Science  19 Sep 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5640, pp. 1641
  1. IMAGES: Sites to See

    Geologists, anthropologists, and environmental scientists looking for classroom photos should click on the Geo-Images Project. The site's 10-and-counting collections let you take a photo tour of California's natural and humanmade environments, from dunes in Death Valley to a logged redwood forest. Or page through snapshots of daily life in Morocco and Afghanistan. These hoodoos from Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, rise up in the section on geomorphology. The shapely spires form because of differential erosion—the upper layers are more resistant to water and wind, which nibble away the sediments below. Most images are free for academic uses.

  2. RESOURCES: When the Wasp Stings

    Averaging only 1.5 millimeters in length, chalcidoid wasps seem like they could be bullied by a mosquito. But the wasps—which include the world's smallest bug—parasitize many larger insects, making them valuable for biocontrol. Released chalcidoids have routed outbreaks of mealybugs in Africa and the United States, for instance.

    The newest database developed by London's Natural History Museum offers updated taxonomic information for the chalcidoids, which include 22,000 known species. Listings also record data such as where each species lives, what hosts it victimizes, and its economic importance. Entomologists and chalcidoid fans can buzz through descriptions and keys for the world's families or study anatomical diagrams and images; above, a female Muscidifurax zaraptor wasp plants her eggs on the pupa of a housefly. The database also provides tips on how to collect, preserve, and ship the minute wasps.

  3. FUN: The Physics of Strikes and Homers

    Want to know why a curveball curves? Curious about whether the illegal corked bat wielded by Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa really provides an advantage? Forget the loudmouths on ESPN and check out The Physics of Baseball, a collection of original articles and links fielded by Alan Nathan of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Physicists pitch their explanations of everything from curveball aerodynamics to the performance difference between wood and aluminum bats. For example, baseball's authorities suspended Sosa this summer for using the doctored bat, but Nathan explains in an essay that corking—replacing the bat's core with a lighter material—doesn't necessarily help. The modification does shift the center of gravity toward the handle, allowing the player to swing faster, but the reduced weight doesn't drive the ball as far. For a power hitter like Sosa, the net benefit was probably negligible.∼a-nathan/pob

  4. DATABASE: Pancreas Profiling

    Crucial for digestion and blood sugar control, the pancreas falters in diseases such as type I diabetes and cystic fibrosis. Researchers probing the molecular details of this organ's workings can log on to EPConDB, a database from the University of Pennsylvania that holds a wealth of information on genes that are active in the pancreas in mice and humans. Along with the usual details of gene function and protein structure, the site lets you download and analyze results from microchip experiments, such as a comparison of pancreatic gene activity at different stages of mouse development.

  5. EDUCATION: Maladies of Field, Orchard, and Greenhouse

    Crop illnesses such as citrus canker and tomato early blight cost farmers and growers billions of dollars a year. Students can learn more about plant diseases and pathology at this peer-reviewed, information-packed site from the American Phytopathological Society in St. Paul, Minnesota. Teachers will find lessons geared for K-12 students and introductory and advanced college levels. Tutorials delve into the causes and symptoms of more than 30 colorfully named plant ailments, from blackleg to stinking smut to apple scab, an attack by the insidious fungus Venturia inaequalis. Brief articles explore topics such as how sequencing the Caenorhabditis elegans worm's genome could benefit plant pathology: The data could expose molecular weak points of nematode pests. All three levels also supply lab exercises, illustrated glossaries, and other handy resources.

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