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January 01, 2006 (Vol. 26, No. 1)

NASA Virtual Lab

  • Great idea
  • Could be broader in coverage
A colleague of mine has, in recent years, become very involved with NASA's biological sciences division, so I thought it might be an appropriate time to look into what they offer in this area. I was not disappointed. Thinking of NASA, one usually pictures high tech. That is the gist of NASA's Virtual Lab site. Aimed at education, the site is designed around an interesting idea—providing virtual access to a scanning electron microscope (SEM). By giving users tools for zooming, it gives the "feel" of an SEM and the educational materials provide movies of the real thing in action. This is a great idea and one that could be duplicated for many other scientific instruments. To get the full effect users download software that, because it uses Java, runs on Macs and various flavors of Windows. Definitely worth a look–see for scientific educators.
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