Around the Table
Homicide - Life on the streets 19/8/96 Episode "Five(2)":
Detective - "Where d'ya get so handy at setting fires? "
Accused - "Off the Internet."
If this exchange had taken place a couple of years ago he would probably have found his information at the "public library". Perhaps if the criminal had found an interactive site the virtual experience of fire-raising would have been enough!
The increasing availability of Internet connections gives the potential for immediate access to a wide range of information and learning resources for the sciences and engineering in a variety of formats - moving visual images as well as text with the ability to use then interactively. The potential is there but slow connections, false hits and not all sites being quite what they seem can make the search a long, often frustrating experience. Good starting points when searching for Internet resources in all subjects, including all areas of science and engineering are services such as:
- NISS Information Gateway (http://www.niss.ac.uk/)
- BUBL-LINK (http://catriona.lib.strath.ac.uk/) BUBL (Bulletin Board for Libraries) maintains a gopher and web server, and is currently engaged in a project to combine them both into a new WWW/z39.50 service - LINK (Libraries of Networked Knowledge) extending the BUBL Subject Trees.
- WWW Virtual Library (http://www.w3.org/pub/DataSources/bySubject/Overview.html) This is a distributed subject catalogue. Links to resources in all subject areas are provided.
The 24 CTI Centres (Computers in Teaching Initiative) provide links to computer based learning packages and other resources in a range of subjects. Included are Physics (http://www.ph.surrey.ac.uk/cti/catalog/) ; Geography, Geology and Meterology (http://www.geog.le.ac.uk/cti/)
Two specific subject gateways currently being developed as collaborative Elib projects are EEVL (Edinburgh Engineering Virtual Library) - a UK gateway to engineering information on the Internet (http://www.eevl.ac.uk ) and OMNI (Organising Medical Networked Information) - gateway to networked information services in the biomedical sciences (http://omni.ac.uk/). Another good resource is TIPTOP: The Internet Pilot to Physics (http://www.tp.umu.se/TIPTOP/) is a comprehensive index of Physics resources.
All science and engineering subjects have a visual, structural, graphical and experimental content. The Internet allows such information to be presented and manipulated in ways not possible with traditional printed sources. Hypertext links to visual images, graphical representation of three-dimensional structures, organisms and molecules, with interactive manipulation or simulated experiments are possible.
- Frog Dissection Images (http://www.geog.itg.lbl.gov/vfrog/) allows for humane virtual dissection.
- Similarly the Visible Human Project (http://www.nlm. nih.gov/research/visible/visible_human.html) is creating anatomically detailed three- dimensional images of the human body.
- Tree of Life Project (http://phylogeny.arizona.cdu/tree/phylogeny.html) . The Tree of Life is still being developed but when complete this project is intended to provide an Internet map to biological information and knowledge about the diversity and unity of the earth's living organisms.
- Images of Physicists (http://charm.physics.ucab.edu/people/hnn/physicists.html) provides useful illustrations of renowned physicists. See how pulsars pulse at Black holes and neutron stars (http://www.gti.net/cmmiller/blkhle.html) . Chemist's Art Gallery (http://www.csc.fi/lul/chem/graphics/) - hypertext links to many chemical illustrations. The Department of Chemistry at the University of Sheffield (http://www.shef.ac.uk/~chem/web-elements/) has produced an evolving periodic table database mirrored at several sites around the world. Clicking on an element gives information about that element. Graphical representations of the data can be viewed and used interactively. Chemical examples of VRML (Virtual reality modelling Language) are available from the Imperial College, Department of Chemistry VRML Demonstrator (http://www.ch.ic.ac.uk/VRML/). Three dimensional images of molecules can be viewed.
Electronic Journals on the Internet have a number of advantages over print versions. Articles on-line are immediately available. Enlarging graphics and photographs for detailed examination is possible. Hypertext links allow the reader to jump from text to illustrations and to search the text for keywords. Recent SHEFC/HEFC agreements make an increasing range and quantity of titles available to the British academic community. IDEAL Academic Press (http://www.europe.idealibrary.com/) has a strong coverage of titles in the sciences. IOP (Institute of Physics) Publishing (http://www.iop.org/EJ/welcome) . New Scientist (http://www.newscientist.com/) Nature (http://www.nature.com/). Scientific American (http://www.sciam.com/) and Science (http://science-mag.aaas.org/science/) all have a Web presence.
Many scientific organisations and societies have a Web presence providing information about their activities, meetings, conferences, professional development opportunities and publications, examples are The Institute of Civil Engineers (http://www.ice.org.uk/), the Royal Society of Chemistry (http://www.worldserver.pipex.com/rsc/) and the Institute of Physics (http://www.iop.org/).
This concludes a small personal selection of the many sites available in science and engineering.