacular images of European butterflies located here will make excellent teaching or learning tools -- the site could aid in European butterfly identification, for example, or help to illustrate natural selection trade-offs and other evolutionary/ ecological principles. [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 The Scout Report for Science & Engineering Current Awareness Metapage:

Recent Images Suggesting Liquid Water on Mars
Recently, the press reported that the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) had captured compelling images of gullies and slope failures that might be associated with the presence of liquid water on Mars. Now you can see these famous images at Malin Space Science Systems' MOC Website. These sharp, beautiful, color images (.jpeg, .gif) are featured on pages containing descriptions of how such physical features are formed on earth. The images are available in two sizes (small = 360K, large = 690K). Highlights include the "gully landform" compared to channel and apron features on Mount Saint Helens on Earth, a 3-D image (3-D glasses required) of a "weeping" alcove in an impact crater, and clues suggesting that the suspected liquid water on Mars is relatively young. [HCS]
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Using DNA Fingerprinting to Study Grizzly Bears Non-Invasively
The Hair of the Bear: USGS Releases Grizzly Bear Numbers in Glacier National Park
Monitoring Grizzly Bear Populations using DNA
Recent advances in DNA Fingerprinting technology are being used by scientists to study animals non-invasively. One example of this application is described in these recent pages from the US Geological Survey. The first page is a news release describing how DNA from bear hair has been used to count bears without having seen or captured them. Links to bear photos are also available at this page. The second site, from the USGS Glacier Field Station, provides further information on the bear hair study, including a full description of the project and the scientists involved. [LXP]
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New Publications

KPMG International Survey of Environmental Reporting 1999 [.pdf]
Researchers at the Institute for Environmental Management (WIMM), the University of Amsterdam and KPMG (a commercial Dutch research group) wrote this document on environmental reporting. The report includes a section on environmental reporting by Fortune magazine's top 250 global companies, a section on environmental reporting by the top 100 companies in 11 countries, and a section dedicated to the verification of environmental reports. [LXP]

International Journal of Engineering Education
The Dublin Institute of Technology maintains this site providing online access to volumes 10-15 of the International Journal of Engineering Education. This journal is an interdisciplinary forum for engineering education featuring articles about classroom and laboratory methods as well as engineering news. Special issues of the journal, such as the issue on Biomedical Engineering Education, highlight particular aspects of the diverse field of engineering. Most articles are in HTML format but some are .pdf files. [HCS]

A New Evaluation of the USGS Streamgaging Network: A Report to Congress--USGS [.pdf]
This 1999 Report to Congress describes the USGS's operation of the streamgaging network. The streamgaging network was designed to collect information about the Nation's water resources, and has been operational since 1889. The report may be browsed online or downloaded as a .pdf file (2,551 Kb). [LXP]

1,3,5-Triazine Arrays on Polymeric Membranes
This article was recently released online by the Journal of Combinatorial Chemistry. The Triazene arrays discussed are of particular importance because they might be used in cancer treatment. The article is in HTML format. [HCS]

American Physical Society: Physics and Society Newsletter
The July issue of the American Physical Society's e-newsletter is out (HTML). Articles include one on fission and fusion and also a diversion from the norm: a commentary on the creationist movement. [HCS]

"Nitrogen in the Nation's Rain" [.pdf]
The National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) provides this report (.pdf format) entitled "Nitrogen in the Nation's Rain." The report describes the nitrogen cycle (atmospheric nitrogen pathways), human activities that contribute to nitrogen levels, the role of agriculture (through fertilizers), effects on aquatic systems, and measurements of nitrogen deposition. In addition, the report highlights the Chesapeake Bay region (as a case study), and provides information on NADP and ways of reducing nitrogen deposition. The report may be browsed online or downloaded as a .pdf document. [LXP]

Negotiation Tactics and Strategies
These three articles, one by Vid Mohan-Ram and two by Constanza Villalba, were originally published in Science magazine, and offer suggestions on negotiation tactics and strategies for academic positions. They are provided here as a special Science feature on negotiation. Researchers considering changing jobs, or graduate students/ post-docs about to pursue academic positions may find useful advice in these pages. [LXP]
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Job Openings in Science and Technology from The Chronicle of Higher Education


