Thursday, July 27, 2006

HIV/AIDS Science Feature Video

From Science
HIV/AIDS Science Feature Video

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the discovery of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Science has produced a feature video expanding upon award-winning journalist Jon Cohen's articles on HIV/AIDS in Latin America and the Caribbean, published in the 28 July issue of Science. Included in this video are interviews with notable scientists, physicians, and activists working to help treat and prevent HIV/AIDS in Latin America and the Caribbean. To view the video, go to

National Public Radio has provided extensive analysis of the current state of HIV/AIDS research and public health policy, including a lengthy interview between Stephen Lewis, the U.N. Secretary-General's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, and Farai Chideya. Lewis is the author of Race Against Time. [Listen to the NPR interview]

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Growing Up in Urban Sprawl and the Impact on Adolescent Development

Howard Frumkin offers new insight on the old adage it takes a village to raise a child in his book Urban Sprawl and Public Health. As reported on Earthwatch Radio, over-dependence on cars in areas of urban sprawl stymies the development of young adolescents who must rely on an adult for transportation. Learning to navigate indpendently from home to school, shops, parks, recreation and other community areas is an important part of social development. Such exploration is nearly impossible in far-flung suburbs without access to bike paths or mass transit. A village environment that brings together housing and commercial/community services within kid-friendly distances can be achieved in small towns and urban areas alike. Urban sprawl creates fomidable barriers for an adolescent on foot, bike or public bus. Check out the book from the main library, or read more at Earthwatch.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Brain-Machine Interfaces: Web Focus Feature on Nature

From the current biological sciences "Web Focus" on the Nature web site [photo and text from]:

Brain-machine interfaces promise to aid paralyzed patients by re-routing movement-related signals around damaged parts of the nervous system. A new study in Nature demonstrates a human with spinal injury manipulating a screen cursor and robotic devices by thought alone. Implanted electrodes in his motor cortex recorded neural activity, and translated it into movement commands. A second study, in monkeys, shows that brain-machine interfaces can operate at high speed, greatly increasing their clinical potential. This Nature Web Focus includes exclusive interviews and video footage of experiments, alongside papers that paved the way for these recent advances. [More from]

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Galapagos Islands Finches Rise to the Challenge

From Science:
Competition Drives Big Beaks Out of Business
by Elizabeth Pennisi

"When intruders started eating up all the large seeds on one of the Galápagos Islands, the resident finch population retooled, researchers report on page 224 of this issue of Science (14 July 2006). In about a year, their beaks shrank, becoming better equipped to eat smaller seeds.

"At the beginning of the study, the medium ground finch (Geospiza fortis) shared the island only with the cactus finch, which uses its pointed beak to eat cactus fruit and pollen. Lacking competition from other finches, the blunt-beaked medium ground finch depended on smallish seeds, which were easier to eat. That is, until a severe drought in 1977 devastated the plants that produced small seeds. For the most part, only those birds with beaks big enough to break open large, hard-to-crack seeds survived; in just a few generations, there was a 4% increase in average beak size (Science, 26 April 2002, p. 707)." (Read more.)

Photo credit: B. R. GRANT ET AL., SCIENCE

Exurbs: the Antithesis of Energy Efficient Development

Earthwatch Radio considers a new book now being processed for the main library:
This land : the battle over sprawl and the future of America by Anthony Flint. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006.

Flint describes the trend of independent subdivisions, miles from the nearest community. "They're untethered to any city, and the people who live in these areas feel no need to ever go into the big city. They stay in the subdivisions that are built way out beyond the periphery, beyond the last reach of existing suburban development, and drive to the big box stores and to office parks or stand-alone office buildings off freeway ramps." This type of development is completely car-dependent and requires an extraordinary amount of energy to develop and maintain. Flint says redevelopment of older urban neighborhoods is the best answer for a future of tight energy supplies. [read more at Earthwatch Radio]. Book cover image from Johns Hopkins Univ. Press

Monday, July 10, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Al Gore's book An Inconvient Truth: the planetary emergency of global warming and what we can do about it (Rodale, c2006) is not yet available in the college library (on order) - but you can see the movie now in one of several theaters in the area. hosts a blog, news, reviews, the movie's trailer, and numerous links to more information about the book and film. As stated at Climatecrisis, "An Inconvenient Truth argues that global warming is not just about science, nor is it just a political issue: it is a moral issue and we have a responsibility to do something about it."

Linda Cook, Quad City Times (Davenport, IA) had this to say about the movie:

"In my heart of hearts, I know this isn't the best way to start a movie review. But in my heart of hearts, I also know I need to do what's right.
Because you owe it to yourself, to your parents, to your children, your grandchildren, and to the very planet on which we live

The movie effectively and convincingly presents scientific data demonstrating that global warming is an observable, measurable phenomenon. Among the abudantly clear evidence cited in the movie, Gore discusses fluctuations in dissolved carbon and oxygen embedded in ice sheets that are hundreds of thousands years old. Global warming is not a short-term aberration we should ignore, but a lasting effect of human activity we must correct or face dire consequences.

