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Open a movie with howling monkeys, pack it with metaphors, end the thing with a fetus floating in space, and this is what you get: dozens of websites devoted to figuring out what it all means. Few films send audiences scrambling for philosophical truths (or psychedelic drugs) faster than Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which came out in 1968. Now that 2001 has finally arrived, the hunt for meaning heats up online. ”It’s one of the few movies that challenges you to actually think,” says Eric Walker, whose 2001 and Beyond the Infinite (http://www.modemac.com/2001) exhaustively attempts to spell out the movie’s hidden messages. Others, with varying degrees of success, are on the same mission.

— UNDERMAN’S 2001 (underview.com/2001.html) Any website that declares itself ”the most comprehensive celebration ever created” in honor of 2001 had better deliver. And armed with details and secrets, such as famous ”lost” images and how-to descriptions of the special effects, Phil Vendy (a.k.a. ”Underman”) of Sydney proves himself the Big Man on Campus. USER LEVEL Ph.D. in Kubrick Studies

— THE 2001 PRINCIPLE (2001principle.net) This brainy, sharp-looking treatise written by several scientists — primarily Jerusalem-based, MIT-educated researcher and author Gerald Schroeder — is as mind-mangling as the screeching black rectangle on the moon. The essays slog through such concepts as cognitive dissonance and Kubrick’s interplay of design, human nature, and God. USER LEVEL Are you a mysterious monolith from another world? Then don’t bother.

— HAL 9000 SIMULATOR (tbid.com/hal) Don’t worry. This homage to the sentient computer won’t go nuts and toss you into the vacuum of space. The site mimics HAL’s design and interface, but not his impressive — if homicidal — artificial intelligence. Which, even in the year 2001, hasn’t been re-created. ”We got shortchanged [on AI],” says Toby Braun, the site’s designer. ”Instead, we got infrared beams that flush toilets in the airport.” USER LEVEL Computer-science degree with an art-history minor

— 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY INTERNET RESOURCE ARCHIVE (palantir.net/2001) Essentially the student library of 2001 Studies, this houses enough sound bites, screen shots, and links to keep you entertained. Those looking for a breakdown of Kubrick’s use of tools (bones, computers, etc.) as an extension of the human mind should look elsewhere. USER LEVEL Any technical degree you can order from TV

— PINK FLOYD & 2001 (psychotronic.com/archive/floyd2001.htm) What you can do here, see, is learn how to watch the last chapter of 2001, the one where David Bowman becomes a floating fetus, using Pink Floyd’s ”Echoes” as the soundtrack. See, both the chapter and song are 23 minutes long! Perfect, right? Weird, right? But what does it mean? Don’t worry. It won’t be on the test. USER LEVEL High school dropout