The Scout Report for Science & Engineering - March 14, 2001

March 14, 2001

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

The target audience of the 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


Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
Several international agreements, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, highlight the need for open, shared access to global biodiversity data. To that end, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) has been established to facilitate "the compilation, linking, standardization, digitization and global dissemination of the world's biodiversity data." The GBIF homepage provides background information on this initiative, including a history of its development, an invitation to participate in GBIF, and other contextual documents. A collection of related links points users to many of the important players in this collaborative venture. [LXP]
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Nanotechnology Database
Sponsored by the National Science Foundation and housed at Loyola College of Baltimore, Maryland, the Nanotechnology Database is a source of online information on major research centers, funding agencies, major reports, and books dealing with nanotechnology. The resources listed here are carefully selected and reviewed. The site is expected to grow with the continued support and updates from organizations and individuals in the field of nanotechnology. The list of resources is divided into the following categories: Academic, Industry, Government Laboratories, Government Agencies, Professional Societies, Non-Profit Organizations, Books, Periodicals, Reports, and Conferences. Each listing provides a brief summary (taken from that Website) and hyperlink to the resource (note: the book list links mostly take users to online booksellers). A submission form allows users to add a relevant organization or publication. [HCS]
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Pacific Northwest Coastal Ecosystems Regional Study (PNCERS)
The Pacific Northwest Coastal Ecosystems Regional Study (PNCERS) is a joint effort of the Oregon Coastal Management Program, the Washington Sea Grant Program, and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), PNCERS conducts research and outreach projects in the nearshore and estuarine ecosystems of the Pacific Coast. The PNCERS homepage includes a brief overview of current projects, metadata from several projects, PNCERS publications, and a selection of useful links. [LXP]
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Photonic & Sonic Band-Gap Bibliography
Compiled by researchers at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Army Research Office, and the University of California, Los Angeles, this online bibliography covers computer codes, special reports, journal articles, and books on photonic and sonic band gap research. It is updated monthly and accepts contributions. Publications are arranged alphabetically by author and contain basic bibliographic information as well as links to full text, if available. Computer code entries contain brief descriptions of the applications and links. Examples of topics include photonic crystals, mirrors, semiconductors, optical waves, and emission spectra. This is a great resource for researchers in applied physics, particularly photonics and optics. Minor note: because this site is a "labor of love" by busy researchers, the entries are not always carefully typed and edited, but the content is highly useful. [HCS]
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Age Determination Methods for Northwest Atlantic Species (of fish and shellfish)
The Fishery Biology Program of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center provides this resource to assist with age determination of fish and shellfish species from the Northwest Atlantic. Released in its current form in 1997, this resource represents the fruit of many years of accumulated expertise. Techniques for aging sixteen species of fish or shellfish are given here, based on growth marks in scales, otoliths, and shells. From Atlantic Butterfish through Yellowtail Flounder, these detailed descriptions and black-and-white images should be of valuable assistance to researchers. [LXP]
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CV Online Compendium of Computer Vision
Although this site has not been updated recently, it does contain a wealth of computer vision (CV) resources. The site is maintained by Bob Fisher, Lecturer in the Division of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. CV Online, intended for academic staff in the field of computer vision, provides a wealth of links to papers, bibliographies, research pages, databases, and commercial sites dealing with various topics in CV. The site consists of an expandable list of subjects and a simple search engine. Subjects include databases and indexing, geometry and mathematics, motion tracking and time series analysis, and visual learning, among others. Entries include links to research pages, topical summaries, or tutorials submitted to CV Online by experts; links to electronic mailing list archives; and various other online resources. Submissions are welcomed - instructions provided. [HCS].
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Learning Resources

