Friday, December 21, 2007

The Library is Closed

The Science Library is closed for Winter Break - from 4:30pm Dec. 21 through Jan. 1.
Hours for Winter Term, January 2 through February 4
: Monday-Friday, 9am-noon and 1-4:30pm.
Closed on Saturday & Sunday.

Last minute gift ideas and great reading recommendations

Eco-Libris presents The Holiday Green Gift Guide for Book Lovers

You may find these gems in your local bookstore, just in time for gift-giving - or in your local library, just in time for Winter Break reading. One book on the list that caught my eye is Bill McKibben's Deep Economy : the wealth of communities and the durable future.

The college library's copy is out on OhioLINK loan right now, but you can request a copy from another OhioLINK library and look foward to reading it in January.

If you want more suggestions for good reading, check out NPR's Science Friday archives. The December 7, 2007 show covered a slew of notable science books published in 2007.

Happy reading, and best wishes for a restful Winter Break!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Extended Hours for Reading Period

Come study here this weekend! We're open later and earlier than typical: 'til 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights; open at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Thanks to our student assistants for taking on extra hours!

Complete end-of-semester library hours.

Best wishes for a good end to fall semester, and a wonderful winter break!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Climate Policy Center updates now on Earthscape

The Climate Policy Center (CPC), an independent, bipartisan, non-profit organization, is one of the newest contributors to Earthscape, published by the Columbia University Center for Digital Research and Scholarlship. The CPC was established to develop policies to counter global warming.

Recent updates on Earthscape have focused on environmental issues in mountain regions around the globe, and new U.S. climate reports by region. Earthscape also posted updates on environmental issues in Africa and Asia, as well as a collection of reports from the European Union. Earthscape continued to add to the collection of Congressional Research Service publications on environmental issues this month as well.

Try a search on Earthscape.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Resources for AIDS Awareness Month

December 1 was World AIDS Day. The National Institutes of Health commemorated the day with a joint statement and announcement of awards.

The main library has created an exhibit that highlights materials in the collection related to AIDS and HIV [more about the exhibit].

The science library subscribes to Exchange on HIV/AIDS, a useful source of current information from around the world.

One very recent book in the collection of electronic books from Springer is The Biology of Dendritic Cells and HIV Infections.

Find more books on the biology of HIV infections by searching HIV infections as a subject heading in OBIS.

Get comprehensive information from the National Institutes of Health from the AIDSinfo Web site.

Friday, November 30, 2007

John Muir's papers digitized online

The University of the Pacific Library is home to the papers of John Muir, famed naturalist writer, founder of the Sierra Club, and forefather of the environmental movement. Digital images of all of John Muir's journals and drawings in the Univ. Pacific Library's Special Collections are now accessible online, as part of the Holt-Atherton Special Collections Digital Collections. The journals consist of 78 volumes and over 7,000 pages written between 1867 and 1913. The drawings consist of 371 images.

John Muir related Web sites of particular note:
Search: Books about John Muir in the college library.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Climate Creeping onto Texan Agenda

Heard on NPR's Morning Edition, November 26, 2007 · "Texas emits more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other state. And if Texas were a country, it would be the seventh-largest carbon dioxide polluter in the world.

Texas's high carbon dioxide output and large energy consumption is primarily a result of large coal-burning power plants and gas-guzzling vehicles, both of which contribute to the pollution problem. But while many Texans think bigger is better, there are signs of an attitude change on energy consumption."

[listen to the story]

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Conservation now available online

Conservation is now available online for Oberlin College library users. Our subscription is accessible only at the publisher's website, Blackwell Synergy, rather than the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center (EJC). The magazine is published by the Society for Conservation Biology, supported in partnership with six other influential organizations in conservation: the Pew Institute for Ocean Science, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, World Wildlife Fund, Nature Conservancy, Center for Applied Biodiversity Science, and University of Washington. Find the title on OBIS as Conservation (Seattle, Wash.).

The scholarly journal of the Society, Conservation Biology, is online at the EJC, but this sister publication (previously titled Conservation in practice and sometimes referred to as Conservation magazine) is not part of the OhioLINK-Blackwell agreement. Paper copies of these titles are in the science library.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Reduced Hours for Thanksgiving Break

The library closes at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday of this week, to observe Thanksgiving.

We will be open on Friday afternoon from 1-4:30 p.m. only, and return to normal hours on Saturday and Sunday (12:30-5:30 p.m. and 12:30-11 p.m., respectively).

If you need to access online library resources from off-campus during the break, login to the college proxy server in advance (see Connect from Off Campus on the library's web site).

Questions? Chat with us online! obescience on Yahoo, AIM, Meebo. Quick Meebo access

Friday, November 16, 2007

Nanostructures, nanobiotechnology, nanofabrication, oh my!

Have you explored the new all-things-nano journal from the American Chemical Society? Check it out: ACS Nano.

