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Foreword by Walter Cronkite  
Introduction - The National Science Foundation at 50: Where Discoveries Begin, by Rita Colwell  
Internet: Changing the Way we Communicate
Advanced Materials: The Stuff Dreams are Made of  
Education: Lessons about Learning  
Manufacturing: The Forms of Things Unknown  
Arabidopsis: Map-makers of the Plant Kingdom  
Decision Sciences: How the Game is Played  
Visualization: A Way to See the Unseen  
Environment: Taking the Long View  
Astronomy: Exploring the Expanding Universe  
Science on the Edge: Arctic and Antarctic Discoveries  
Disaster & Hazard Mitigation  
About the Photographs  
About the NSF  
Chapter Index  
The Internet: Changing the Way We Communicate

A Constellation of Opportunities

  • A solar wind blasts across Earth's magnetic field, creating ripples of energy that jostle satellites and disrupt electrical systems. Satellite data about the storm are downlinked through Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, passed on to a supercomputer center, and uploaded by NSF-funded physicists at the University of Maryland and at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Using the Internet, researchers work from their own offices, jointly creating computer images of these events, which will lead to better space-weather forecasting systems.

  • An NSF-funded anthropologist at Penn State University uses his Internet connection to wade through oceans of information. Finally, he chooses the EMBL-Genbank in Bethesda, Maryland, and quickly searches through huge amounts of data for the newly deciphered DNA sequence of a gene he's studying. He finds it, highlights the information, downloads it, and logs off.

  • It is time to adjust the space science equipment in Greenland. First, specialized radar is pointed at an auroral arc. Then an all-sky camera is turned on. The physicist controlling the equipment is part of a worldwide team of researchers working on NSF's Upper Atmospheric Research Collaboratory (UARC). When she's finished making the adjustments, the physicist pushes back from her computer in her Ann Arbor, Michigan, office, knowing the job is done.

  • The Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM) machine's camera, or LOMcam, puts a new picture on the Web every forty-five seconds, and the molecular biologist watches. From his office, he can already tell that the tele-manufacturing system is creating an accurate physical model of the virus he is studying. The San Diego Supercomputer Center's LOMcam continues to post pictures, but the biologist stops watching, knowing that he will soon handle and examine the physical rendering of the virus, and learn more about it than his computer screen image could ever reveal.

Fiber Optics - click for details

This is the Internet at work in the lives of scientists around the globe. "The Internet hasn't only changed how we do science, it permits entirely new avenues of research that could not have been contemplated just a few years ago," says George Strawn, executive officer of NSF's Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) and former division director for networking within CISE. "For example, the key to capitalizing on biologists' success in decoding the human genome is to use Internet-based data engines that can quickly manipulate even the most massive data sets."

PDF Version
A Constellation of Opportunities
A Public Net
From Modest Beginnings
The Launch of NSFNET
An End and a Beginning
Research on Today's Internet
Expectation for the Internet of Tomorrow
Fuzzball: The Innovative Router
Mosaic: The Original Browser
PACI: Computer Partnerships
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