Science  11 Mar 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5715, pp. 1539

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  1. COMMUNITY SITE: Racing Light

    Particles whipping around inside an accelerator fire off x-rays and infrared andultravioletlight. Once dismissed as an annoyance, these intense beams now help researchers probe protein structure, gauge the strength of materials, and tackle many other questions. The new site, sponsored by 17 accelerator facilities, serves as a meeting place for scientists who work with so-called synchrotron light. By paging through a directory, visitors can find out how to sign up for beam time at, say, the Advanced Light Source in Berkeley, California, or the Photon Factory in Japan. The site also rounds up a wealth of resources, from a phone book of European crystallographers to a database for comparing 3D protein structures, and includes a gallery of images such as a diamond-anvil cell for analyzing samples at high pressure.

  2. EXHIBITS: The Sum of Human Knowledge

    Twenty-six years in the making, the Encyclopédie (1751–1777) ranks as one of the intellectual landmarks of the Enlightenment. The work's main editor, the French philosopher and gadfly Denis Diderot (1713–1784), sought not only to summarize human learning but also to foster critical thinking. Thanks to volunteer translators, you can now read more than 100 of the Encyclopédie articles at this site from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Translated scientific articles touch on everything from alchemy to probability to the natural history of raccoons. Some entries attempt to reason through questions we're still pondering today, such as whether life exists elsewhere in the solar system. The moon lacks an atmosphere, Jupiter appears too turbulent, and comets undergo temperature extremes, the author concludes: “What living bodies would be able to withstand that extraordinary heat on one hand and extreme cold on the other?”

  3. TOOLS: Only Connect

    Tracing the interacting molecules that keep a cell running is trickier than keeping track of all the characters in Tolstoy's War and Peace. Puzzled readers can turn to Cliffs Notes, while researchers can keep their biochemical networks straight with Cytoscape, a free program for charting and analyzing inter-related genes, proteins, and other molecules. Created by the Institute for Systems Biology, the University of California, San Diego, and other organizations, the software lets users feed in their own data or standard files of molecular interactions from sites such as BIND. The program weaves the information into a map of molecular relationships. Cytoscape can also accept data on gene activity determined by microarrays, allowing users to infer hypotheses about which pathway produces a particular gene-expression pattern.

  4. DATABASE: Standard of Normalcy

    Some genes crank up their activity in illnesses such as cancer and atherosclerosis, while others get lazy. To identify these changes in activity patterns, researchers need to know how hard the genes work in healthy tissue. Aimed at cancer researchers, drug designers, and other scientists, the new Oncogenomics Normal Tissue Database from the National Cancer Institute provides the baseline data for comparison. After completing a free registration, users can delve into expression results for nearly 19,000 genes in 19 organs, from the adrenal glands to the uterus. The collection caches microarray measurements on fresh tissue samples from apparently hale people who died between the ages of 3 months and 39 years, and the gene roster includes most of the ones that keep cells operating.

  5. IMAGES: What the Bees See

    To our eyes, a narcissus flower looks uniformly yellow, but a camera that captures ultraviolet (UV) light reveals the flower's speckles, streaks, and splashes. Many flowers use these hidden patterns to signal bees and other pollinators, which can detect UV light. For a bee's-eye view of more than 100 plant varieties, check out this gallery from Bjørn Rørslett, a retired water scientist and photographer from Oslo, Norway. A geranium's “bull's-eye” pattern, for example, functions like the runway lights at an airport, guiding approaching insects to a touchdown at the flower's center, where nectar and pollen await.