See also the free website for the nanoscience community hosted by ACS @ ACS Nanotation. The image gallery and nano picks features are especially noteworthy. Contribute to the Wiki, submit a question to a nanoscientist, and be part of the commnity.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Questions are Good - send 'em our way!

We have more ways you can contact us! Student staff in the science library are now monitoring the science library's general IM account: obescience. Find our obescience chat window (Meebo widget) on the library's Ask a Question page. Or add obescience to your IM list of friends - we want to be your buddy. You can also contact me - the science librarian - with the widget over on the right side bar (blue box, Contact me) or alisonricker (yahoo, AIM). I'm not at the computer as reliably as the student staff, so please leave a message and your email address so I can contact you later!

Send us any question you have about using the science library, accessing electronic journals, searching for articles that are primary sources, recommended formats for citing references, or any science library-related mystery you're contemplating (is it true that you can't get trapped in the movable compact shelving?) - no question is too big or too small! Heck, we'll even tell you how to add OBIE$ to your ID. And the difference between print quota and OBIE$ needed for photocopiers - we've had a lot of practice with that question. Or even - our favorite - how to find a pencil sharpener (yes, we have two. Do you prefer electric or manual?). Don't be shy - talk to us!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

E-Books! So many books, so little time, all at your fingertips from OhioLINK

The Electronic Book Center at OhioLINK offers thousands of new titles, a large number of which are from Springer, a noted publisher of high-quality science monographs. One title featured now at the ebook center is Interfacial Nanochemistry: Molecular Science and Engineering at Liquid-Liquid Interfaces.

The Advanced Search option allows precise searching of keywords in title or text or chapter/section, etc., with various ways of focusing the search (e.g., subject area, date of publication, publisher). My search on "climate change" within the subject area "Environmental" resulted in 135 titles, including this 2007 popular science book from Springer:
Hot House: Global Climate Change and the Human Condition, by Robert Strom.

Note that you *can not* find this book in OBIS. Not all of the titles in the ebook center have been cataloged for member libraries' catalogs, or even the OhioLINK central catalog, so take advantage of the search options offered at the ebook center to find new stuff!

OhioLINK offers even more electronic books than those at the ebook server - note the icons lined up at the bottom of the web site (you might have to scroll down a bit to see them) - including Oxford Reference and Safari Books on computer and technology titles. Go read!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Have You Read Dot Earth Today?

The New York Times offers Dot Earth - A blog about climate change, the environment and sustainability.

Today's blog post offers Two New (and Very Different) Roadmaps for Climate Progress, by Andrew C. Revkin.

Revkin compares the Kyoto Protocol (due for renewal in 2012) with a cap-and-trade strategy embodied in the
International Carbon Action Partnership.

Read more at the NYT blog and in Nature's Climate Blog. Considering the press release of the Nobel prize committee, the more attention to and positive action given to these issues, the better!

The following observation is from the Nobel press release:

"By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world’s future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man’s control."

Friday, October 12, 2007

How to bury the problem: carbon capture & storage

From the Royal Society of Chemistry's Chemistry World, October.

"Carbon capture and storage (CCS) could allow us to burn fossil fuels without climate consequences - but only with more investment in R&D, argues Stuart Haszeldine.

"CCS is a suite of technical and chemical processes which allow CO2 to be separated, liquefied under pressure, and then transported by pipe for storage in porous geological rock formations, deeper than 800 metres beneath the seabed. Suitable geological sites may be depleted oil or gas fields, or salt water aquifers not already used for other purposes.

"CCS can directly reduce CO2 emissions, enabling industrialised countries to continue using coal and gas for electricity generation while still meeting targets of 60 to 80 per cent reductions in CO2 emissions from power generation by 2050."

Read more at Chemistry World.

While you're at the RSC publications site, check out their other news magazines, which "provide a snapshot" of the latest findings in chemistry:

Friday, October 05, 2007

The State of Science in America

Disover's Oct. 2007 issue is a special anniversary issue reviewing the current state of science in America. The future is not entirely rosy, though there is enough promise to motivate even a resigned pessimist in the endeavor of educating tomorrow's scientists. From The Edge of Medicine to hypersonic missiles (Defense Department research), NASA's intelligent flight control system, and an encouraging interview with Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, Discover's writers cover a lot of ground. A worrisome essay is Jennifer Washburn's Science Under Siege, which identifies the biggest threat to science as the decline of government support and the growing dominance of private spending over American research. Stop by the library and read the whole issue.

Art work by middle-school students enhances the entire issue, and their aspirations for learning math and science are a pleasure to read.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Dirty Truth About Coal

The Oberlin City Council voted on October 1 to pass an ordinance which approves a purchase contract with American Municipal Power-Ohio (AMP Ohio), investing in the proposed 1,000-megawatt pulverized coal burning power plant in Meigs County (southeast Ohio). The proposed coal plant, known as the AMP Generating Station (AMPGS) is one of 138 coal plant projects being tracked by The Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council.

A new report by The Sierra Club provides more information: The Dirty Truth About Coal. It's concluding chapter is "Clean Coal," or America's Lead Energy Misnomer.

