NetWatch

Science  15 Sep 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5793, pp. 1547
  1. DATABASES: Tropical Trove

    Last year, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama posted its 20-year archive of tree census data (NetWatch, 22 April 2005, p. 475). Now, the institute has launched a bioinformatics clearinghouse that provides access to more researchers' data sets, photos, and other resources. If you're curious about plants such as Tabebuia, a genus of hardy tropical trees, the site's herbarium offers a taxonomic database; an identification key and photo gallery are in the works. The physical monitoring page connects to meteorological and hydrological measurements for eight sites in the country. Browse the species list for the Bocas del Toro station on the Caribbean coast to see photos of creatures such as the iridescent queen angelfish (Angel reina).

    biogeodb.stri.si.edu/bioinformatics

  2. AUDIO: Sounds of Silence

    Lightning in Saturn's atmosphere sounds like raindrops pattering on leaves, and the microwave radiation left over from the big bang is reminiscent of a vacuum cleaner running in the next room. These two sites let you listen to space, offering recordings of unearthly noises and various types of energy translated into frequencies we can hear. At Spacesounds,* a commercial site created by artists and scientists, you can tune in to the magnetosphere of Jupiter's moon Ganymede, the Vela pulsar, and other objects. Space-flight devotees can play hours of communications between ground control and the crews of the Apollo, Gemini, Mercury, and space-shuttle missions. The squeaks, chirps, roars, and other noises at Space Audio from the University of Iowa in Iowa City sound like they came from a David Lynch movie.

  3. FUN: Nobel Prize Handicapping

    The first of this year's Nobel prizes won't be announced until 2 October, but the prognosticating has already begun. This site from the publisher Thomson Scientific predicts contenders for the science awards. The company's experts factor in variables such as the number of highly cited papers and whether the candidate has already nabbed another significant prize. Of Thomson's 27 picks since 2002, four have won the Nobel. An online poll lets visitors vote for their favorites. In the chemistry category, for instance, three researchers who probed the roles of nuclear hormone receptors had the edge last week.

    www.scientific.thomson.com/nobel

  4. RESOURCES: A Marsh Reborn

    The Middle East's largest wetlands, the sprawling marshes near the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq were once home to about 500,000 people. But the ecosystem withered because of upstream water diversions and Saddam Hussein, who ordered the wetlands drained to suppress dissent in southern Iraq (Science February 2005, p. 1186). This site from the U.N. Environment Programme follows the progress of a project to restore the parched area begun after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. At the time, the wetlands' original 20,000 square kilometers had dwindled by more than 90%. But by this June, they had rebounded to about 60% of their previous size. The site offers satellite land cover maps and progress reports that track water extent and vegetation regrowth.

    imos.grid.unep.ch

  5. SOFTWARE: Metabolic Networking

    Molecular biologists can turn their genomic or proteomic data into maps of metabolic pathways with this program from SRI International of Menlo Park, California. The nonprofit institute's BioCyc Web site (NetWatch, 30 January 2004, p. 601) houses metabolic diagrams for more than 200 species. Researchers can download a software bundle that creates similar figures for their own organisms, using gene-expression results and other types of data. You can animate the diagrams to reflect changes over time. The program is free to academic researchers who request it.

    biocyc.org/download.shtml

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