URL of the Week - 2006 Archive

December 25, 2006

Forum on Science and Technology for Sustainability

This site contains Web resources that explain how science might contribute to development that doesn’t ruin the environment. It is sponsored by Harvard University. The site contains papers, online books, and reports touching on everything from bio-based fuels to wind energy.


December 18, 2006

3-D Bird Pictures from Zoological Museum Amsterdam

This site shows how museum collections can benefit from cyberspace. It is a digital specimen case from the Zoological Museum Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The site supplies three-dimensional (3-D) images of 151 avian type specimens (the original examples taxonomists used to describe the species) from around the world. You can rotate or tilt animals. The pages also describe where and when the birds were collected, provide their measurements, and compare them to other specimens. The museum plans to post similar 3-D images of its cache of shells and skulls.

December 11, 2006

Sea Slug Forum

This site, hosted by a malacologist from the Australian Museum in Sydney, includes more than 30,000 images. Fact sheets offer tidbits on the biology of about 1400 species from around the world. The forum section contains discussion of taxonomy and ecology, mulls photos of hard-to-identify specimens, and swaps sea slug lore.

December 04, 2006
Fly Atlas
This linked atlas developed by Australian experts explains fly anatomy. Clicking on a list of characteristics highlights them on four representative flies. For close-ups, slide the virtual magnifying glass across the screen.

November 27, 2006
The Eye Pathologist
Get a close look at how the eye works and what happens when it falters at this site that features more than 3500 images. The tutorial comes from pathologist Gordon Klintworth of Duke University Medical Center. You can study the anatomy and function of structures such as the lens, cornea, retina, and optic nerve. The primer also describes development and how the eye changes over time. The more than 5000 eye diseases covered range from cataracts to Marfan syndrome.

November 20, 2006

National Chemical Laboratory Centre for Biodiversity Informatics

This compendium offers taxonomic synopses for all of the described species of Indian animals. Besides the latest information on classification and conservation status, is distribution data down to the state level. The center contains similar collections on Indian plants and fungi.

November 13, 2006

Optical Illusions and Visual Phenomena

Visit this collection of optical tricks to help you understand why your eyes and brain get duped. Animations of 46 common and not-so-common visual illusions that skew our perceptions of motion, color, size, contrast, and other variables are included. The site’s explanations take s the mystery out of some puzzles. There are plenty of references and links

November 06, 2006
Dinosaur Illustrations
This site leads to paintings and drawings of more than 70 kinds of dinosaurs and other ancient reptiles. Although many works are copyrighted, some of the galleries permit downloading for educational uses.

October 30, 2006 -- Ocean Explorer
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to get close to the strange creatures that thrive around deep-sea vents, check out this educational from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It contains videos, animations, maps, and photos describing the world’s largely unexplored seas. You can follow current or recent NOAA expeditions to destinations such as the seamounts of the Gulf of Alaska, or visit the Magic Mountain site more than 1700 meters below the surface near Vancouver Island, Canada. You can also view a gallery of undersea life, tune in to sounds such as the throbbing song of a blue whale, or read up on ocean-probing technologies like submersibles.


September 18, 2006 --  Amphibia Web
This clearinghouse of data on the world’s nearly 5700 amphibian species is sponsored by the University of California, Berkeley. The site’s goal is to post a page for each amphibian species, with information on taxonomy, distribution, behavior, and conservation. Along with the species accounts, the site holds recordings of frog calls and over thousands of photos.

September 11, 2006 -- 
Conditioned Taste Aversion

The powerful reaction of retching after experiencing the taste of rotten oysters is a prime example of a conditioned taste aversion, in which animals learn to shun foods they associate with nausea. You can find the latest research in the field or delve into its history with this bibliography from researchers at American University in Washington, D.C. The collection lists thousands of references (including the original description of taste aversion in a 1955 Science paper), many with abstracts or PDFs.


September 4, 2006 -- Protist Image Data  Bank
This site holds information for everyone from students studying classification of algae to researchers hoping to cultivate parasitic amoebas. Visitors can explore the biology of some 20 genera of protozoa and algae. An introductory page puts each group in evolutionary context. From there, you can study close-ups that delineate internal and external structures of the cells, get the latest on taxonomy and classification, or read about the creatures’ form of reproduction. The site also lists sources that provide cultures of the organisms.

August 28, 2006 -- Forest Shade Tree Pathology

To find out about diseases that attack trees, open this U.S. Forest Service Web text. The site begins with general backgrounders on rusts, cankers, wilts, and other types of plant ailments. Other sections cover the causes, symptoms, and control methods for specific diseases such as sudden oak death.