A more in-depth look at the coal industry is found in Big Coal, by Jeff Goodell. The Science Library's copy is checked out right now, but you can borrow it through OhioLINK.

Elise Young, a resident of southeast Ohio, shared with City Council some experiences of life in this region, which may eventually become home to 9 coal power plants within a 10-mile radius. Listen to Ms. Young at Coal Stories.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Textbook Used by Scopes

During Banned Books Week (beginning Sept. 24) we have on display at the circulation desk a copy of the 1914 textbook used by Tennessee high school teacher John Thomas Scopes, which led to his arrest and trial for teaching evolution. [more on the Scopes trial]

Authored by George William Hunter, A Civic Biology: Presented in Problems, the book devotes just five pages to evolution, leading to this statement: "We have now learned that animal forms may be arranged so as to begin with very simple one-celled forms and culminate with a group which contains man himself." [p. 194] On the next page, Hunter notes "If we follow the early history of man upon the earth, we find that at first he must have been little better than one of the lower animals." Interestingly, although Hunter references Charles Darwin as "the great English scientist" he does not specifically cite Origin of Species or any other work by Darwin in this particular section of the book. A separate section on "Some great names in biology" gives Origin its due, along with tributes to Edward Jenner, Louis Pasteur, Gregor Mendel, and others.

The display copy of Hunter's text belongs to Ohio State University, on loan through OhioLINK. Stop by for a glimpse into legal, social and biological history.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Earthquake Prediction on Shaky Ground

From Science News of the Week

by Richard A. Kerr

"The recent run of large quakes off the Indonesian island of Sumatra is providing fodder for both sides in the debate over whether earthquakes behave consistently enough to be reliably anticipated." Read the full story at

Deep Earthquakes by Cliff Frolich (Cambridge, 2006) offers an excellent review of the subject. Get it in the Science Library.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Hurricanes, Heaven's Gate, Ice Age Caves, and Mine Disasters

This week's shipment of new books brings some fascinating titles, come in and browse!

Two on hurricanes and storms related to climate change include
Storm World by Chris Mooney (author of the Republican War on Science). Mooney was interviewed last month on Talk of the Nation - Science Friday (Aug. 24 broadcast).

Harcourt Books links to a number of interesting reviews and other information about the book.

As for Heaven's Gate, Ice Age Caves, and Mine Disasters... browse the new books list online, and find these and other intriguing titles!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Study Carrels Available! Sign-up anytime.

Initial study carrel assignments have been made, based on requests made before September 10. There are 13 carrels still unassigned, you are welcome to make one of them your study space. Just stop by the science library circulation desk and ask to see the list of available carrels - pick out the one you want, and fill out the carrel form. It's all yours!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Do you really need to buy that textbook?

If you’re enrolled in a large science class that requires the use of an expensive textbook, chances are you will find a copy of your textbook on reserve in the science library [search by reserve course in OBIS]. Required textbooks only circulate for 3 hours at a time and can’t be borrowed overnight.

That’s handy for a quick read, but doesn’t really substitute for having your own copy for extended reading, re-reading and marking text as you want for in-depth study.

You might be able to borrow a copy of the text from another OhioLINK library [search the OhioLINK Catalog], but don’t count on it. Many textbooks are required by professors at other colleges and universities, so you’ll have competition from students in your class at Oberlin and in courses around the state.

You may have better luck finding an OhioLINK copy to borrow if you’re looking for a book that is needed for a humanities or social sciences course, whose course content is more unique to Oberlin. Consider, after all, that all chemistry students throughout the state must take organic chemistry, just as all physics majors will learn fundamentals of mechanics and relativity, and you’ll understand why basic science texts can be difficult to borrow during certain periods of the semester.

So… buy the text! And some highlighters. Make it your own. It's a good investment in your own education.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Evolution! of planets, landscapes, mammals, birds and brains

Evolution in a broad sense is a very common theme in our most recent shipment of books, as is evident by these titles:
  • Lives of the planets : a natural history of the solar system
  • After the dinosaurs : the age of mammals
  • Galapagos : the islands that changed the world
  • Evolutionary bioinformatics
  • Making sense of evolution
  • Biological emergences : evolution by natural experiment
  • Scientists confront intelligent design and creationism
  • The geometry of evolution : adaptive landscapes and theoretical morphospaces
  • Evolution and the levels of selection
  • The tinkerer's accomplice : how design emerges from life itself
  • The inner bird : anatomy and evolution
One of the most intriguing of this batch is David Linden's The Accidental Mind: how brain evolution has given us love, memory, dreams, and God. David Linden shows how the "brain is not an optimized, general-purpose problem-solving machine, but rather a weird agglomeration of ad-hoc solutions that have been piled on through millions of years of evolutionary history." Linden addresses the question "are there some aspects of brain function that, on the average, make it easy for humans to acquire and transmit religious thought?" He then tries to convince the reader that "our brains have become particularly adapted to creating coherent, gap-free stories and that this propensity for narrative creation is part of what predisposes humans to religious thought."

