Science  20 May 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5725, pp. 1093

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  1. COMMUNITY SITE: Feeding Africa

    Africa is the continent with the fastest-growing population, and researchers working on ways to hike food production there will find plenty to chew on at African Crop Improvement. The home page of a Rockefeller Foundation research grants program, the site offers a bumper crop of information on the needs of African agriculture, biotechnology, and related topics. Backgrounders on important crops such as bananas, cassava, and sorghum describe the plant's origins and uses and identify research priorities. For example, the main limit on cassava production comes from the virus-caused cassava mosaic disease. Links include the bean and millet genome projects. A news section posts media reports and press releases on the latest developments, and you can share ideas with fellow researchers on the new message board.

  2. LINKS: Garden of Cyber Delights

    It's a jungle out there on the Web, especially if you're hunting for good plant resources. This federal government portal cuts a path to hundreds of quality botany Web sites. The annotated links—from a single page on paleobotany to an algae taxonomy database—include many useful sites for teachers and researchers. Check out the anatomy of a fern's leaf, learn about the diseases of forage crops, or read Gregor Mendel's original 1865 paper on plant hybridization that revolutionized genetics.

  3. IMAGES: The Art of the Small

    Are these shapes the latest fashion in southern California roof tiles, or maybe something from a lizard's back? Neither. The multicolored objects are the delicate scales on a butterfly's wing, which refract light to create an iridescent sheen. This shot is one of many striking photos hanging in the online galleries of the Micropolitan Museum. The site, hosted by the British portal Microscopy-UK, displays the work of Wim van Egmond, an artist and photographer in the Netherlands. He has trained his camera on everything from pond-dwelling water mites to the glasslike skeleton of a sponge to mats of cyanobacteria. Learn more about some of these creatures by linking to the magazine Micscape, which features articles written by enthusiasts of the small.

  4. EDUCATION: Death by Design

    Every day millions of our cells kill themselves and biologists say, “Thank goodness.” Known as apoptosis, this methodical self-slaughter helps defend against cancer, lets the brain make the right connections during development, and contributes to many other body activities. Newbies can absorb the basics of the process with this pair of tutorials.

    Videos of suicidal cells and images such as the “death receptor” add panache to the primer* by postdoc Phil Dash of St. George's Hospital Medical School in London. Embedded in a cell's membrane, the receptor picks up the suicide signal and unleashes enzymes called caspases, which help orchestrate the cell's demise. Learn about the survival pathways that spare cells and read about diseases in which control of apoptosis falters at this site from graduate student Alasdair Laurie of the University of Leeds, U.K. Too little apoptosis lets tumors run amok, and too much depletes needed cells in Huntington's disease and AIDS.

  5. FUN: Inside the Box

    If you're wondering what goes on in a CD burner or how the drug Botox erases wrinkles, check out How Stuff Works. The commercial site is packed with ads, but beyond them you'll find hundreds of brief articles on autos, electronics, health, and science (mostly written by nonscientists). Brush up on how fuel cells work, read about the chemicals inside fireworks, or get a quick overview of diabetes. Unlike CDs you buy, which have tiny bumps indicating 0s and 1s, a home CD burner encodes data by relying on a layer of material that turns dark when a laser passes over it.