August 21, 2006 -- Mycology.net
This portal will guide you and your students to a wealth of sites about mushrooms and other fungi. The site lists more than 70 online keys for identifying specimens. If you’re looking for a potential collaborator, check the directories of fungal experts. The site also links to some 30 galleries that display pictures of various mushrooms, yeasts, molds, and other forms.

August 14, 2006 -- Insects, Disease and History
Find out how insects and other arthropods have helped shape the course of human events at this site. You and your students can read how a 1914-15 outbreak of the louse-transmitted disease typhus prevented Austria from invading Serbia, possibly changing the outcome of World War I. The site also offers a primer on bug-borne diseases such as yellow fever and leishmaniasis. Above, a World War II U.S. Army poster advises soldiers how to avoid the mites that spread scrub typhus.

August  7, 2006 -- Math and Science Song Information, Viewable Everywhere

This database lists more than 2000 titles, from “The Song of the Tungara Frog” to “Carbon Is a Girl’s Best Friend.” Links take you to lyric sheets and audio snippets. Most composers and singers are obscure, but Monty Python, Clint Black and a few others are included. For nonstop science tunes, you can also listen to MASSIVE radio.


June 12, 2006 -- BIO-DiTRAL

This site is a collection of free media for teachers and students hosted by the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Contributed by site visitors, the more than 2200 photos, animations, and videos cover fields from microbiology to immunology but emphasize zoology. Students can learn how proteins on immune cells help the body recognize invading pathogens, for instance, or compare the silk-spouting spinnerets of different spiders. Or, see an unlucky tomato hornworm caterpillar studded with the cocoons of parasitic wasps.


June 06, 2006 --
UNSW Embryology

Students can follow the progress of human development with movies, images, and animations at this site from Mark Hill of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. One section tracks changing body form through the 23 Carnegie stages that define the first 2 months of development. Other pages focus on particular structures. There’s also a backgrounder on abnormal development.


May 29, 2006  -- Geotechnical, Rock, and Water Resources Library

Aimed at a broad audience, this site has more than 900 education links and a many online simulations. The site stresses civil engineering, but it also includes background on earth science. Visitors can view a primer on plate tectonics or find out what pollutants researchers have detected in the local watershed. Virtual experiments let students determine the effect of temperature on water flow, measure how different rock types respond to compression, and more. The site also connects to a wealth of lab exercises for K-12 classes.

May 22, 2006 -- Bushmeat Crisis Task Force

This site pushes an anti-bushmeat agenda, but also offers abundant background information for researchers interested in the problem. Bibliographies list more than 300 technical books and papers, nearly 150 reports, and 800-plus news articles, many available online.


May 15, 2006 -- Reactome
To unravel biochemical reactions or trace the connections between cellular pathways, visit this site from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the European Bioinformatics Institute, and the Gene Ontology Consortium. This online textbook fills gaps in our knowledge by focusing on reactions in humans, but also includes examples from rats, mice, and other model organisms. Tools include the Pathfinder function, which provides steps between reactants and products. So far, the site spans cell division to lipid metabolism to DNA repair. The plan is to add a new pathway about every 3 months.

May 08, 2006 --
Chironomid Home Page
This site, run by grad student Ethan Bright of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, connects to 19 midge identification catalogs and checklists, covering southern Africa to the Yukon. One section offers a field guide to preserved forms. You can also search a directory of midge researchers, several bibliographies, or a yearly newsletter


May 01, 2006 --
Deciphering the Genetic Code
You know the names Watson and Crick, but how much do you know about Marshall Nirenberg? This National Institutes of Health biochemist figured out that triplets of DNA bases code for specific amino acids in 1961, only 8 years after James Watson and Francis Crick unraveled DNA's helical structure. This new online exhibit chronicles the race to break the code by Nirenberg, who later won the Nobel Prize.

April 24, 2006 -- Neuroscience Gateway
This portal from the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, D.C. connects researchers to 76 sites that supply data, software, and other resources. The gateway is the first release from a project to integrate online neuroscience databases.

April 17, 2006 -- VISTA

If you need help with genome analysis, you might want to take a look at this set of features where you compare genomes from the site’s collection of nine species or plug in your own sequences. The mVISTA browser highlights similar and different regions in, say, a snippet of human DNA compared to that of a chimp’s.