Now on the new book display. Visit The Accidental Mind Blog.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Nature cover story: Geckos + Mussels = inspiration for new adhesive

The cover of Nature received today is too fetching to overlook. And the research letter:

A reversible wet/dry adhesive inspired by mussels and geckos [launches pdf] by Lee Haeshin, Bruce P. Lee & Phillip B. Messersmith,

is too remarkable not to read. The Editor's summary gives an excellent overview, including this: "A new adhesive, called 'geckel', [combines] gecko-type nanostructures with the chemical approach to underwater adhesion used by mussels." Stop by the library to read the print issue, which also includes a fascinating account of the paleogeography of the English Channel and the evidence provided for "two catastrophic floods arising from the drainage of huge glacial lakes in the area of the southern North Sea." (Philip Gibbard, p. 259)

Or go online to view the entire issue, and all of Nature from 1997 to the current issue. The print issues are typically received in the library one week after publication.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Poison Ivy and Dandelions Thrive With Global Warming

It isn't simply my imagination that the poison ivy around the little reservoir at the end of our street is incredibly lush and spreading like mad. A recently published study in Weed Science, July 2007 documents that poison ivy responds positively to even small, incremental increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Dandelions are likewise blooming and spreading more aggressively, says another study in the same issue of Weed Science. I long ago made peace with dandelions, but do hope they keep to the yard (which I prefer to think of as a healthy multi-species community rather than weed-infested) and don't invade the meager tomato patch.

You can read both articles in the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center
  • Rising Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Potential Impacts on the Growth and Toxicity of Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). Ziska, L.H.; Sicher, R.C.; George, K.; Mohan, J.E. Weed Science 55(4): 288-292.
  • Reproduction of Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) in a Higher Co2 Environment. McPeek, Tamara M.; Wang, Xianzhong Weed Science 55(4): 334-340.

    Also Listen to John Nielson's story Dandelions, Poison Ivy Grow With Global Warming on NPR's Morning Edition.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Seeing Sicko Soon? Here's Related Reading

Michale Moore's latest movie, Sicko, opened in theaters across the nation this past weekend. Reaction has been swift and varied [see Los Angeles Times review; press release from, more from Google news].

The college library and the OhioLINK catalog offer hundreds of books on the nation's health care system and health insurance specifically.
Search the subject headings
Health care reform
and Insurance, health -- United States

One recent book in the main library:
The truth about health care : why reform is not working in America / David Mechanic. Rutgers University Press, c2006.  RA395.A3 M4184 2006

As Michael Moore advises at the end of the movie, at the very end of the credits:
Eat your fruits and vegetables. Go for a walk. Do something!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Angel's Trumpet to Zombie Poison: in The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants

The very substantial (nearly 1000 pages), exhaustively indexed and thoroughly referenced Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants is now on the new book shelf. Beautifully illustrated with photographs, drawings, and historically significant botanical sketches, each entry (typically at the species level) provides Latin and common names and synonyms, a brief history, cultivation, and appearance of the plant, plus its chemical composition of the psychoactive material and constituents, medicinal and ritual usage, cultural significance, addictive properties and commercial forms and regulations. A separate section of the work lists plant constituents, from Atropine to Yohimbine, giving molecular structure, formula, plant sources for the substance, and list of references. It is a marvelous source for a quick introduction to more than 400 plants and fungi and their properties. It will be on the Science Library Reference Desk shelf after a brief display period in the new book area.

The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications / Christian Ratsch, forward by Albert Hofmann, translated by John R. Baker. Park Street Press, 2005.

Left: the peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii) from p. 327 of the Encyclopedia. Used ritualistically for centuries; considered a "magical plant of the gods" and found in "archaeological contexts approximately six thousands years old."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

NOAA Scientists to Search Tropical Skies for Answers on Climate Change, Ozone Loss

From this week's news at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

"Scientists from NOAA’s Earth System Research Lab will be among 400 researchers in Costa Rica this summer to probe one of the most complex and least observed regions of Earth’s atmosphere during the rainy season. Based in San Jose, Costa Rica, the NASA-led field study will shed light on key processes related to climate change, the stratospheric ozone layer, and global chemistry. The study runs from July 2 through August 15.

"ESRL’s David Fahey and colleagues from NOAA and the University of Colorado will fly instruments aboard NASA’s high-altitude WB-57 aircraft to gather data on black carbon particles [produced by fossil fuel burning], ozone, water vapor and particle composition, as well as air pressure and temperature.

"By absorbing sunlight and heating the air, black carbon can change atmospheric circulation and precipitation, but the processes involved are unclear. For example, how black carbon influences clouds and how clouds remove it from the atmosphere remain an unsolved puzzle. Scientists know so little about black carbon that any direct observations are important, Fahey said." [Read more]

While at the NOAA Web site, slip on over to NOAA's Central Library. There you will find a treasure trove of digital images, including scanned pages from historical and rare monographs, charts and maps, and access to the NOAA Photo Library.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

On the new book shelf: The Suicidal Planet

The Suicidal Planet: How to Prevent Global Climate Catastrophe, is one of three climate-related books received today. Authored by Mayer Hillman with Tina Fawcett and Sudhir Chella Rajan, it has been reviewed in many sources [summary at BookBrowse].

