Science  01 Oct 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5693, pp. 25

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  1. DATABASE: Journey to the Cell's Core

    The cell's nucleus is more than just a hangout for DNA. Swarms of proteins congregate there as well, duplicating DNA, bundling it into chromosomes, and performing numerous other jobs. Track down information on these molecules at the Nuclear Protein Database from the MRC Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh, U.K. Pick one of the more than 1200 human and mouse proteins found in the nucleus, and you'll discover links to sequence data and PubMed abstracts on its function and location. But the highlight of the site is the backgrounders that describe the proteins housed in different parts of the nucleus. For example, you can peek into the nuclear splicing speckles, which stow proteins that edit newborn RNA strands.

    That the nucleus bustles with activity shows through in the dozens of movies you can screen at, a portal created by Michael Hendzel of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and colleague David Pulak. Watch the tiny fibers called microtubules nudging the nucleus around, or catch the chromosomes “decondensing” after cell division. Visitors can also bone up on lab protocols, learn which antibodies work best for visualizing the nuclear goings-on, or study a wealth of tutorials.

  2. EDUCATION: The Physics Answer Man

    How do those parabolic microphones that TV networks use at football games work? Stained glass windows in cathedrals are often thicker at the bottom than at the top. Is the glass oozing downward? Find the answers to these and many other puzzlers at How Things Work from University of Virginia, Charlottesville, physicist Louis Bloomfied.

    For 8 years, Bloomfield has explained the science behind everyday technology to stumped grade-school students, professionals, and consumers besieged by dubious-sounding sales pitches. Their inquiries are equally diverse, ranging from how rockets fly to how paper towels absorb water. For example, Bloomfield writes that stained glass doesn't flow; medieval glassmakers couldn't produce uniform sheets, and the panes were usually installed with the thick edge down. And the curved surface of a parabolic microphone ensures that the sound waves it picks up are in phase, thus amplifying the volume.

  3. LINKS: Life Sciences at Your Fingertips

    Biology Browser can help you track down information on brown tree snake control in Guam, plan your itinerary for the next big meeting on computers in biology, or find out how air pollution affects flowering times in plants. The life sciences community site and links archive from BIOSIS, a database publisher now owned by Thompson, also links to BIOSIS's zoology teaching resources page (NetWatch, 20 June 2003, p. 1855). You can connect to more than 24,000 biology Web sites, from a dictionary of fern terminology to a database of gene-frequency data for different human populations. And the site includes a rundown of hundreds of upcoming conferences as well as links to news stories on fresh research.