Internet resources: Miscellaneous

The resources below are loosely grouped by category. However, this grouping is inevitably rough. Some resources may be listed in more than one place. Others probably should be. Look around!
Colleges and universities (local, and beyond)
Of local interest...

Art & Music (Chinese, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish) + New 9/13/16, 10/31/16.
Books + New 9/15/16.
Environmental issues
Mathematics; statistics (French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish) + New 8/6/16.
Science: News, Discussion forums, General (Chinese, French, Spanish) + New 4/6/16.
Science: History + New 8/24/16.

General reference
Bottom of page; return links, contact information

Some sections that used to be on this page have been moved. Remember that all pages of Internet Resources can be accessed from the page List of pages of Internet resources.
If a language is listed above, in red, it means that one or more items in that language is listed. (Some of these items may be multilingual. These sites usually have a button near the top or bottom of the page to let you switch from one language to another.)

I am happy to receive contributions to consider for this page. However, I should emphasize that I want this to be fairly short but diverse. If you send me a long list of sites to list, I will probably just ignore the whole list. I'd rather hear about one site of some special interest -- and I am more likely to check one suggested site than many.

Please let me know if you find an improper link, and I will try to fix it.

Links to external sites will open in a new window.

Colleges and universities (local, and beyond)

The home page for the University of California at Berkeley is

News Center for the Berkeley campus:
Calendar of Events:
Music Dept Calendar:

For an introduction to the UC libraries, see my page on Library matters. Major topic areas here include: UC Berkeley library; electronic journals; journal articles; PubMed (Medline) searches; citation searches.

Online publications from UC Berkeley highlighting research and other university activities include...
* Lab Notes, from the College of Engineering:
* Bioenergy Connection from the Energy Biosciences Institute: This site is also listed under Internet resources: Introduction to Organic and Biochemistry -- Energy resources.

A UC Berkeley student publication dealing with science issues. Published once per semester and distributed free on campus. Back files are available online.
* Berkeley Science Review. Discusses work going on at Berkeley.

UC Berkeley video and podcasts for courses and events.

The two local national laboratories associated with UC Berkeley:

* Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Lots of stuff. Among things you might look at are the News Center, available from the home page (near bottom right), and the Research Review Magazine, at An earlier publication, Science Beat, includes a memorial to Glenn Seaborg; it is now available in their news archive at The Research Review Magazine for Fall 2001 features nanotechnology; the first article includes STM images of atoms.

The Friends of Science group sponsors public lectures by LBL staff. Information and archives are at

* Lawrence Livermore National Lab. Science & Technology Review, a magazine from the LLNL about work at the Lab. It is available from their home page (above), or directly: Mail subscriptions are also available, free.


A list of San Francisco Bay Area Colleges and Universities. Includes community colleges, Cal State and UC campuses, and private colleges.

The following sites have extensive lists of universities from around the world:

Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) -- a list of the "top 500" universities in the world, based on their graduate programs: The site includes lists by field. There are many lists of universities by one or another ranking; caution should be used with any such list. Nevertheless, this one, from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, has a world perspective and a good reputation. [The ARWU site is also noted in the Musings post Science in Asia-Pacific region -- as ranked by Nature (April 13, 2010).] The Wikipedia page about this site has a lot of information, and could be a good place to start: OpenCourseWare, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT has decided to offer most of its course materials on the web, with free access. Look around; the contents vary widely, from a few handouts to almost complete textbooks. The site is expected to grow.

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Of local interest... Web site of the Marian Koshland Science Museum, which opened in April 2004 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC. Includes interactive activities and animations. (Why is this listed as "local"? Marian Koshland was long on the faculty at Univ Calif Berkeley -- and was one of my professors there when I was in grad school.) Visit the world's finest science museum, famous for its informal and interactive exhibits. Several exhibits are online (mostly involving visual effects). Better yet, why not just go over there in person?

One of the Bay Area's more famous residents has her own web site, at -- or is it www.koko.gor? A site about earthquakes in the San Francisco Bay Area. Links to maps showing local earthquake predictions. From ABAG, the Association of Bay Area Governments.

For a world view of earthquake hazards, see the Global Seismic Hazard Assessment Program, from the Swiss Seismological Service.

And for a log of what has already happened, see, from the US Geological Service. This page leads to a list of the most recent earthquakes in the world, "near real time". A central source of information for all public transit around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Information about local libraries in the Berkeley area is at: Local Public Libraries (Berkeley area) section of the Library Matters page.

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Art & Music

Topics include (in order shown, with direct links to some along the way): Timeline; Pictures at an Exhibition; The Seasons: the poems; Historic recordings (Johannes Brahms at the piano; restoration technology); Ancient instruments; Extending the reach of the Beethoven symphonies; The Bruckner symphonies; A Chronology of the Symphony 1730-2005; Instrument ranges; Longevity; Names of the Keys in French, German, Italian, and Spanish; Pipe organs (Largest; corrosion; Videos of famous organists); Stravinsky; CD technology; Oxford Music Online; Science (Borodin; Herschel; medicine in the arts; Scientific music).