Wisconsin Public Radio
hosted an interview with one of the co-authors on Monday, April 23, 2007, on the radio program At Issue with Ben Merens. In the interview, Sudhir Chella Rajan "gives an overview of global warming, and an optimistic but practical plan for avoiding the worst of the damage". Rajan is a senior fellow at the Tellus Institute in Boston where he heads the Global Politics and Institutions program.

Other climate studies on the new book shelf are:
QC981.8.C5 P58 2005.
Climate change : turning up the heat / A. Barrie Pittock.
London ; Sterling, VA : Earthscan, c2005.

QC981.8.G56 A73 2007.
Global warming : understanding the forecast / David Archer.
Malden, MA : Blackwell Pub., c2007.

Friday, June 15, 2007

DNA Study Forces New Thinking on What It Means to Be a Gene

From Science News of the Week

Elizabeth Pennisi

"According to a painstaking new analysis of 1% of the human genome, genes can be sprawling, with far-flung protein-coding and regulatory regions that overlap with other genes.

"As part of the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project, 35 research teams have analyzed 44 regions of the human genome covering 30 million bases and figured out how each base contributes to overall genome function. The results, compiled in a paper in the 14 June issue of Nature and 28 papers in the June issue of Genome Research, provide a litany of new insights and drive home how complex our genetic code really is. For example, protein-coding DNA makes up barely 2% of the overall genome, yet 80% of the bases studied showed signs of being expressed, says Ewan Birney of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in Hinxton, U.K., who led the ENCODE analysis."

Read the EBI Press Release (pdf)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

AAPG Proposed Global Climate Change Statement

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) members are currently discussing the association's proposed Global Climate Change Statement, which offers a perspective "embodied our commitment to a continued level of energy security that will ensure we have the economic capability required to address the broad range of issues facing society." The proposed statement is accessible to the public, but the discussion is open to AAPG members only.

Geotimes, from the American Geological Institute, will be "Plunging into the Debate on Climate Change" in its Geologic Column (coming later this month). Check in there to read Fred Schwab's call for geologists "to lead the charge in educating the public and taking action to help our warming world."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

300th anniversary of the birth of Carl Linnaeus

From the New York Times:

Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish naturalist, was born 300 years ago today and is remembered as the man who gave the world modern taxonomy, the science of classifying organisms. The event was observed at the New York Botanical Garden and reported in today's edition of the NYT. Robbin C. Moran, a Linnaeus expert and the garden’s curator of ferns, noted that Linnaeus had a penchant for naming "smelly, ugly plants" after his critics (of whom there were many). [read more]

The University of California Museum of Paleontology offers a succinct biography of Linnaeus, also known as Carl von Linné or Carolus Linnaeus.
[image from]

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sounds of the Earth: Seismic Revelations of the Earth's Interior

John Bullitt has created Deep Earth Dome, a publicly accessible, web-based sound installation with sound clips of vibrations of the earth's crust and "reverberations of thousands of small earthquakes bouncing around the interior of the earth." Grab your headphones (you can check some out from our circulation desk) and listen to the amazing movements beneath our feet, and consider the thousands of miles of earth and water (not to forget telecommunications hardware and air) through which those sound waves traveled to reach your ears. Earthwatch Radio describes John Bullitt's work in a recent broadcast [click on "Listen" at the Earthwatch Radio web site, then visit Deep Earth Dome for more]. Visit often and hear the Sound of the Week. About John Bullitt.
[image from]

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Evolution is a Many Splendored Thing

"A Novel Electrosensory Organ" is depicted on the cover of BioScience (May 2007, now on display with this week's journals) in the form of the rostrum of the paddlefish Polyodon spathula. Take a few moments away from studying for finals and marvel at the evolutionary pathway that led to the development of this exquisitely receptive organ, uniquely adapted to detect planktonic prey (primarily the water flea, Daphnia) in turbid, vision-limiting environments.

Investigators Lon Wilkens and Michael Hofmann, Center for Neurodynamics and the Department of Biology, Univ. of Missouri St. Louis, have studied P. spathula for more than a dozen years. See also an earlier review by Wilkens in The senses of fish : adaptations for the reception of natural stimuli edited by Gerhard von der Emde, Joachim Mogdans, and B.G. Kapoor [Science Library QL639.1 .S44 2004].

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Bumper Crop of New Books

Spring often brings a rush of new books to the library, and this year is no exception. Books received today include a wide range of titles, with something to appeal to everyone. Here are just a few to lure you in. Take a break from preparing for finals, sit a spell by the new book display and read something to refresh your thinking!

