Friday, March 31, 2006

Cover stories from journals received in the library this week

Science, 24 March 2005, features Climate Change: breaking the ice on its front cover. Four research reports, a news story, and the editorial all address the science of declining ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica. Read the library's print issue or go online.

A photograph of a breaching narwhal, tusk in the air, graces the cover of Science News, 25 March. The narwhal's left tooth can grow to 3 meters in length and is the only spiraling tooth ever reported. Recent research suggests that the tusk's main function is environment sensing.

An Arctic Fox with a seabird in its mouth (the Least Auklet) peers from the cover of Ecological Monographs, Feb. 2006. This predator, along with the Norway Rat, introduced to the Aleutian Islands some 150 years ago, has demolished native populations of seabirds.

There are many more fascinating reports to be read - come browse the current journal issues display rack!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Deep-Sea Fish Research Reported on NPR

How do they study deep-sea fish on the mud flats of the Pacific Ocean abyssal plain? It is one of the most common yet least studied environments on earth, as reported by NPR's John Nielsen on Morning Edition, March 29.

Interested in knowing more? Read the public article at Scripps Institution of Oceaongraphy web site, or the scholary article by Scripps researchers in the March issue of Ecology. Since the library subscribes to Ecology, you can download this at the publisher's web site:

D. M. Bailey, H. A. Ruhl, and K. L. Smith, Jr.
Ecology, Vol. 87, No. 3, pp. 549–555.

An older article gives details about sampling methods for studying deep-sea fauna:

Oceanologica Acta Vol. 22, No. 6, 1999. pp. 579-592.
G. M. Cailliet, A. H. Andrews, W. W. Wakefield, G. Moreno, K. L. Rhodes.
This article is archived in the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center

Monday, March 27, 2006

"What are we doing this for?" asks Tim Flannery in Fresh Air Interview

Tim Flannery, author of The weather makers : how man is changing the climate and what it means for life on earth asks the question when interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air, 22 March. By "this," Flannery means global warming, and he goes to ask "is it simply to drive SUVs and waste electricity? That's madness." Hear the interview in the NPR archives. Borrow the book from the science library for a critical analysis of the multiple, undeniable indicators of the human impact on global climate.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Global Warming is the subject of Living On Earth

Living on Earth considers the impact of global warming on far-flung environments around the planet, from Lake Tanganyika in East Africa to Manitoba on the shores of Hudson Bay. The first two segments of the series Early Signs: Reports for a Warming Planet, are available as written transcripts, MP3 audio files or audio streaming, and are well-worth the time for careful listening (or reading). The stores are archived at Climate change, and global warming specifically, are given a thorough investigation by Elizabeth Kolbert in her book, Field notes from a catastrophe : man, nature, and climate change. New York : Bloomsbury Pub., 2006. Her book first appeared in the New Yorker, and was the subject of a May 9, 2005 talk between Alex Chadwick and NPR science correspondent Richard Harris.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Congratulations to Tim Kajstura, 2006 Goldwater Scholar

The 2006 Goldwater Scholars were recently announced on the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship web site. We are pleased to see three Oberlin students on the list, and especially happy for Tymoteusz (Tim) Kajstura, who is currently on the science library student staff and ably serves at both the circulation and reference desks. Tim is a Neuroscience/Biology major who intends to pursue graduate studies in Neuroscience. He hopes to "conduct research focusing on topics with direct consequences on human health and welfare from a biological perspective." Great work, Tim!

Congratulations also to Daniel Hemberger, Physics/Music Performance major and Andrew Bartholomew, Computer Science/East Asian Studies major, the other Goldwater scholars from Oberlin this year. Both students intend to pursue graduate studies in science, in astrophysics and computer science, respectively. Chris Boyd, Chemistry/Biochemistry major, received an honorable mention and intends to pursue a Ph.D. in Synthetic/Physical Organic Chemistry.

Encyclopedia Britannica or Wikipedia? Study in Nature is said to be inaccurate.