Thanks to MAM & GJP who, probably unwittingly, are behind me starting this section.

Some posts in my Musings newsletter relate to art and music, sometimes with a science connection. Some of these are noted below in context. Here is a sampling of others:
* Added October 31, 2016. Musical dissonance: is it innate? (October 31, 2016).
* Added September 13, 2016. Death by bagpipe (September 13, 2016).
* The man who established the (US) National Academy of Sciences (February 12, 2016).
* Bob Dylan and biomedical research (January 20, 2016).
* Could vibration (or loud music) improve the performance of a solar cell? (December 11, 2013).
* What to do with old floppy disk drives (October 15, 2013).
* Quantum gravity: the musical version (September 25, 2013).
* Stanford Linear Accelerator recovers 18th century musical score (June 22, 2013).
* Better violins through better fungi? (March 4, 2013).
* Alan Turing -- and the music of Iamus (November 14, 2012).
* Baseball and violins (May 15, 2012).
* Spiders and violins (May 4, 2012).
* Identifying whale songs: You can help (January 4, 2012).
* Vox Balaenae (January 4, 2012).
* Leopard horses (December 2, 2011).
* Should the music industry use MRI scans to predict the success of new songs? (June 28, 2011).
* Tracking new songs as they cross the Pacific (June 21, 2011).
* Petri dish art (May 11, 2011).
* Music-making technology -- for the physically disabled (April 23, 2011).
* Playing music can make you sick (July 31, 2010).
* Why are musical instruments featured on the cover of EID? (June 7, 2010).
* The sounds of vegetables (March 31, 2010).
* Lesbian necrophiliacs (March 8, 2010).
* Neurobiology lesson (Bobby McFerrin) (December 21, 2009).
* Lux aeterna: Mushrooms; Mozart (December 7, 2009)
* The smallest violin (November 16, 2009).
* Vanessa-Mae music; follow-up (June 25, 2009).
* Visualizing music (June 18, 2009). Bach.
* Tesla coils -- music (May 31, 2009). Bach -- and more.

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Timeline. Greg Pearce's personal synopsis of the history of classical music: If you have any suggestions for additions to the sparser regions of his lower figure, drop him an e-mail. (Greg is the primary author of the ChemFormula macro, to assist with formatting chemical expressions in Microsoft Word: ChemFormula.)

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Pictures at an Exhibition. The music may be familiar, whether from Mussorgsky's original piano work or the famous orchestration by Ravel. But what about the pictures themselves? This site is a collection of many of Viktor Hartmann's paintings, including several that are the basis of "Pictures". Among them is Hartmann's imagined view of the Great Gate of Kiev. It is quite remarkable how the grandeur of this non-existent gate (it never was built) grew as the mantle of its artistic expression passed from Hartmann to Mussorgsky to Ravel. The Wikipedia page for the work now includes the relevant surviving pictures. It also includes a list of arrangements of Pictures for various ensembles... about 80 of them at this writing.

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The Seasons: the poems. Once again, the music is familiar. Vivaldi's set of violin concerti celebrating the annual cycle is one of the most popular pieces of music around. Yet few know that the music is accompanied by poems (sonnets), probably written by Vivaldi himself. There is no reason to believe that Vivaldi intended the poems to be included in a performance of the music, but they are included on at least one recording, and they do offer some insight. The poems, in both Italian and English, are at:

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Historic recordings

Johannes Brahms at the piano. One of the very first music recordings (and certainly one of the oldest that survives) was made by an associate of Thomas Alva Edison in 1889. It includes Brahms playing an excerpt from one of his Hungarian Dances. The sound quality at this point is poor, but it is a serious project to try to de-noise it, using analysis of the digitized version of the recording. Jonathan Berger, of the Historical Recordings Project at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University, is responsible for much of this work. His web page discusses the recording and its restoration, includes links to "wav" files of the recording as they got it plus several attempts to de-noise it, and a link to a detailed article about the recording.

The home page for the CCRMA: From there, you might choose Research, then Research Groups, then Historical Recordings Project. The small collection of "Resources" on their Historical Recordings page gives links to some other excellent sites.

The "wav" files at the CCRMA site above are often 3-5 Mb. There are some smaller versions available. I assume that the smaller size is due to a lower sampling rate. For some of these smaller files, see:
* Choose "Audio" from menu at left. From Igor Popovic, Yale Computational Mathematics.
* wav and MP3 files. The premise of this site is that the voice on the recording is that of Brahms. This is unlikely, as explained by Berger. But that uncertainty has no implication for using this site as a source of the music files. (This is an archive of a site that is no longer maintained.)

