Science  16 Jan 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5656, pp. 291

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  1. RESOURCES: The Great Lava Debate

    The origin of the lava oozing from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano (above) and other craters has erupted into one of geology's most heated battles (Science, 9 May 2003, p. 920). For 30 years, scientists have held that columns of hot rock ascend nearly 3000 kilometers from the bottom of Earth's mantle, spilling out at spots such as the Hawaiian Islands. But now some researchers question the existence of these so-called mantle plumes, contending that the lava must originate much nearer the surface. Check out their arguments at this site created by seismologist Gillian Foulger of Durham University in the U.K. The site features news articles about the controversy along with a slew of technical essays by Foulger and other plume skeptics, as well as a few supporters. The two sides also duke it out at this site from Britain's Geological Society.

  2. RESOURCES: Mad Cow Roundup

    Some diners may be shunning steaks, but the discovery last month of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a U.S. cow has whetted many people's appetites for information about the disease. This chapter from an online microbiology text introduces the set of lethal, brain-wrecking illnesses that includes BSE, fatal familial insomnia, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), one form of which spreads through meat from BSE-infected cattle (above). The primer also describes prions, rogue proteins hypothesized to trigger these illnesses by deforming a normal brain protein.

    Find out more about BSE and its human equivalent, variant CJD, at this site from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can read the case history of the only patient diagnosed with vCJD in the United States, a 22-year-old Florida resident who grew up in Britain and likely ate meat from an infected animal. For additional facts on the symptoms and neurological toll of vCJD, check out the site from the CJD Surveillance Unit, which tallies the number of cases in the United Kingdom. As of December 2003, doctors had identified 143 vCJD patients, 137 of whom had died.

  3. DATABASE: Bad Blood

    Diseases such as leukemia result from glitches in the control of hematopoiesis, the process that generates mature blood cells from stem cells. The new Hematopoietic Promoter Database, or HemoPDB, from Ohio State University gives cancer researchers information on 246 leukemia-and lymphoma-related genes from mice and humans.

    HemoPDB records the proteins that switch each gene on and off and the DNA sequences to which these proteins attach. Users can also find out each gene's function and the types of cells in which it is active. The scientists who assembled HemoPDB from the literature and Web sites hope it will help researchers pinpoint other genes that might be involved in blood cell development and disorders.

  4. LINKS: Splashy Headlines

    Instead of turning on CNN, water researchers looking for relevant news can browse this archive from the University of Arizona. Focusing on developments in arid and semiarid areas, the site provides English summaries of news stories and reports from more than 150 sources—from the New York Times to the Tehran Times. The 2-year-old collection now holds more than 7500 synopses, covering topics from waterborne diseases to desertification to the effect of global warming on water supplies.

  5. DATABASE: Getting to the Root of Gene Expression

    Researchers studying genes at work in the mustard plant Arabidopsis should check out AREX, a new gene-expression database sponsored by Philip Benfey's lab at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. AREX holds activity measurements from the lab's own experiments (Science, 12 December 2003, p. 1956) and from the literature, combining data from microarrays and other techniques. (Here, a glowing protein marks active genes in the root.) Users can glean information on a particular gene's activity in various cell or tissue types and at different developmental stages. The database will eventually include values for the aboveground parts of the plant as well as the root.