From BBC News:
Wikipedia study 'fatally flawed'

"A study on the accuracy of the free online resource, Wikipedia, by the prestigious journal Nature has been described as 'fatally flawed'.

"The report, published in December last year, compared the accuracy of online offerings from Encyclopaedia Britannica and Wikipedia. Nature found that both were about as accurate as each other on science. <Read the Nature report>

Encyclopaedia Britannica has hit back at the findings, calling for the paper to be retracted." <Read the full BBC news story>

The report in Nature has sparked at least two letters in response, suggesting ways to utilize wiki software to benefit science and facilitate scientific research:
Gene-function wiki would let biologists pool worlwide resources.
(2 Feb.);
Wiki ware could harness the internet for science. (16 March)

Faculty Publication: Norm Craig

Craig, Norman C. (Emeritus Professor of Chemistry), Michael C. Moore '07, Amie K. Patchen '07, Robert L. Sams.

Analysis of rotational structure in the high-resolution infrared spectrum and assignment of vibrational fundamentals of butadiene-2-3-13C2.

Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy 235 (2006): 181-189.

The 2,3-12C2 isotopomer of butadiene was synthesized, and its fundamental vibrational fundamentals were assigned from a study of its infrared and Raman spectra aided with quantum chemical predicitons of frequencies, intensities, and Raman depolarization ratios. Read the full-text online at the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Zoo Science Course Offered at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Interested in exploring Zoo Science?

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Kent State University jointly offer
Topics in Zoo Science: Zoos and Conservation:
A summer 2006 Anthropology Credit Workshop at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Monday-Friday, May 22-June 2, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.. 2 undergraduate credit hours, $726.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Planning to use the library's online resources over Spring Break?

In case your Spring Break plans are not exclusively given over to rest and relaxation, take time to review the Off-Campus Access Web page. You can login to use research databases and online journals from anywhere in the world (currently enrolled students and employees only). The login procedure will only work if you use the same barcode number (on the back of your college ID) that you used when you last borrowed something from any library on campus. If you have a new ID, or have never yet checked out an item from the library, any circulation staff person can update your library record with the barcode number on your current ID.

Monday, March 20, 2006

New Books! Fat metabolism, biological weapons, bird songs, mind-altering drugs and more.

Come browse the new book shelf! <Read the new book list>
From the book jackets:

Mitch Earleywine's Mind-Altering Drugs answers the question "What is the nature of intoxication?" It is a thorough and accessible review of the subjective nature of drugs, explaining that each substance may create a different effect with every administration in each user.

In How Fat Works Dr. Philip A. Wood reviews recent research about specific genes or groups of genes that can lead to matabolic disorders. Wood is an experimental pathologist and molecular geneticist who uses gene-knockout technology to study the way mouse genes regulate the metabolism of fat. His book reviews the complex interplay of hormones, genes, and stress in the way human bodies deal with fat through the life cycle.

Nature Podcast: firefly light and ultrasonic frog chorus


Each week Nature publishes a free audio show, presented and produced by Chris Smith and Anna Lacey at the University of Cambridge, UK, and sponsored by Bio-Rad.

Each show features highlights from news and articles published in Nature, including interviews with the people behind the science with in-depth commentary and analysis from journalists covering the research.

On this week's Nature Podcast (published March 16) see the firefly light, hear the ultrasonic frog chorus, inhale super-solid helium at the American Physics Society meeting, discover colour-coded bacteria, and how DNA could make the electronic circuits of the future.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Three New Books on Darwin and His Writings Reviewed on SciAm

Three new books are reviewed by Jonathan Weiner, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for The Beak of the Finch. His review in Scientific American, From Surmise to Sunrise: the science of life and the art of writing well, posits that biology is a discipline that naturally lends itself to great stories and story-telling; portraying scientific theory and data in the context of life and death struggles to which we as readers can relate. Read the review, then read the books!