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Restoration by IRENE and friends. Another approach to reading old recordings is being pursued at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, by Carl Haber and Vitaliy Fadeyev. They analyze the surface by optical means, and then convert the optical scans to sound files. (Remember that phonograph recordings of the Edison type were normally played back with mechanical reading, by the phonograph "needle".) Their web site, the Sound Reproduction R & D Home Page, is Irene? IRENE = Image, Reconstruct, Erase, Noise, Etc. IRENE is one specific project within this broader framework of optical analysis of sound recordings. The web site includes scientific papers on the work.

Carl Haber, one of the scientists of that project, has been awarded a MacArthur grant. Berkeley Lab Scientist Named MacArthur "Genius" Fellow for Audio Preservation Research. (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, September 24, 2013.)

More about this work, mostly from the popular press:

* From the US National Park Service -- the Thomas Edison National Historical Park (May 2011): Early Talking Doll Recording Discovered. Here they announce playing a recording made by the Edison company in 1888 for use in a talking doll. This recording would seem to represent the first commercial recording. The cylinder was too bent to be read by a regular playback device, but could be read by the optical method. The page here includes a link to the audio file.

This item was also featured in a Musings post: Restoration of old sound recordings (July 23, 2011).

* By Christine Chen, in the UC Berkeley student newspaper Daily Cal (April 2008): Scientists Restore Earliest Known Sound Recording. A fascinating story, which made many of the popular news media. Lawrence Berkeley scientists, using technology of the IRENE type, "played back" a recording from 1860 -- 17 years before Edison's first recordings. The recording had been made by marking a soot-covered piece of paper; so far as we know, it had never before been played back. The recording technique was invented by Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville -- but he did not have any way to play the recordings back.

* For more about this work, see the story by David Perlman, of the San Francisco Chronicle: Physicists convert first known sound recording (March 2008). There is a link to a sound file at the end of the article.

* By Jessica Kwong, in the Daily Cal (August 2007): Lawrence Lab's New Cure for Lost Voices.
* By Keay Davidson, in the San Francisco Chronicle (July 2004): Digitizing the voices of the past - Science perfects sound of century-old recordings.

A recording of Edison reading poetry is the basis of a Musings post: Thomas Alva Edison reads poetry (July 23, 2009).

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Ancient instruments

From historic recordings it is perhaps the logical next step here to go to ancient instruments.

An archeological expedition in Ireland has uncovered a set of tuned wooden pipes -- 4100 years old. They suspect these were part of a musical instrument. Here is an article by archeologist Margaret Gowen, 4000 Year-old Music? Unique prehistoric musical instrument discovered in Co. Wicklow, Ireland, May 17, 2004. (This copy of the article is at the web site of the Portuguese Bagpipe Society. It include a sample of the sounds from these pipes.)

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Chinese researchers have discovered ancient flutes in excavations at Jiahu (Henan Province); some are intact and playable. The site has been dated using carbon-14 as being nearly 9000 years old; thus these flutes currently stand as the oldest playable musical instruments. The following link is to a press release from Brookhaven National Lab (a collaborator on the project, along with Chinese labs); it includes a picture of these ancient flutes and links to music files of them being played. Brookhaven Lab Expert Helps Date Flute Thought to be Oldest Playable Musical Instrument. Bone flute found in China at 9,000-year-old Neolithic site. September 22, 1999.

This work was published: J Zhang et al, Oldest playable musical instruments found at Jiahu early Neolithic site in China. Nature 401:366, 9/23/99.
* The abstract is freely available:
* A file of spoken "commentary", in Chinese, and a music file are freely available under supplementary information: The commentary is item 2, the music file is item 3. (The file names that light up when you move the cursor over the links are helpful, but the files sizes stated are wrong.)

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Stone-age flutes. A news story highlighting the discovery of fragments of 35,000 year old flutes. The site contains a short clip of playing a replica of one of these. (See "Multimedia", at the left a few lines below the main figure near top.)

This story is presented more fully in the Musings post: A new flute -- 35,000 years old (July 1, 2009).

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Neandertal flutes? A leg bone from a bear, found among Neandertal artifacts dated as 43,000-82,000 years old, has been interpreted as being part of a flute. The key evidence is the spacing of four holes, which can be interpreted in terms of universally pleasing musical scales. The following page, from Canadian musicologist Bob Fink, makes the case that the holey bone is the remains of an ancient flute -- the oldest known musical instrument. "Neanderthal Flute. Oldest Musical Instrument's 4 Notes Matches 4 of Do, Re, Mi Scale":

The two items above are about old flutes. There is controversy about many such discoveries. In particular, there is controversy about the claim that the Neandertal bone with holes in it is really a work of man. My sense is that the experts still debate this. So, it is one thing to note the discovery as interesting and that it might be a Neandertal relic; however, I do not have the expertise to judge the debate. If this really interests you, go read the details.

