NetWatch

Science  07 Apr 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5463, pp. 7
  1. COOL IMAGES: Virtual Excavation

    Entertainment complexes may be all the rage today, but they were also in vogue around A.D. 150 when Herodes Atticus expanded an odeum (a small concert theater) in the Roman colony of Corinth in Greece. Find out who else likely added to this and other buildings in this port city—a model of Roman planning—by clicking on drawings at the Corinth Computer Project at the University of Pennsylvania. The stone-by-stone interactive drawings are at the forefront of Web archaeology, says project director David Romano. He and research associate Nicholas Stapp have packed the site with photos, animations, and satellite images that explain how over the past 12 years their team has gleaned telling details from Corinth's ruins.

  2. Hot Picks

    Genes gone wrong. Molecular geneticists, clinicians, and others seeking a quick overview of genetic diseases may want to visit GeneClinics, a Web site offering concise summaries of some 70 disorders, from early-onset Alzheimer's to Wilson's disease (a copper metabolism disorder). Targeted at genetic counselors, the reviews include diagnostic info and links to genome databases; a related site lists genetic testing labs. http://www.geneclinics.org/

    Closing in on Eros. Excitement over seeing an asteroid in detail will only grow this year as the NEAR satellite, which began orbiting the Eros asteroid on Valentine's Day, draws ever closer to this object of astronomers' desire (this month, it dropped to 100 kilometers). Visit this site to see daily images and movies of the potato-shaped rock slowly rotating. near.jhuapl.edu

    Net lore. Wondering who invented Usenet, or what exactly is an Internet Relay Chat? This site explains the nuts and bolts of the Net and serves up profiles of those who shaped it, such as Vannevar Bush, whose 1945 article on “memex,” a device for storing information, presaged the Web. http://www.livinginternet.com/

  3. NET NEWS: And Now, the Birdcast

    Passing almost unnoticed in the night, billions of birds will fly over the mid-Atlantic states this spring on their annual migration northward. A new Web site will help ornithologists pinpoint critical habitat for the feathered travelers by combining weather radar data with old-fashioned fieldwork.

    Radar has been used to track bird migrations since around 1940, says Steve Kelling, who heads BirdSource, a bird database at Cornell University. But the potential payoff grew about 5 years ago when the government began installing Doppler radar stations, which yield high-resolution, three-dimensional data. Ornithologists are eager to use Doppler to track bird movements, but first, they need to calibrate it with data from the ground.

    So Cornell, Clemson University, and other groups have launched BirdCast. Every few hours from 1 April to 31 May, radar images of the Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., area—some filtered to remove weather and reveal birds—will be posted on the project's Web site (http://www.birdcast.org/). The site will also collect observations from several hundred citizen-scientists (birdwatchers, that is), which will be combined with other data, such as chirps picked up by acoustic monitors. Kelling says the results should reveal the birds' favorite rest stops, highlighting priority areas for protection. Eventually, BirdCast hopes to go nationwide.

  4. SITE VISIT: Dusting Off Lost Worlds

    From a handful of ancient dust, a sharp-eyed palynologist can conjure up an entire vanished ecosystem by scrutinizing pollen grains, spores, and other durable microscopic fossils, collectively known as palynomorphs. These studies provide insights into climate and chronology that help scientists interpret more spectacular fossil and archaeological finds. But palynologists often labor in obscurity, says Owen Davis of the University of Arizona in Tucson. “There is no booth at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show for fossil pollen,” he says. Spreading the word about this field is just one of the goals of his Palynology Page.

    Aimed at students and other curious visitors is the definitions section, where you can discover acritarchs (a catch-all class of microfossils) or read about subfields such as stratigraphic palynology. Entries often lead to detailed accounts packed with references, illustrations, and hyperlinks. Stumped researchers trying to identify a specimen can link to catalogs of pollen pictures—magnified images of bristly spheres and honeycombed flakes from 1000-and-counting species. Palynologists will also find links to journals, research groups, educational sites, scientific societies, and commercial labs. And for true aficionados, there's even a Pollen Grain of the Month.

    www.geo.arizona.edu/palynology

  5. Science Online

    When muscles contract or organelles get shipped around cells, protein motors do the heavy lifting. On p. 88, Vale and Milligan review new evidence of the structural similarities shared by two kinds of molecular motors—kinesin motors and actin-based myosin motors. The authors have created two animations of these tiny machines that should serve as valuable teaching tools. See www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/288/5463/88

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