Science  24 Sep 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5436, pp. 2027

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  1. COOL IMAGES: Love, Cephalopod Style

    Passionate but deadly, these Hapalochlaena lunulata, or blue-ringed octopuses, are locked in a 16-arm embrace, the male delivering sperm to the female via a modified third tentacle. This steamy scene and scores of other images of octopuses, squids, and cuttlefish adorn the Cephalopod Page, a clearinghouse for information about these three-hearted, color-changing, globe-spanning invertebrates.

    Since starting the site in 1995, grad student James B. Wood has accumulated and posted a wealth of research articles, answers to frequently asked questions, and delightfully written natural history accounts of some of the 703 species of living cephalopods. The site links to the more detailed, research-oriented CephPage, which lists a complete taxonomy and synonymy of living cephalopods and allows visitors to plot range maps based on all the recorded captures of individual species.

  2. Hot Picks

    Bad tidings. Floyd may have done its worst, but hurricane season is far from over. When a storm approaches, NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services puts its water monitoring stations on full throttle, updating reports every 18 minutes. Track water levels at 135 coastal, river, and Great Lakes stations across the nation at Tides Online.

    Not dumbed down. Got a question about science? Ask Dr. Universe. The good doctor, with the help of writers and scientists at Washington State University, provides surprisingly sophisticated answers to questions ranging from “How do you measure the distance to a star?” to “When I'm tired, where exactly am I tired?” and “Who invented language?”

  3. NET NEWS: Climbing Math's Family Tree

    Are there any living descendants of the school of Karl Friedrich Gauss, considered by many to be the greatest mathematician of all time? Who academically begat your favorite number theorist? Such questions can be answered by the Mathematics Genealogy Project, an ambitious effort to place the entire “family tree” of mathematicians on the Web.

    The project was conceived about 5 years ago, when Harry Coonce, a mathematician at Minnesota State University in Mankato, wondered who his own thesis adviser's adviser was. “I felt sure that it must be published someplace, but when I asked around, no one knew,” Coonce says. He set out to establish a central repository for such information and, with two collaborators, went online in 1997. The Web page now lists the dissertation titles, universities, and thesis advisers of over 28,000 mathematicians from 1796 to 1999 and is adding about 1000 mathematicians a month.

    The site can give visitors a new perspective on mathematical history. Great researchers like Gauss, who laid the groundwork for number theory, and Paul Erdös, considered one of the most prolific mathematicians of all time (Science, 7 February 1997, p. 759), leave nary a direct academic heir, while some founders of great schools, such as 19th-century German group theorist Felix Klein, leave hordes of followers. Visitors to the site can trace these genealogical paths by clicking on the names of advisers or their students. Plenty of branches of the tree are still bare: Many of the great Russian mathematicians are nowhere to be found.

    A similar, although much smaller, family tree of theoretical computer scientists is maintained by Ian Parberry of the University of North Texas in Denton. Parberry notes that besides the sheer fun or “snob value” of finding out who one's famous ancestors were, the genealogies can help journal editors and funding agencies avoid conflicts of interest when distributing papers or grant proposals for peer review.

  4. SITE VISIT: Patent Leather Inventors

    If you weren't in Akron, Ohio, on 18 September for the induction of 10 particularly creative individuals into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, you can still check out the museum's honor roll at Inventure Place. The 1999 inductees helped design Prozac; a fluid catalytic cracking process used to extract gasoline from oil; and the microwave oven. They join 141 other famous and obscure inventors in the hall, which was established by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 1973 “to honor the individuals who conceived the great technological advances of our time and to foster continued innovative progress.”

    Anyone can nominate, online, a favorite holder of a U.S. patent. The Hall of Famers are chosen by representatives of 40 scientific and service organizations, who judge nominees on how well their inventions have improved our quality of life. The site also features biographies of inventors, information on college scholarships, and tips for performing your own patent search and applying for a patent.

  5. Science Online

    Success in science means more than good hands at the lab bench. Next Wave's free-access Career Development Center provides practical advice for postdocs and junior faculty members. Topics include how to find funding, appeal a grant rejection, and design your first lab. For further guidance, consult the center's advice columnist, The GrantDoctor.