This interesting site, by two Research Associates of the Department of Systematic Botany, University of Aarhus (Denmark), aims to provide a simple means for navigating through the various taxa of fungi. Currently covering 279 genera and 1,090 illustrated species, MycoKey includes "the genera of basidiomycota with stem and cap (Agarics, Boletes etc.), polypores and club fungi from Northern Europe (i.e. Europe north of the Alps)." A second version detailing "most genera of sexual fungi forming fruitbodies" is slated for release in summer 2001. To navigate the site, select the "easy" (pictorial characters only) or "full" (pictorial characters accompanied by descriptive botanical terms) version; then select the appropriate character and proceed to the next question. At any point, users may choose to browse images of all genera that apply to that description -- this includes close-up color images for each genus/species that fits the characters they have selected. Note that use of this resource is currently free of charge but requires a cookie (check your browser preferences). [LXP]
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Perfect, Amicable and Sociable Numbers
These friendly sounding numbers are defined by their divisibility and sums. A perfect number is a number whose positive divisors (except for itself) sum to itself; an amicable number is a pair of numbers each of which equals the sum of the other's aliquot parts; and the members of aliquot cycles of length greater than two are often called sociable numbers. This page, housed at (but not officially affiliated with) the Institute for Materials Science at the University of Connecticut, defines and describes perfect, amicable, and sociable numbers and introduces aliquot sequences. The text has links to a bibliography and to numeric tables. This site might be interesting to college-level mathematics students or anyone into mathematical puzzles. [HCS]
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Global Warming: Early Warning Signs
Created by a host of organizations (Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, US Public Interest Research Group, World Resources Institute, and World Wildlife Fund), this site seeks to provide evidence of the "fingerprints" and "harbingers" of global warming. A clickable map of the world enables users to take a closer look at geographic regions, at specific examples of "fingerprints" (e.g., heat waves, sea level rise, melting glaciers, and Arctic and Antarctic warming) and "harbingers" (spreading disease, earlier arrival of spring, range shifts and population declines in plants and animals, bleaching of coral reefs, extreme weather events, and fires). While it is unclear that any specific event may be explained by global warming, the combination of events highlighted at this page provides powerful fodder for further thought. [LXP]
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The Effects of New Technology on Roller Coaster Thrills, Safety and Economics
Linear induction motors, laser sensors, and hydraulic restraint are just a few of the terms tossed around here in the context of roller coaster technology. This informative Website was put together by two mechanical engineering students at the University of Texas. The history of roller coasters, new technologies in coaster design, evaluation criteria, and case studies are all presented. Some of the new technologies deal with elimination of the lift hill at the ride's beginning, collision prevention, and reaching extremely high speeds. The case studies include coaster specifications, how new technologies were applied to design, and a note on economic considerations. The site's layout is easily navigable, with "next" and "back" buttons and a sidebar with highlighted quotes and images. A nice glossary and references (both have some hyperlinks) are included. [HCS]
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Tool For Identifying Zooxanthellate Coral Genera -- NMITA
NMITA, the Neogene Marine Biota of Tropical America (reviewed in the March 15, 2000 Scout Report for Science and Engineering), offers this useful tool for identifying Zooxanthellate coral genera. Users select one state for each of seven characters (Colony Form, Colony Shape, Budding, Columella, Corallite Size, Wall Structure, and Lobes) to automate a search; results highlight one or more genera with the selected characteristics. Requiring baseline knowledge of the characteristics important to coral identification, this tool is made more useful by the inclusion of illustrated hyperlinks for many character states. For students or researchers wishing to learn the important features of Zooxanthellate coral, this will be a useful tool. [LXP]
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General Interest

