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2003 Sci/Tech Web Awards: MATHEMATICS

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ARCHIMEDES' LABORATORY
Archimedes' Lab

The tagline of this site is "Puzzles: Can you believe it?" And your answer will almost certainly be "Absolutely not!" once you get a look at the number of IQ tests, optical illusions, droodles (that¿s a combo doodle/riddle) and other creative games, curiosities, crafts and whirligigs. Archimedes, that Sicilian wonder who, among many other discoveries, figured out the weight of a body in water, must have had quite a busy laboratory in which he conducted his experiments. This virtual lab borrows the empirical spirit and creative curiosity that Archimedes brought to his work and invites visitors to explore with the same expectations for mind-blowing discovery. Perfect for kids, this hands-on wonderland puts young scientists in the driver¿s seat for endless learning and fun.

The Abacus

Welcome to the ultimate source for all information on that most ancient of counting devices, which, contrary to beliefs of devout finger-counters, multiplication table whizzes, cash-register operators and computer programmers everywhere, is hardly a dinosaur. Still used in schools and in the marketplace in China, the bead and rod calculator has a rich history and still inspires fervent debates, all documented lovingly on this simple but comprehensive site. Most impressive is the highly touted Java abacus applet, which permits users to actually learn how to use a virtual abacus just by pointing and clicking.

Interactive Mathematics Miscellany and Puzzles

Mathematics professor-turned-software developer Alexander Bogomolny starts off this impressive site with nothing short of a manifesto extolling the importance and impact of math. He goes on to provide visitors with plenty of material--from math-related trivia to Mobius strip movies--to keep visitors busy for hours. Whether you want to explore arithmetic or geometry, probability or proofs, it's all here. What's more, there's probably an interactive Java applet to help further elucidate the theory with a click of the mouse.

This is Mega-Mathematics

The Los Alamos National Laboratory has compiled one of the wackiest math sites ever to hit the Web. How wacky is it? Well, for starters, it¿s a math site that involves a lot of reading; it¿s chock-a-block with those mind-benders kids love. Take a trip to "Hotel Infinity" and you¿ll come out laughing¿and crying¿at the mathematical conundra wrapped up in that figure-eight. "The Most Colorful Math of All" includes a large section on coloring maps that teaches the Four-Color Theorem in entertaining fashion. The target audience is certainly kids, but trust us¿adults with competitive natures will put up their dukes for such stumpers as "Unraveling the Mathematics of Knots" and have a blast reading up on paradoxical finite state machines.

Game Theory

If you want to figure out what you should do if you end up in the clink with your partner in crime being interrogated next door, the exhaustive explanation of the famed Prisoner's Dilemma provided here can help. Interactive applets explain the premise and let you try your luck against a variety of opponents. This extensive site provides plenty of other examples of Game Theory--the study of how people interact and make decisions--including lecture notes, quizzes and recent real-world examples ripped from the headlines. And if you don't get your fill online, the site, administered by Mike Shor of the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University, lists dozens of textbooks and a thorough compilation of examples of Game Theory in popular culture.



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