NetWatch

Science  07 Mar 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5612, pp. 1493
  1. EXHIBITS: Double Helix With a Twist

    If 1950s bookies had given odds on who would crack the structure of DNA, Linus Pauling would have been one of the favorites. Instead, the great chemist published an erroneous triple-stranded model of the molecule and lost out to “an adolescent postdoc and an elderly graduate student,” James Watson and Francis Crick. This engrossing new site from Oregon State University in Corvallis examines Pauling's perspective on the race to decipher DNA. Start with the vivid narrative that recounts the pursuit of the double helix between 1950 and 1953. Learn more about Pauling's role by perusing the day-by-day chronology of his work and life, which covers the crucial years of 1952 and 1953, or by browsing a trove of more than 300 letters, photos, papers, audio clips, and video segments. Pauling was a late entrant in the DNA derby, and the site attributes his failure to “hurry and hubris.”

    osulibrary.orst.edu/specialcollections/coll/pauling/dna/index.html

  2. RESOURCES: Sticking It to HIV

    Last week, California-based VaxGen reported that its prototype HIV vaccine had failed in the largest human trial to date. The vaccine was the first to be widely tested against HIV, although half a dozen other versions are in clinical trials. Track efforts to create a vaccine against the devious AIDS virus at this site from the nonprofit International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

    For researchers, the most useful feature is a database packed with current and past clinical trials, searchable by type of preparation, location, and manufacturer. The database lists methods and publications for completed trials, and you can find out which ongoing studies still need volunteers. For students and teachers, handy primers summarize the different approaches to HIV immunizations and the basics of vaccine testing. Visitors can catch up on the latest developments by browsing a collection of media stories and a newsletter. Another page investigates technical challenges that have hindered vaccine development. One of the biggest hurdles, for example, is preventing the virus from infiltrating the body through the mucous membranes.

    http://www.iavi.org/

  3. WEB PROJECTS: Designing a Better World

    Much as the alien-seeking SETI@home project uses the Internet to multiply computing power, the ThinkCycle Web site pools engineering expertise to solve pressing down-to-earth problems. Launched by a group of grad students, the 3-year-old venture of MIT's Media Lab links students, researchers, and nongovernmental organizations to tackle obstacles hampering underserved communities. The site lists more than 100 health, environmental, and other challenges awaiting clever solutions—from designing a low-cost rice-planting machine to cleansing drinking water of arsenic contamination, a scourge across large areas of Asia. Anyone's invited to post ideas, critiques, suggestions, and even drawings of their own proposals. Researchers in academia and industry can mentor student design teams and help refine the challenges, says co-founder Nitin Sawhney. He says that students gain from participating because they pit their abilities and imagination against real-world problems.

    http://www.thinkcycle.org/

  4. IMAGES: Biology Film School

    This collection of peppy movies and teaching animations* brings to life abstract subjects such as the role of calcium in muscle contraction and the DNA shuffling that produces antibody genes. Since last appearing in NetWatch (Science,12 November 1999, p. 1251), the site, from biology professor Malcolm Campbell of Davidson College in North Carolina, has expanded and diversified. It now includes some 60 quick flicks on development, genetics, molecular biology, immunology, and lab techniques. Students can watch a squadron of insistent sperm try to bore into an egg, learn how researchers use microarrays to gauge gene activity, or discover how pathogen molecules trigger B cells to counterattack.

    A separate Web theater, hosted by Portland State University in Oregon, enables undergrads and biology novices to polish their understanding of genetics. More than a dozen movies cover topics such as DNA replication, meiosis, and nondisjunction, the failure of chromosomes to separate during cell division.

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