The Scout Report for Science & Engineering - August 30, 2000

August 30, 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


New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences [.pdf, .mpeg]
New Zealand Origins and Evolution, Fossils, Dating Rocks, Ancient Environments, Minerals, Plate Motion, and Deformation are just a few of the pages featured at this geologic Website. In the How We Can Help section, under databases, users will find the New Zealand Fossil Record File, a registration scheme for recording fossil localities in NZ and nearby regions, including the SE Pacific Islands and seafloor, and the Ross Sea region of Antarctica; the Record File gives an index map of registered fossil localities and email addresses of regional geological surveys. The Earth History section features several useful resources: a series of eight schematic palinspastic reconstructions of New Zealand paleogeography from the Latest Cretaceous period to the present (from the New Zealand Origins and Evolution page), summaries of ongoing basin evolution research, and more. Other links include a What's New section, a page on isotopes, and the New Zealand Hazard Watch site. [HCS]
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Mojave Desert Ecosystem Project
A Department of Defense (DOD) program, the Mojave Ecosystem Database Program (MEDP) represents the DOD's "first attempt to meld together a shared scientific database that can be used to affect dynamic sustainable land management decisions." Although the mission statement of MEDP reflects a somewhat oxymoronic goal, e.g., maintaining "critical DOD installations within the Mojave Desert Ecosystem ... while protecting the environment," the site nevertheless represents an opportunity for researchers to access environmental models and potentially influence land management within the Mojave Ecoregion. The searchable site offers information about and/or access to Geospatial Data, Metadata, Geomorphic Landform Data, and a Spatial Bibliography, among other regional resources. An excellent selection of links points users to a wealth of additional and variously detailed (governmental) information. [LXP]
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Dictionary of Storage Networking Terms
Hot standby? Beat Effort? Parity Raid? What are we talking about? These are storage networking terms, all defined in the online dictionary provided by Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA). Members of SNIA have contributed to and reviewed this site, with the result being a comprehensive dictionary of common storage networking terms. Each entry has hyperlinked cross references, and many entries include a context keyword. SNIA notes that users should recognize that, in this rapidly evolving field, new terminology is constantly being introduced, and common usage is shifting, so the dictionary is updated regularly. [HCS]
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National Soil DataBase (NSDB) [ARC/INFO]
The Canadian Soil Information System (CanSIS) hosts the National Soil DataBase (NSDB), a set of data files including soil, landscape, and climatic variables for all of Canada. The NSDB includes GIS coverages for several scales, in addition to listing characteristics for each soil series. Principle data holdings include National Ecological Framework (EcoZones, EcoRegions, and EcoDistricts); Soil Map of Canada/ Land Potential DataBase (LPDB); Agroecological Resource Areas (ARAs); Soil Landscapes of Canada (SLC); Canada Land Inventory (CLI); and Detailed Soil Surveys. Most datasets are available for free at the Website; files are in ARC/INFO Export format only. [LXP]
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Circuits Archive
A database for electrical engineering students and professionals, the Circuits Archive provides diagrams of radio, computer, and other miscellaneous circuits (ASCII, .gif, and HTML formats). The archive is just one part of this metasite housed at the University of Washington's Electrical Engineering site. In addition to the circuit diagrams, a searchable database of transistor cross-references, a component reference page (both in the Data Sheets section), and links to models and microprocessors are featured. Other useful tools included are the Reading Capacitors page and links to software sites. Diagrams and links are voluntarily contributed and seem to be updated regularly. Note: the site includes a page on software in the Circuits Archive. [HCS]
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Learning Resources