Learning to Smell
"Drawing on research in neuroscience, physiology, and ethology, Donald A. Wilson and Richard J. Stevenson address the fundamental question of how we navigate through a world of chemical encounters and provide a compelling alternative to the "reception-centric" view of olfaction." [Johns Hopkins University Press]

The End of the Wild is a "wake-up call. Marshaling evidence from the last ten years of research on the environment, Stephen Meyer argues that nothing--not national or international laws, global bioreserves, local sustainability schemes, or "wildlands"--will change the course that has been set. Like it or not, we can no longer talk about conserving nature, only managing what is left. The race to save biodiversity is over." [MIT Press]

From Alchemy to Chemistry in Picture and Story

University of New Hampshire professor Arthur Greenberg chronicles the mystery, truths, lies, art, and even humor of chemistry. Greenberg gives an engaging account of chemistry's history, introducing some notable characters along the path from alchemy and birth of metallurgy to nanotechnology and femtochemistry.
[Read more from the review at]

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Small Changes + More Small Changes = A More Sustainable Environment

Ideal Bite Offers Daily Tips

Looking for manageable ways you can make a positive impact for a more sustainable environment? Ideal Bite is a great resource!

From their Welcome page:
"We know that you would just love to "do the right thing" for yourself and the planet if it were convenient, fun, inexpensive, and made you feel good. But until now you have lacked a good source of advice for real people leading busy lives."

Ideal Bite "Eco-tips" give practical advice, with links for more information and persuasive arguments of how one small action on your part can have such a positive benefit for the environment. Check out the Tip Library.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

NPR Launches Climate Connections

Climate Connections is a multi-faceted series just launched by National Public Radio in collaboration with National Geographic.

Listen to the story of China's "Coal-Fueled Boom has Costs" from Morning Edition today, and hear Coal miner Wu Gui, who has been working the mines for 34 years, describe his role in China's economy as "a glorious job."

"I am making a contribution to the country," he says. "If we couldn't find coal, China couldn't get richer and more powerful, and we wouldn't be able to improve people's living standards."

NPR correspondent Louisa Lin points out that "China will build 500 coal-fired power plants in the next decade, at the rate of almost one a week. This massive appetite for coal means equally huge greenhouse gas emissions."

Other stories in the series include a report on England's fast-growing vineyards, yielding award-winning wines, thanks to a warming climate and longer growing season, and the advent of olive farming in Devon.
Visit Climate Connections: A Global Voyage for NPR stories on climate change around the world.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Earth-like Planet Discovered in Libra

by Nell Boyce

Morning Edition, April 25, 2007 · Scientists have discovered a new planet in the constellation Libra. The small, rocky planet is special because it appears to have mild temperatures, like Earth. Researchers believe it looks like the first planet outside of our solar system that could be home to liquid water, and maybe even life.
Listen to the story on NPR

[image: an artist's illustration of the planet, which scientists think is either rocky, or covered with oceans. From]

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Audubon Exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

John James Audubon: American Artist and Naturalist
Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Open through April 29, 2007

The name John James Audubon is synonymous with the study and preservation of American wildlife. His masterpiece, "The Birds of America" folio (the "baby" folio edition is in the science library) and his lifetime of written journals stand as an unsurpassed contribution to the world of fine art, natural science and American history and literature.

John James Audubon's art and aesthetic legacy continue to amaze and inspire. His visionary and prophetic concerns for the environment continue to speak to new generations throughout America and the world today. Met this man of contradictions — John James Audubon: American Artist and Naturalist, on display in the Museum’s Corning and Fawick galleries from February 10 through April 29. The exhibition, which traces Audubon’s life and development as an artist, features 60 Double Elephant Folio-sized, hand-colored engravings from his masterwork, The Birds of America, printed between 1826 and 1838.

When completed, the final Birds of America folio comprised four volumes (each weighing 50 pounds) containing 435 life-sized, hand-colored plates portraying 1,065 individual birds. Each set sold for $1,000, and fewer than 200 bound copies were printed. (Most of the original copper plates were sold years later by Audubon’s destitute widow for their value as scrap metal; only about 80 were saved.)

Also on exhibit are 10 other Audubon prints, three from the smaller and less expensive Royal Octavo edition of The Birds of America and seven from the Imperial Folio of the Quadrapeds, created with son John Woodhouse Audubon. Visitors can see works by Audobon’s contemporaries, original letters, documents, personal items, rare books and photographs. There are also other originals by Audubon, including oil paintings, a drawing and watercolors with his field notes.

In addition to the traveling exhibition from the John James Audubon Museum and State Park in Henderson, Kentucky, the The Cleveland Museum of Natural History will display some of its own Audubon holdings, which include a first-edition Double Elephant Folio of Birds of America, two unbound reprint sets of the Folio and a complete set of the 1876 edition of American Ornithology by Alexander Wilson, a contemporary (and competitor) of Audubon.

