Science  25 Feb 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5713, pp. 1177

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  1. EDUCATION: Physics Tutor

    Desperately seeking a tutorial on fractals, a graduate-level biophysics text, or a Web demonstration of Newton's laws of motion? Visit the Physical Sciences Resource Center, a collection of mostly free educational links compiled by the American Association of Physics Teachers. The clearinghouse spans the physical science universe—from quantum mechanics to meteorology to astronomy—and includes plenty of offerings for college and graduate classes. For example, firing up the math and physics Java applets created by software developer Paul Falstad of Minneapolis, Minnesota, lets students simulate everything from the orbitals of a hydrogen atom to interference between waves passing through two slits in a barrier.

  2. DATABASE: Genetics of Seizures

    The new database CarpeDB profiles some 400 genes linked to epilepsy in humans, mice, nematodes, and other organisms. Cody Locke, an undergraduate working with neurobiologists Guy and Kim Caldwell at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, compiled the collection for researchers studying the genetics of epilepsy and related conditions. Pick a gene such as ENFL2, which triggers nocturnal seizures, and you'll summon a virtual index card listing the gene's chromosomal location, the condition it contributes to, references, and other data. For further information, follow links to sites such as Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man and UniProt.

  3. TOOLS: Zooming In on SNPs

    The human genome teems with SNPs, single-letter changes in DNA that can increase susceptibility to diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's. For help viewing and tracking these variations, check out the new Genewindow from the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Genewindow is a DNA browser that lets you scroll through a particular gene nucleotide by nucleotide, identifying SNPs and other landmarks, such as protein-coding segments. You can also see how each SNP changes the sequence of the gene's protein. The tool requires the free Adobe SVG viewer and can be balky with some browsers.

  4. TOOLS: Digital Molecular Library

    To uncover compounds that might jam HIV's surface molecules or block a key enzyme in cancer cells, researchers can use computer programs that predict whether particular molecules fit together. But databases of candidate compounds for virtual screening are often expensive, a limitation that inspired chemists at the University of California, San Francisco, to launch the free database ZINC. The site holds three-dimensional versions of more than 2.7 million small molecules that users can plug into common structure-matching programs. The list comes from the catalogs of 10 chemical suppliers, so you can order promising compounds. ZINC can customize sets of molecules for testing, and a virtual sketchpad lets you specify substances that carry a particular chemical group.

  5. EXHIBIT: After the Double Helix

    “I have never seen Francis Crick in a modest mood,” James Watson declared in his controversial book The Double Helix. Regardless of whether the characterization was accurate, Crick (1916–2004) had plenty to be immodest about. As you can see at this new exhibit on his life from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Crick's contributions went far beyond co-discovering the structure of DNA.

    After helping set the research agenda for molecular biology's early years, Crick at age 60 launched a new career as a neuroscientist, theorizing about questions such as the origin of consciousness and the function of rapid eye movement sleep. Along with a biography that follows his professional zigzags, the site holds letters, papers, photos, and other memorabilia from a collection cached at the U.K.'s Wellcome Library. You can peruse an early sketch of the double helix, for example, or read a letter from chemist Linus Pauling chastising Crick for including too few hydrogen bonds in a paper on DNA. Also included is a 1979 composite photo showing Crick's animated lecture style.