Science  25 Aug 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5790, pp. 1023

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  1. TOOLS: Get the Drift

    Animations and diagrams can provide a rough guide to continental movements over time. But for a more precise picture, head for the Plate Tectonic Reconstruction Service from the Ocean Drilling Stratigraphic Network, a consortium sponsored by two German universities. The calculator determines continental locations at any time in the last 150 million years. The basic mapper plots plate positions at a specific time, and the advanced mapper lets you enter the coordinates of a modern site and find its location at different points in the past. Forwardthinking users can even project future plate movements.

  2. LINKS: The Making of Medicine

    Curious about what kinds of parasites might have tormented Louis XIV? Want to learn about skull surgery in ancient Mesoamerica or how the PET scanner was invented? A good starting point is the History of Biomedicine, a virtual encyclopedia from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden that corrals links to hundreds of Web pages. The offerings follow the rise of Western medicine and science from the ancient Greeks to the 21st century, and include sections on other cultures such as China. You can connect to writings by figures such as the sanitary reformer Edwin Chadwick, whose 1842 report on the condition of Britain's poor concluded that “the annual loss of life from filth and bad ventilation are greater than the loss from death or wounds in any wars … in modern times.”

  3. EDUCATION: News You Can View

    Constant buffeting from the solar wind sweeps back the outer layers of Earth's magnetosphere. The image comes from the American Museum of Natural History's Science Bulletins, which uses catchy multimedia to explain discoveries in astrophysics, earth science, and biology. Aimed at students and the general public, the site posts weekly Snapshots that focus on new findings, such as what recent studies of debris from the comet Tempel 1 reveal about its origins. Features let you spend time with researchers trying to save the imperiled lemurs of Madagascar and probing Yellowstone's explosive past—three massive volcanic eruptions have battered the area in about the last 2 million years.

  4. RESOURCES: Soil Saviors

    In dry ecosystems where plants are scarce, organisms such as cyanobacteria, mosses, and lichens keep the soil from blowing and washing away. These dirt-dwellers and the chemicals they release harden the surface, forming so-called biological soil crusts. Learn more about the crucial layer at this primer from the U.S. Geological Survey's Canyonlands Research Station in Moab, Utah. Get the basics at Crusts 101, which introduces the cast of organisms and explains the layer's ecological importance. Crusts not only provide stability, for instance, but they can increase the amount of water that percolates into the soil. Readers hungry for more can download a 90-page textbook. The gallery shows landscapes that boast healthy crust and examples of the severe erosion that ensues when livestock or vehicles crush the delicate surface.

  5. IMAGES: Lights, Camera, Swim

    To add some action to an oceanography lecture or just enjoy vibrant underwater footage, splash over to ReefVid from marine ecologist Peter Mumby of the University of Exeter in the U.K. The site is awash with more than 500 free video clips of reef life around the world. The videos, some of which run for several minutes, allow virtual divers to get the eye from a passing reef shark, plow through a throng of Mastigias jellyfish, and more. Visitors can watch the videos online or download them for use in PowerPoint presentations.