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THE NATURE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LIFE SCIENCES

  1. Top of page
  2. THE NATURE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LIFE SCIENCES
  3. THE SCIENCE OF SPECTROSCOPY
  4. SCIENCE.GOV
  5. INTERNET ARCHIVE
  6. INFOTRAC COLLEGE EDITION

www.els.net

The Nature Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (ELS) claims to be the most comprehensive reference work ever published in the biological sciences. Launched in April 2001, the site currently features almost 3000 entries. Recently added entries include Gout, by Michael Snaith, and Cell Junctions, by Joachim Wegener. The current update article, when visited for review, was Water Channels, by Landon S. King and Peter Agre, the 2003 chemistry Nobel winner. This is relevant to convey the impeccable standing of the authors of these articles. Inspection of the editorial board and contributor lists is certain to impress you. To assess the contents you will be initially limited to the full text of the single “Current Update Article.” The style is text with embedded thumbnails of diagrams that can be enlarged as required. The content is textbook-like, in keeping with the nature of an encyclopedia, although there is stratification into three types. “Introductory Articles” are aimed at undergraduates and non-specialist readers. They avoid technical jargon wherever possible and do not contain in-text references. “Advanced Articles” are aimed at advanced undergraduates, graduates, and researchers, and contain references cited at the end of the article plus a further reading list. “Keynote Essays” discuss key and controversial issues in research, and topics that have a far-reaching impact in society. A free search facility is offered for words and phrases across the whole of the database to find articles that match your search criteria. Just as a test, I tried entering cholesterol and found an article titled Cholesterol-lowering Agents and their Use, with the precis, “Increased cholesterol concentration in the bloodstream is an important risk factor in coronary heart disease. Clinical trials have demonstrated the benefit of lipid-lowering medication in preventing morbidity and death from coronary heart disease.” This is not immensely useful, and the only way to get the entire entry is to be a paid subscriber. You must e-mail the providers to become registered. However, the preferred subscribers are institutions, and you may be lucky enough to have your library already signed on so you can get full access.

THE SCIENCE OF SPECTROSCOPY

  1. Top of page
  2. THE NATURE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LIFE SCIENCES
  3. THE SCIENCE OF SPECTROSCOPY
  4. SCIENCE.GOV
  5. INTERNET ARCHIVE
  6. INFOTRAC COLLEGE EDITION

www.scienceofspectroscopy.info/index.htm

There is excellent value here for biochemists and molecular biologists as various forms of spectroscopy continue to grow in experimental importance in the life sciences. Michael Rooke and Stewart Mader initiated the The Science of Spectroscopy website, in 1999, with funding from the U. S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, to assist in teaching spectroscopy in undergraduate chemistry courses. A subsection of the site focuses on NASA initiatives in which spectroscopy is a key tool, such as the Hubble Space Telescope. This orientation to NASA and chemistry explains the look and feel of the site. The Science of Spectroscopy guides students through a study of spectroscopy, beginning with an introduction to light and its properties, the electromagnetic spectrum, and the effects of light interaction with matter. An advanced section presents spectroscopy theory relevant to fluorescence, phosphorescence, and chemiluminescence. Students can also view three-dimensional molecules in a virtual reality environment, and they can manipulate and closely inspect spectra. Another section of the site describes magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography scanning, and cardiovascular imaging. The site's “Web Instruments” section gives students an opportunity to interact with virtual simulations of instruments used to carry out spectroscopic analyses. Students can become familiar with sample preparation, collecting data, and manipulating the data. The newest instrument is a scanning electron microscope, which provides the user a range of samples and full capability to adjust brightness, contrast, focus, and magnification. Another separate product is Seeing The Scientific Light, a 1-hour documentary film sponsored by NASA. This documentary primarily examines the role that spectroscopy plays in studying the composition, history, and future of the universe but also includes medical applications.

SCIENCE.GOV

  1. Top of page
  2. THE NATURE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LIFE SCIENCES
  3. THE SCIENCE OF SPECTROSCOPY
  4. SCIENCE.GOV
  5. INTERNET ARCHIVE
  6. INFOTRAC COLLEGE EDITION

www.science.gov

We are being increasingly spoiled for choice in how we search for data. The U. S. government offers this site as a portal to educational information of high quality that has been created in large part by government funding. The look and feel is highly functional, with obvious choices for browsing or target searching. Science.gov was developed by an interagency working group of 16 scientific and technical information organizations from 11 major science agencies, beginning in 2001. The Web page search function is provided by the U. S. Geological Survey, and the “explore by subject” search is maintained by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information. The website is hosted by the Department of Energy, which also supplies the site's “deep Web search” capability. I found that this high-level technical input has provided an exceptionally powerful tool to locate general and research literature when I explored using the term cholesterol as the search subject. Two major types of information are included: selected authoritative science websites, and databases of technical reports, journal articles, conference proceedings, and other published materials. The Web pages and the databases, including Medline, can be searched individually or simultaneously from the search page. New sites are continuously added, so revisiting may produce new results. The major search topic areas are: Agriculture and Food (food safety, gardening, pesticides, veterinary science), Applied Science and Technologies (biotechnology, electronics, engineering, transport), Astronomy and Space (exploration, planets, space technologies), Biology and Nature (animals and plants, ecology, genetics, pest control), Computers and Communication (networks, hardware, software), Earth and Ocean Sciences (land, maps, natural disasters, oceans, weather), Energy and Energy Conservation (energy use, fossil fuel, solar, wind), Environment and Environmental Quality (air/water/noise quality, cleanup, climate change), Health and Medicine (disease, health care, nutrition, mental health), Math, Physics, and Chemistry (astrophysics, chemicals, mathematical modeling), Natural Resources and Conservation (ecosystems, energy resources, forestry, mining), and Science Education (homework help, teaching aids). Some information accessible through this site may have copyright limitations on its use.