Coffee and Biodiversity Conservation in El Salvador
The Natural History Museum (London) provides this Webpage, highlighting a three-year project funded by the UK Government's Darwin Initiative. The aim of this particular project is "to promote the conservation of biodiversity by providing the tools, training and information necessary to empower local people to monitor and assess the biodiversity of the forests associated with Shade Coffee farms in El Salvador." The site's main sections describe the Coffee and Biodiversity Conservation in El Salvador project, including economics of the project and a training course that offers basic biodiversity assessment skills to Salvadorans. Of interest to ecologists, the site also provides species lists for the trees and Pimplinae wasps of the Shade Forest (giving Family, scientific name, and local name). A selection of interesting links (featuring Central American sites) fills out this concise and well-illustrated site. [LXP]
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Royal Ontario Museum Gem Movies [QuickTime]
This short-and-sweet page from the Royal Ontario Museum features computer-generated, animated images of gems. The eight QuickTime movies here demonstrate the cut and refraction of various gemstones. Cool! [HCS]
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Two on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Series
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) -- USFWS
In addition to its tremendous value as a spectacular haven for wildlife, the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain known as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is now the focus of major debate about oil and gas exploration and development. These resources provide some information on the refuge (not the debate). The first site, from The Mining Co., offers news and photos in a multi-part series that describes this majestic slice of Arctic wilderness. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) maintains the second site, the official homepage of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The ANWR homepage supplies background information on the refuge (description, location, maps), wildlife (birds, mammals, fish), habitats, and people. For a brief introduction to the development issue, see descriptions under "Oil and Gas Development" (in the Refuge section). [LXP]
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NASA Human Space Flight Realtime Data [Java]
Wondering when that spacecraft will be cruising over your city during the next ten days? Visit the NASA Human Space Flight Realtime Data page to find out. Satellite sighting information by city is provided by NASA's Johnson Space Center. Visitors to the site can choose a city from the list provided or enter their location using the nifty NASA Skywatch Java applet. Other highlights of the NASA Human Space Flight Realtime Data page include maps of Space Shuttle landing tracks (.gif) and deorbit parameters, and Space Shuttle and Space Station orbital tracking information that includes altitude, location coordinates, speed, and more. Definitions and illustrations of orbital tracking elements and coordinate system terminology make the site accessible to general audiences. [HCS]
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BioScience Productions, Inc., a non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting public literacy in the biological sciences, provides the Website. The site targets the general public and considers issues on the environment, biodiversity, science education, biotechnology, genomics, evolution, and biology in the new millennium, in addition to offering some student views. Scientific articles posted at the site have been peer-reviewed, and numerous editorial-type summaries discuss current topics. Although some of the site's flavor tends toward an environmentalist perspective (as might be expected by the site's title), much of the information contained within merits consideration. [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:

Global Warming News Zone
This news page, provided by, posts news stories and other current information related to global warming. Touching on topics ranging from industrial pollution to jet contrails to glacier meltings, this Website attempts to centralize news about many of the recent advances in our understanding of global warming. In many cases, news articles mention the scientific resource(s) upon which the findings are based, serving as a helpful hint for readers wishing to delve deeper into the science behind the news story. [LXP]
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"Mutant Fungus from Space"
Space expert Yuri Karash of Russia says that he anticipates that the Mir Space Station could bring virulent new strains of fungus to earth when it splashes down later this month. Various types of fungus, whose smell is the first thing visitors to Mir notice, grow behind panels and in air-conditioning units on the spacecraft and have likely mutated. This article from the BBC News online covers the story. [HCS]
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New Publications

The Switzerland-based society, Molecular Diversity Preservation International (MDPI) provides this free, online journal, Molecules. This journal of synthetic and natural product chemistry encourages chemists to publish their experimental detail, particularly synthetic procedures and characterization information. "Any scattered unassembled experimental data for individual compounds which is conventionally not publishable is particularly welcomed," says the site. The idea is to get information out as quickly as possible to the scientific community. To access Molecules, follow the instructions on how to request a username and password. [HCS]

"Do Large Whales Have an Impact on Commercial Fishing in the South Pacific Ocean?" [.pdf]
Jock W. Young wrote this paper on the potential impact of large whales on commercial fishing in the South Pacific. Originally published in 2000 in the Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy [Vol. 3:3], this article (.pdf format) describes the dietary mismatch between commercial fish and whale feeding behavior and migration, and the major limitation in assessing this sort of interaction due to the scarcity of qualitative and quantitative data. [LXP]

"Selectivity in Analytical Chemistry" [.pdf]
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has put online a draft of recommendations for the correct use of the terms "selectivity" and "specificity" in analytical chemistry. The provisional report, available for download in .pdf format, was drafted by the IUPAC's Analytical Division Task Force, and reader comments are welcomed until September 30, 2001. [HCS]