Evidence: The True Witness [Shockwave, QuickTime, RealMedia]
Produced by a team of bright high school students from the US and Australia, this unique site offers lessons in forensic science. Visitors to the site, which is sponsored by the educational group, can read about forensic techniques that use DNA "fingerprinting," entomology, dentistry, and more. Each reference page contains a brief overview of the technique and more in-depth explanations divided into subcategories (i.e., DNA Fingerprinting is divided into Intro, Structure, Protein Synthesis, Replication, Fingerprinting, and Simulation) so that readers can quickly move within and among topics. An action-packed game where players take on the role of KC Rogers, Ace Detective, enhances the educational experience (Shockwave, QuickTime, RealMedia). Inspired by the site to pursue a career in forensics? You can scope out the Careers page, which features interviews with forensic specialists (RealMedia), or follow the links to professional forensics societies. A nifty, searchable glossary is also available. [HCS]
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Experimental Science Projects: An Introductory Level Guide
David Morano, Associate Professor at Mankato State University, has put together this introductory resource on experimental science projects. Organized into fourteen sections, this guide walks the user through the basics of hypothesis testing, from the inception of an idea through its experimental test. For each section, a brief summary is provided: Observations, Information Gathering, Title, Purpose, Hypothesis, Procedure, Materials, Data, Recording Observations, Results, Calculations, Questions, and Conclusions. To illustrate the process outlined in the guide, the site includes an example of a science project (The Effect of Salt on the Boiling Temperature of Water), with explanations of how thinking is formulated (or tested) at each stage. This resource is simple in format and will be a useful learning tool for honing critical thinking in beginning scientists. [LXP]
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The Second Superstring Revolution
"Once upon a time string theory was regarded as a passing phase in physics. Now the field is booming more than ever before, as deep mathematics wielded by string theorists have given us insights into black hole thermodynamics while telling us that strings themselves may not be the whole story!" says this site's author, Professor John H. Schwartz of California Institute of Technology. Ideal for undergraduate physics students, the text defines and presents string theory and the arguments supporting supersymmetry, and explores contradictions between the physical theories of quantum mechanics and relativity. A brief history of string theory and the second string revolution is also presented, in which Schwartz discusses his role in the theory's development. Also available is a reference list with links to the text. Note: the equations are presented in Java webEG format. [HCS]
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This interesting site from, Inc. provides a wealth of information on the forestry industry, with some attention to ecology and conservation. The heart of the site is the three forestry databases: Woods of the World Online (with detailed information on 900+ wood species/ products and a glossary -- free registration is required); Sustainable Forests Marketplace (a database of third-party certified wood products and suppliers "committed to responsible forest management"); and a contact list of foresters, loggers, and sawmills. For those interested in current forestry certification events and other forestry issues, the NewsCenter offers daily headlines. Created with the industry in mind, this resource serves a useful purpose by providing useful information on "the industry perspective" towards forests. [LXP]
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General Interest

The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices
Featuring items on loan from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, and others, the Minneapolis-based Museum of Questionable Medical Devices is an interesting resource about the history of medicine. From frightening turn-of-the-century phrenology machines to the vibrating "Relaxicisor," taken off the market in 1971, and even an electric shock contraption, "The Stimulator," introduced in 1996, the site features a wide array of machines. Visitors can click on a machine's name and go to a page that includes a photo or illustration, a bit of history of the machine including the date and manufacturer, and a series of related links both to other pages on the museum's site and to outside sites. The links take readers to interesting, informative quackery sites such as, Internet Hoax Watch, and the National Council for Reliable Health Information. Well-organized, lively, and information-rich, the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices Website provides a worthwhile diversion. [HCS]
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Geomatics Canada
Part of Natural Resources Canada, Geomatics Canada provides "a reliable system of surveys, maps, remotely sensed data and geographically referenced information describing the Canadian landmass." Although many of the hundreds of graphic products listed at the site are not free of charge, the Website nevertheless provides a useful service by organizing and centralizing graphic data, providing color (browse-only) images of the available data, and giving a clear overview of the centers and divisions responsible for creating specific information (e.g., remote sensing images, geodetic survey data), as well as links to other graphic information hubs (e.g., GeoConnections). For anyone seeking graphic images of Canada, this is an excellent resource. [LXP]
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The Particle Adventure [Flash]
This virtual tour of the inner workings of the atom is provided online by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Definitions of the Standard Model of particles and explanations of experimental evidence for it are given in a format geared toward high school and introductory college level students. Trivia questions, poetry, and flashy .gif animations pepper the text, adding interest to a topic that students might otherwise consider dry. Interesting features include Unsolved Mysteries, a Flash chart of the basic model, and a hypertext, cross-referenced glossary. This site provides a concise overview of particle physics without delving too deep. [HCS]
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Animals of the Great Basin
The Biological Resources Research Center of the University of Nevada at Reno provides this resource on the Animals of the Great Basin. Organized under two main sections (Invertebrates and Vertebrates), the site offers a series of hyperlinked state species lists, distribution maps, and photos of select fauna. In addition, an annotated, indexed bibliography on Trout points users to more in-depth information on that taxa. While not all fauna (nor states within the Great Basin) are represented in every case, this site nevertheless serves a useful purpose in centralizing available information on certain taxa and states. In addition, users will appreciate the care that site authors have taken in providing information on the authority behind each information source. [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:

NIH Stem Cell Research Guidelines
A hot topic of recent news has been the lifting of the ban, put in place by the NIH in January 1999, on research using human pluripotent stem cells derived from human embryos and fetal tissue. The ban was lifted on August 25, 2000 with the strong endorsement of President Clinton. Now, the National Institutes of Health Guidelines for Research Using Human Pluripotent Stem Cells is available online in HTML format. According to the site, "The NIH received approximately 50,000 comments from members of Congress, patient advocacy groups, scientific societies, religious organizations, and private citizens. This Notice presents the final Guidelines together with NIH's response to the substantive public comments that addressed provisions of the Guidelines." (For more on the NIH guidelines, see the August 25, 2000 Scout Report). [HCS]
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Citizen Submissions on Enforcement -- CEC
Established under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) is an international organization that addresses "regional environmental concerns, help[s] prevent potential trade and environmental conflicts, and . . . promote[s] the effective enforcement of environmental law." To that end, CEC maintains this interesting registry of citizen submissions on environmental enforcement matters. At the registry, updates on outstanding submissions are posted, as well as any new submissions. For those interested in tracking real legislative processes related to environmental enforcement, this is an interesting site with international implications. [LXP]
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New Publications

