- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Excellence in science has been recognized for more than a century by a prestigious organization established by the inventor of dynamite, Swedish researcher Alfred Nobel.

His Nobel Foundation, which also recognizes achievement in literature and peace, hands out the famed Nobel Prize every year to men and women who clearly have stood out as leaders in their fields.

The foundation’s resource-rich Web site offers up-to-date information on all 770 prizewinners while providing educational information and inspiration for the future Albert Einsteins and Robert Kochs of the world.

Nobelprize.org

Site address: www.nobelprize.org

Creator: The Nobel Foundation, a private, nonprofit institution in Stockholm, Sweden, maintains the site.

Creator quotable: “We created this site to provide information about all Nobel Prizes as well as increase the public understanding of science, literature and peace work,” says Alf A. Lindberg, chief executive and editor in chief of Nobelprize.org.

“The Educational Outreach Program, initiated in 2001, is targeted to young people to stimulate an interest for the discoveries and works awarded a Nobel Prize. The educational interactive multimedia productions are made in form of games, experiments, and simulated environments ready to be explored and discovered.”

Word from the Webwise: Science lovers in need of a multimedia fix will find an interactive haven of knowledge under the disciplines of physics, chemistry and medicine at the Nobel Prize site.

Each area of science can be explored via a menu bar found on every page, presenting a trio of subsections that excel at educating its various levels of users.

For visitors who simply want to learn about greatness, the Laureates subsection displays a breakdown of each award winner, complete with an autobiography, interviews, prize award photo, a virtual reproduction of the Nobel Diploma, an illustrated overview of the winner’s research and, when available, a video of the banquet speech.

The average student of science will appreciate the Educational subsection, which features multiple animated games and simulations that explain research breakthroughs within easy-to-understand, interactive modules.

For example, Pierre-Gilles de Gennes’ work with liquid crystals garnered him a physics award in 1991, and visitors can enjoy a pair of games exploring a substance that flows like liquid while maintaining some of the physical properties of crystals.

Players can choose from the Crystallite challenge, which resembles Tetris, or the Mainstream driving challenge to read a bit about the nematic- and smectic-based phases of liquid crystals. Additionally, a single page sheds more history and light on the substance with the help of photographs, illustrations, videos and interactives.

Finally, the hard-core researcher either can read the meticulously detailed Nobel Lecture documents (found under Laureates) or stop by the Articles subsection in each discipline.

Ease of use: The majority of the site requires only a recent browser version. The simulations use the Macromedia Flash plug-in, and video segments use RealPlayer.

Don’t miss: The Educational area does an outstanding job of making learning fun — visitors will find themselves spending hours getting lost in the 20 available simulations.

I really enjoyed the investigation of malaria, in which I not only virtually became one with the mosquito as I searched for my next victim, but also took on the role of Falci the parasite as I maneuvered through the human body to attack the liver and red blood cells.

Both games are played through over-the-top perspectives and require players to answer multiple-choice questions to begin the action.

Elements on the horizon: Visitors should look for databases about Nobel Prize nominations in literature, chemistry and physics (currently only available in medicine and peace), as well as the expansion of the Internet TV Channel broadcasts, Nobel Lectures and the Nobel Laureates video archive of interviews.

Comprehension level: According to Mr. Lindberg, most of the site is for the general public. However, the educational outreach program targets high school students and the Articles section aims at a well-educated audience.

Overall grade: A

Remember: Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it’s accurate and updated. Health sites, for example, should be discussed with your own physician.

Have a cool site for the science or technology fan? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message (jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com).

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