NetWatch

Science  12 Aug 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5737, pp. 995
  1. EXHIBITS: Fun With Genetics

    Dive into a human skin cell and zoom in on a loop of DNA. Quiz an expert about the genetics of diseases such as lupus. Those are two of the activities you can try at Understanding Genetics from the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California. Interactive exhibits let you explore topics such as eye color inheritance and whether the produce in your refrigerator could be genetically modified. The museum's on-call geneticist discusses issues in the news and answers questions from readers, such as whether a vegan diet reduces your tolerance for milk. Probably not, because the gene for lactase, the enzyme that breaks down milk sugar, naturally shuts off as most people age, regardless of diet. But not drinking milk for a while might eliminate bacteria that help digest it.

    www.thetech.org/exhibits/online/ugenetics

  2. FUN: Putting a Kick Into Physics

    Unlike those aerial acrobats lofted by wires in martial arts movies, real kung fu experts depend on an implicit understanding of physics as they block and strike. For a lighthearted exploration of the connection between physics and martial arts, punch up the new exhibit Kung Fu Science from the Institute of Physics in London. Follow along as a physics student learns how to chop a board in half with her hand. Check out her calculations of how much energy her hand can apply to the wood, and then see if she can put the results into practice by breaking a stack of boards.

    http://www.kungfuscience.org/

  3. TOOLS: Snooping for SNPs

    The genome's typos, single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), are one-letter changes in DNA that can signal susceptibility to diseases. WatCut from the University of Waterloo in Canada helps pinpoint SNPs in DNA samples. Users enter a SNP-containing DNA sequence, and WatCut identifies restriction enzymes that will chop the segment. The site can also hunt for silent mutations that allow a restriction enzyme to slice a sequence but that don't change the amino acids the sequence codes for.

    watcut.uwaterloo.ca/watcut/watcut/template.php

  4. IMAGES: Portrait of the Heart

    Can't remember the location of the tricuspid valve? Need to know what an aortic aneurysm looks like on an echocardiogram? Click over to Introduction to Cardiothoracic Imaging from Yale University School of Medicine. Although aimed at medical students, the beautifully illustrated tutorial is a good resource for researchers or anyone else who wants to pump up their knowledge of heart and lung anatomy. Other sections use x-rays, echocardiogram footage, and other media to show how the structures change as a result of diseases such as emphysema and mitral stenosis, a narrowing of the opening between the left atrium and ventricle that can allow blood backflow. You'll also find a rundown of various imaging techniques.

    info.med.yale.edu/intmed/cardio/imaging

  5. RESOURCES: The Life Gelatinous

    The world's longest animals don't have a mouth bristling with baleen or even a skeleton. Reaching 40 meters, the record-holders are siphonophores, relatives of jellyfish and corals. Get a peek at the marine predators, such as the deep-sea resident Marrus orthocanna, with this primer* from Yale grad student Casey Dunn. A siphonophore is a squishy commune, made of multiple units called zooids, each of which resembles an individual animal. Pages explain how one zooid gives rise to a siphonophore's elongated body. The site also showcases a new deep-sea species, which Dunn and co-workers recently reported in Science, that lures its prey with glowing tentacles (8 July, p. 263).

    To snare more information about jellyfish and their kin, check out the Jellies Zone, from curatorial associate David Wrobel of Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. You can read up on groups of gelatinous creatures that live along the U.S. Pacific Coast, peruse a jellies FAQ, and browse galleries crammed with spectacular photos.

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