NetWatch

Science  20 Jun 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5627, pp. 1855
  1. IMAGES: Northern Exposures

    The natural light show of the aurora borealis erupts when speeding electrons and other particles bash into molecules in the upper atmosphere, stimulating them to glow. Pictures can be found at the Polar Image Web site, a gallery boasting more than 25 years' worth of eye-catching photos snapped by amateur skywatcher Pekka Parviainen of Turku, Finland. Living so far north lets Parviainen aim his lens at subjects most of us never get a chance to see, including the aurora and diffuse, high-altitude noctilucent clouds, which appear mainly at twilight between 50° and 60° latitude. You can also browse a menagerie of clouds, relive recent eclipses and comet flybys, and admire dainty ice crystals.

    http://www.polarimage.fi/

  2. EDUCATION: Banish Fusion Confusion

    Nuclear fusion fuels the sun and other stars. But researchers have yet to harness the atom-melding process to yield energy here on Earth because they haven't been able to sustain a power-producing reaction. High school and lower level college students can get up to speed on fusion research with this hands-on primer from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in New Jersey. Animated tutorials review fundamental topics such as the structure of matter, chemical bonding, and magnetism. Visitors can then plunge into fusion research with backgrounders on the principles of the reaction. Once they've absorbed the basics, they can try running a virtual tokamak, a doughnut-shaped “magnetic bottle” that holds seething plasma, the ultrahot, ionized gas in which fusion reactions occur. Another feature lets students analyze real data from the lab's experiments.

    ippex.pppl.gov

  3. LINKS: A Zooful of Animal Sites

    Whether you're looking for video clips of wasp behavior, a tutorial on sea urchin embryology, or a checklist of European leeches, you can find them at this portal to thousands of zoology sites. Corralled by the nonprofit organization BIOSIS, the sites range from specimen databases and identification keys to individual labs and departments, such as the wonderfully named Department of Parasitic Worms at the Zoological Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia.

    www.biosis.org/free_resources/classifn/classifn.html

  4. EXHIBIT: Genetics for the Masses

    The new Web exhibit “A Revolution in Progress” explains how genetics is transforming medicine. Although aimed at the general public, the National Institutes of Health site could also serve as an introduction to the subject for high school bio students. Simple overviews tackle basic inheritance, genetic engineering, gene therapy, the human genome project, and other subjects. Case studies examine the discovery of genes for diseases such as breast cancer and cystic fibrosis. The site also delves into some of the sticky ethical problems raised by genetic research, such as who will have access to gene therapy.

    history.nih.gov/exhibits/genetics

  5. RESOURCES: No Digging Required

    This revamped site from the U.S. National Park Service's Archeology and Ethnography program holds a trove of useful reports, guidelines, how-tos, and other sources of information for archaeologists, anthropologists, and curators. For example, the Professional Tools section allows you to check up on laws and regulations that cover work at federal sites, including rules for excavating battlefields and shipwrecks and for working with Native American remains and artifacts. A set of online publications explains everything from protecting sites through revegetation to using volunteers on digs.

    Follow links to reach databases such as the National Archeological Database, which lists nearly 240,000 reports—many of them unpublished “gray literature”—on archaeological digs and surveys from around the country. Reading the feature on managing cultural collections might help you avoid disasters such as rodents setting up house inside valuable artifacts. The site also holds a cache of government documents on the controversial Kennewick Man. The 9000-year-old skeleton, discovered in 1996 in Washington state, sparked a custody battle among scientists, Native Americans, and local officials.

    www.cr.nps.gov/aad

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