Science Surfing

  1. LEDs for the Rest of Us

    Light emitting diodes, better known as LEDs, are the coolest new light sources. They’re tiny, long-lived, and rugged. But how do they work? Check out this site if you desire considerably more detail than can be found in a two-sentence summary. Go to:

  2. Humans

    It’s About Time

    What’s a year? Why do we measure it in days and weeks? How do calendars differ? What’s the earliest known date? (Hint: It’s the year Egyptians invented the calendar.) Learn answers to these and other timely questions at Calendars from the Sky, a site developed in part with support from the National Institute for Standards […]

  3. Health & Medicine

    Yummy Bugs

    Do you enjoy chocolate? You can make it more nutritious by bugging it—with crickets, for example. Or how about ant-fortified tacos? This site introduces Westerners to the idea that many commonly encountered insects are edible. Indeed, most are lower in fat—and higher in protein—than beef, lamb, pork, or chicken. The site’s author argues that “insects […]

  4. Animals

    Not Your Ordinary Amphibians

    They resemble mondo worms or perhaps eels and snakes. But caecilians (seh sil yenz) are actually legless amphibians, and along with deep sea fishes are among the least well known vertebrates on the planet. Some run to a meter or more in length. Although information on these elusive animals and photos of them are hard […]

  5. Earth


    Ever wonder whether some chemical in a bathroom cleanser, herbicidal spray, or paint is toxic? Just how poisonous is that chemical described in last week’s Science News? Toxicologists are developing one-stop shopping for such information at Toxipedia. Like Wikipedia, it allows the public—experts, advocates, or policymakers—to post information. Unlike Wikipedia, there is a rating system […]

  6. Chemistry

    Kitchen Chemistry

    Play with your food. That’s encouraged at this Countertop Chemistry site. Its kitchen-based teaching projects have been compiled by the Science House, an educational outreach program of North Carolina State University. Go to:

  7. Earth

    How Green Are Your Travels?

    This website offers a rough gauge of the carbon-dioxide emissions associated with flying around the country. Just plug in a starting point and destination and it gives you a round-trip estimate of the greenhouse-gas “footprint” of your travel. The goal is to encourage visitors to buy carbon-offsets to cover the greenhouse-gas cost of their treks. […]

  8. Animals

    Cicada Serenades

    One sound that characterizes American summers is the cicada chorus. The insects’ long, drawn out serenades can be loud and ethereal, reminiscent of some cross between the sounds of rustling and scraping. Half a world away, Borneo’s cicadas belt out very different melodies. Although some sound fairly familiar, one available at this German site is […]

  9. Computing

    Can You Face It?

    The University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, has developed some face-transforming software that allows people to change the age, sex, or ethnicity of the person in an image that you export from your computer. Or, blend features from a number of faces into one amalgam. If all that is too creepy, then just import art […]

  10. Animals

    Worm Lovelies

    Polyclad flatworms are soft, juicy, and delicate coral-reef dwellers. To avoid predation, many have evolved brilliantly hued coloration. It’s a trait that often signals a critter is toxic, as many of these worms indeed are. Alas, their bright skins are likely not well appreciated by members of their own species, owing to very poor eyesight. […]

  11. Agriculture

    Living Rust

    Mention rust, and most of us think of the oxidized metal that signals the aging and decay of cars, fences, and bolts on the backyard deck. However, many plants also suffer from rust—in this case, fungal diseases named for their characteristic reddish-orange color. With a particularly virulent example known as Ug99 (see Wheat Warning—New Rust […]

  12. Ecosystems

    Biota Behaving Badly

    Members of an established ecosystem develop a sense of balance, usually permitting at least limited biodiversity and a stable structure. When interlopers arrive that aren’t responsive to the same environmental checks and balances, they can overrun the ecosystem, eliminating some members and quickly dominating others. Such bullying immigrants are known as invasive species—and they can […]