Academic Employment Network (mainly K-12, high school teachers)

Jobs in Environmental Sciences
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National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance E-Team Program
Deadline: December 15, 2000
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First French Meeting on Environmental Chemistry
December 13-15, 2000, Nancy, France
Abstract Deadline: August 1, 2000

NAAG 2001: Tenth North American Arctic Goose Conference and Workshop
April 3-7, 2001: Quebec City, Canada
Abstract Deadline: will be announced on website in August 2000

Geochemistry of Crustal Fluids
December 2-7, 2000, Granada, Spain
Abstract deadline: September 15, 2000

Ninth International Congress on Invertebrate Reproduction and Development
15-20 July, 2001
Grahamstown, South Africa
Pre-registration deadline: 1 October, 2000
Abstract deadline: TBA
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New Data

Bathymetry, Sidescan Sonar Image, Surface Sediments, and Surficial Geological Map of the Inner Shelf off Sarasota, Florida: Preliminary discussion and GIS database release
This site is a USGS open file report that includes data in the form of imagery, bathymetry, samples, and geologic interpretive coverages. Sidescan sonar mosaic imagery is featured (.gif). The area mapped extends from Sarasota Point to Buttonwood Harbor and offshore between approximately three-meter and thirteen-meter water depths. [HCS]
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The Hopkins U.S. System Index (HUSSI) [.zip]
The Hopkins U.S. System Index (HUSSI) is an insect damage database designed for forest and systematic entomologists, pest management specialists, foresters, and students. The HUSSI database contains 160,000 records of "insect and damage specimens" from forests or wood products in the US (mainly), Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, and other regions. Included in each record is information about location, date, taxon, and insect and plant host associations. Data files are in .txt and .zip formats, and may be downloaded at the site. [LXP]
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USGS Digital Spectral Library
The USGS Spectroscopy Lab posts, "Researchers at the Spectroscopy Lab have measured the spectral refelectance [sic] of hundreds of materials in the lab, and have compiled a spectral library. The library is used as a reference for material identification in remote sensing images." This site is still under construction but it contains detailed plots and sample descriptions (.gif). [HCS]
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In The News

Bird Fossils
1. Fossil Discovery Threatens Theory of Birds' Evolution
2. Earliest Feathers Fan controversy
3. Are birds realy dinosaurs?
4. Archaeopteryx, Ancient Birds, and Dinosaur-Bird Relationships
5. Scientific American
A fossil of a small, feathered animal, Longisquama insignis, that lived approximately 220 million years ago (Ma) in what is now Central Asia, was re-discovered recently in the dusty drawers of a Moscow museum collection. This discovery has rocked the paleontological world because the fossil exhibits feather impressions, making it possibly the world's oldest known bird. Archaeopteryx, thought until now to be the oldest true bird, is from a limestone deposit in Germany dated at approximately 145 Ma. This new fossil discovery fires the debate over whether birds are descended from dinosaurs, or branched off from an earlier group of reptiles. This week's In The News takes a look at scientists' latest understanding of the reptile-bird evolutionary transition, and the surrounding controversies.

The first two sites are press releases: (1) is a report from the New York Times, providing a good overview of the story; (2) comes from the BBC and adds some details about the discovery in the museum as well as good illustrations of L. insignis. The third site, Are birds really dinosaurs? (3), is part of the Dino-Buzz newsletter that comes from the Museum of Paleontology at the University of California, Berkeley. It provides links to extremely informative pages dealing with phylogenetics, systematics, physiology, ecology, and the fossil record of birds and reptiles (including dinosaurs). Archaeopteryx, Ancient Birds, and Dinosaur-Bird Relationships (4) comes from the online forum Dinosaur Paleontology, an electronic mailing list that welcomes input about dinosaurs. It is overseen by amateur paleontologist Jeff Poling of Cleveland, Ohio, but contains regular contributions from professionals in the field and all references are cited. Finally, Scientific American (5) provides a story covering the Argentinian mosaic fossil Unenlagia (meaning "half bird"), an interesting find because it truly displays both avian and reptilian characteristics. [HCS]
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The Scout Report for Science & Engineering
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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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