Science  08 Jul 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5732, pp. 225

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  1. FUN: How Does Your Garden Grow?

    If snails or slugs are chomping your garden, offer them a beer. Attracted to yeast in the liquid, the mollusks will trail right into a dish of beer and drown, sparing your garden from their depredations. Other seemingly strange plant-care suggestions, such as composting nail clippings, also get the thumbs up at the Science of Gardening, a new exhibit from the Exploratorium in San Francisco, California. With the museum's usual flair, the site harvests tidbits on everything from the bacteria that maintain soil fertility to the origins of our modern plant varieties. Iceberg lettuce's firm, round head allows it to endure rough handling during harvest and transportation, for example. A clever section explores the relationship between plants and their pollinators with mock love letters between the parties—followed by a scientific explanation of what's happening. “You appeared in the thousand facets of my eyes” reads a letter from a bumblebee to a lavender flower.

  2. EDUCATION: Cleaning Up Chemistry

    Today, even chemists who can't keep their lawn alive can have a green thumb. Green chemistry is a growing movement to reduce industry's use of hazardous raw materials and release of noxious byproducts. Teachers looking for lab and classroom resources on green chemistry can drop by this new directory from the University of Oregon, Eugene. The site links to lab procedures, tutorials, and Environmental Protection Agency software for identifying green chemicals and reactions. For example, a novel procedure for bleaching paper replaces chlorine—which spawns toxins such as dioxin—with hydrogen peroxide, which breaks down into water and oxygen. Listings also include abstracts of articles in the Journal of Chemical Education.

  3. DATABASE: Reading Between the Lines

    Cancer biologists rely on immortal populations of tumor cells to uncover the mechanisms behind uncontrolled growth and test potential new drugs. But these cell lines, which are passed from lab to lab, might have picked up fresh DNA glitches over the years, and different lines might have mixed with cells from other sources. Now, a team at the Sanger Institute in the U.K. that has been working to characterize more than 600 cell lines has released its first data. The collection indicates which of four major genes involved in cancer, including the tumor-fighter p53, is faulty in each of the lines. Visitors can also peruse a list of lines that are likely descended from each other and find out whether a line has lost copies of a particular gene.

  4. IMAGES: Watch the Skies

    A pair of swirly lenticular clouds hovers over the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Often mistaken for UFOs by the gullible, the oval clouds condense on the downwind sides of mountains as speeding air crosses the summit. You'll find hundreds more shots of weather, natural disasters, pollution, and related subjects at this gallery from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. Follow a tornado slashing across north Texas, watch a tropical downpour in Africa, or see an eroded Hawaiian beach. Visitors can use the images free for education or research.

  5. EXHIBITS: Body Works

    The 16th through 19th centuries were a boom time for anatomy, as doctors began to apply scientific methods to analyze human structure. Anatomical illustration also blossomed as artists strove for greater accuracy, added color, and burnished their craft in other ways. Anatomia, an online exhibit from the University of Toronto Libraries in Canada, showcases this period with 4500 medical plates from 95 texts published between 1522 and 1867. Included are views of the jaw which come from the 1778 version of The Natural History of the Human Teeth by the British “surgeon extraordinary” John Hunter (1728-1793), who minted the terms “molar,” “incisor,” and “bicuspid.” Some illustrations are interactive: For instance, you can open the heart to see its internal architecture.