April 3, 2006 --  Biogeosciences.org

This site from the Geological Society of America is home base for researchers whose work straddles the earth and life sciences. You can use the discussion forum or read brief articles on big questions, such as how the mineral dolomite forms and why it’s rare in recent rock. Students will find career and education information, including interviews with researchers. Visitors can also visit a growing gallery of images posted by users.

March 27, 2006 --  AviBase

You can find data on more than 10,000 other bird species at this site, a taxonomic clearinghouse hosted by the nonprofit organization, Bird Studies Canada. Accounts cover all the world's bird species and provide the latest information on nomenclature, classification, subspecies, and conservation status, along with range maps at the country level. Linked sites such as the U.K.-based BirdLife International, which offers details on threats to species, are included.

March 20, 2006 --
Amphibian Species of the World

This site from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City provides an authoritative guide to the taxonomy of the amphibians. An update of curator Darrell Frost’s 1985 reference book, the site encompasses more than 5500 species of frogs, toads, salamanders, and caecilians: legless burrowers found in the tropics. You can search the entries taxonomically or geographically. Species pages offer distribution data, references, comments on classification controversies, and other information.

March 6, 2006 -- The Joy of Visual Perception

For a clear view of how we see go to this Web site, an undergraduate-level Web text by Peter Kaiser of York University in Toronto, Canada. Students can start by focusing on physiology and anatomy, including the structure of the eye and the transmission of messages across the gaps between neurons. Other sections include subjects such as how we perceive contrast, size, motion, and distance. The text also reveals the secrets behind a long list of fun and instructive illusions.

February 20, 2006 -- 
Turning The Pages

Scottish artist Elizabeth Blackwell painted medical plants in a beautifully illustrated
 A Curious Herbal (1737-39), which became a staple among doctors and apothecaries. You can view selections from the herbal and two other science-related books at this site by flipping from page to page almost as if you held the real book in your hands. Other offerings include the library's Leonardo da Vinci Notebook, a collection of optical sketches, plans for a new city, and other jottings that the premier Renaissance man began in 1508, and On the Fabric of the Human Body (1543), by the pioneering anatomist Andreas Vesalius. The site also supplies audio narration and a mirror to read Leonardo's right-to-left scrawl.

February 13, 2006 --
This database from hazards researcher Susan Cutter of the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and colleagues, tallies the costs of U.S. disasters (wildfires, droughts, floods, hailstorms, and others) from 1960 through 2000. Pick a state or county to find the number of injuries and fatalities and the economic losses caused by particular events.


January 30, 2006 -- Health Education Assets Library
This site contains more than 3600 photos, videos, animations, Web pages, and other visuals from the Health Education Assets Library, a teaching archive for every level. The collection's holdings, contributed by medical libraries, the Irish Royal College of Surgeons, and other sources, are wide-ranging (from videos of brain dissection, to anatomical drawings of the lymph nodes in the head and neck, to an animation of blood surging through the heart). Free registration allows you to download items for use in the classroom.


January 23, 2006 -- Biocomplexity Thesaurus

Keep track of the field's vocabulary with this site from the federal National Biological Information Infrastructure. From "genetic isolation" to "nitrogen fixation," the tool helps you see the relations between terms and ideas.

January 16, 2005 -- 
Bioinformatics Links Directory
This directory of bioinformatics Web sites, compiled by Francis Ouellette's group at the University of British Columbia in Canada, can help you locate everything from the genome of the SARS virus to guides for designing PCR primers. The site provides annotated links to hundreds of databases, tutorials, and other resources. Offerings include software to predict the folding patterns of RNA molecules, tools for analyzing two-dimensional protein gels, and a catalog of DNA "typos" called SNPs that can help researchers pinpoint disease genes.

January 9, 2006 --  Global Invasive Species Database

This new catalog of invasive species profiles more than 130 species. You can find out where they came from, how they spread, their impact on the environment, and what control measures have been tried.


January 2, 2006 -- 
Virtual Genetics Lab
Beginning biology students can run simple genetics experiments, and never have to swat an escaped fruit fly using this site created by Brian White and colleagues of the University of Massachusetts. The software simulates crosses between animals with particular characteristics. As in a real genetics lab, users design their own procedures, deciding how many matings will provide enough evidence to deduce how the trait is passed on. The exercises challenge students to recognize not only simple dominant traits but also more complex types of transmission, such as age and incomplete dominance. Although the problems illustrate real inheritance patterns, they use hypothetical traits, so students can't track down the answers on the Web.


2005 TABT URL of the Week
2004 TABT URL of the Week

2003 TABT URL of the Week
2002 TABT URL of the Week
2001 TABT URL of the Week