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Extending the reach of the Beethoven symphonies.

"Today his symphonies are universally regarded as masterpieces. ... I shall be satisfied if I have fulfilled the duty of an intelligent engraver, a conscientious translator, who grasp the spirit of a work along with the letter, and who thus help to spread the understanding of the masters and the appreciation of the beautiful." The words of Franz Liszt, from the preface to his set of transcriptions for solo piano of all the Beethoven symphonies, 1865. (As translated from the French by Leslie Howard, and printed in the liner notes for Howard's recording of the complete set, Vol 22 of Howard's Liszt series for Hyperion.) This was, of course, long before the days of recordings, and Liszt's goal (in these and his many other transcriptions) was to be able to bring more music to smaller communities that lacked full orchestras.

I learned of these transcriptions only recently, and approached them with considerable trepidation and skepticism. The Beethoven symphonies are so powerful and complex, how could one possibly do justice to them with only one piano? Surely the results would be disappointing, a particular problem with these familiar works. On the other hand, Liszt was a distinguished pianist and composer, and is well known for piano transcriptions of many works. Maybe. I started cautiously, with Scherbakov's recording of the Eroica (see below). A minute into that recording -- or was it only 20 seconds? -- I was convinced. This was the Eroica, the familiar Eroica, now in a new form. Has anything since dampened my enthusiasm for these works? Not much. The biggest disappointment is the Finale of the Ninth, but this is not exactly a surprise. Liszt long argued that he could not properly do this movement with only one piano. In the end, he compromised -- and did it omitting most of the vocal parts. Apparently, Liszt hoped that his piano version of the Ninth would be done with vocalists along with the piano. So far as I know, this has never been done, and indeed there is some emptiness in this piano work. But that is a small complaint in the big picture.

It's important to realize that these are serious works. They are not watered down transcriptions so that amateur pianists can play their own Beethoven symphonies. And they are not Liszt. They are faithful transcriptions of the Beethoven scores, done by an expert transcriptionist and virtuoso pianist, retaining the spirit and much of the letter of the originals. At worst, they are magnificent Beethoven piano sonatas ("super-sonatas", some have called them). But they will inevitably be compared with the familiar symphonies; I think they stand up well.

Among the recordings of these transcriptions are a complete set by Leslie Howard, on Hyperion, and a set in progress by Konstantin Scherbakov, on Naxos. I have mentioned both of these above. The former seems to be available only as the complete set, so if you want to make a small step, the Scherbakov set has the advantage that you can buy a single CD. In fact, the one most really available seems to be a CD of the 1st and 3rd (Eroica) symphonies.

Here are two web sites that will introduce you to these transcriptions. Both are reviews of Scherbakov recordings, but I intend them not to endorse any particular performances but as commentary on the set.
Comment... One of those reviews states a preference for the acoustics of the hall used for the Howard recordings. I am inclined to disagree; I found the sound of the Scherbakov recording cleaner, and preferable. A small point, a matter of taste.

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The Bruckner symphonies. The Several Versions of Bruckner's Symphonies (a synopsis), by Jose Oscar Marques. Information on the various editions and revisions, and on available recordings. Also in Portuguese.

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A Chronology of the Symphony 1730-2005. By Kyle Gann (Bard College), originally for a course he was teaching on the symphony. It's basically a list of symphonies, with dates -- over nearly three centuries.

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Instrument ranges. The following site shows the range of notes for many of the common instruments.

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Longevity. The subject of long-lived composers came up in a discussion. Many know that Mozart and Schubert died in their 30s (and Pergolesi and Arriaga died even younger). But what about the other end of the spectrum? My first guess at the longest lived composer was Joaquin Rodrigo, who died in 1999 at age 97. However, more recently, I have learned about the Russian-American composer Leo Ornstein, who died in 2002 at age 108. For information about this composer, who was actively composing at age 97: The first work of his I heard was a brief piano work. It was quite unusual, quite radical; fascinating, perhaps even enjoyable.

The American composer Elliott Carter was born in December 1908. In December 2008 he celebrated his one hundredth birthday -- and was still composing.
* The Wikipedia article on Carter includes a list of his works -- continuing through 2012, a few months before his death.
* A news story about the New York concert on his 100th birthday, with the composer in attendance. D J Wakin, Turning 100 at Carnegie Hall, With New Notes, December 11, 2008. This item links to a review of the concert.

Carter's longevity is the subject of a post in my Musings newsletter: Elliott Carter: 100th birthday (December 23, 2008).

Does anyone know of other centenarian composers?

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Names of the Keys in French, German, Italian, and Spanish. From the Yale University Music Library.

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Pipe organs

A list of some of the largest pipe organs in the world: There are pictures of some of them. This page is part of a larger site on organs, with an emphasis on big theater organs; it seems to consist of a wide variety of pages maintained by different people. Lots of variety, not much organization; fortunately much of the content is interesting and of high quality.

