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August 29, 2003

Soft Walls - Preventing Aircraft From Being Used as Weapons

:: In the wake of Sept 11, 2001, researchers in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley are studying ways to prevent aircraft from being used as weapons, with a project called Soft Walls. (From: The Scout Report)

    In brief, modern aircraft all have electronics on board that is involved with the control and navigation of the aircraft. Many of the newer planes have computers on board that mediate the commands issued by the pilot and translate those commands into action, for example to bank and turn to the right. It is possible to modify the software in the computers in such a way that an airplane will refuse to enter pre-specified regions. We call these regions “no fly zones” and we call the boundaries of these regions “Soft Walls.” If an aircraft is equipped with the Soft Walls system, then if the pilot attempts to enter a no-fly zone, the airplane will be diverted. This happens gently at first, but if the pilot does not cooperate, then the system becomes more assertive. The key principle is to give the pilot as much control over the aircraft as is consistent with the constraint that the airplane does not enter the no-fly zone.
The Soft Walls research study is part of The Ptolemy Project, which "studies modeling, simulation, and design of concurrent, real-time, embedded systems. The focus is on assembly of concurrent components."

August issue of What's New @ IEEE for Libraries

The August issue of What's New @ IEEE for Libraries has been released and
is available to read on the Web at:


Stories in this issue include:

1. Google to Display IEEE Abstracts in Search Results
2. 2004 IEEE Subscription Price List Now Available
3. IEEE to Hold Regional User Groups This Fall
4. IEEE Releases Internet Applications Workshop Proceedings
5. Frankfurt Book Fair in October: IEEE Goes on the Road
6. New IEEE Press Book Offers Medical Imaging Guidance
7. IEEE Foundation Awards US$200,000 Supporting Education, History
8. Product Safety Engineering Becomes 38th IEEE Society in 2004
9. National Engineers Week Calls For "New Faces Of Engineering"
10. Boston University Wins IEEE Web Site Contest
11. Student Design Teams Sought for 2004 Computer Society Contest

August 28, 2003

Issues in SciTech Librarianship, Summer 2003, Issue 38

:: The Summer 2003, Number 38 edition of Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship has appeared. Articles of interest include Mary DeCarlo's Mathematics Education Resources on the Internet, and Digital Archiving: Journey from Books to Analytical Informatics, by Marie Scandone and Deborah Kernan.

:: Today's web site is from the Centennial Science & Engineering Library at the University of New Mexico.

August 27, 2003

Penn Library: Science and Engineering Libraries, A Thinking Robot, "Smart" Dust

:: Here's a new STLQ feature: web sites from randomly selected scitech libraries. Browse the site, and perhaps you'll find something interesting that you'll want to use in your home library. First up: Science and Engineering Libraries at U Pennsylvania.

:: Researchers at U Essex in the UK have received a £500,000 award to build a robot that will be self-aware, able to think for itself. (From: Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends)

:: Chemists at U Cal San Deigo have announced the development of particles the size of dust, which can sense their environment and assemble in groups. The report will appear shortly in the online edition of PNAS. (From: Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends)

August 26, 2003

U Sask Synchrotron, Wiley Interscience, RSS Feeds via EEVL

:: Canadian Light Source Inc, owned by the University of Saskatchewan, is home to the largest synchrotron in Canada, currently under construction on the U Sask campus. The instrument is scheduled to be turned on in January, 2004. Read Quick Facts to learn more about the new synchrotron. Further information, including a few short videos, is available here.

:: Wiley Interscience has launched a new user interface. An interactive demo is available for viewing.

:: "An RSS Primer for Publishers and Content Providers has been published by EEVL, the Internet guide for engineering, mathematics and computing.

    RSS is an excellent and cost-effective way of driving traffic to, and increasing brand awareness of, any website that publishes content such as news, jobs, products, or events, on a regular basis. An RSS file enables other sites to syndicate the content and thereby reach new audiences."

August 21, 2003

More Searching Tips and Tricks

:: Lisa Guernsey, writing in today's NYTimes, offers a number of web searching tips and tricks in her article, "Fishing for Information? Try Better Bait".

    The notion of a user's manual for search engines might seem counterintuitive. Give people an empty search box and a button to click on and somehow they know exactly what to do.

    But as the Web gets larger and more complicated, encompassing PDF documents, movies and audio files, product databases and ever-changing pages, it can help to know a few tricks that are not so obvious.