Occasional Papers: Museum of Texas Tech University
The Museum of Texas Tech University posts online versions of many of their Occasional Papers. To access these online documents, scroll through the list of papers to those marked with obvious hyperlinks. At present, OP-195 and other papers from 1999 and earlier are offered online. Most papers highlight some aspect of the museum's research on Texas mammal distributions, systematics, and conservation. [LXP]

"Revision of Middle Proterozic Yellowjacket Formation, Central Idaho, and Revision of Cretaceous Slim Sam Formation, Elkhorn Mountains Area, Montana"
Two Professional Papers from the USGS
"Mineral Resource Potential and Geology of the Routt National Forest and the Middle Park Ranger District of the Arapaho National Forest, Colorado"
The first paper deals with the Proterozoic Yellowjacket Formation in the Lemhi Range, Idaho. The stratigraphy, sedimentology, and structural history are described. The second paper, with 41 figures and 11 tables, assesses the mineral resource potential of the Routt National Forest and Middle Park Ranger district of the Arapaho National Forest, Colorado. Background geology and the results of geochemical (elemental concentrations from stream samples) and geophysical (gravity and magnetic) analyses support the assessment of locatable, leaseable, and salable minerals. [HCS]

Three from the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center (NPWRC) [.zip]
"Details of Extensive Movements by Minnesota Wolves (Canis lupis)"
"Variability in Nest Survival Rates and Implications to Nesting Studies"
"Sparrows of North Dakota"
The Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center (NPWRC) has posted several new biological resources on the Web. The first resource, by Samuel B. Merrill and L. David Mech, was originally published in 2000 in American Midland Naturalist [144(2):428-433] and discusses the use of radio collars to study detailed movements of (four) Minnesota wolves. The second resource, by A.T. Klett and Douglas H. Johnson, is based on a 1982 publication in the Auk [99:77-87] and examines nests of Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and Blue-winged Teal (A. discors) to evaluate potential biases in hatch-rate estimates. Third, the "Sparrows of North Dakota" resource by Chris Grondahl (North Dakota Game and Fish Department) is intended as a field guide for the nineteen species of native sparrows that occupy grasslands and other important habitats in North Dakota. All resources may be downloaded as .zip files. [LXP]

JOMA - Journal of Online Mathematics and its Applications
Published by the Mathematical Association of America, this new online journal aims to advance the mathematical sciences, especially at the college level, by promoting effective teaching, fostering scholarship, and "making modern tools, curricula, and active learning environments more accessible to students and teachers everywhere." Offerings in the inaugural issue include the first in a regular series of reviews of small Java applets for math (Mathlets), reviews of other online math projects, and an exploration of exponential functions and their derivatives. Beginning with the next issue, JOMA will also feature a regular section on reviewed, class-tested, modular, online learning materials. [MD]
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Job Openings in Science and Technology from The Chronicle of Higher Education

Careers in Aerospace

Jobs Announcements: Atomic and Plasma Physics
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National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Grants/ Awards Programs
Deadlines: various

Western Arctic Shelf-Basin Interactions (SBI): NSF Solicitation 01-78
Proposal Deadline: May 30, 2001

NSF/ USDOT Partnership for Exploratory Research on Information and Communications Systems for Surface Transportation (ICSST)
Proposal Deadline: June 8, 2001
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American Ornithologists' Union 2001 Annual Meeting
August 15-18, 2001; Seattle, Washington
Abstract Deadline: May 4, 2001
Early Registration Deadline: April 27, 2001

2001 Northwest Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society
June 14-17, 2001; Seattle, Washington
Abstract Deadline: March 16, 2001

Third Annual Conference of Vector Ecology
September 16-21, 2001; Barcelona, Spain
Abstract Deadline: May 1, 2001

International Association of Hydrogeologists XXXI Congress
September 10-14, 2001; Munich, Germany
Abstract Deadline: August 31, 2001

AAPG Eastern Section: Resource Management for the 21st Century
September 23-25, 2001; Kalamazoo, Michigan
Abstract Deadline: April 1, 2001
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New Data