Directions to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Giant Bats Snatch Birds from Night Sky

From Morning Edition April 18
by John Nielsen

Every spring, billions of songbirds in Europe migrate north to their breeding grounds. They often fly at night, when few predators are around. But now researchers have found evidence that giant noctule bats in Europe are catching and eating songbirds mid-flight. The songbirds often migrate at night in an attempt to avoid predators.
“[The bats] wrap the prey between their wings and the tail membrane, so they make kind of a cage for the bird... It was something that shocked all bat scientists.” Ana Popa-Lisseanu, Bat Ecologist
[Listen to John Nielsen's full story on NPR]
These surprising research findings were published Feb. 14, 2007, in Public Library of Science ONE (PLoS ONE), an open-access journal:
Bats' Conquest of a Formidable Foraging Niche: The Myriads of Nocturnally Migrating Songbirds

Authors: Ana G. Popa-Lisseanu, Antonio Delgado-Huertas Manuela G. Forero, Alicia Rodríguez, Raphaël Arlettaz, Carlos Ibáñez.

[image from Figure 1 in the PLoS One article: "Nyctalus lasiopterus showing its impressive teeth to the researchers."]

Interested in more about bat ecology? Check out the book with the same title:

Bat Ecology / edited by Thomas H. Kunz and M. Brock Fenton
University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Against All Odds, Scientists Isolate Protein

Summary from the Chronicle of Higher Education [access by subscribers only after April 17]


"Using sophisticated medical equipment designed for studying human diseases, a team of scientists has isolated fragments of proteins inside the bones of a 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex, a find that shatters expectations about how quickly biological materials decay in fossils.

"The discovery also points to a new method for unraveling the evolution of extinct animals, and it could potentially settle major debates, such as whether birds evolved from dinosaurs or a different group of reptiles.

"If the work can be verified by other laboratories, it suggests fossilized bone might harbor far more information than scientists have ever suspected." The research was reported in Science April 13, in articles on pp. 277-280 and 280-285, by a team that included Mary Higby Schweitzer, an assistant professor of paleontology at North Carolina State University, as well as members from Harvard and Montana State Universities and the University of Chicago. [access to Science articles for subscribers only].

Image from "Sue at the Field Museum" The Field Museum, Chicago.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Global Warming Impacts Will Worsen in Coming Decades

Richard Kerr (Science April 13, News Focus) summarizes the latest report of the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Report of Working Group II (WGII) was released last week, following the release in February of the Working Group I Report.

Excerpt from Kerr's analysis:
"The latest IPCC report sees a bleak future if we humans persist in our ways. The climate impacts, mostly negative, would fall hardest on the poor, developing countries, and flora and fauna--that is, on those least capable of adapting to change. Even the modest climate changes expected in the next few decades will begin to decrease crop productivity at low latitudes, where drying will be concentrated. At the same time, disease and death from heat waves, floods, and drought would increase. Toward midcentury, up to 30% of species would be at increasing risk of extinction."

Read more @ Science.

EPA Weakens Support for Scientific Staff and Libraries

The Environmental Protection Agency continues its hemorrhaging of libraries, library service and support for its own scientific staff, threatening the integrity of research on which environmental policy is framed and enforced. The consequences for our nation's waterways, air quality, species diversity and overall health of residents and the environment are significant, and should concern every citizen. Read more:

Jeff Ruch, Writers on the Range: Why would a federal agency trash its libraries? Summit Daily News, April 10, 2007. Ruch is the Executive Director of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which has led the fight to save the libraries [as described in several posts on Open Access News, by Peter Suber]. Excerpt from Ruch:

...As its in-house scientific staff shrinks, EPA is relying more and more heavily on corporate research in making health and safety decisions. This self-lobotomy at EPA will leave a public agency that is far less capable and independent, and as we enter the final months of the Bush administration, EPA managers seem determined to accelerate the self-destruction.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

On the new book shelf: Figuring It Out: Science, Gender and Visual Culture

One of the books in the series "Interfaces: Studies in Visual Culture", Figuring It Out: Science, Gender and Visual Culture (Edited by Ann B. Shteir and Bernard Lightman) is now on the new book shelf. The book is a collection of fifteen essays analysing gender in the imagery of science.

The Editorial Review begins, "In light of recent debates about the culture of contemporary science and the place of women in scientific fields, Figuring It Out: Science, Gender, and Visual Culture offers a timely consideration of the role of gender in the imagery of modern Western science. Representing a wide array of interdisciplinary fields, the contributors focus on pictures of male and female figures as a way to study the workings of gender in science while using gender as a way to examine how visual images in science contain and convey meanings."

Go to to read the full editorial review.

Find a excerpt from the book on amazon online reader.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dust Bowl Redux : Drying Effect of Human-Caused Climate Change

From Scientific American news of the week:

"A research team, led by a group at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) in Palisades, N.Y., reveal in this week's Science that southwestern North America will likely be saddled with increasingly arid conditions during the next century. This drying effect, the researchers say, is directly related to man-made climate change and will demand new methods for managing water resources in the region. They based their findings on 19 climate models, all of which contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report released in Paris in early February."
Read the Scientific American summary.