Guernsey isn't speaking to the converted in this article, but the article serves as a nice summary and refresher of what a lot of us may already know, especially as we prepare for large numbers of instruction sessions in the next few weeks.

August 20, 2003

Stephen Wolfram and A New Kind of Science

:: Science News reports on the latest developments regarding Stephan Wolfram. Wolfram self-published his major treatise, A New Kind Of Science, in May 2002. In the book, Workfram outlines a new way to study science, based on cellular automata, and asserts that the results of his studies "force a whole new way of looking at the operation of our universe." Wolfram and his work have attracted much press coverage and criticism.

In late June, a 3-day conference and mini-course on the book's ideas and implications was held in Boston, attracting >200 attendees from around the world. A summer school on NKS was held at Brown University in July. A new website, The Wolfram Atlas of Simple Programs, "charts the computational world introduced in Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science. Much like the atlases of another age of exploration, the Atlas both documents what has been uncovered, and defines entryways into the unknown." And a quick check of Web of Science reveals that to date, the book has been cited at least 47 times.

August 18, 2003

Google Update

:: Many of us use Google in library and research skills instruction. A number of good reviews and writeups have appeared on the web recently.

    Greg Notess' 18 August 2003 review of Google includes mention of databases covered, strengths and weaknesses, default operation, Boolean searching, proximity searching, truncation, case sensitivity, field searching, limits, stop words, sorting, display, and documentation. I was surprised to learn that no truncation function exists within Google, nor does Google offer automatic plural searching or stemming.

    Greg also reviews Google's inconsistencies (17 Aug 2003.)

    Tara Calishain lists a number of Google Hacks, tips, tricks and resources which will help you become a better Google searcher.

August 15, 2003

in-Cites, Project Links

:: From in-Cites: The 20 Most-Cited Countries in Geosciences,
January 1993-April 2003
, and Microbiology journals ranked by impact.

:: Project Links: Mathematics and It's Applications in Engineering & Science

    "Integrating the concepts of higher math with their applications in science and engineering lies at the heart of Project Links' mission. Our method relies on interactive web-based modules used in the classroom to engage students in guided learning--providing students with a unique experience unavailable in traditional lecture or textbook lessons.

    One of the primary goals of this project is to more closely integrate mathematics into engineering and science topics in the classroom. As a result, each module must be designed to be used in both a math course and a non-math course."

    Even a cursory look at this website is enough to hint at the exciting content. It is well laid out and well thought out, equally approachable from a mathematics or a science & engineering viewpoint. (From: SciTech Library Newsletter.)

August 12, 2003

Using Newsblogs To Get The Word Out...Now! - SLA Chemistry Division Poster Session, June 2003

:: Teri Vogel, chemistry librarian at the William Russell Pullen Library, Georgia State University, offered a poster session on blogs in a science setting, at SLA in NYC in June, 2003. Her presentation focused on using blogs to communicate with patrons, as well as librarian colleagues working in the same subject areas. Using Newsblogs To Get The Word Out...Now! is available online with handouts and the ppt presentation. And yes, the blog in Slide 6 of Teri's show is this one! (Thanks, Teri!)

The Pullen Library publishes a blog, Science News, "A library weblog for the science faculty and students at Georgia State University."

August 8, 2003

Oxford Journals tries Open Access

EurekAlert! posted the following news release on its site:

"Oxford University Press (OUP) is initiating an Open Access experiment with one of its flagship journals, Nucleic Acids Research (NAR), recently listed by ISI as one of the top ten 'hottest' journals of the decade in biology and biochemistry . This initiative is in response to calls from the academic community to make research freely available online without the barrier of a subscription to access. "
A very positive step forward for the open access movement. Read the full document at: EurekAlert!

August 5, 2003

Engineers Without Borders - International

:: "Engineers Without Borders - International constitutes a network of several humanitarian organizations ... that have emerged over the past 20 years or are emerging in several countries around the world. All these organizations share the same mission, which is to help disadvantaged communities improve their welfare, livelihoods, quality of life, and dignity through implementation of environmentally and economically sustainable engineering projects, while developing internationally responsible engineering students and engineering professionals. The network creates links between like-minded organizations and cuts across national borders". In Canada, the group is called Engineers Without Borders (Canada) - Ingénieurs Sans Frontières (Canada).

EEVL News and Enhancements

:: Roddy MacLeod sends word about the latest news from EEVL, available in the current issue of Ariadne. Thanks, Roddy.