In the year since we last presented these awards, both the world and the Web have changed in dramatic ways. The spheres of science and politics have become seemingly inextricable, forcing biologists to go to the mat with policy-makers over the issue of teaching intelligent design in school. The influence of "citizen journalist"-penned blogs has become a driving force behind the dissemination of information. And, most recently, the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has sparked discussion of whether global warming is responsible for the recent increase in storm intensity. The implications of all these developments loomed large as we chose our winners for this year.
A lively "virtual tavern" for discussing and combating the antievolution movement; a blog written by a collective of maverick neuroscientists with more than just neurons and synapses on their minds; a virtual trip through the solar system, compliments of NASA; and a site that promises to teach the finer points of relativity in less time than it takes to eat a sandwich are among this year's selections, which follow below in no particular order. Did we miss your favorite? Drop us a line and nominate it for next year. Happy surfing!
Special thanks to Melissa Kirsch for her assistance in producing this section
The Whole Brain Atlas
Ever wished you could really get inside someone's brain? Look no further: thanks to Harvard Medical School's mind-blowingly comprehensive neuroimaging site, you'll view MRI, CT and other tomographic (from the Greek tome, meaning "slice") images of every part of the brain. What's more, the site also presents technologically astounding images of various types of strokes, tumors, degenerative disorders and infectious diseases as they affect the brain over time. An indispensable resource for doctors, med students and curious brainiacs everywhere.
Science journalist Carl Zimmer's "The Loom" takes on "life, past and future," with thoughtful, original commentary and in-depth explorations focused on evolution, but touching on other areas of biology as well. Unlike many bloggers, whose entries often seem random and unedited, Zimmer takes his time, discoursing elegantly and accessibly on such topics as how viruses contributed genes necessary for our survival and the coevolution of flowers and insects. Sparing pedantry for true enthusiasm, Zimmer educates, jests, muses and theorizes on matters large (the origin of species) and small (the relevance of word puzzles to the origin of species), enchanting readers with every post.
El Ni¿¿¿o Theme Page
Learn all about the oft-invoked phenomena El Ni¿¿o and La Ni¿¿a, characterized by changing ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific, that cause weather repercussions around the globe. View a QuickTime animation of El Ni¿¿o's temperature fluctuations. Learn how the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean Project recognizes an El Ni¿¿o using moored buoys. And explore the effects that these disruptions in the ocean-atmosphere system have wrought, from drought in the western Pacific to increased rainfall and flooding in the southern U.S. and Peru.
This site offers an exciting and comprehensive database of film and computer-enhanced images of living cells and organisms. Watch a time-lapse movie of E. coli getting wiped out by T4 bacteriophage, or witness an informative animated depiction of cell mitosis--all clips come with enthusiastic, easy-to-understand explanations. Interactive modules include "How Big Is A¿¿?" in which you can make a visual comparison of the sizes of a lymphocyte and a human hair and "Cancer Cell Cam," wherein you'll watch a culture of real melanoma cells divide in almost-real time.