TMDLs (Total Maximum Daily Loads)
The Water Quality Information Center at the National Agricultural Library (USDA) offers this excellent resource on TMDLs (Total Maximum Daily Loads), with links to dozens of relevant and current publications. From basic questions and answers to current policies regarding TMDLs, this collection of resources is well worth browsing.

"Where Are They?"
This feature article from Scientific American by astronomer Ian Crawford revisits the age-old question: just how common are other civilizations in the universe? Crawford considers new evidence (including the confirmation that planets exist outside our solar system) in his discussion of potential extraterrestrial life. [LXP]

Two from the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center (NPWRC) [.zip]
"The Prairie Pothole Joint Venture: A Partnership for Migratory Bird Conservation in the 21st Century"
"Nongame Birds, Small Mammals, Herptiles, Fishes: Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge, 1995-1996"
The Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center (NPWRC) has recently posted two new resources on the main Website. The first resource describes the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture's expansion of its primary focus (waterfowl conservation) to include other wetland/ grassland migratory birds, as well as threatened and endangered species. The second resource, on wildlife in Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge during 1995-1996, was originally published in 1998 as South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 729, by William A. Meeks and Kenneth F. Higgins. The second publication provides results of a survey to determine abundance and distribution of nongame species at the South Dakota refuge. Both publications may be browsed online or downloaded as .zip files. [LXP]

Two on Wolves -- NPWRC [.zip]
"The Wolf Dilemma in Minnesota: Can You Help Solve It?"
"Tolerance by Denning Wolves, Canis lupus, to Human Disturbance"
Also new from the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center (NPWRC), these two resources are the latest in a series of publications on wolves. The first, by L. David Mech, was originally published in 1999 in the journal International Wolf [9(1):18-20] and invites public input on management of the Minnesota wolf population. The second resource, by Richard P. Thiel and others, was originally published in 1998 in the Canadian Field-Naturalist [122(2):340-342] and reports on observations of wolf tolerance of human activities near dens and rendezvous sites with pups. Both publications may be browsed online or downloaded as .zip files. [LXP]

Two Recent New York Journal of Math Articles [.pdf, .ps, .dvi, .hdvi]:
"Test Elements and the Retract Theorem in Hyperbolic Groups"
"A Mathematical Theory of Origami Constructions and Numbers"
These articles come from the New York Journal of Mathematics, an electronic publication with entries added sporadically throughout the year. The full text of these latest two entries can be viewed in .pdf, .ps, .dvi, or .hdvi format and abstracts may be viewed in .pdf or .gif format. The bibliographies are hyperlinked. See the June 21, 2000 Scout Report for Science and Engineering for a full description of the journal. [HCS]
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Job Openings in Science and Technology from The Chronicle of Higher Education

The First Society in Computing: Careers in Computing

North American Benthological Society: Jobs (and other announcements)
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Undergraduate Mentoring in Environmental Biology (UMEB)
Deadline: October 31, 2000

Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP): Guidelines for 2001
Deadline: November 7, 2000

Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP)
Letter of Intent Deadline: October 1, 2000 (Optional)
Proposal Deadline: November 1, 2000

CISE Next Generation Software Program (NGS)
Letter of Intent Deadline: September 15, 2000 (Optional)
Proposal Deadline: November 3, 2000
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EMAP Symposium 2001: Coastal Monitoring Through Partnerships
April 24-27, 2001, Pensacola, Florida
Deadlines: TBA

A. Watson Armour III Symposium: Historical Patterns of Biodiversity A Memorial Symposium in Honor of J. John Sepkoski, Jr.
October 7, 2000, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL
Registration Deadline: October 1, 2000

31st International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES)
July 9-12, 2001, Orlando, Florida
Abstracts Due: October 20, 2000

Digital Human Modeling for Design and Engineering
June 26-28, 2001, Arlington, Virginia
Abstracts Due: September 22, 2000
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New Data

