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September 2003

Sigma Xi International Newsletter
Volume 2, Number 9
September 2003

This monthly electronic bulletin is designed to keep subscribers updated on developments in Sigma Xi's international activities as well as provide links and topics of interest to researchers around the world. To submit an item to the newsletter, contact the International Program Coordinator at international@sigmaxi.org. If you would like to, you can download and print a PDF version of this newsletter. To receive notice of this monthly newsletter, please use this online form.

Past Issues

In This Issue

Science in the Information Society
The United Nations planned the
World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) to provide the international discussion vital to the successful and continued growth of the global information society for the benefit of the world community. The overall goal of the WSIS is "to develop and foster a clear statement of political will and a concrete plan of action for achieving the goals of the Information Society, while fully reflecting all the different interests at stake." The International Council for Science (ICSU) has published four brochures summarizing its recent online forum and workshop convened to develop input to the upcoming first phase of the WSIS; these documents are now available online. Outlining the key principles, challenges, actions required, examples and agenda for action, each brochure addresses one of the following broad themes: universal access to scientific knowledge, decision making and governance, policy issues for scientific information, and improving education and training. The next step in the WSIS preparations is PrepCom III, to be held in Geneva on September 15-26, 2003, where an overall Declaration of Principles and Agenda for Action for the summit will be re-drafted. The first phase of WSIS is scheduled to take place in Geneva on December 10-12, 2003, and the second phase in Tunis on November 2005.

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Free Online Courses
Distance education, where the student is physically in a different location than the instructor, used to refer to correspondence courses by mail. Now the Internet affords learners unprecedented access to educational materials, and today, distance education usually refers to online courses. Several sites offer free tutorials and courses in the sciences and engineering, but only non-commercial sites with university-level classes will be mentioned here. One of the first such resources was the
World Lecture Hall (WLH) from the University of Texas at Austin. Since 2000, WLH has published links to pages created by faculty worldwide who are using the Web to deliver course materials in any language. The MIT OpenCourseWare site makes many of the course materials for classes at MIT freely available to anyone with Internet access. A collaborative effort of a consortium of higher education institutions, Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) is a free and open resource containing links to online learning materials along with annotations such as peer reviews and assignments. These three sites alone can connect a learner with hundreds of freely accessible courses.

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Communication of Science to the Public
Sigma Xi invites submissions from individuals or groups in Latin America and the Caribbean on successful projects communicating science to the public via mass media (written press, radio, television or Internet). Submissions, which can be written in English or Spanish, should include:

  1. the name of the project
  2. the names, affiliations and contact information of the organizers
  3. the source of project funding
  4. an abstract of no more than 300 words in length explaining the theme being communicated, the target audience, the method, the measure of success and regional impact
Two winning entries will be chosen to receive an expense-paid place at the 2003 Sigma Xi Forum, Science and Engineering: Keys to International Understanding, in Los Angeles on November 12-13, 2003, to present their project. Submissions may be made until 12:00 AM GMT on September 26, 2003 to Lisbeth Fog. This announcement is also available in Spanish.

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Time Equals Knowledge
Poor, expensive phone service is a continuing problem for researchers accessing the Internet from developing countries. To address this, a group at MIT is developing a low-connectivity search engine for users accessing the Internet by means of a bad phone connection called
TEK (Time Equals Knowledge). A remote user can submit a query to the TEK server, which, in turn, searches the Internet, locates and selects pages to return, compresses the pages, and e-mails them back to the user, hopefully within 24 hours. Alpha test versions of the program for both Windows and Linux users are also available. [Source: Internet Resources Newsletter]

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Did You Know?
U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is seeking comments from the public on ways to improve the "efficiency, effectiveness and accountability" of U.S. science funding. They are collecting information to assist the Subcommittee on Research Business Models in setting agendas for a series of regional workshops in the Fall of 2003 to solicit input and feedback from the research community. Comments are due by September 22, 2003. [Source: SPARC Open Access Newsletter]

Nominations are being accepted until September 26, 2003 of non-Mexican nationals in Iberoamerica (Central and South America, the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal) for the Mexican Science and Technology Prize 2003. Scientific and academic institutions in the above-mentioned countries may nominate individuals for the 440,000 Mexican peso award. The full announcement is available online in Spanish. [Source: SciDev.Net]

Two programs from the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) have a deadline of October 1, 2003. The TWAS Fellowships for Postdoctoral Research and Advanced Training allow young researchers from developing country institutions to spend 6-12 months at a research institution in another developing country. The ICSU-TWAS-UNESCO Visiting Scientist Program enables host institutions in developing countries to invite internationally renowned experts in areas of science other than math and physics to lecture for one month or longer.

The competition for Canada-U.S. Fulbright Awards is now open for Canadian students, scholars and professionals wishing to study, conduct research and/or teach at an academic institution in the United States. Applications from Canadian candidates must be post-marked no later than November 15, 2003 for consideration for the academic year beginning September 2004. American students must submit completed application forms to the Institute for International Education's New York office by October 21, 2003, and interested American scholars should contact the Council for International Exchange of Scholars.

The Pirelli Internetional Award is an Internet multimedia award for the diffusion of scientific and technological culture worldwide. Awards are granted every calendar year to the best multimedia presentations that concern one of three main themes for the diffusion of science and technology: multimedia oriented toward education, the environment, and the enabling information and communication technologies that package, deliver, present and define multimedia itself. More than 100,000 will be awarded in prizes. Submissions for the 2004 award must be received by December 31, 2003.

The X PRIZE is a competition to promote the space tourism industry. The US$10,000,000 prize will be awarded to the first team to privately build and launch a spaceship able to carry three people to an altitude of 100 km, return safely to Earth and repeat the launch with the same ship within two weeks.

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Upcoming Meetings
Sigma Xi's 2003 Forum -
Science & Engineering: Keys to International Understanding; November 12-13, 2003.

Global Access to UK Research: Removing the Barriers; London, UK; November 20, 2003.

CORDIA EuropaBio Convention 2003; Vienna, Austria; December 2-4, 2003.

Global Forum for Health Research Forum 7; Geneva, Switzerland; December 2-5, 2003.


For more information on any of the programs mentioned in this newsletter, please contact:

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
P. O. Box 13975, 3106 East NC Highway 54
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709 USA
Telephone: +1-919-549-4691 or +1-919-547-5246
Fax: +1-919-547-5263
E-mail: international@sigmaxi.org


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