By: Charles Bowen
The Internet was created by scientists, so you would expect the Net and its most successful offspring, the World Wide Web, to be rich in scientific content. But of course, as with all things Web-spun, knowing it is there and finding it are two very different things.
Now, though, there’s help in locating online science information through a service that harkens back to another of the Internet’s origins. The Net originated with the government — originally mandated by the U.S. Defense Department back in the late 1960s — so it is only fitting that one of the best new portals for scientific data should come from Uncle Sam.
Science.gov is a gateway to authoritative selected science information provided by assorted U.S. government agencies, including research and development results. A spinoff of the Web’s FirstGov.com site, Science.gov lets you search technical reports, journal articles, press releases, and more. To check it out, visit the site at http://www.science.gov, where a detailed, no-nonsense introductory page provides direct links to a dozen broad categories of information, in a very Yahoo-like arrangement of links that include:
* Agriculture & Food, with material on food safety, gardening, pesticides, veterinary science, and so on.
* Applied Science & Technologies, covering topics such as biotechnology, electronics, engineering, and transportation.
* Astronomy & Space, focusing on exploration, planets, and related technologies.
* Biology & Nature, with special emphasis on animals and plants, ecology, genetics, pest control, and so on.
* Computers & Communication, covering networks, hardware, and software.
* Earth & Ocean Sciences, focusing on land, maps, natural disasters, oceans, weather, and the like.
* Energy & Energy Conservation, with topics such as energy use, fossil fuel, solar, wind, etc.
* Environment & Environmental Quality, covering air/water/noise quality, cleanup, and climate change.
* Health & Medicine, with links to discussions of disease, health care, nutrition, mental health, and so on.
* Math, Physics & Chemistry, including astrophysics, chemicals, mathematical modeling, etc.
* Natural Resources & Conservation, covering matters such as ecosystems, energy resources, forestry, mining, and the like.
* Science Education, with homework help, teaching aids and more.
Also scroll to the bottom of the introductory screen to find the site’s featured Web sites. At this writing, these included NASA, the Children’s Environmental Health & Safety site, MEDLINEplus Health Information, SciTechResources, the Climate Information Services Portal, and the Global Change Research Program. For alternate views of the resources, the site offers links at the top of the screen to both a site map, outlining the entire site organization, and a handy alphabetized index.
Other considerations for using Science.gov in your writing and editing:
1. Science.gov enables you to search two kinds of information: Selected Web sites and the databases listed with highlighted technical reports, journal articles, and other published materials. These can be searched simultaneously or separately. To get started, click the Search link at the top of any page, then follow instructions on the resulting screen to select or de-select checkboxes. The options offer full-text searching within and across databases selected.
2. In searching, AND and OR operators are generally supported as is the asterisk (*) as a wildcard character (so ecolog* finds both “ecology” and “ecological.” The searches are not case sensitive and results are hyperlinked to expanded information.
3. Information and links on the site are contributed by assorted federal agencies. The site itself is hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information.