Science  27 Jan 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5760, pp. 445
  1. PUBLICATIONS: Natural History Goes Digital

    No more leafing through musty volumes or racing to the library just before closing time—at least if you're looking for publications from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. This new virtual bookshelf lets you download all back and current issues for four of the museum's scientific titles, including its Bulletin and Novitates series. Housing papers from 1881 to the present, the archive encompasses paleontology, geology, systematics, and other fields. For instance, you'll find anthropologist Franz Boas's 1909 observations of the Kwakiutl people of Vancouver Island, Canada, and several works by evolutionist Stephen J. Gould.

  2. WEB TEXT: Metals With Mettle

    “Organometallic” sounds like a description of the Terminator, but to chemists it denotes molecules that contain metal-carbon bonds—such as tetraethyl lead, the antiknock compound once used in gasoline. Undergraduates and others who need a refresher can consult the Organometallic HyperTextBook by Rob Toreki, a former chemistry professor at the University of Kentucky who now runs Internet start-ups. Some 40 chapters plumb the structure of these molecules and reactions such as olef in metathesis, a means of rear ranging carbon double bonds using organometallic catalysts that earned last year's Nobel Prize in chemistry. Because organometallics often serve as catalysts, the site explains how a molecule's structure shapes the products. In a tricyclohexylphosphine complex, for instance, an organic cap partially obstructs one end of the metal (large purple ball), which restricts its reacting with other molecules.

  3. FUN: Round and Round They Go

    NASA's Satellite Tracking page is a boon for backyard astronomers and anyone who's curious about objects in the sky. The site's Java applets help users keep tabs on some of the more than 8000 human-made structures orbiting Earth. A two-dimensional map shows the current positions of the international space station, Chandra X-ray Observatory, and a swarm of satellites. Click on the map to find out when a particular craft will pass overhead. Or for a 3D view, select the J-Track feature, which displays the orbits of some 700 satellites. Another applet pinpoints satellites that will be visible from your home tonight.

  4. DATABASE: Taking the Polar Pulse

    Canada harbors the second largest store of permanent ice in the Northern Hemisphere, and half of the country's land remains frozen year-round. All that frosty water influences weather patterns and ocean circulation and provides a sensitive indicator of climate change. Check out current ice status and follow historical trends at the State of the Canadian Cryosphere, hosted by the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

    The cryosphere refers to ice and snow accumulations and includes glaciers, polar ice caps, and permafrost. A slew of maps and other graphics on the site provides snapshots of cryospheric conditions. You can get the latest measurements of Canada's snow cover and find out which lakes are frozen over. Animations track recent changes in the sea ice around the North Pole. To put the information in context, the site summarizes past variability and offers projections. The area covered by sea ice, for instance, has hit a record low due to rising temperatures, and models predict further shrinking.

  5. DATABASE: Cancer's Red Flags

    Although cancer cells aren't foreign invaders, the immune system recognizes molecules they carry and attacks. Researchers hope that identifying these targets, or antigens, might help them devise cancer vaccines. Visitors can track down many of the antigens from abnormal cells that trigger an immune response at the Cancer Immunome Database, hosted by the international Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. Free registration lets you peruse findings from a project that began in the 1990s and tested blood serum from cancer patients for antibodies against proteins from a variety of tumors. You can search for data on more than 1000 genes or narrow the results by tissue or cancer type. Users can also add their results to the collection.

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