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2003 Sci/Tech Web Awards: PHYSICS

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PHYSICS CENTRAL
Physics Central

Translating the often esoteric world of physics to the layperson is no small feat, but this site pulls it off with humor and ¿lan. Learn about faraway galaxies under the rubric "Twinkle, twinkle, little tadpole," or get to know a hydrogen isotope called the "Doo-wop Deuteron." The site also features excerpts from papers by famous physicists, and the entertaining "advice" column, "Ask Lou," penned by Professor Louis Bloomfield, author of the perennial favorite, How Things Work: The Physics of Everyday Life. Physics Central also features a staggering array of links to the best sites for keeping up to date on everything from open-heart surgery to baseball bat dynamics.

Eric Weisstein's World of Physics

It¿s a hypertextual "Choose Your Own Adventure" story, with prolific science guru Eric Weisstein as your trusty sidekick. What¿s your pleasure? Thermodynamics? States of Matter? With each click, the options expand, offering brief descriptions of the terms chosen and offering a few new linked terms with their own concise explanations, and so on, until you¿re tangled ecstatically in this fascinating web. You never know what sophisticated formulae you¿ll happen upon (So that¿s what resistivity is! Looks like Greek to me! Oh, it is Greek!) or what bit of arcane trivia you¿ll dig up (I guess I won¿t be shaving my beard with Ockham¿s Razor after all!). Happy hunting!

A Walk Through Time

Want to travel back in time? The National Institute of Standards and Technology can make it happen. Their simple site offers a brief, concise and thoroughly riveting history of timekeeping, from the days when celestial bodies acted as our clocks, through sundials, mechanical and quartz timepieces, right up to the establishment of time zones (Finally: the guiding principle behind the Prime Meridian!) and present day. The journey through the millions of hours and discoveries is handsomely illustrated and totally linear. A quick and fascinating read, you¿ll be ruminating on bits of time trivia for eons to come.

Atomic Archive

Even the most devoted Robert Oppenheimer fan sometimes needs some brushing up on the exact details of his 1950s trial transcripts before the Atomic Energy Commission. Good news: Atomic Archive is keeping close tabs on the minutiae of every last detail related to the history of the atomic bomb. From the fascinating (an intricately diagrammed explanation of nuclear fission) to the terrifying (an in-depth hypothetical example of what would happen if a 150 kiloton nuclear explosion occurred in New York City), the site covers all the bases. Science and history get equal play here¿it¿s impossible to marvel at the wonders of physics without simultaneously shuddering at photos of mushroom clouds ballooning over Hiroshima.

Fermilab Inquiring Minds

Where did you put the keys? What should you have for lunch? Where did everything come from? Fermilab can¿t help you with the first two stumpers, but the nation¿s largest high-energy physics laboratory is working mightily to answer that last question. Even if you don¿t know your bottom quark from your tau neutrino (those are two subatomic particles discovered at the Lab, in case you forgot), you¿ll still be stunned by the breadth of research proffered on this site. Explore particle collision in as user-friendly a format as possible, plus check out Fermilab¿s cancer treatment center, cryogenic projects, and devotion to prairie preservation.



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