NetWatch

Science  03 Jan 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5603, pp. 25
  1. EDUCATION: Earth in the Bull's-Eye

    The solar system is a tough neighborhood, prowled by comets, asteroids, and other space clods that someday might belt the Earth. Learn about the different kinds of near-Earth objects and the risk they pose at this new Web site from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    Flash animations let you sidle up to tumbling asteroids or watch comet Shoemaker-Levy plunk into Jupiter's atmosphere in 1994. Geared for students and the public, the site also visits earthly scars such as the Chicxulub crater in Mexico, where an asteroid landed 65 million years ago that may have snuffed out the dinosaurs. Although catastrophic impacts happen only every few million years, if a killer asteroid does hove into view, one possible scenario is to land a large rocket engine on the rogue rock to nudge it off course.

    www.jpl.nasa.gov/templates/flash/neo/neo.htm

  2. EDUCATION: Science of Biotech Safety

    Are they safe? That's the burning question about genetically modified organisms. Biotechnology Risk Assessment, a site created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Florida, attempts to show college students, teachers, and the general public how regulators make that decision. The site starts by explaining the nuts and bolts of genetic engineering and answering basic questions about the regulation of genetically engineered organisms, such as which agencies are responsible for safety decisions—in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Agriculture. The following sections dig deeper into the subtle science of risk assessment. Experts summarize what we know and don't know about the environmental and health impact of organisms such as fish engineered for faster growth and crops that carry genes for herbicide resistance.

    http://www.riskassess.org/

  3. RESOURCES: Bug-Swappers' Network

    Looking for an ampoule of algae? Need a soupçon of slime molds for a study on cell locomotion? Flip through this electronic Rolodex of more than 450 culture collections that are willing to share microbes, viruses, fungi, plant and animal cell lines, and other samples. Hosted by the World Data Centre for Microorganisms in Mishima, Japan, the directory summarizes each site's holdings and conditions for use—for example, some provide samples for free, while others require payment or a culture in trade.

    wdcm.nig.ac.jp

  4. LINKS: A Smallpox Refresher

    As a precaution against a possible bioterrorism attack, the Bush Administration plans to inoculate up to 11 million soldiers and emergency workers against smallpox by next summer. This new federal Web site offers timely guidance to the public and to health care workers, who not only must decide whether to take the shot themselves, but must be able to spot the symptoms of infection if an attack does occur. The site features a wealth of information, including archived Webcasts and primers on diagnosis, guidelines for selecting vaccine recipients, and a textbook chapter on the history of smallpox vaccination.

    http://www.smallpox.gov/

  5. IMAGES: The Illustrated Worm

    The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has no eyes or heart and only 959 cells. Its simplicity has allowed scientists to work out its anatomy in greater detail than for any other animal. Explore the architecture of normal worms at the Web site Wormatlas, created by nematode mavens at Yeshiva and Columbia universities. The site's still-growing anatomical handbook features elegant art and will eventually cover all the worm's organ systems. For a closer look inside the animal, fire up the Wormviewer, which summons crosssections from different parts of the worm's body, or scrutinize a particular slice with the Wormtiler. An illustrated section describes the origin, location, and function of the worm's neurons. There's also a guide to identifying cell types, as well as how-to's on lab techniques such as staining internal structures and preparing worms for viewing under the electron microscope.

    http://www.wormatlas.org/

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