NetWatch

Science  19 Dec 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5653, pp. 2037
  1. RESOURCES: Chlamy Home Base

    A familiar sight in biology labs is the protist Chlamydomonas zipping across a microscope slide, powered by a pair of trailing flagella. The Chlamydomonas Genetics Center at Duke University offers information for everyone from researchers investigating the creature's metabolism to lab instructors seeking tips on how to get different strains to mate. The site features an eclectic database called ChlamyDB, where you can find out which protein a particular gene produces, locate culture collections that can provide specimens, or track down citations for the latest Chlamydomonas literature. You can also search a first draft of the protist's genome sequence or follow a link to the genome of its light-capturing chloroplast.

    www.biology.duke.edu/chlamy

  2. HISTORY: G'Day, Doc

    Who said Australians were only good at surfing, drinking beer, and wrestling crocodiles? The biographical site Bright Sparcs from the University of Melbourne highlights more than 4000 Australian researchers, explorers, doctors, and engineers, along with outsiders who made an impact on science and technology down under. Entries provide a brief career synopsis and links to other biographical info on the Web. Highlights include Francis Abbott (1799–1883), a convict who became an astronomer and fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society; and Frank Macfarlane Burnet (1899–1985), who won a Nobel Prize in 1960 for studies of how the developing immune system learns to discern “self” cells from invaders.

    www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/bsparcs/bsparcshome.htm

  3. DATABASE: Viral Target Practice

    Looking for information on HIV vaccine trials in chimps, rhesus monkeys, and other nonhuman primates? Check out this database from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The collection is a new addition to the lab's compendium of HIV sequence data (NetWatch, 23 August 2002, p. 1243). The bibliography, which combines citations from an earlier, incomplete vaccine trials database with updated references, lists more than 300 studies from as far back as 1987. You can track down trials that aimed to thwart HIV or its cousin SIV.

    www.hiv.lanl.gov/cgi-bin/vaccine/public/index.cgi

  4. EXHIBITS: Baby on Board?

    Thanks to home test kits, a woman can find out if she's pregnant in less time than it took to get that way. The Thin Blue Line, a new historical site from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), follows the invention of home pregnancy tests and examines their cultural impact. The key discovery came in the early 1970s, when NIH scientists devised the first reliable method to detect human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone necessary to sustain pregnancy. The first tests based on the advance hit pharmacy shelves in 1978. But as the site's timeline shows, crude attempts to divine pregnancy date back more than 3000 years. For example, the ancient Egyptians put their faith in whether a woman's urine made wheat and barley seeds sprout. If neither kind of seed grew, she wasn't pregnant; if the barley grew, the child was a boy.

    www.history.nih.gov/exhibits/thinblueline

  5. WEBCAST: Mars, We Have Returned

    In the summer of 1997, NASA's Sojourner, a robotic dune buggy about the size of a skateboard, kept earthly viewers enthralled as it trundled across the martian surface. Next month, if all goes as planned, Sojourner's big brother Spirit will land on the Red Planet for a longer reconnaissance. You can follow its first forays into the Gusev Crater with a series of Webcasts on 4 to 25 January from the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Outfitted with cameras, spectrometers, and a scraper to rasp rock surfaces, the golf cart-sized Spirit will snoop around for signs of life and water. The Webcasts will feature near-real-time images from the rover, interviews with project researchers and engineers, and commentary from guest experts. For the Webcast schedule, visit

    www.exploratorium.edu/mars.

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