NetWatch

Science  15 Aug 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5635, pp. 899
  1. EXHIBITS: Giving Medicine a Fair Trial

    The 18th century Scottish physician James Lind is best known for establishing that lemons and oranges were remedies for scurvy, then a major killer of sailors and landlubbers alike. But his systematic analysis of previous writings about preventing and treating the malady was also a landmark in the history of fair tests—studies that weigh all pertinent evidence and account for chance and bias. The James Lind Library, hosted by the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh, U.K., traces the evolution of fair tests, which are becoming more and more important in medicine.

    The site presents this history through a collection of nearly 100 book excerpts, papers, and other documents that discuss or apply the methods of fair tests. You can read key passages from Lind's 1753 treatise, for instance, or follow a link to the full book. Many of the selections also come with biographies, bibliographies, and commentaries by experts.

    http://www.jameslindlibrary.org/

  2. RESOURCES: Visa Ins and Outs

    Even researchers who tease out the genetic secrets of cancer cells or hatch models of stellar evolution can find the rules for getting a U.S. visa daunting and confusing. And the security clampdown since the 11 September terrorist attacks hasn't made things any easier. This new site from the National Academies offers clear advice for foreign scientists and scholars planning to travel to the United States.

    Find out how early to apply (at least 3 months before your anticipated arrival) and what to do if your visa application is rejected or delayed. The site also offers advice for U.S. citizens and foreign nationals living here who plan to travel outside the country, along with tips for holding an international conference in the U.S.

    www7.nationalacademies.org/visas

  3. DATABASE: Acid Rain Collection

    Although laws such as the 1990 Clean Air Act have reduced air pollution, acid rain remains a threat to lakes and forests in the United States and Canada. Packed with data and reports, this site sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey can answer your burning questions about acid rain, which is caused mainly by sulfur-and nitrogen-containing emissions from vehicles and plants that burn fossil fuels.

    A linked database allows researchers to download weekly, monthly, and yearly figures for precipitation chemistry from 250 monitoring stations around the U.S. Some stations' records stretch back as far as 1978. The site also offers a slew of reports and conference proceedings, and it links to maps that illustrate trends in precipitation pH. On this map of 2001 acidity measurements, for instance, brown and orange indicate precipitation with the lowest pH. The damaging rain and snow that falls in the Northeast is partly the result of emissions from coal-fired plants, cars, and heavy industry in the region, but pollution that blows in from the Midwest also contributes.

    bqs.usgs.gov/acidrain

  4. EXHIBITS: High-Tech Haberdashery

    A merger between fashion and high tech might soon bring relief to shoppers tired of trying on garment after garment to find one that fits. The 3D Body Scanner, a new site from Cornell University, explores how a machine for accurately measuring the human physique could revolutionize how we shop for clothes and how they're made. The technology could eventually provide ordinary consumers with what only people with lots of money or a knack for sewing can afford today—personalized, custom-tailored clothing.

    The scanner builds a relief map of the body from some 300,000 physical measurements. With such accurate values, manufacturers may soon tailor apparel that fits the idiosyncrasies of your body. By supplying their body data, shoppers could also “try on” clothes over the Internet and avoid those dingy store fitting rooms.

    www.explore.cornell.edu/bodyscanner

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