From So Simple a Beginning: The Four Great Books of Charles Darwin
Edited by Edward O. Wilson
W. W. Norton & Company, 2006

Darwin: The Indelible Stamp: the evolution of an idea
Edited, with commentary, by James D. Watson
W. W. Norton & Company, 2006

Reef Madness: Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral
By David Dobbs
Pantheon Books, 2005

Thursday, March 16, 2006

New Questions on Dino to Bird Evolution

Science News from Scientific American

Scaly Dino Find Complicates Feather Evolution

"Paleontologists working in the same area of Germany that yielded Archaeopteryx have discovered a new small theropod dinosaur. The nearly complete specimen--dubbed Juravenator starki--is one of just a few known fossils representing this group, which ultimately gave rise to modern birds. Indeed, it joins just two partial skeletons of another genus as the only European examples of the tiny carnivores. Unlike the other two specimens, however, it lacks any sign of feathers, complicating what researchers thought they knew about feather evolution."
Read more at the Scientific American web site.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Chemistry Students Earn Presentation Awards at ACS "Mini-Meeting"

The Oberlin contingent has just returned from this year's American Chemical Society Cleveland Section Meeting-in-Miniature at Cleveland State University. We are proud to announce that the undergraduate presentation awards were swept by Oberlin! The awards were granted to Aaron Shmookler (working with Jason Belitsky) for his talk entitled Studies in aminooxyserine native chemical ligation and Michael Moore (working with Norm Craig)for his talk entitled Analysis of rotational structure in the high-resolution infrared spectrum of cis,cis-1,4-difluorobutadiene and the sythesis of its isotopomers. All the Oberlin students represented the college admirably.

Contributed by Jesse Rowsell and Rebecca Whelan.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Faculty Publication: Lynne Bianchi

Embryonic inner ear cells use migratory mechanisms to establish cell patterns in vitro.
Bianchi, Lynne M. (Neuroscience Department); Huri, Daniela; White, Ian O.

Journal of Neuroscience Research 83(2): 191-198. February 1, 2006.


The hair cells of the sensory epithelium in the inner ear are among the most precisely organized cells in vertebrates. The mechanisms that lead to this orderly arrangement are only beginning to be understood. It has been suggested that hair cells use migratory mechanisms to help achieve their final position in the organ of Corti. In the present study, an established in vitro assay of dissociated, embryonic inner ear cells was used to monitor how hair cells reorganize over time. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Read the entire abstract and download the article from OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

It's Sunshine Week: Review the First Amendment

Sunshine Week begins today, a "national effort to focus public attention on citizens' right to know" (Doug Clifton, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 12, p. A17).

A U.S. citizen's right to know is granted, of course, from the first amendment to the constitution:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the freee exercise thereof; or abridinging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Consider your rights, the unique privileges granted to all U.S. citizens, and how they may be threatened under current government policy by viewing the Sunshine Week Are We Safer in the Dark program broadcast by satellite at 1 p.m. Monday, March 13 in Mudd Room 443.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Integrity in Science Conference at Purdue Univ. March 31-April 1

All students and other interested individuals are invited to participate in Integrity of Science in the 21st Century, a free conference at Purdue University on March 31 and April 1, 2006.

The conference will feature a number of experts discussing the intersection of science and policy, particularly in the life sciences, and student-led workshops on ways that students can make their voices heard on these important issues. While the conference is open to faculty members, teachers, and community members, it is geared towards students and student activism.

Dr. Arden Bement, director of the National Science Foundation, will present the keynote address. View the tentative conference agenda.

Students who pre-register will be given free meals and housing (with Purdue students). Register online.

This is a great opportunity for students who are interested in the use and misuse of science and would like to explore how they can become effective voices for science. The conference is sponsored by Student Pugwash USA, an organization that promotes social responsibility in science and technology. Questions about the conference should be directed to Sharlissa Moore at Student Pugwash USA.