Bathymetry of Crater Lake [.zip]
The bathymetry survey of Crater Lake by scientists from the USGS, University of New Hampshire's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, and the National Park Service, began on July 28, 2000. This site houses the first images gained from the high-resolution multi-beam technology survey. Various digital data such as digital raster graphics and digital line graphs may be viewed as .jpeg and .gif images or downloaded as .zip files. Besides the bathymetric data, the site features information on the geology, ecology, and history of Crater Lake, and beautiful .gif images of the lake and surrounding areas. [HCS]
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MAIA Estuaries 1997-98 Data [.pdf]
The Mid Atlantic Integrated Assessment program (MAIA) of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released these estuaries data for 1997-98. Data and Metadata may be viewed or downloaded (text or .pdf) for the following variables: Sampling Station Location Data, Station Visit Data, Water Quality Physical Measurements, Water Quality- Nutrients Data, Sediment Grain Size Data, Sediment Toxicity Data, Sediment Chemistry Data, Benthic Community Grain Size Data, Benthic Abundance Data, Benthic Biomass Data, Benthic Community Summary Data, Chemical Analyte Code Table, and Benthic Taxon Code Table. [LXP]
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Electron Collision Data: Sulfur Hexafluorine
Tables of electron interaction cross sections, electron transport parameters, and information about references, uncertainties, and data needs regarding sulfur hexafluorine (SF-6) are provided here by the Electronics and Electronic Engineering Laboratory (EEEL) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). These data come out of NIST's mission to provide a complete set of reliable electron collision data for gases used in the plasma processing of semiconductor devices. Along with the tables are color graphs of electron energy vs. cross section and electron transport coefficients for SF-6. [HCS]
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In The News

Issues in Global Warming: Polar Ice Cap Thins Dramatically
1. "Scientists Say Polar Ice Cap Melting" [RealMedia, Java]
2. "Arctic Warming Gathers Pace"
3. "Slowly But Surely, Iceland Is Losing Its Ice: Global warming is prime suspect in meltdown"
4. "Arctic Ice Revealed"
5. "Satellite Tracks Arctic Meltdown" [RealMedia]
6. "Climate Clues in the Ice"
7. "Climate Impact of Quadrupling Atmospheric CO2"
8. EPA's Global Warming Website
9. Global warming in the twenty-first century: An alternative scenario
On a recent expedition from Norway to the North Pole, a group of scientists and tourists aboard a Russian icebreaker found about a mile of open water right at the North Pole. This caused great alarm for the passengers, including paleontologist Malcolm McKenna, because it indicated the harsh reality of global warming. McKenna took photographs and spoke to the media about the finding. Since that startling report, scientists at Lamont Doherty Observatory have suggested that the polar ice was broken apart by wind, and not melted by rising temperatures, but stressed that thinning of polar ice is real and should not be ignored. A number of research teams have been recording the changing sea surface temperatures and thickness of polar ice using satellite imaging and other technology. Findings show that average winter surface temperatures in the Arctic have increased by two degrees centigrade during the past century, melting ice caps, glaciers, sea ice, and permafrost. This week's In the News observes the thinning polar ice, investigates the technology behind climate study, and visits clearinghouses for information on global warming.

The first three sources are news articles. ABC News (1) provides a RealVideo report containing footage of polar ice and an interactive java applet on global warming along with the story of the melting ice. A good general overview of the incident at the North Pole comes from the BBC News site (2). Startling facts can be learned from the San Francisco Chronicle's story, (3). For instance, the article tells us that Arctic sea ice shrank by 14,400 square miles per year from 1978 to 1998, a six percent reduction overall, and the average rate of sea ice thinning is four inches per year! The technological aspect of research on ice cover can be found at the next three sites. Site (4) is a press release from NASA about the RADARSAT satellite. Says NASA, "NASA researchers have new insights into the mysteries of Arctic sea ice, thanks to the unique abilities of Canada's RADARSAT satellite. The Arctic is the smallest of the world's four oceans, but it may play a large role in helping scientists monitor Earth's climate shifts." Also focused on the satellite, site (5), from, features a RealPlayer movie about NASA's Terra spacecraft mission and .gif images displaying computer models of ice thickness predictions. A summary of research institutions studying sea ice thinning trends and a brief look at satellite technology are posted at site (6), from the NASA Distributed Data Archive center. This resource also has figures and graphs displaying various ice data. A series of experiments examining the possible climatic impact of a quadrupling of atmospheric CO2, a "greenhouse gas" commonly formed by automobile emissions, were undertaken at Princeton's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL). The results of the GFDL's model, including a figure of predicted sea ice thicknesses, are displayed at site (7). The Environmental Protection Agency's Global Warming Website (8) is an excellent place to learn about the causes and controversy of global warming; news, events, information on education, along with greenhouse gas and emission data are available at this site, which was featured in the February 21, 1997 Scout Report. Readers with access to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science's preprint server (many colleges and universities have institutional subscriptions) can peruse the final resource (9), a research article arguing that rapid global warming in recent decades is caused mainly by non-CO2 greenhouse gases, such as CH4 and N2O. This news has implications for future legislation on fuel burning. [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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