Read the paper abstract in Science Express Reports :
. Richard Seager, Mingfang Ting, Isaac Held, et al.
Published online 9 April 2007 [DOI: 10.1126/science.1139601]

Saving the World's Natural Wonders from Climate Change

Recently, a briefing paper was released by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) describing the devastating effects of climate change on some of the natural wonders of the world. A summary of the paper entitled "Natural Wonders Feel the Heat" is available in the "press releases" section of the WWF website. The summary begins:

"5 Apr 2007. Brussels, Belgium – From the Amazon to the Himalayas, ten of the world’s greatest natural wonders face destruction if the climate continues to warm at the current rate, warns WWF.

Released ahead of the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) Second Working Group Report, a WWF briefing — Saving the world's natural wonders from climate change — reports on how the devastating impacts of global warming are damaging some of the world’s greatest natural wonders, such as Australia's Great Barrier Reef shown in the accompanying image. [Image credit: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team.]

Other natural wonders include: the Amazon; other coral reefs; Chihuahua Desert in Mexico and the US; hawksbill turtles in the Caribbean; Valdivian temperate rainforests in Chile; tigers and people in the Indian Sundarbans; Upper Yangtze River in China; wild salmon in the Bering Sea; melting glaciers in the Himalayas; and East African coastal forests."

Read the full briefing paper online: Saving the World's Natural Wonders from Climate Change


Monday, April 09, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth: slide show and discussion, April 11. All are invited.

Senior Ben Purdone will show slides from Al Gore's Oscar-winning film "An Inconvenient Truth" at an open meeting on Wednesday, April 11, at 7:30 p.m. in Peace Community Church (44 E. Lorain St., just east of the Allen Art Museum). Discussion about solutions will follow the slide show, focusing on what can be done individually and as a community, to address the crisis of global warming. All are welcome.

There are thousands of peer-reviewed scientific articles that document the myriad of symptoms of global warming, and predict the disastrous consequences of unchecked rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Recent summaries for general readers appeared as the cover story of a special issue of Time magazine and as a top story in the April 7 New York Times. See also Time magazine's photo essay of the "proof happening all around us."

The science library's copy of Al Gore's book is currently checked out, as are most of the 63 copies owned by libraries in the OhioLINK central catalog . There are just a few still available for loan, for OhioLINK members.


Friday, April 06, 2007

On the new book shelf: The Creating Brain

The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius, by Nancy C. Andreasan, is now on the new book shelf. Author of two other books in the science library, this latest title by Andreasan has been reviewed in a number of scholarly sources and by readers on

Writing in Applied Cognitive Psychology Dec. 2006, Daniel Nettle writes:

"Andreasen’s book is aimed at the general reader, and it gives accessible overviews of some basics of neuroscience, and of the psychology of creativity. The latter she distinguishes from intelligence, and she characterises it, drawing on both personal accounts by creators and psychological studies, in terms of divergent, associative, often unconscious processes. She also neatly reviews the evidence for relationships between psychopathology and creativity, particularly the high rates of affective disorder found amongst artists and writers." [from the article in the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center, available to OhioLINK users only]

Find other published reviews by searching the title of the book and "review" in Science Citation Index general search.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Polar Bears Recommended for Endangered Species List

From the Environment Ohio Web site:

"We need to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act, as science has shown that global warming is having a negative impact on their populations. If they were listed, we could use the law to limit CO2 emissions, the number one cause of global warming."

Use the form at Environment Ohio to urge the inclusion of polar bears as a species protected by the Endangered Species Act.

Photograph by Norbert Rosing, from National Geographic.

Senators Boxer and Sanders Introduce Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act

Environment Ohio
is sponsoring a petition in support of the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act, just introduced into the U.S. Senate by California Senator Barbara Boxer and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

You can join the effort by communicating with your senators from the Environment Ohio web site.

Text of the petition:
I urge you to cosponsor the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act (S. 309), which would prevent the worst effects of global warming by setting science-based limits to reduce global warming pollution by at least 15-20% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Scientific Integrity Editorial Cartoon Contest Annouced by UCS

The Union of Concerned Scientists, together with a panel of highly accomplished celebrity cartoonists, has launched Science Idol 2007: the Scientific Integrity Editorial Cartoon Contest. They are seeking "creative, original, and compelling cartoons" to help communicate the impact of political interference on our health, safety, and environment.

The UCS maintains that "political interference [through censorship, manipulation, and suppression of federal government science] has hurt our air quality, allowed FDA approval of harmful drugs, and prevented the public from hearing the truth about global warming." So get out your best pen, sharpen your wit, and submit your best effort to the panel of judges.

FIRST PRIZE: An all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. to tour the UCS offices and have lunch with Washington Post Pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist Tom Toles, plus:

$500 cash
Cartoon printed in UCS publications and featured on the UCS website
Cartoon featured on the cover of the 2008 Scientific Integrity calendar
Fifty copies of the 2008 calendar, including one signed by all celebrity judges

Contest Guidelines.