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Pipe organ corrosion. Turns out that European pipe organs are corroding -- except in Britain. For information about this, see the web site of the "Corrosion of lead and lead-tin alloys of organ pipes in Europe" project (acronym COLLAPSE), headed by C J Bergsten at the Organ Art Center, Gothenburg University, Sweden: (Discussed in Nature 427:8, 1/1/04.)

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Videos of famous organists. Watching an organist can be as exciting as listening -- though we often do not get a good view at a live performance. Now, video clips are appearing on sources such as Youtube, offering a glimpse of the artistry -- and showmanship -- of some of the greats of yesteryear. Here is a sampling. You can find more, from the listings of "related videos" that will appear, or by using their search function.
* Pierre Cochereau, long time organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, and known for his improvisations. Here is "Toccata".
* Virgil Fox, of the Riverside Church in New York City. Here is Bach's Gigue Fugue. Recommended by Greg Pearce, in the UK.
More? Well, this started by me listing one item -- and I immediately got a recommendation of another. So I adjusted the format to accommodate that. I'll consider adding more, but only one per organist. It is unlikely that I will bump any items already listed, but I'll try any contributions. Decision of the site owner is final!

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Video of Stravinsky conducting The Firebird (complete, 32 minutes):

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CD technology. The CD-recordable FAQ, maintained by Andy McFadden, at Also in French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Russian, Turkish.

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Oxford Music Online. Major reference work. Online at Requires a subscription, but some libraries subscribe. Those using a UC Berkeley computer have access. This new Oxford resource includes and supercedes the famous Grove music dictionaries.

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Science. Connections between science and art or music.

Borodin. There is little doubt that the most famous person to make a significant mark both as a scientist and as a composer was the 19th century Russian chemist-composer Alexander Borodin. For a nice introduction to Borodin's dual career: Interestingly, the article also notes that the well-known composer Edward Elgar tinkered a bit with chemistry.

For those who want to explore the chemist side of the composer of Prince Igor... M D Gordin, Facing the music: How original was Borodin's chemistry? J Chemical Education 83:561, 4/06. This article also provides some insight into the science of the era. It is listed as Further Reading in the Ch 10 handout (Aldehydes and ketones) for Organic/Biochemistry. Organic/Biochemistry handouts.

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Uranus Uranus, the first planet to be discovered in the age of telescopes. It was discovered in 1781 by William Herschel -- whose first career was as a musician (organist and composer). Most articles about Herschel only briefly mention his earlier career. The Wikipedia article is typical: I have heard a few of his works, symphonies and solo organ works; they seem to be pleasant if not very exciting.

The Inimitable Caroline, an article by J D Fernie. It focuses on Herschel's sister, but is a good overview of both William and Caroline, and their dual lives as musicians and astronomers. American Scientist 95:486, 11/07. Free online, at

For a nice little book about the Herschels, see my page of Book suggestions.

The image of Uranus was taken by the Voyager 2 spacecraft, and can be seen on the NASA page:

A Musings post about the Voyager missions: At the edge of the solar system (September 28, 2012).

A Musings post about Herschel's discovery of Uranus, with an excerpt from his original paper: The first report of a new planet (March 13, 2011).

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"The Literature, Arts & Medicine Database is an annotated multimedia listing of prose, poetry, film, video and art that was developed to be a dynamic, accessible, comprehensive resource for teaching and research in Medical Humanities, and for use in health/pre-health, graduate and undergraduate liberal arts and social science settings". From New York University School of Medicine. I have also listed this item under Medicine: other.

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Scientific music. From time to time people develop ways to visualize chemical or biological phenomena through music. A couple of examples...

The internal 'orchestra' of the earth. The vibrations of the earth -- re-scaled to be audible. From John Bullitt. His web site: includes some sound samples. His "Press" section includes a Boston Globe newspaper article with the title I used here.

gene 2 music: Protein sequences as music. From Rie Takahashi, a classically-trained pianist and microbiologist at the University of California, San Diego. A news story introducing this site: Music made to measure from nature's proteins.

Molecular Music. From biochemist and musician Dr Linda Long. See her FAQ for info on how it is done. (This is actually a commercial site, but some short free samples are available. I post this merely for fun. Go try some "Music for muscle and bone", or whatever.)

π. Make sure your sound is "on". Also listed in the Mathematics; statistics section.

On my BITN Resources page, Miscellaneous topics, there is a section for Art. Most of the items there deal with artistic aspects of DNA.

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Books for specific subjects may be found in appropriate sections of this page, such as Mathematics; statistics. Also see: Biology: books and glossaries, Medicine: books and reference materials, Microbiology: books, Chemistry: Textbooks online (includes biochemistry), and pages for individual courses.

