Science  03 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5761, pp. 585

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  1. COMMUNITY SITE: Stem Cell Central

    Human embryonic stem cells excite researchers because they can theoretically diversify into any tissue in the body. But the existing stem cell lines were grown under a variety of conditions—some came from frozen embryos, some didn't, for instance—that could affect their performance. Researchers can nab up-to-date information on available lines at the Stem Cell Community, a year-old site from the Burnham Institute in San Diego, California. After completing the free registration, visitors can scan a database that describes more than 240 stem cell lines, including 53 approved for study with U.S. government funds. Users will find information such as where the cells came from, what protein markers they sport, whether they've ever been frozen, and whether they were nurtured with mouse feeder cells. Site co-curator Jeanne Loring says that to fill out the cell portraits, she and her colleagues are gathering microarray measurements of gene activity, data on genetic variability, and other information. The site also includes a Community Information section where you can track down courses on rearing stem cells or peruse a news archive.

  2. RESOURCES: Mammals in Print

    Since 1969, the American Society of Mammalogists has published 20 to 30 species accounts each year that cover taxonomy, anatomy, ecology, and other aspects of the animals' biology. At this site from series editor Virginia Hayssen of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, you can download PDFs of these definitive references for more than 700 species. The animals featured include the snow leopard (Uncia uncial) of central Asia and the naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber) of eastern Africa, which dwells in colonies similar to those of bees and ants.

  3. WEB LOGS: Opinion Buffet

    Craving a discussion of the greatest physics experiments of all time? Hungry to know how computer-generated animation can more realistically depict emotions? Tuck into this new blog smorgasbord from Seed magazine. The site serves up 15 scientific and science-related columns on topics as diverse as research ethics, evolutionary biology, and disease. Contributors include a cognitive scientist and her husband, a tenure-track physicist, and a former Senate staffer with a Ph.D. in geophysics.

  4. RESOURCES: Quaking 'Round the Clock

    This newly upgraded seismic monitoring site from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will shorten the delay for obtaining earthquake data. USGS's National Earthquake Center now has researchers on duty around the clock to help speed measurements to the Web. Before, impatient users sometimes had to wait up to 2 hours after a quake to view online reports, but now information on temblors anywhere in the world will post within 30 minutes, says Webmaster Lisa Wald. Click on U.S. or global maps to find out the depth, strength, and location for events within the past week. Other report features include seismic hazard maps that indicate the peak ground acceleration during the quake. Visitors can dig up plenty of other information on recent and historic quakes. A shake map, for instance, depicts the maximum ground velocity after a magnitude 3.3 temblor last month near Victoria, Canada.

  5. TOOLS: Tracing Genetic Wrongdoers

    Geneticists have pinpointed the genes responsible for diseases such as cystic fibrosis, but for other illnesses, researchers only know the chromosome region where the gene lurks. GeneSeeker from Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands, can help narrow the list of potential culprits. The search engine combs 10 databases that contain information on gene location, activity, and effects, including Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man, Swiss-Prot, and the Mouse Genome Database. Users pick a chromosome location linked to a condition, such as cataracts or cleft palate, and then specify an organ or structure in which the gene should be active. The results list genes that match the criteria, along with near misses, such as genes that fall in the right region but don't show the correct expression pattern.