NetWatch

Science  24 Dec 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5705, pp. 2167
  1. WEB LOGS: Sifting for Truth About Global Warming

    Frustrated by Web sites claiming to debunk global warming, several scientists this month launched their own blog on the evidence that humans are heating up the planet. Realclimate.org is hosted by a public relations firm called Environmental Media Services, but nine academic and government scientists write the content, says co-organizer Gavin Schmidt of NASA (speaking in a personal capacity). They hope to counter industry-supported sites such as http://www.co2science.org/ and http://www.junkscience.com/, where so-called experts “have a habit of seriously misquoting, distorting, and outright manipulating data,” says Schmidt.

    So far, the site has addressed topics such as why the heat generated by large cities makes only a minuscule contribution to surface warming and the flaws in Michael Crichton's latest novel, State of Fear, which dismisses global warming as hype. Visitors can chime in, but comments are screened before they're posted.

    http://www.realclimate.org/

  2. NET NEWS: HapMap Lifts Data Restrictions

    A global project to map human genetic variation has fully opened its data to the public. The International HapMap Consortium is sequencing the DNA of 270 people from four populations to map common patterns of mutations (Science, 21 November 2003, p. 1305). Because of concerns that someone might try to patent the data, the project had required users downloading results on individuals to sign a nonexclusive license agreement. But enough human variation information is now publicly available that patenting is no longer a worry, organizers say. The removal of restrictions now means other genome databases, such as Ensembl, can fold HapMap findings into their sites.

    http://www.hapmap.org/

  3. TOOLS: Cartography of Pollution

    Wondering which factories have trimmed their emissions of lead the most over the last decade? Want to find out how much benzene has been escaping from the refinery down the road? Visit TOXMAP, a new site from the National Library of Medicine that lets you chart values from the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory. The annual report tallies U.S. emissions of some 650 hazardous chemicals into the air, water, and soil. Using TOXMAP, you can pinpoint pollution sources or map up to 15 years of data to identify emission trends. For example, this map (above) indicates release of formaldehyde in 2002, compared to the average for the years 1987–2001. The red triangles denote sources whose output climbed the most.

    toxmap.nlm.nih.gov/toxmap/main/index.jsp

  4. DATABASE: Genes on the Brain

    Researchers are just beginning to decipher how differences in gene activity allow different parts of the brain to recall memories, sense pain, move limbs, and carry out other jobs. A new atlas aims to provide a picture of gene expression throughout the brain for the most common lab mouse strain. The ambitious project—aimed at neuroscientists, drug designers, behavioral geneticists, and other experts—is one of the first fruits of the Seattle, Washington-based Allen Institute for Brain Science, launched last year with seed money from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (Science, 19 September 2003, p. 1642). This month's initial data release consists of brain slices stained to indicate activity levels of 2000 genes. Users can voyage through the brain slice by slice, zooming in on particular cells and superimposing slices from different structures to compare expression patterns. The institute plans to post results for the remaining 18,000 or so mouse genes by the end of 2006.

    http://www.brainatlas.org/

  5. SOFTWARE: Genome Speed-Reading

    A free program from the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, can help researchers locate genes and determine their functions in freshly sequenced genomes. Known as Argo, the new software makes it easy to compare notations about DNA landmarks, such as segments that might code for a piece of a protein, identified by automated genome-parsing programs. Argo-nauts can zoom in on these features and craft hypotheses about how they mesh to form a working gene. Another feature lets visitors analyze sequences from different species side by side.

    www.broad.mit.edu/annotation/argo

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