NetWatch

Science  16 May 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5622, pp. 1061
  1. RESOURCES: Vanishing Ghosts of the Forest

    The name “lemur,” which comes from the Latin word meaning “nocturnal spirit,” is sadly ironic. Many species of these photogenic primates are in danger of becoming ghosts because of deforestation and hunting. This pair of sites allows researchers and lemur enthusiasts alike to explore the lives of these close kin of the earliest primates, which inhabit only Madagascar and the neighboring Comoros Islands.

    For detailed information on biology and conservation, check out Lemurs of Madagascar from the Expert Center for Taxonomic Identification in Amsterdam. The online encyclopedia profiles 33 species and 28 subspecies and features beautiful paintings of lemurs from the 18th and 19th centuries. (The site works best in Internet Explorer.)

    A similar, but less technical site from the Duke University Primate Center includes plenty of candid photos of the endearing primates. (Choose the Flash version, then click on Learn at the bottom of the introductory page.)

  2. IMAGES: Diseases Illustrated

    Looking to liven up a parasitology lecture with gross photos of schistosome worms lodged in a blood vessel? Searching for images of the plaques that riddle the brains of Alzheimer's patients? Click over to the Bristol Biomedical Image Archive, hosted by the University of Bristol, U.K. All of its 8500-odd medical, veterinary, and dental images are free for academic and educational uses. The sprawling collection includes everything from pictures of diseased tissue and pathogens to close-ups of cellular structures to x-rays that illustrate joint structure. Downloading high-resolution images from the site requires free registration.

    http://www.brisbio.ac.uk/

  3. SOFTWARE: Bent Into Shape

    When an antibody sticks to a viral protein, marking it for annihilation by certain immune cells, the two molecules don't just snap into place like puzzle pieces. Instead, the antibody must bend or twist in order to get a grip. The program AutoDock predicts the structural contortions that molecules undergo when they couple with proteins or DNA. Academic scientists can obtain AutoDock for free through this site created by computational chemist Garrett Morris of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. The results are useful for deciphering chemical mechanisms, designing drugs, and other applications in which scientists need to know the shape of interacting molecules, Morris says. For example, AIDS researchers can screen potential antiviral compounds by determining which ones will cozy up to HIV proteins.

    Shape-shifting molecules also star at the Database of Simulated Molecular Motions from the European Media Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany. The site allows you to screen more than 100 computer simulations (some housed on other sites) of molecules folding, unfolding, jiggling, docking, or slicing apart other molecules. For example, you can tour the sodium-potassium pump, which ushers ions through the cell membrane, or watch the estrogen receptor grab a length of DNA. Scientists are invited to contribute their own flicks to the site.

  4. DATABASE: Brave New World of Intellectual Property

    The rise of the Internet and the growth of biotechnology have challenged many of our ideas about intellectual property and our rules for protecting it. At this handy index to intellectual property publications from the National Academies, experts wrestle with the ramifications of these developments for research and society. Topics covered by the more than 60 reports, books, and other documents range from copyright protection for software to the furor-inducing 1999 Shelby amendment, which requires researchers to disclose data used to formulate federal regulations.

    ip.nationalacademies.org

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