NetWatch

Science  26 Sep 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5641, pp. 1823
  1. EXHIBITS: The Wright Stuff

    One hundred years ago this 17 December, a flimsy-looking biplane designed by the Wright brothers puttered over the sands at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. To commemorate the anniversary of the first sustained, powered flight, the Library of Congress this week launched a new Web site on the flying brothers. It features some 10,000 notebook pages, letters, telegrams, and other memorabilia, along with a collection of more than 300 photos, most snapped by the Wrights.

    With Orville piloting and Wilbur running alongside to steady the plane, the landmark flight covered nearly 40 meters and lasted 12 seconds. The brothers got off the ground because of their careful experimentation. For instance, to test the aerodynamics of different designs, they built their own bicycle-powered wind tunnel, a rarity for the day. Visitors can explore this scientific approach by browsing the brothers' notebooks, where they recorded experimental results, observations from flights, and other data.

    lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/wrighthtml/wrighthome.html

  2. NET NEWS: Lighting the Way to a Faster, More Flexible Network

    Researchers will soon be able to plug into a new high-speed network designed to boost information-sharing capacity and bring back the rapid innovation that characterized the early days of academic networks.

    Known as National LambdaRail, the project involves more than 100 universities and organizations, including Cisco Systems and the Internet2 consortium. The Abilene backbone available at many universities and companies (Science, 24 April 1998, p. 491) transmits information at 10 gigabits per second, but all users share this capacity, which can slow the flow and precludes experimentation with new technologies. With LambdaRail's fiber-optic lines, different wavelengths can be parceled out to separate projects. LambdaRail can in effect host 40 networks, each running at Abilene's pace and using different technologies.

    The goal isn't just speed, says project board member Ron Johnson, vice president for computing and communications at the University of Washington, Seattle. “We're trying to rekindle the significant innovation that took place at the beginning of the Internet era,” he says. As with ARPANET and NSFnet, two ancestors of the Internet, LambdaRail will allow researchers to easily experiment to devise better technology and protocols for shipping data. Johnson estimates the initial cost of the project at $50 million over 5 years, which will come from the members of the consortium. LambdaRail's first working link between Pittsburgh and Chicago will be completed in November, Johnson says; the others will come online by next spring. For more information, visit http://www.nationallambdarail.org./

  3. LINKS: Physics Club

    Locate your dream job, browse the breaking news in your field, fire up a simulation that plunges into a black hole, find the next conference on optical fiber sensors, or read a biography of Paul Dirac, the founder of quantum mechanics. These are just a few of the things you can do at Physics Web, a community site from the Institute of Physics in the United Kingdom. Along with a jobs list, conference calendar, and news section, the site offers plenty of annotated links, which range from a list of key formulas to a collection of physics limericks.

    http://www.physicsweb.org/

  4. RESOURCES: Insects' Greatest Hits

    Even if southerners never see a well-camouflaged pine katydid (Hubbellia marginifera) nestled in the foliage, they'll probably hear the male's song—a succession of raspy squeaks that does for the female katydid what a Tom Jones number does for women of a certain age. Listen to a pine katydid or find out what other musical bugs fill the airwaves on summer evenings at Singing Insects of North America, a guide to crickets, katydids, and cicadas orchestrated by entomologists Thomas Walker of the University of Florida, Gainesville, and Thomas Moore of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

    The still-growing site already offers information on more than 100 insect songsters. To help you pin a name to that hard-to-place specimen, compare its features to the multiple keys. Species accounts not only let you sample the bug's repertoire, but also include photos, sketches of telltale anatomical characteristics, range maps, and details of habits and habitat.

    buzz.ifas.ufl.edu

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