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2 at U are awarded Sloan fellowships

Sheila David and Wieslawa Niziol of the University of Utah have been named winners of Sloan research fellowships. They are among 100 young scientists and economists selected by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, New York City.

The grants are for $35,000 each, covering two-year periods of study. David is in the field of chemistry, while Niziol is in the Mathematics Department.

"They were selected from among hundreds of highly qualified young scientists in the early stages of their careers on the basis of their exceptional promise to contribute to the advancement of knowledge," said the foundation's Maureen Gassman.

"Twenty-three former Sloan Fellows have received Nobel prizes, and hundreds have received other prestigious awards and honors."

Not so private

The Federal Trade Commission estimates nearly 85 percent of all Web sites collect personal information from consumers while only 14 percent give any notice or say how they'll use the information they collect.

Helping consumers protect personal information and avoid fraud and deception online is the goal of a new, 12-page booklet by the FTC titled "Site Seeking on the Internet: A Consumer Guide to Travel in Cyberspace."

The booklet highlights the kinds of information and services available in cyberspace and some of the information-gathering and marketing activities that take place, and offers tips on how consumers can protect themselves. A plain-English glossary of common terms and phrases used in cyberspace is also in the handbook.

Copies can be ordered by calling the FTC toll free at 1-877-382-2020. The guide can also be viewed at the Web site (www.ftc.gov/privacy).

A distant star

Patrick Wiggins of Hansen Planetarium points out that on Friday, Earth was at the most distant part of its orbit from the sun, 94,513,000 miles. This is the point called "aphelion."

By comparison, in January it was at its closest, "perihelion," 91,408,000 miles.

"And yes, we really do mean to say that we're farthest from the sun when it's so hot out and closest when we're coldest in the Northern Hemisphere," Wiggins added. "Temperature variations have much more to do with the tilt of the Earth rather than its distance from the sun."

Internet pomp

Tabloids and paparazzi give way to pomp and circumstance at the official Web site of the British monarchy, found at (www.royal.gov.uk).

The site would be a great resource for a school research project or someone wanting to fuel their enthusiasm for a vacation to the British Isles.

Worth seeing are timely and informative pictures of Windsor Castle immediately after the devastating fire in 1992 and pictures and details of the subsequent $57 million restoration project.

There is a page at the site dedicated to Diana, Princess of Wales, and a frequently-asked-questions page that will answer questions about whether the Queen is the richest woman in the world and the kinds of cars the royals drive.

Fighting blight

Scientists at the International Potato Center in Lima, Peru (a good place for the International Bean Center), have developed new potato clones to combat the potato blight.

The blight is the plant disease that precipitated the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, causing terrible suffering and starvation.

"In the world's developing countries alone, the disease is causing $2.5 billion in production losses yearly and an additional $750 million in fungicide costs each year," says the center's Marshall Hoffman.

The new experimental potato clones are expected to be resistant to all existing forms of the blight.