With scientific research and technological developments proceeding at light speed, staying up to snuff requires more than just catching a sci-tech segment on CNN. Whether you want your science news slick and served with flair, or raw and dished up assembly-line style, the Web will give you what you crave.
Just as History House (www.historyhouse.com) makes the study of the past lively, Beyond 2000 (www.beyond2000.com) rescues the field of science from high school teachers and the white-coat mafia who hang out in the ivory tower. Based on the popular TV show of the same name, this site has panache aplenty, with articles like “Less Torque, More Action.”
At first glance, all the puns, alliteration, and snazzy graphics send out signals that this may be a fluff site, the online version of the “science report” on your local news—but Beyond 2000 delivers. It points out some amazing developments, such as human skin that never dies and monkeys who use their brain signals to move a robotic arm. Occasionally, the articles have a political edge to them, as when we learn that U.S. military police are road-testing new robocop equipment that lets them “see around corners, through trees, and in the dark.” On the other end of the seriousness scale, sometimes you’ll get answers to age-old puzzlers, such as why the bubbles in Guinness beer head downward or how we can make pig shit smell better.
If you scoff at such popularizations of science, then head to ScienceDaily (www.sciencedaily.com) to mainline a steady dose of unfiltered news releases from the country’s top academic and governmental research institutions. It’s really not as brain-crushing as it sounds—after all, the main point is to get journalists interested enough to write stories about these findings, so jargon is kept to a minimum. Over the course of a few days, you can get the latest skinny on nuclear waste disposal, sudden infant death syndrome, sexual functioning, cancer, climate change, and the link between heavy meals and heart attacks. Did you realize that brain-imaging technology can actually reveal what you’re thinking about, that kissing may spread herpes virus 8 among men, or that, despite the received wisdom to the contrary, most women are fertile much more than one week a month? The headlines are matter-of-fact and the graphics are spartan, but ScienceDaily is the best place to catch science news before it enters the media cycle, if the media even reports on it at all.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 2, 2001