Science  08 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5438, pp. 195

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  1. COOL IMAGES: Vent Life

    These grapelike blobs, each about 2.5 micrometers across, form clusters of bacteria that live inside deep-sea Riftia pachyptila tubeworms. The as yet unnamed microbes ply their hosts with carbohydrates that they make using chemical energy from the hydrogen sulfide burbling from thermal vents. The symbionts are October's Microbe of the Month at the cartoon-filled Microbe Zoo site. Although aimed at schoolchildren, Microbe Zoo's 70-odd micrographs, along with articles on topics such as magnetic microbes and giant bacteria in fish guts, have also been known to liven up grad school courses, says Web master Catherine McGowan


    Anatomy of a quake. It's been 10 years since the Loma Prieta earthquake rocked northern California, and the San Francisco Exploratorium is marking the occasion with a tour of the science of the San Andreas fault. Webcast visits from 9 to 17 October will include a seismology lab, trenches dug across the fault, and a huge drill used to study crustal stresses.

    Earth in the balance sheet. One of the hottest areas in environmental science is “ecological economics,” which probes the interplay of commerce and ecosystem health. A new online article in the journal Conservation Ecology features a computer model for exploring such trade-offs. The model lets participants assume the guise of farmers or land managers, whose competing interests determine how much phosphorus—a byproduct of fertilizer use that spurs algal growth—gets dumped into a lake. Too much and you can kiss those fish goodbye.

    Dino-mite. Dinosaur fans won't want to miss this fact-packed BBC home page featuring remarkably lifelike video clips of creatures such as Peteinosaurus (a flying lizard) and Postosuchus (a 6-meter-long carnivore). The site accompanies a TV series airing this fall.

  3. NET NEWS: DOE Unveils Citations Database

    For the past few years, biomedical researchers have been the only scientists to enjoy a free, comprehensive papers database courtesy of Uncle Sam. But now there's a sort of PubMed for the physical sciences as well. On 1 October, the Department of Energy (DOE) unveiled PubSCIENCE, an online citations database for physical sciences journals announced last summer (Science, 6 August, p. 811).

    With 21 publishers (including AAAS, publisher of Science) and about 1000 journals lined up so far, PubSCIENCE already has over a million citations from as far back as 1974. For example, searching last week for “nanotechnology” brought up 571 references in publications ranging from the Bulletin of the American Physical Society to Technology Review. Over 85% of the citations pull up free abstracts, and recent ones link to the journals' own sites, where you might need a subscription to see full text, says R. L. Scott, associate manager of DOE's Office of Scientific and Technical Information. He says PubSCIENCE expects to build up to as many as 2000 journals of interest to DOE scientists, as well as cut a deal soon with a private firm that would broker full-text articles.

  4. SITE VISITS: Hit or Miss

    Asteroids wreak global havoc only once every 100,000 years or so—contrary to what tabloid headlines might suggest. But planetary scientists have plenty of reasons to eyeball asteroids: Aside from keeping a vigil for wayward rocks headed our way, they probe cosmic chunks for carbon and water—the raw materials for life—and even for signs of life itself.

    To bone up on asteroids, try the Web site of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab's Near-Earth Object Program, where you can learn about Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs): 192 supersized rocks at last count that come within 7.5 million km of Earth's orbit. The site links to news stories and offers images of asteroids and meteor showers, as well as info on spacecraft sent on asteroid rendezvous. For gritty technical details, experts can visit NEODyS, a database that generates a Web page of observational data on each PHA and its predicted orbit. One that researchers are keeping a particularly close eye on is 1998OX4, which could hit Earth between 2014 and 2046. Don't blow your life savings just yet: The probability is less than one in a million, and, even if it does hit, at 200 meters across, 1998OX4 is not big enough to inflict cataclysmic damage.

  5. Science Online

    Science's Next Wave has just begun a collaboration with the German research agency Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft to offer career advice to young scientists. The German- language home page debuts this week with a debate about university reforms.