Two on the Washington State Earthquake
Preliminary Corrected Peak Ground Acceleration and Velocity Values for February 28, 2001, Nisqually, WA Earthquake
Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) Shake Maps [ArcView, PostScript, .pdf]
At the first site, the US Geological Survey offers data on peak ground acceleration and velocity. Collected during the recent Seattle earthquake, the data describe ground movements in multiple locations near the earthquake area. The second site gives color relief maps (.gif) indicating instrumental intensity, peak ground acceleration, peak ground velocity, spectral response, and focal mechanism for the area around the quake's epicenter, 17.6 km northeast of Olympia, WA. The maps can be viewed online or downloaded in either .gif, .ps or .pdf format. Grid and contour data can be downloaded as text and/or in ArcView. [LXP, HCS]
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Climate of 2001: January in Historical Perspective
The National Climatic Data Center recently released these data as part of its ongoing monthly series of reports on climate in historical perspective. Extreme events of January 2001 included ice storms in the southeastern US, heavy rains and flooding in Bolivia, and record snowfall and low temperatures (down to -37 degrees Celsius) in North Korea. The main page gives a map showing blended global satellite and in-situ temperature readings. Regional reports include regional temperature, wind pattern and precipitation maps, along with charts and graphs of temperature, precipitation, and tropospheric anomalies. [HCS]
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Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles of Belize
Compiled in 1998 by Peter J. Stafford of The Natural History Museum (UK), this simple but useful online resource lists the amphibian and reptile species of Belize. From Gymnophiona through Serpentes, scientific names are listed within taxonomic subcategories. [LXP]
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"Fate and Effects of Barium and Radium-Rich Fluid Emissions from Hydrocarbon Seeps on the Benthic Habitats of the Gulf of Mexico Offshore Louisiana" [.pdf]
The Coastal Marine Institute of the US Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) has recently released this report on naturally occurring barium and radium-rich fluid emissions from hydrocarbon seeps. The report assesses how processing these minerals affects the offshore habitats in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Data include isotopic values and elemental concentrations in benthic molluscs. The .pdf-formatted file is quite large, so it may take some users a while to download. [HCS]
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In The News

Do Genes Determine Musical Ability?
1. "Pitch Perception Is in the Genes"
2. "Twin Study Reveals Genetic Link to Musical Pitch Recognition" -- NIH
3. Dennis Drayna, PhD
4. Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, St Thomas' Hospital, London, UK
5. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders -- NIH
6. Physics and Psychophysics of music
7. Perfect Pitch on the Internet
Last week, a team of researchers reported that the perception of relative pitch (i.e., the ability to carry a tune) is highly heritable. Published in the March 9, 2001 issue of Science magazine, this new finding lends insights into musical pitch recognition, a component of musical ability, in humans. To distinguish the relative importance of nature (genes) versus nurture (environment), researchers tested pitch perception in 284 pairs of genetically identical, and genetically distinct, twins using a "Distorted Tunes Test." The ability to distinguish musical distortions was far more correlated among identical twins than fraternal twins, indicating that the trait is strongly influenced by genes. While this study demonstrates a biological basis for pitch discrimination, some skeptics believe that the degree to which heritability is important is still unclear, because identical twins are more likely to express developmental abnormalities than fraternal twins. This week's In The News highlights the recent finding, offering news briefs, research insights, and resources related to pitch perception.

The first two news briefs, from ScienceNow (1) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (2), summarize the recent research finding. The third site introduces lead researcher Dr. Dennis Drayna (3), geneticist at NIH's National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). For information on the The Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology Unit, St. Thomas' Hospital (UK), the source of the twin data, see the Unit's homepage (4); in addition to featuring the recent discovery on pitch perception, the Webpage describes other twin-based research such as the genetic basis for common diseases and aging. Similarly, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders homepage (5) offers viewers a broad overview of the Institute's research on human communication disorders. For those interested in the physics and psychophysics of music, these course notes by David Worrall, composer and founder of The Australian Centre for the Arts and Technology (The Australian National University), provide helpful context (6). Finally, for links to additional resources related to pitch perception, see this page (7) created by an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. [LXP]
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The Scout Report for Science & Engineering (ISSN 1533-144X) 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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