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Science News: Bits and Bytes

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Governor's science medal winners

Winners of the 1998 Governor's Medal for Science and Technology range from a professor of agriculture to an archaeologist.

- Academia. Dr. Spotswood Lee Spruance, professor of medicine at the University of Utah, whose research focuses on herpes simplex virus, papilloma virus and HIV. John O. Evans, distinguished professor at Utah State University, who for the past 30 years has taught weed science, uses of herbicide and plant research.

- Education. Duane Merrell, Emery High School, Castle Dale, who helped build up the physics program so that now it has 25 percent of the high school students, with girls participating fully. Joseph Hugh Baird, retired professor, Brigham Young University, Provo, who has worked for 35 years to advance science education and is a science consultant to the State Office of Education.

- Industry. David A. Burt, Utah State University, Logan. Director of USU's Space Dynamics Laboratory, he guided the lab into its present world prominence.

- Government. David B. Madsen, Utah Geological Survey. Madsen is an authority on the archaeology of Utah and the western United States. His work has taken on international importance with his excavations in northwestern China, where the desert is similar to that of the Great Basin.

Earth treasures

The College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum, Price, is hosting an exhibition about rocks, minerals and gemstones.

"The Nature of Stones: Minerals, Rocks and Gemstones of the World," began last Saturday and will continue through Sept. 30.

"Looking to increase your own collection?" asked a museum spokesman, answering that the show is the place. "Rough and polished minerals, gemstones and jewelry will be available for sale."

For more information, contact the CEU museum at 435-637-5060.

Less fat, more flavor

Flavor-enhancers developed in part at Utah State University, Logan, are improving the quality of lower-fat cheeses, according to USU's Jeff Broadbent. Pilot research on the project also generated more than $1.5 million in federal grants that will help dairy processors improve the taste of both reduced-fat and traditional cheese.

Women outscore men in Web IQ test

The high-tech industry is dominated by men, but women are just as Internet savvy, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report on a test of Web surfers' online intelligence.

Utah, by the way, scored second highest as a state on the test.

Women scored slightly higher than men on the online SAT-style test sponsored by MCI Communications, the phone and Internet service provider.

In the second annual test of Web-searching skills, women racked up an average score of 82 - equal to the national average - compared with men's average of 80. The point difference is not considered statistically significant.

Men make up two-thirds of Internet users nationwide and constitute about the same portion of the 8,000 people who completed the test.

"In cyberspace, we're all equal," said Diane Strahan, executive director for community partnerships at Washington-based MCI.

By gender, maybe. But MCI also measured performance by state - and California, birthplace of the high-tech industry, didn't even come close to the top of the class.

Tiny Delaware was an "A" student, with a 94 score, while California ranked behind 27 other states, with an 82 average.

Utah was the No. 2 state, and Alaska and Nebraska tied for third.

People ages 40 to 60 and those between 24 and 39 were the top performers, each tallying up averages of 84. Test-takers who were ages 18 to 23 years trailed the rest.