NetWatch

Science  02 Sep 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5740, pp. 1467
  1. EXHIBITS: First Impressions

    After their ships hove into Sydney Harbor in January of 1788, the first British colonists in Australia ran low on food and supplies. But they still managed to render some 600 drawings and paintings of the unexplored continent's landscape and natural history. Browse these early views of Oz at the First Fleet Artwork Collection from the Natural History Museum in London. The Rembrandt of the colony's artists is Thomas Watling, a trained painter who had previously applied his talent as a forger. For zoologists and botanists, the works capture some of the first views of Australia's unusual plants and animals. For anthropologists, illustrations such as a portrait of an aboriginal man named Balloderree provide the only records of the local Eora people, who died out within 20 years of the settlers' landing.

    internt.nhm.ac.uk/jdsml/nature-online/first-fleet/

  2. RESOURCES: Gauging Nanotech Risks

    From stain-resistant pants that repel liquids with tiny bristles to tennis rackets reinforced with carbon nanotubes, more products that rely on nanotechnology are hitting the market. But investigation of possible hazards from nanomaterials has lagged (Science, 1 July 2005, p. 36). To assess the state of the research, visit this new database of nanotech's risks. A joint project of the International Council on Nanotechnology and Rice University's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) in Houston, Texas, the site compiles abstracts for hundreds of nanoparticle-related environmental health and safety studies dating back to 1962. For example, you can locate recent papers on the possible harm to cells from quantum dots, minute semiconductor crystals deployed to pinpoint cancer, and track molecular movements. “The real value added here is that the research is being interpreted [and catalogued] by people who understand nanoparticles,” says Kevin Ausman, co-executive director of CBEN. Targeted initially at scientists, the database will eventually include summaries for the general public and the media.

    icon.rice.edu/research.cfm

  3. EDUCATION: Way Out Molecules

    Cloaked by an atmosphere teeming with methane, carbon monoxide, and many other molecules, Saturn's hefty moon Titan is an astrochemist's dream. But interesting compounds also linger elsewhere in space, as you can see at The Astrochymist created by David Woon of the Molecular Research Institute in Mountain View, California. Two tables summarize the molecules researchers have detected on our solar system's planets and moons. The tally for Titan, for example, stands at 14—more than twice as many as on Mars. Other listings furnish similar information about stars, comets, and interstellar space. The site also offers a news archive and an “astromolecule of the month” feature that profiles examples such as the reactive cyclopropenylidene, which might spawn other space compounds.

    www.molres.org/astrochymist/

  4. RESOURCES: A Drying Trend

    Seven years of below-normal precipitation have slashed the amount of water in the Missouri River by nearly one-third, threatening wildlife and disrupting transportation, power generation, and agriculture. Researchers and the general public can find out whether dry conditions will persist in the Midwest and elsewhere in the country at the Drought Monitor, hosted by the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. The site unites information from federal and academic sources to produce assessments of current drought conditions along with predictions. For example, experts foresee more rain across the Midwest but continuing drought in the Northwest.

    www.drought.unl.edu/dm/index.html

  5. DATABASE: Broken Genes

    Many changes, such as a lost DNA segment or stretches of flipped nucleotides, can corrupt genes and cause disease. The Human Gene Mutation Database, hosted by Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, identifies the errors that contribute to a long list of ailments—from the rare immune disorder Chediak-Higashi syndrome to common maladies such as type II diabetes. The expanding clearinghouse lists more than 47,000 disease-linked glitches in our DNA, all gleaned from published papers. Users can search the database by gene or by illness. The results, organized by type of mutation, connect to PubMed abstracts.

    www.hgmd.org/

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