Science  23 Apr 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5670, pp. 495
  1. EXHIBITS: The Bomb's Conflicted Father

    Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904–1967) was a theoretician who managed the secret laboratory that developed the atomic bomb. He was a hard-nosed scientist who liked to quote the English poet John Donne and the Hindu holy book the Bhagavad-Gita. He became the U.S. government's top atomic adviser, but the FBI shadowed him and tapped his phone. Launched to mark Oppenheimer's 100th birthday on 22 April, this new site from the University of California, Berkeley, lets you explore the contradictions and controversies of his life. Follow Oppenheimer's early struggles and later triumphs in graduate school, his work with the Manhattan Project, and his failed postwar campaign for international controls on atomic weapons. The site also lays out the convoluted series of events that led the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to revoke his security clearance in late 1953.

    Visitors can watch video from The Day After Trinity, a documentary about the making of the A-bomb, and peruse documents and period photos.

  2. WEB TEXTS: The Psych Shelf

    Instead of buying a boxed set, psychologists eager to read their field's classics can visit this online library from York University in Toronto, Canada. The site offers more than 200 full-text papers and books by pioneers such as Sigmund Freud, B. F. Skinner, and William James. Check out the autobiography of Stanford psychologist Lewis Terman, who coined the term “IQ,” or peruse Ivan Pavlov's lectures on conditioned reflexes. Some texts reflect early psychology's dark infatuation with eugenics, such as Henry Goddard's 1913 The Kallikak Family, which advocates sterilizing and incarcerating the “feeble-minded.”

  3. DATABASE: Aliens on the Rampage

    Released into Australia to control beetles that were ravaging sugar cane, the voracious cane toad (Bufo marinus) became a pest itself and is spreading relentlessly across the northern part of the country. Invasive species such as the cane toad, a native of Central and South America, are wreaking ecological havoc around the globe. This new catalog from the World Conservation Union keeps tabs on the interlopers, profiling 130-and-counting species. You can find out where they came from, how they spread, their impact on the environment, and what control measures have been tried. For example, cane toads, which gobble almost any animal they can stuff into their gullet, are displacing native amphibians, and their deadly toxins might take a toll on predators.

    The toad also makes the site's dishonor roll of the most destructive invasives. The list includes the brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis), which has wiped out most of the native birds on Guam, and the bush currant (Miconia calvescens), which is taking over Tahiti's forests.

  4. TOOLS: Watch for Falling Rocks

    Space chunks the size of a basketball slam into Earth more than once a month, whereas boulders big enough to level Manhattan hit about every million years. This new calculator from researchers at the University of Arizona, Tucson, lets you determine the destructive power of such collisions. It estimates the blast's impact from variables such as the size of the object, its trajectory and composition, and your distance from ground zero. For example, an iron-rich meteorite 10 meters in diameter landing 20 kilometers from your home would rattle windows and produce a boom as loud as heavy traffic. An object 1 kilometer across—about one-tenth the size of the asteroid that snuffed out the dinosaurs—falling the same distance away would wrench and topple buildings; the resulting fireball would severely burn anyone in your neighborhood, just before a shower of debris buried them.

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