Science  04 Mar 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5714, pp. 1385

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  1. RESOURCES: Tallying Life Down Under

    Home to egg-laying platypuses, tree-climbing kangaroos, and 2-meter-long lizards, Australia has more than its share of biological oddities. The country's estimated 2 million kinds of plants, animals, and other creatures include plenty of less spectacular species, too. The taxonomic catalogs at this site from the Australian government's Department of Environment and Heritage in Canberra can help researchers sort through this prodigious diversity. The Fauna Online page directs you to species descriptions for many animal groups, providing distribution maps, notes on ecology, key references, and other information about organisms such as the giant cuttlefish (Sepia apama), which lives along much of the country's coast. The listings will eventually cover all Aussie animal species. The Flora Online page lets you search a similar catalog of plants, algae, and lichens.

  2. DATABASE: Breaking Down Diabetes

    The immune system runs amok in type I diabetes and rubs out insulin-making cells in the pancreas, sabotaging the body's ability to control glucose levels. The site T1DBase dispenses the latest information about genes implicated in this disease in rats, mice, and humans. Search the collection by chromosome or by name to dig up data about a particular gene. Plugging your selection into the tool Gbrowse lets you parse the gene's structure and see landmarks such as single nucleotide polymorphisms and repeated sequences. The entries also indicate which biochemical pathways the gene plays a role in and often provide measurements of its activity in different tissues. Another feature helps users sort through the sometimes-baffling genomic terminology by translating the various designations that different databases apply to the same genes. The site is sponsored by the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, Washington, and other organizations.

  3. WEB PROJECTS: Catch a Gravity Wave

    A new computer program allows you to discover gravitational waves from the comfort of your home. The program, called Einstein@Home, runs on idling personal computers and will analyze data from three observatories testing the central predictions of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

    The theory predicts that so-called gravitational waves should ripple outward from violent cosmic sources, such as colliding black holes. But the waves have never been detected directly. By parceling out the number crunching among participants' computers, Einstein@Home will search for a specific pattern of periodic gravitational waves produced by tiny spinning objects called neutron stars. Organizers hope to recruit at least 100,000 volunteers.

  4. EDUCATION: Science Video Store

    If you want to sit in on a lecture on buckyballs by chemist Harry Kroto or hear the late evolutionist John Maynard Smith's take on the origin of life, drop by this site from the Vega Science Trust, a nonprofit organization in the United Kingdom. Web viewers can screen more than 50 scientific programs—most aimed at college students or the general public—that range from interviews and lectures to roundtable discussions on issues such as the influence of genetics on personality. Visitors can also drop by a master class on states of matter or watch a documentary about a conference in which med students hobnob with Nobel laureates.

  5. RESOURCES: Eye on Mesoamerica

    You can keep a close watch on environmental changes in Central America at this new NASA Web site, created to inform researchers and the region's policymakers. SERVIR, based in the City of Knowledge, Panama, compiles satellite and other data to monitor weather, ocean conditions, and other variables. For instance, users can call up fresh measurements of ocean chlorophyll to check for the algal population explosions known as red tides. You can also pinpoint recent volcanic eruptions and earthquakes or track the latest fires.