There are many recent books in the collection that provide more data and perspectives:
Global warming : a very short introduction by Mark Maslin (Oxford University Press, c2004) is now on the new book shelf.
Two other, more recent, books are
Field notes from a catastrophe : man, nature, and climate change / Elizabeth Kolbert (Bloomsbury Pub., 2006) and
Kicking the carbon habit : global warming and the case for renewable and nuclear energy / William Sweet (Columbia University Press, c2006).

Search "global warming" as a subject heading in OBIS to explore other titles.

What do scientists really say about global warming? Gore points out that in a random sample of recent peer-reviewed papers in science journals (well over 600 papers in the sample drawn from thousands of relevant papers), no scientist disagreed with the observation that global warming is occurring as a result of human activity. It is only the popular media that continues to perpetuate the myth that significant disagreement divides the scientific community on this issue.

Ohio Journal of Science Archive Now Online

The Ohio Academy of Science and Ohio State University have collaborated to make available the complete digital archive of the Ohio Journal of Science, for those volumes published more than two years ago. This open access archive is part of The Knowledge Bank at OSU. Content will be updated on an annual basis.

The archive includes an index of all obituaries published in the journal. See the entry for noted Oberlin ornithologist and college professor Lynds Jones, for example, published as part of the academy's 1951 Annual Report [pdf of report].

Friday, July 07, 2006

Two New Databases via OhioLINK for Computer Science and Environment

Check out the new Ebsco databases now available to OhioLINK libraries and our faculty, staff and students:

Computers & Applied Sciences Complete

Index, abstracts and full text of articles in many engineering disciplines, computer theory, and new technologies. (more...)

Environment Complete

Index, abstracts and full text of articles on environmental studies. (more...)

Faculty Publication: Norman C. Craig

Craig, N. C., P. Groner, and D. C. McKean. Equilibrium structures for butadiene and ethylene: compelling evidence for II-electron delocalization in butadiene.

The Journal of Physical Chemistry A 110 (23): 7641-7469 [full-text online from Am Chem Soc web site, for subscribers only]

Striped Bass Comeback Threatened by Omega-3 Market

From the public radio program Living on Earth (LOE):

The 1980s fight to bring back the striped bass is considered one of the greatest environmental success stories. But, today the species faces a new and potentially devastating threat: the omega-3 market. Dick Russell, author of Striper Wars: An American Fish Story, talked with LOE host Steve Curwood about what it will take to save a species that's already been saved.

The preferred prey of striped bass are menhaden, a small, bony, oily fish that has been present along the Atlantic Coast in huge numbers in the past. Menhaden are being harvested aggressively and ground up into feed for livestock and aquaculture. And, since they are such an oily fish, they are an excellent source of oil for omega-3 dietary supplements. Overfishing of the menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay has led to severe stress for the bass, which are forced to eat less nutritious prey such as blue crab. That stress has contributed to outbreaks of a bacterial infection that causes a chronic wasting disease characterized by lesions and also impacts the internal organs. Nearly 70% of the bass are infected.

In the interview, Russel states "I'm just afraid if they continue to fish menhaden at the levels they have been – which is taking like literally millions of fish, millions of pounds of fish every summer – that not only are the menhaden going to perhaps disappear, but all the striped bass may go, too."

Further Reading:

ASMFC, 2003. 2003 Atlantic striped bass advisory report. ASFMF Striped Bass Technical Committee Report 2003-03. Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, 82 pp.

ASMFC, 2004. Atlantic menhaden stock assessment report for peer review. Stock Assessment Report No. 04-01 (Supplement). Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, 145 pp.

Uphoff, J. H., Jr. 2003. Predator-prey analysis of striped bass and Atlantic menhaden in upper Chesapeake Bay. Fisheries Management & Ecology, 10(5):313-322. [pdf on OhioLINK EJC]

The entire issue of Fisheries Management & Ecology, vol. 10, no. 5, Oct. 2003 is devoted to papers on the striped bass and its population ecology and life history on the Atlantic coast.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Poison Ivy Thrives When CO2 Increases

Earthwatch Radio on 5 July 2006 highlighted research that was reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers at Duke University have studied the effects of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide on a plot of southeastern forest. All of the plants showed a significant increase in growth and biomass, but poison ivy stood out in its remarkable ability to take advantage of the increased CO2.

Quoting William Schlesinger, an environmental chemist at Duke University:
"The poison ivy, as it turned out, not only was it growing faster and accumulating more plant tissue, but it had higher concentrations of the allergenic compound in its leaves. This is the compound that essentially, when you rub it on your skin, produces the skin rash and allergy. So we can look to poison ivy as being bigger as a plant and more toxic in future environments of high carbon dioxide."

Read more at Earthwatch Radio or download the full article at PNAS [free open-access article].

Bird Extinction Estimates May Be Too Low

From Scientific American

Since 1500, more than 150 bird species have disappeared from the world, including the much lamented dodo. This ground bird disappeared from its island home before Carl Linnaeus, the father of scientific taxonomy, even described it in the 18th century. Given that many of the nearly 10,000 known bird species have only recently been described--including those only available from remains like the dodo--some biologists suggest that current extinction rates have been seriously underestimated and will rise rapidly in the coming century.
Read more at Scientific American