For some suggested books for general reading on a range of science topics, see my page Books: Suggestions for general science reading.

To find a library that has a book you want, try WorldCat. They claim "Over 1 billion items in more than 10,000 libraries worldwide".

For information on buying books online, see my Buying books page.

Textbooks. These sites list textbooks that are freely available online. A wide range of subject areas, science and more.
* Open Textbook Library. Maintained at the University of Minnesota. Added September 15, 2016.
* Textbook Revolution.

The following sites have books online -- books that you can read free on your computer screen. Of course, copyright restrictions limit what can be made available free, but many classic books are available.

Great Books Online. Sections of this broad collection include Reference, Verse, Fiction, and Non-fiction. Look for works by Aristotle, Einstein, Shakespeare -- and many more. Reference books include Gray's Anatomy and the Columbia Encyclopedia.

Electronic Scholarly Publishing. "The ESP site is dedicated to the electronic publishing of scientific and other scholarly materials. Of particular interest are the history of science, genetics, computational biology, and genome research." Scroll down to "Digital Books" for complete copies of some of Darwin's books (among others). (This site is also listed for the Molecular Biology course, Ch 1 as a source of classic papers in genetics, as well as the books.)

The On-Line Books Page: Book Listings. Includes over 25,000 items.

Internet Public Library. Over 18,000 titles (books and journals). Browse options include the Dewey decimal system.

eBooks@Adelaide. A collection of classic works of Literature, Philosophy, Science, History, and Exploration and Travel; from the Library at the University of Adelaide, in Australia. One listing is chronological -- back to 800 B.C.; to get that listing, go to

The Million Book Project; they are not done yet, but much is available.

UC Press has made many of their older books available online. (Apparently, some are available to the public, but some are not.) Part of the California Digital Library.

Google Books. Some books can be downloaded, as pdf files.

The National Academy Press, publishing books and reports from institutions such as the US National Academy of Sciences. These books often represent expert scientific analyses of scientific issues of public policy concern. Over 2500 books -- available to be read online or purchased in print.

PubMed Bookshelf. Searchable full text versions of some textbooks in the biomedical sciences. Books include the Alberts et al and Lodish et al textbooks in molecular and cell biology, the Stryer (Berg et al) biochemistry book, the Cooper cell biology book, and the Griffiths et al genetics book. This is from the National Center for Biotechnology, and is part of the PubMed (Medline) system. More books are being added. (If you are already at the PubMed site, choose Books.)

Free books for doctors: A collection of online medical books. It's quite a collection -- basic and specialized! The emphasis is clearly medical, but there is a useful supply of books in the basic sciences, including biochemistry, genetics, and microbiology. The extensive list of medical topics includes such things as sports medicine and travel medicine; check the "Topics" list. Books in several languages are listed. Also, click on Journals, and you will get a list of medical journals that are available online; some of the major medical journals release their files for free access a few months after publication. This site is also listed for Internet resources for biology -- Medicine: books and reference materials. (Thanks to Gunjan Gala, Mumbai University, for recommending this site.)

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Environmental issues

The Environmental Literacy Council maintains a site that is intended to provide a range of educational information about many environmental issues:

The following site is a useful source of data about possible pollution sources. Type in your ZIP code, and learn about your neighborhood. It was originally from an environmental organization -- an advocacy group. So, caution... not unbiased, but still interesting and useful.

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Mathematics; statistics

Posts in my Musings newsletter on these topics, more broadly including data presentation and analysis, include:
* Added August 6, 2016. What does a p value mean? Statisticians make a statement (August 6, 2016).
* How graphs can mislead (May 24, 2015).
* Pi (November 10, 2014).
* More on the story of p (March 2, 2014).
* Should τ replace π? (July 1, 2011). With music.
* Hexaflexagon -- make one for yourself, to honor Martin Gardner (July 26, 2010).
* Mission Improbable (November 10, 2009).

My page Books: Suggestions for general science reading lists some books in this area. They include:
* Gardner, Undiluted Hocus-Pocus -- The Autobiography of Martin Gardner (2013).
* Wheelan, Naked Statistics -- Stripping the dread from the data (2013).
* Devlin, The Man of Numbers -- Fibonacci's arithmetic revolution (2011).
* Stewart, The Mathematics of Life (2011).
* Blastland & Dilnot, The Tiger That Isn't: Seeing Through a World of Numbers (2008).
* Fadiman (ed), Fantasia Mathematica -- Being a set of stories, together with a group of oddments and diversions, all drawn from the universe of mathematics (1958). Includes: A Subway named Moebius, a 1950 short story by A J Deutsch.

Graph paper. The following two sites are among several available which provide you templates for graph paper of various types. Different sites use different approaches (allowing you to specify graph line spacing; providing pdf files of a range of graph papers; providing programs you can download and use to make your own).
* Regular grid paper only, but you can design your own grid.
* A wide range of pdf files available, for regular grid paper, as well as log papers and more.

