NetWatch

Science  20 Dec 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5602, pp. 2289
  1. RESOURCES: Neotropics Fishnet

    To the delight of ichthyologists, the New World tropics teem with interesting fishes, from piranhas that eat only the fins of other fishes and hulking catfish that grow bigger than Shaquille O'Neal to this dainty emperor tetra. NeoDat nets a wealth of information on the systematics and biogeography of Neotropical fishes. Created by a trio of ichthyologists, the site allows you to trawl collection records from 24 museums and map the locality data. Scan the bibliography to find original species descriptions. Or follow links to nine online classic books and monographs on New World fishes and a host of sites on tropical biology.

    http://www.neodat.org/

  2. EDUCATION: Burning Issues

    Can we save our dwindling forests—and will it make any difference if we recycle paper? Are genetically engineered crops the solution to food shortages? Do DNA patents stifle further research? At Action Bioscience, students from middle school through college confront these and other biological controversies by hearing directly from the experts.

    The site features more than 50 peer-reviewed articles by scientists, along with position papers from environmental groups. Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson sounds off about the crisis of declining biodiversity, and paleontologist Donald Johanson of Arizona State University, Tempe, wades through the evidence that humans evolved in Africa. One section gives students the chance to sort through clashing views on the safety and value of transgenic crops. About half the offerings include lesson plans with activities. The site comes from BioScience Productions, a nonprofit based in Nokomis, Florida, that promotes science education.

    http://www.actionbioscience.org/

  3. DATABASE: Reading the Crystals

    Using x-ray crystallography, scientists have sedulously mapped the structures of different kinds of DNA, RNA, and other molecules that contain nucleic acids. Search and analyze results from nearly 2000 such studies at the Nucleic Acid Database Project (NDB), hosted by Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey.

    Stashed here are structural data for short strands of DNA and various types of RNA, such as transfer RNAs that shuttle amino acids around the cell. Much of the same information, such as atomic coordinates, original citations, and molecular images, can be obtained from the Protein Data Bank (Science, 9 July 1999, p. 163). But NDB's analyses furnish more detail about the geometry of the molecules. “It's meant especially for people who are studying nucleic acids,” says Helen Berman, who supervises both collections. You can try out a beta site that's easier to navigate and features snazzier graphics.

    ndbserver.rutgers.edu

  4. LINKS: Home Base for U.S. Science

    The brand-new Science.gov makes it easier to round up scientific information that's strewn across the U.S. government's numerous Web sites. Aimed at everyone from children to professional scientists, the portal provides access to the holdings of 10 science agencies, from NASA to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. Instead of glutting the site with all its resources, each agency contributed its most authoritative reports, Web sites, fact sheets, and databases. Whether you're looking for results from trials of dietary supplements, distribution maps for North American dragonflies, or a chemical dictionary, you'll find them here.

    http://www.science.gov/

  5. IMAGES: Ogling the Earth

    Squeezing through a mountain pass, the Malaspina glacier sprawls toward the sea. This false-color image of Alaska's largest glacier graces the new Web site Earth as Art, a gallery of images nabbed by the Landsat-7 satellite. The spacecraft, which captures visible light and infrared radiation reflected from the surface, has yielded eye-catching shots of every continent. From high above, Iranian salt marshes and the North African desert look like abstract paintings. You can download your favorite photos from a collection that spans sunburned Australia to the Brazilian rainforest, or send away for posters.

    landsat.gsfc.nasa.gov/earthasart

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