Science  14 Jan 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5707, pp. 187

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  1. EXHIBITS: A Century of Relativity

    In 1905, 26-year-old patent clerk Albert Einstein showed that light consisted of particles, launched his theory of special relativity, and crushed the remaining doubts about the existence of atoms. Not too shabby for a part-time physicist whose parents had once fretted that he was dumb. Kick off the 100th anniversary of Einstein's “miraculous year” by visiting a newly revised exhibit on him from the American Institute of Physics (AIP). Along with a 100-page tour of his life and work, the site now holds essays by leading Einstein scholars, who explore topics such as the genesis of special relativity. Other new features include a revamped bibliography and a chronology of Einstein's achievements in 1905.

    The Einstein exhibit is one of 10 online displays from AIP's Center for History of Physics, covering subjects from nuclear researcher Werner Heisenberg to the history of the transistor. You can also browse more than 25,000 portraits, snapshots, and other images of physicists from the center's visual archive.

  2. DIRECTORIES: Is There a Cartographer in the House?

    Looking for maps that delineate recent outbreaks of potentially dangerous algae? How about county-by-county charts of infant mortality in the southern United States? At the portal, you can quickly find loads of mappable data mainly from the federal government. Whether it's the locations of wetlands or crop-growing conditions around the world, the site provides a brief description of the data set and a link to its home. Many of the original sites offer their own mapping features, but allows you to combine data sets from different sources.

  3. RESOURCES: Answering Age-Old Questions

    No mouse has survived longer than 5 years. A lucky lion might reach 30, and the oldest person on record was still enjoying the occasional glass of port until her death at age 122. How fast various organisms age boils down to differences in their genes. That's the premise of the 3-year-old Human Ageing Genomic Resources site, a collection of databases for teasing out genetic influences on aging.

    The site's centerpiece is a database that characterizes more than 200 genes linked—tenuously or strongly—to human aging. Each gene's file describes its protein product's function and relevance to aging, lists other proteins it mingles with, identifies corresponding genes in model organisms, and more. For researchers interested in comparative aging, another database tallies demographic and physiological variables such as record life span, basal metabolic rate, and maturation time for more than 2000 species. Project leader João Pedro de Magalhães, a Har vard postdoc, also runs the parent site, which brims with background information. You can compare theories for why organisms grow old or read about purported antiaging treatments. Don't celebrate just yet—none of them has been shown to work.

  4. DATABASE: Atomic Alter Egos

    Breaking up is easy to do for unstable isotopes such as uranium-235 and nitrogen-17. Everyone from nuclear engineers to health physicists can corral basic data about these fleeting isotopes and their more stable counterparts at NuDat from Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York. For nearly 3000 isotopes, the site records properties such as spin-parity, half-life, mass, and type of radioactive decay. To learn more about a particular breakdown, try the Decay Radiation function, which supplies values such as energy release and radiation dose.