Collections of math formulas:
* NIST Digital Library of Mathematical Functions -- a digital version of the Handbook of Mathematical Functions. At this writing, it is a preview -- with only a few chapters actually online; full release is planned for early 2009.
* Geometry Formulas and Facts:
* Equation World: The World of Mathematical Equations: Emphasizes calculus (differential equations, integrals). Also in French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish.

Stan Brown includes links to many math resources useful to students, as well as his own page on Trig without Tears.

The following sites allow you to do a variety of statistical calculations online, and offer explanatory material. The first two include an online statistics textbook.

The following site is a statistics site oriented toward engineering. It does link to some software.

Statsoft Electronic Statistics Textbook:

The following site is the FAQ for the newsgroup, by Darrell Ryan. That newsgroup was long a good place for students to ask basic math questions, and the FAQ discusses how to post, how to clearly write math expressions in simple text format -- and also answers some math questions. (The old newsgroup has largely been superseded by other resources, but the FAQ page remains useful.)

Earliest Known Uses of Some of the Words of Mathematics. From Jeff Miller, Gulf High School, New Port Richey, Florida.

π. Make sure your sound is "on". Also listed in the Art & Music section -- Science.

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The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Richard Feynman's classic physics book, co-authored with Robert B Leighton and Matthew Sands, is now available on the web. (At this point, only Volumes I & III are available.) For those who want the story of how this fully corrected web edition came to be, see the preface by Kip Thorne:

Useful information, with a physics emphasis:

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Science: News, Discussion forums, General

For information on searching the scientific literature, finding electronic journals, etc, see my page Library matters.


The sites listed in this group are broad-based news sites. They often take press releases from the institutions where work was done, and post them with only slight changes. These sites are very good for just broad awareness. and its spin-off Medical Xpress. and

Science Daily.

Daily science news, from the journal Nature.

Kurzweil AI (Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence). Part of a broader site inspired by inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil. You can sign up for a daily e-mail of news from them; choose "Newsletter" (near the top). It's short and rather idiosyncratic in coverage, which is why I like it.

CIDRAP -- the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (University of Minnesota). A site specializing in infectious diseases. It includes a news section; you can sign up for a daily e-mail. I list CIDRAP on my page Biotechnology in the News (BITN) in the section Emerging diseases. It is also listed for some specific diseases.

EurekAlert!. From their "About us": "EurekAlert! is an online, global news service operated by AAAS, the science society [publishers of Science magazine]. EurekAlert! provides a central place through which universities, medical centers, journals, government agencies, corporations and other organizations engaged in research can bring their news to the media. EurekAlert! also offers its news and resources to the public. EurekAlert! features news and resources focused on all areas of science, medicine and technology."

Eureka! Science News. A collection of daily science news from a range of sources.

The two items above, with similar names, are not related.

NSF. The US National Science Foundation offers many options for reading its diverse news stories, including a daily e-mail digest.

Discussion forums

Reddit. Reddit is perhaps the successor to the old Usenet, but operating entirely on the web (that is, with a web browser interface). It contains diverse autonomous groups (called subreddits), each with its own character. One good place to start for someone interested in chemistry or molecular biology is the Biochemistry group. Aside from its own content, it has a nice list of related groups in the sidebar, and a new FAQ full of information for students.

Teachers may be interested in the subreddit of that name, which links to a range of more specialized subreddits, including ScienceTeachers.

How do you find a subreddit on a topic of interest? There is no easy general way. (There is no list you can browse, as far as I know.) You can use a regular search engine, searching on reddit plus subject terms of your choice. You can also use the Reddit function for searching for subreddits -- if you can find it.

Added April 6, 2016. A list of science subreddits has recently been started. It is apparently maintained by hand, so is not guaranteed to be complete. However, it looks useful.

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) has long maintained several email discussion forums (listservs). Many of these focus on the activities and interests of a particular division of the society. Some are general, such as "microbiology education" (microedu). Unfortunately, ASM has recently closed all these lists to the public; ASM membership is now required. Despite this unfortunate development, the quality of the microedu forum (the one I am most familiar with) remains high. If you belong to ASM, you should look into these lists. Info about the ASM listservs, and sign-up (ASM members only):

The Chemed-l discussion group is at (The final character of the group name is a lower case letter "el", not the number "one".)

Social media. Science has spawned its own social network sites. How useful are they? How are they used? The news arm of Nature magazine addresses this in the following "news feature": R Van Noorden, Online collaboration: Scientists and the social network -- Giant academic social networks have taken off to a degree that no one expected even a few years ago. A Nature survey explores why. August 13, 2014. It is freely available at This is a case where it may be good to read the posted comments, too.


