Science  08 Sep 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5485, pp. 1647

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  1. COOL IMAGES: Applet Orchard

    The light-illuminated soap bubbles in this image rotate, grow, and divide in an endlessly shifting pattern at the Web site of Australian science fiction writer Greg Egan. It's one of 20 delightful Java applets that demonstrate physics and math concepts. Don't miss “subluminal,” for example, in which superimposed light waves create the illusion of a pulse moving faster than the speed of light—an actual experiment that made headlines this summer. Other eye-popping animations include colorful quasi-tilings—tiles in an irregular pattern—and icosahedrons, 20-sided soccer balls. A mathematician by training, Egan says he began making the applets to help himself visualize the “speculative physics,” such as a neutron star collision, that often play a role in his novels.∼gregegan/APPLETS/Applets.html

  2. LINKS: Bevy of Biomolecule Data

    Whether you're looking for the dog genome project or the structure of a ribosomal subunit, Amos' WWW links page will get you there. Over 1000 links—compiled by a scientist with the SWISS-PROT protein database—lead to every imaginable protein and gene site. You can find out how changing an amino acid will affect protein structure, for example, or compare genes in the plague bacterium with those of other bugs.

  3. SOFTWARE: University in a Box

    Ever wonder what it's like to be president of a university? Find out by playing Virtual U, a video game developed with $1 million from the Sloan Foundation that simulates the headaches of running a college or research university. The game first instructs you to, say, raise minority enrollment or research performance. You must then make the budget decisions needed to meet the goal—from cutting salaries to raising tuition. You then find out if the trustees approve or throw you out on your ear.

    The graphics give the game a Sim City-like feel, but it's essentially about budgets—a topic only true wonks could love. Still, the former professors who developed Virtual U hope it will prove useful for real-life administrators. The software costs $60 to $130; a demo can be downloaded for free.

  4. EXHIBITS: Remembering Madame Curie

    She opened the first x-ray clinics during World War I, and her affair with a married man scandalized France. Oh, and she was the first scientist to win two Nobel Prizes. Those are among details to be gleaned from “Madame Curie and the Science of Radioactivity,” a Web exhibit at the American Institute of Physics' history center. Based on a 1996 biography, the photo-packed site chronicles Curie's childhood in Warsaw, her arrival at the Sorbonne in 1891—where she met her husband and collaborator Pierre Curie—and a lifetime of research triumphs and personal highs and lows.

  5. RESOURCES: Species in Peril

    However nonchalant it looks in photos, the Florida panther is a cat living on the edge: Fewer than 50 survive in south Florida, the vestige of a population that once prowled from Texas to Tennessee. More than 1200 other animals and plants—from mammals to snails to lichens—are also in enough trouble to make the federal government's endangered species list. For the latest on these imperiled organisms, try the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's endangered species site.

    You can sort through species accounts geographically—Hawaii has the most listings, with 317—or taxonomically. Many entries are aimed at regulators and others who need to know such legal details as when a species was listed and if the government has approved a recovery plan (over 900 exist). Also posted is background on 313-and-counting Habitat Conservation Plans—voluntary agreements that are controversial among conservation biologists. Nonspecialists might prefer the rich selection of information on popular creatures, from magazine articles to links. After reading about the panther's favorite haunts, for example, go to Florida Panther Net, where you can cue up audio of the big cat purring.