INTERNET ARCHIVE

  1. Top of page
  2. THE NATURE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LIFE SCIENCES
  3. THE SCIENCE OF SPECTROSCOPY
  4. SCIENCE.GOV
  5. INTERNET ARCHIVE
  6. INFOTRAC COLLEGE EDITION

www.archive.org

You are most likely to need this site when you encounter a “404-Page Not Found” error because it is likely that you can use the 100-terabyte archive here to recover a version of the page you are seeking. Archives on the Internet Archive began in 1996. The home page has an overwhelming amount of detail that is not up to the high standards of clarity of most contemporary Web sites. However, if you focus on the search entry box for the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, then you can rapidly be on your way back in time. If you find the site useful, it may be better to bookmark the direct entry to the Wayback page (www.archive.org/web/web.php) because this also gives an archive text-search facility scanning 11 billion pages. I wanted to get access to a U. K. Web site for the ultralab project, but all of the links were broken and resisted my standard repertoire of smart back doors (going to the institutional home page, etc.). Typing www.ultralab.net into the Wayback Machine gave me a choice of looking at the Web page for this project at intervals of approximately two months since 1999, when that project began. I now know what the ultralab project is, and I can deduce that it is likely to only be a temporary condition that the Web site is unavailable. However, many of the Web diagrams and articles that we see and want to come back to, as our interests change, simply disappear. This has acquired the descriptive epithet of “linkrot.” I know that many items in “Websites of Note” have changed or disappeared, some even before appearing in print. So if there is an article that is featured in a commentary, but it is no longer available, try going back to the version of the site that was reviewed. By exploring the “about us” information at this site, you can learn that the Internet Archive is a public, nonprofit organization founded in 1996 and located in the Presidio of San Francisco (complete with a photograph of the well-meaning team). It seems that the founding inspiration was to preserve works of art and literature from the fate of digital oblivion so that historians can research the digital past. The explanatory background includes, as motivational justification, the observations that many early movies were recycled to recover the silver from the film and that the ancient library of Alexandria was eventually burned to the ground. The Internet Archive team is collaborating with institutions that include the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution, to preserve a record for generations to come. There are links to comparable archives as well, should the Internet Archive Wayback Machine disappoint you.

INFOTRAC COLLEGE EDITION

  1. Top of page
  2. THE NATURE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LIFE SCIENCES
  3. THE SCIENCE OF SPECTROSCOPY
  4. SCIENCE.GOV
  5. INTERNET ARCHIVE
  6. INFOTRAC COLLEGE EDITION

infotrac.thomsonlearning.com

What you get here is a value-added information bonus for selected textbook users. The Thomson Learning Group is yet another example of consolidation within the printing industry, as many traditional imprints become subsumed within consortia. I mention this site because, in acquiring the ninth edition of Whitney and Rolfe's textbook Understanding Nutrition, the imprint publisher had changed from West to Wadsworth. Bundled with the textbook was a 4-month registration to InfoTrac College Edition. In addition to Wadsworth, the imprints from Brooks/Cole, South-Western, College, and Heinle will also be bundled with InfoTrac College Edition. This provides Web access to full-text articles from thousands of specialized and popular periodicals, including Time, Newsweek, and Fortune. The content covers 1980 to the present and offers over 10 million full-text articles from nearly 5000 journals and periodicals. Content is updated daily. The card bundled with the textbook gives access to a registration system that records a personal username and password. The registration collects a user profile and is clearly intended to provide a database for future targeted marketing of Thomson Learning Group products. The site is minimalist, and it took me a bit of menu hopping to get to the search page and use it. I set out to test the system by looking for an article in Time magazine titled “Inside the Food Labs” that I had just read in text form and found to be a useful teaching source of statistics on U. S. eating behavior. The search tool has singularly inept ways of defining search parameters and swapping between screens, but I was rapidly presented with the target article once I had completed the appropriate fields. The full text was presented intact and duly headed Time, Oct 6, 2003, v162, i14, p56 “Inside the Food Labs: A tantalizing tour of the secretive kitchens where culinary scientists fine-tune the flavors, architecture and, yes, mouth feel of tomorrow's hit foods. Jeffrey Kluger, copyright 2003 Time, Inc.” So, citing the reference was easy and so was copying the body text. It appears that the model user of this site is a student wanting to do an assignment and plagiarism would be very straightforward. The photographs accompanying the Time article were not included in the on-screen version, nor in the optional Acrobat portable document file version. The amount of information provided with the print out of any individual article can range from as little as an extended citation to as much as all text and graphics, depending on the collection searched and the rights that have been negotiated by the Thompson Group. I eventually located a copyright statement that included: “The subscribing institutes (“Customer”) and their authorized users, may make a single print, non-electronic copy of a permitted portion of the content for personal, non-commercial, educational purposes only. Except as expressly provided for in the foregoing sentence, you may not modify, publish, transmit (including, but not limited to, by way of E-mail, facsimile or other electronic means), display, participate in the transfer or sale of, create derivative works based on, or in any other way exploit any of the content, in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Gale and (if applicable) its licensor.” I cannot be sure that this supports the inclusion of material into Powerpoint presentations. I tried looking for material from the textbook that prompted my registration, but the site indexes only journals, so it is of no help in directly supporting textbooks. The ambiguously titled menu choice of Instructor Resources leads to a Powerpoint presentation that is intended only to instruct students how to use the Infotrac system. This Powerpoint presentation does a good job of showing how to manipulate the difficult search fields. Any registration is valid for only 4 months. I could not find a way of registering without a subscription code, but instructors are permitted a 30-day free trial by application. There are a number of biotechnology periodicals listed that would justify exploring for life-science applications.