This announcement was distributed by
Michael Halpern
Outreach Coordinator
Scientific Integrity Program
Union of Concerned Scientists

Friday, March 10, 2006

Featured article from PLoS Biology April 2006

West Nile Virus Epidemics in North America Are Driven by Shifts in Mosquito Feeding Behavior.
"A shift in the feeding behavior of mosquitoes from birds to mammals in late summer amplifies the number of human infections of West Nile virus in the northeast and north-central US."

Read Article | Read Synopsis
PLoS Biology is one of six open access journals at the Public Library of Science. "PLoS is a nonprofit organization committed to making the world’s scientific and medical literature freely available online, without restrictions on use or further distribution, free from private or government control.

"PLoS publishes peer-reviewed, open-access scientific and medical journals that include original research as well as timely feature articles. All PLoS articles are immediately freely accessible online, deposited in the free public archive PubMed Central, and can be redistributed and reused according to the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. PloS web page.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Union of Concerned Scientists Lead Effort to Support Endangered Species Act

From the Union of Concerned Scientists
5,738 Scientists Decry Attempts to Weaken Endangered Species Act: Leading Biologists Release Sign-On Letter

Leading scientists have released a letter signed by 5,738 biologists across the United States urging the Senate to stand by scientific principles that are crucial to species conservation in the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The letter--representing scientists from all 50 states and more than 900 institutions--asks Congress to stop efforts to weaken the ESA.

"Thanks to a strong scientific foundation, for 30 years the Endangered Species Act has protected wildlife, fish and plants on the brink of extinction," said Dr. Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Chair of Conservation Biology, Duke University. "We should protect biodiversity by strengthening and fully funding the ESA, rather than attacking it."
Read the letter and view the signers
Read the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (as amended through December 2004) : prepared for the use of the Committee on Resources of the U.S. House of Representatives, One Hundred Ninth Congress, first session

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Mother Jones Radio: The Fate of the Oceans

The Fate of the Oceans is the cover story of Mother Jones, March/April 2006, received in the Main Library on February 20.

This theme issue covers everything from the alarming decline of phytoplankton to mass "bleaching" of coral reefs, gross over-fishing and premature death of marine mammals due to concentration of toxins in body fat. Listen to Mother Jones Radio's Angie Coiro as she interviews Julia Whitty, author of The Fate of the Ocean. Podcast, streaming or download.

Find Mother Jones Radio in the Political category of the Podcast genre in the iTunes Music Store. Download it for free, listen to it on a library's laptop loaner with library headphones.

Monday, March 06, 2006

News: Microbes in Hydrothermal Systems Give Clues to Life's Origins

Researchers find ways heat-loving microbes create energy.

Curiosity about the microbial world drove Jan Amend, Ph.D., associate professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, to Vulcano Island, Italy, a shallow hydrothermal Shangri-la near Sicily. There, Amend and his collaborators managed to examine the environment in depth, design a gene probe, and discover new life–which could have some big implications for the origin and presence of life on Earth.

Posted on the AAAS EurekaAlert site. Sign up for EurekaAlerts from AAAS with the RSS feed option, using a reader such as Bloglines.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

ScienceNOW: Pesticides in U.S. Streams

Pesticides Common in U.S. Streams

By Erik Stokstad
ScienceNOW Daily News - 3 March 2006
"A national survey has found that pesticides are common year-round in streams across the United States. Only a few had levels that might be of concern to humans, but there is 'widespread potential for adverse effects' for aquatic life, according to a report released today by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)." Read more @ ScienceNOW

Friday, March 03, 2006

Science News Today: Animal Research Gains Supporters

Protesters March to a Different Drummer
Eliot Marshall

OXFORD, U.K.--A placard-waving crowd took to the streets here on 25 February with an unusual message: Support animal research. Several hundred people showed up, among them a few speakers from the University of Oxford faculty, including neurosurgeon Tipu Aziz (surrounded by a crowd, right). The idea for the rally came from 16-year-old Laurie Pycroft, who describes himself as an Internet blogger and fan of science. Angered by an encounter in January with protesters seeking to halt construction of Oxford's $34 million life sciences lab, Pycroft decided to respond with a pro-lab march. The idea caught on. The same day, opponents of the lab staged a rally several blocks away; police kept them apart. (Read more)

