Little appreciated outside the world of academia, there are literally thousands of .edu sites bursting with incredibly useful and interesting information and resources. Most of these sites won't pop up to the surface of the average search engine quest, and so they wait, neglected and underused...until now. Keep reading for a quick tour through the mysterious underground world of .edu.
Explore gross anatomy at the University of Michigan Medical School. Download a virtual microscope at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (you can look at 90 different samples; anything from algae to aorta). There's also the University of Connecticut School of Medicine's Pathweb, a virtual pathology museum. Go Ask Alice from Columbia University is a health Q and A site.
Identify flora and fauna with the help of Louisiana State University's Herbarium. Find folk medicine remedies from nature at the UCLA Folkmed Database.
Participate in the search for extraterrestrial life by running SETI on your machine; it's a free program that analyzes radio telescope data. At the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, you can get a look at the current night sky along with a printable sky chart. Arizona University keeps you up to date with Themis, an instrument on board the Mars Odyssey spacecraft. Speaking of Mars, you'll also want to check out the University of Arizona's Phoenix Mars Mission - and while you're there, check out this week's images at HiRise, stereo images of Earth's geography.
Learn about languages you've never heard of at the UCLA Language Materials Project. Listen to native language speakers from all over the world read the same paragraph at George Mason University's Speech Accent Archive. Get full access to over 300 scholarly journals at Johns Hopkins Project Muse. The University of Texas at Austin has an interesting Flash-based walk-through of Dante's Inferno.
The WorldImages collection from California State showcases over 60k images that can be used for educational purposes. Check out Berkeley's World Wide Panorama, a worldwide array of virtual reality panoramas.
Ancient history buffs will appreciate UCLA's Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative. Heed the call of the wild at Sonoma State's Jack London Online Collection. From the College of New Jersey comes the intriguing Images of American Political History, a collection of over 500 public domain images ranging from 1750 up to present day. One of the most interesting historical sites I've ever come across is Talking History from the University of Albany; it's a collection of "audio documentaries, speeches, debates, oral histories, conference sessions, commentaries, archival audio sources, and other aural history resources." Historical Voices, a collaborative effort of several universities, is a similar project: "The purpose of Historical Voices is to create a significant, fully searchable online database of spoken word collections spanning the 20th century - the first large-scale repository of its kind."
Listen to educational podcasts at UC Berkeley or Stanford. MIT has put together a huge list ofcolleges and universities all over the world; over 3000 homepages are listed here. Want to learn a new programming language courtesy of MIT? Try Scratch, "designed to help young people (ages 8 and up) develop 21st century learning skills", or Carnegie Mellon's Alice, a free 3D interactive programming environment for teaching introductory computing. UC Berkeley has their own YouTube channel now with lectures on anything from biology to intellectual property.
In addition to all these rich resources, you can mine the web for much, MUCH more simply by using this search string in Google: site:.edu "insert subject here". Just tweak that as needed and you'll be able to find a ton more than I could ever have time to write here. What's your favorite .edu resource? Let's hear in the comments.