NetWatch

Science  06 Oct 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5796, pp. 27
  1. WEB PROJECTS: Recalled to Life

    Extinction isn't forever, at least on the Internet. After vanishing briefly, a popular fossil encyclopedia known as Palaeos has reappeared as a user-written wiki.* Paleontology buffs Toby Young and M. Alan Kazlev launched the trove of information on life's history 4 years ago, exploring topics as diverse as systematics techniques and the Cenozoic era (65 million years ago to the present), when mastodons stomped around North America. But Palaeos went offline this spring because it required too much work. Bloggers lamented, so Kazlev started a wiki. Users are invited to help transfer information from the old site and revamp the content. To browse the remains of the old Palaeos, click here.

  2. RESOURCES: Bioinformatics for Dummies

    Want a rundown on the differences between the UniProt, PROSITE, and PDB protein databases? Wondering how to find a paper that doesn't show up in PubMed? Try a session with the 2can primer from the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in Hinxton, U.K. The site guides newbies and intermediate users who want a little help through a host of databases, online tools, and additional resources from EBI and other institutions. In the databases section, for example, you can learn when you might need PROSITE. It's useful for analyzing new proteins because it organizes molecules by characteristic sequences, or motifs, that can point to their functions. The tutorials pages offer detailed how-tos on several EBI programs.

    www.ebi.ac.uk/2can/home.html

  3. TOOLS: Weighing the Alternatives

    Yield isn't everything when choosing how to synthesize an organic compound. Safety, cost of raw materials, the ease of isolating the products, and other considerations matter, too. To help evaluate these factors, fire up the calculator EcoScale, devised by chemists in Belgium, the United States, and Switzerland. Users key in the reactants, products, and details of the procedure, such as whether it requires specialized glassware or high pressure. EcoScale then rates each reaction from 0 to 100. Risky protocols reduce the scores by the largest amount. Explosive reagents blast 10 points off the final tally, for example.

    http://www.ecoscale.org/

  4. IMAGES: Time for a Close-Up

    A freshwater shrimp (Macrobrachium amazonium) goggles at the camera through a square pupil. The shot by photographer Alex Griman of São Paulo, Brazil, nabbed one of the top places in this year's Small World contest, sponsored by the camera company Nikon. Held annually since 1974, the competition showcases photographic artistry through the microscope. Visitors can browse a gallery of this year's best submissions or check out previous winners. Peruse the backgrounders if you're curious about winning techniques such as stereomicroscopy, which Griman used to capture the shrimp image.

    www.nikonsmallworld.com/index.php

  5. EXHIBITS: Building a Better ...

    Vannevar Bush (1890–1974) made magazine covers for directing the United States's scientific efforts during World War II. But he was also an inventor whose differential analyzer was a mechanical forerunner of the computer. At this site from the National Inventors Hall of Fame* in Akron, Ohio, you can read more about Bush and other scientists and engineers whose innovations had an impact. The hall inducts a new class of inventors every year. This year's honorees include the German chemist Fritz Haber (1868–1934), who discovered a method for making ammonia to produce fertilizer, and modern inventors such as Robert Gore, who created the waterproof fabric GORE-TEX. You'll find similar profiles at the Inventor of the Week archive from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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