Heavy Metal Bugs and Cigarettes: New Data Collections

Did you know that in 2008, the smoking prevalence among young adults in California declined to 13.4 ± 0.9 percent from the peak in 1999 of 18.8 percent?  Or that African American young adults had the lowest current established smoking rate among all racial/ethnic groups?  Now you can access all of these facts and more in the newly available California Tobacco Survey collection in the Library’s Digital Collections (http://library.ucsd.edu/dc/object/bb5086895c).  Not only are the reports available; the data itself is downloadable.

The surveys go beyond simple smoking statistics. They explore the impact of tobacco advertising, and investigate the behaviors and attitudes that impact tobacco use.  In 1992, the largest percentage of teens aged 16-17 endorsed two to three “rebelliousness items.”  And the largest percentage of teens who did much better than average in school also fell into the two to three rebelliousness item endorsement range!  What are these mysterious rebelliousness items?  (Hint: check out Table A4 in the 1992 Final Report http://library.ucsd.edu/dc/object/bb38582123)


In 1990, over 90% of both girls and boys rated “Girls controlling weight” as the number one health concern among California teens, well above “Dangers of drunk driving” and “Boys controlling weight.”

The smoking information comes from the ongoing California Tobacco Survey, a survey of California residents about smoking that takes place approximately every three years.  The years 1992-2008 are now available in the Library’s Digital Collections, and contain not only reports, but the actual data, which can be downloaded and explored.

But what about the Heavy Metal Bugs? How rebellious are they?

I don’t know, but I CAN tell you that in 1967, Dr. Lanna Cheng found that the insect Halobates sericeus contained some chromium and copper.  That bug has all kinds of metal!

The Heavy Metal Halobates collection was a serendipitous find that began with a Research Data Curation Program presentation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  After our presentation, Dr. Cheng introduced herself, and asked if we might be interested in a set of data from the 1960-70s that were currently sitting on her shelf on a pile of old printer paper.  The data provided  were the result of a series of cruises whose research results included the first in-depth, at-sea studies of the only known ocean-living insect, a Nature cover, and one of the few, if only, records of heavy metals extant on the upper film of the Pacific Ocean from that time period.

Of course, we wanted heavy metal bug data!  The Digital Library Development Program Reformatting Group scanned and converted the computer printouts of the data, to a useable digital format, along with the supporting documentation. Metadata was collected and the collection is now up in Digital Collections, here: http://library.ucsd.edu/dc/collection/bb8056206n

Both of these collections, as well as all of the research data collections currently in the Library Digital Collections, are accessible to anyone, even people outside of UC San Diego.

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