From Science online News of the Week. Sign up for email alerts from Science at

Research Associate Publication: Rowsell

Rowsell, J. L. C.; Yaghi, O. M. 2006.
Effects of Functionalization, Catenation, and Variation of the Metal Oxide and Organic Linking Units on the Low-Pressure Hydrogen Adsorption Properties of Metal-Organic Frameworks

J. Am. Chem. Soc. 128(4); 1304-1315.

Jesse Rowsell is a Research Associate in the Chemistry department. He contributed this summary of his recent article:

Realizing hydrogen's potential benefits as a fuel has been a hot topic of research, especially following President Bush's announcement of the $1.2 billion Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. It is widely recognized that several key advances are necessary in the areas of hydrogen production, storage, delivery and conversion. In order for hydrogen to be considered a viable alternative for fueling our transportation sector, new storage technologies must be developed to pack more of the gas into a smaller container. One strategy has been to develop microporous adsorbents that bind hydrogen molecules in molecular-sized holes. This paper evaluates the adsorption behavior of several new hybrid compounds that are composed of metal ions linked with organic molecules in a "Tinkertoy" fashion. It is shown that altering either the organic or inorganic components can improve the binding potential for hydrogen.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Roadless Protection Petition Is Filed

From the Wilderness Society:

Over 250,000 Petition Forest Service to Reinstate Forest Protections
Olympians Join Effort to End Bush Administration’s Logging and Drilling Efforts

More than a quarter of a million Americans today formally petitioned the Bush Administration to reinstate a rule protecting roadless areas on America's National Forests. In an unprecedented move, conservationists, concerned Americans and more than 100 current and former Olympians used the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) to petition for a policy reversal. The APA grants citizens the right to request that the government issue, amend or revoke federal rules. Read the full story at the Wilderness Society site

Looking for Material Safety Data Sheets?

Try this site if you need to find the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for a given chemical or compound Want to know more about good chemistry reference materials online? The science library Chemistry guide can help.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Bacteria With a New Purpose; Podcasts from Scientific American

Sign up for news from Scientific American ( and you'll receive fascinating reports such as Bacteria Turn Styrofoam into Biodegradable Plastic. Amazing. Scientific American also offers podcasts. Listen with the library's loaner laptops if you don't have an MP3 player of your own. We lend headphones, too, so you can listen in one of the computer labs if you prefer.

The March 1 podcast includes astrophysicist Eugene Parker talking about his Scientific American article on the threat that cosmic rays pose to astronauts; geneticist Dave Coltman discussing testing the DNA of an alleged sasquatch; and geochemist Don Siegel on how he became the author of a Chinese cookbook. Also: test your science smarts with the SciAm quiz.

Faculty Publications: Belitsky

Belitsky, Jason M. (Chemistry department); Nelson, Alshakim; Stoddart, J. Fraser

Monitoring cyclodextrin–polyviologen pseudopolyrotaxanes with the Bradford assay.
Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry 4 (2): Jan. 2006. pp. 250-256.

This paper reports on Jason Belitsky's post-doctoral research at California NanoSystems Institute and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Los Angeles. It can be downloaded from the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center.

Abstract: Self-assembled multivalent pseudopolyrotaxanes, composed of lactoside-bearing cyclodextrin (CD) rings threaded on linear polyviologen polymers, have been introduced recently as flexible and dynamic neoglycoconjugates. In the course of this research, it was found that polyviologens are responsive to the Bradford assay, which is traditionally highly selective for proteins. The response of the pseudopolyrotaxanes to the Bradford assay was dependant on, and thus indicative of, the degree of threading of the CD rings onto the polyelectrolyte. The assay was then used to report on the threading and dethreading of native and lactoside-bearing a-CD rings onto and off of polyviologen chains, a phenomenon which demonstrates the utility of biochemical assays to address problems unique to supramolecular chemistry.