NetWatch

Science  15 Jul 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5733, pp. 361
  1. IMAGES: Snakes Aloft

    Most snakes get around by crawling, but a few species, such as the paradise tree snake (Chrysopelea paradisi; above), take to the air. Learn more about these adventurous serpents at an image-packed site created by postdoc Jake Socha of Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. Native to southern Asia, the five species of flying snakes can't gain altitude like a bird or bat. Instead, they launch themselves into the air and parachute, flattening their bodies to slow their descent. Herpetologists aren't sure why the snakes adopted the aerial habit—perhaps to avoid predators or pursue prey. The site showcases photos and videos of the reptiles flinging themselves from high perches.

    http://www.flyingsnake.org/

  2. TOOLS: Choose Your Rat

    Whether you're probing the genetics of diabetes or dissecting the neural basis of learning, you'll find guidance on picking the best rat strain for your work at this site from Kyoto University in Japan. Users can compare more than 100 inbred lines on dozens of anatomical, physiological, and behavioral characteristics, from forelimb grip strength to blood cholesterol to memory retention time. Another tool lets visitors chart the genetic differences among strains based on 357 markers known as simple sequence length polymorphisms.

    www.anim.med.kyoto-u.ac.jp/nbr/home.htm

  3. DATABASE: Visualizing Eye Diseases

    Students and researchers studying eye diseases might want to focus on this new pathology collection from the U.S. National Eye Institute (NEI). The database presents 1040 case descriptions of eye illnesses, injuries, and disorders gathered by the late David Cogan, an ophthalmologist at Harvard Medical School and NEI. Examples range from cataracts to a parasitic worm infestation of the retina. Featuring more than 3000 photos, the collection is particularly strong on certain topics such as the retinal degeneration spurred by diabetes. You can search the cases by location in the eye, diagnosis, and type of tissue abnormality.

    vision4.nei.nih.gov/Cogan/index.jsp

  4. EDUCATION: Meeting of the Molecules

    From crystallization to protein folding, basic biological and chemical processes depend on interactions among atoms and molecules. High school and beginning college students can study and manipulate these liaisons at Molecular Logic from the Concord Consortium, an educational nonprofit based in Massachusetts. A database furnishes scores of interactive activities that run with free software available from the site. For example, by moving a virtual protein from water to oil, users can observe how the type of solution modifies the molecule's folding. In water, hydrophobic amino acids jostle to reach the molecule's interior, but in oil the hydrophilic amino acids seek the center. Students can also explore the basis for techniques such as electrophoresis and Southern blotting.

    molo.concord.org

  5. EDUCATION: Earth, the Early Years

    It's hard enough to remember what you did last Wednesday afternoon, let alone what happened during the Jurassic period. Geologic Time, a new interactive timeline from the Smithsonian Institution, offers a handy reference on the different stages of Earth's past. The site spotlights the geological and biological events of the different eons, eras, periods, and epochs. For example, you can leap back to the Archean Eon, which lasted from 4 billion to 2.5 billion years ago, when life originated and today's continents formed. Photo albums display representative rocks and fossils from each time. While Allosaurus and other dinosaurs stalked the land during the Jurassic, ammonites, relatives of today's squid, plied the seas. The site also includes backgrounders on concepts such as radioactive dating and plate tectonics.

    www.nmnh.si.edu/paleo/geotime

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