Please send web site recommendations to [email protected]
You know that sunflower oil is loaded with polyunsaturated fatty acids and it's good for you, but for many, that's about the extent of their knowledge of these plants. Out to change that is the National Sunflower Association (NSA), whose picture-laden site mingles beauty and information. Were you aware that sunflowers are the most significant whole food source of vitamin E or that they are good sources of selenium and folate? Did you realize that the plant is native to North America, but that commercialization of it started in Russia? At the NSA site, you'll learn these facts, as well as NSA-funded initiatives and research reports and, when you're done, you can feast your eyes on some great pix to boot.
It was said, when television was the ‘next big thing,’ that it would revolutionize education, enabling people in almost any location to watch and hear lectures by the world's leading scholars in every discipline. Sadly, not only did TV not live up to that promise, it didn't even come close, being described by FCC chairman Newton Minow in 1961 as a “vast wasteland.” The early hopes for television thrive on the Internet, and nowhere is this more visible than on the informative Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) site, whose motto, “ideas worth spreading,” captures the hopes of an era gone by. With speakers covering topics spanning from science and technology to global issues and business, TED makes the dreams of techno-educators materialize at the click of a mouse.
Think of rRNA and your mind probably brings forth a complex secondary/tertiary structure embedded in a ribosome, but it probably won't visualize the modifications that occur to bases in the sequence. Tracking that is the aim of the Small Subunit (SSU) rRNA Modification Database, hosted by James McCloskey and Jef Rozenski at the University of Utah. Visitors can view modified bases mapped onto rRNA sequences, both for individual organisms and between species, as well.
With an aim to assist freedom of the press in the same way Wikipedia offers free access to a vast array of online information, Wikileaks is nothing if not ambitious. Consider its purpose of developing an uncensorable medium for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Though officially interested in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, the former Soviet bloc and the Middle East, Wikileaks aims to assist people everywhere hoping to reveal unethical behavior in governments and corporations by putting on its web site documents leaked to it by insiders in every field of endeavor. From Chinese media control of the Olympics to U.S. Justice Department torture memos, Wikileaks is not afraid to go after ‘big fish.’
If you want to find a paper, PubMed is a great resource, but if you desire to discover more about the papers or authors of a topic, you need heavier metal. One of the ‘lanthanides’ of such tools is Mike Galsworthy's MEDSUM (MEDLINE Summary Tool), which takes MEDLINE/PubMed queries and returns an impressive collection of data from the PubMed database. For example, to track the growth of a topic, such as resveratrol, one need only enter the subject in the text box and click Timeline. Within a minute or so, a plot of the number of publications per year is generated. Clicking on Profile gives a list of the top 10 authors, the top 10 journals, age profiles of human subjects in the studies, and much more. If you want to track the top authors on your campus, simply enter the university name or the town in which it's located. This is a most impressive tool whose only limits appear to be the imaginations of users.
Keeping track of genomic sequence information is not unlike trying to stay on top of the recent collapse of financial institutions—just when you think you have a handle on the players, a few new ones pop up. With respect to sequencing eukaryotic genomes, for example, there is significant data on 14 mammals (including the duckbill platypus), 13 insects, 6 nematodes, 3 deuterostomes, 10 non-vertebrate mammals, and yeast. Fortunately for researchers, the Genome Browser at the University of California at Santa Cruz does a superb job of genome bioinformatics, tracking not only the progress of these efforts, but also giving insights on the data as it's being generated. With the Gene Sorter, for example, users can generate tables of genes related to each other, resulting in an excellent collection of data, tightly organized, and broader than the scope covered by a single paragraph.