Sources of U.S. government information on the sciences and technology:

VLIB = The WWW Virtual Library. This site contains links to useful sites over a wide range of areas, science and non-science. Major sections include: agriculture, the arts, business and economics, communications and media, computing and computer science, education, engineering, humanities and humanistic studies, information and libraries, international affairs, law, natural sciences and mathematics, recreation, regional studies, social and behavioural sciences, society. A good general reference site for browsing. Also available in Chinese, French, Spanish.

NSDL = National Science Digital Library. "NSDL is the Nation's online library for education and research in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics." It includes resources intended for K-12 teachers, librarians, university faculty, and more. From the US National Science Foundation.

Benita Epstein Cartoons. An extensive collection, in many fields of science -- and more; see the menu bar at the left. This is a commercial site, but you can view the collection.

Pseudoscience. "What is it? How can I recognize it?" A nice page discussing the difference between good science and bad, with examples. From Steve Lower, Simon Fraser University.

Sense About Science. "Promoting good science and evidence for the public. Sense About Science is an independent charitable trust. We respond to the misrepresentation of science and scientific evidence on issues that matter to society, from scares about plastic bottles, fluoride and the MMR vaccine to controversies about genetic modification, stem cell research and radiation. Our recent and current priorities include alternative medicine, MRI, detox, nuclear power, evidence in public health advice, weather patterns and an educational resource on peer review." Recommended by UK physicist Greg Pearce.

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Science: History

Also see Chemistry: History and Medicine: history.

This section starts with two lists: the first is Musings posts, and the second is book suggestions.

Related posts in my Musings newsletter:
* Added August 24, 2016. Ten years of iPSC (August 24, 2016).
* The man who established the (US) National Academy of Sciences (February 12, 2016).
* Analysis of uranium samples from World War II Germany (November 7, 2015).
* Does anyone know how strong gravity is? (September 16, 2014).
* A device for controlling the cursor on the computer screen (July 10, 2013).
* Discovering how CO2 is captured during photosynthesis: The Andy Benson story (June 15, 2013).
* Carl Woese and the archaea (January 12, 2013).
* DNA: Watching the hopping supercoils (November 24, 2012).
* Silent Spring -- on its 50th anniversary (October 5, 2012).
* What does "Anopheles" mean? (August 27, 2012).
* Frank Oppenheimer, on his 100th birthday: the Exploratorium (August 14, 2012).
* Salvador Luria, on his 100th birthday: the Luria Delbrück experiment (August 13, 2012).
* Alan Turing, computable numbers, and the Turing machine (June 23, 2012).
* Lyell on fossil rain-prints (May 6, 2012).
* Blueprint of a seaweed (1843) (May 2, 2012).
* Glenn Seaborg centennial (April 18, 2012).
* Discovery of the neutron: 80th anniversary (February 27, 2012).
* Quiz: What's the connection... (February 14, 2012).
* Benjamin Franklin and the electrical kite (November 22, 2011).
* The Antikythera device: a 2000-year-old computer (August 31, 2011).
* Central Dogma of Molecular Biology (August 16, 2011).
* The first report of a new planet (March 13, 2011).
* Evolution of the end of Origin (November 30, 2009).

Here are some science history books that are listed on my page Books: Suggestions for general science reading. Of course, that is a broad topic; many books have a history component. The list here notes a few books where science history is perhaps the emphasis. The books are listed here in alphabetical order by first author.
* Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything, 2003.
* Cromer, Uncommon Sense: The heretical nature of science, 1993.
* Fara, Science -- A Four Thousand Year History, 2009.
* Leroi, The Lagoon -- How Aristotle Invented Science, 2014.
* Morris, The Matter Factory -- A history of the chemistry laboratory, 2015.
* Shachtman, Gentlemen Scientists and Revolutionaries -- The founding fathers in the age of enlightenment, 2014.
* Stott, Darwin's Ghosts - The secret history of evolution, 2012.
* Tanford, Ben Franklin Stilled the Waves: An informal history of pouring oil on water with reflections on the ups and downs of scientific life in general, 1989.
* Thomson, Jefferson's Shadow -- The Story of His Science, 2012. A collection of 520 scientific instruments from before 1600. Includes photos, descriptions, technical information, and bibliographies. From the Museum of the History of Science at Oxford Univ, plus other European museums. The Nobel e-Museum, with lots of information! English translations of articles from the Encyclopedia edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert, 1751-1777. Most of the articles are about science.

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General reference

Reference Desk is, by its own claim, "The single best source of facts on the Net". Long lists of links to general reference information. Check it out!

LibrarySpot provides links to academic and public libraries around the world. It also includes many links to general reference information.

CIA World Fact Book. Thanks to Borislav Dopudja (Univ Zagreb) for suggesting this site, which he calls a "nice and quick source of information" about the countries of the world. For each country, it includes both some historical overview and modern statistical information.

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Last update: February 16, 2017