Friday, May 11, 2007

Encylopedia of Life

The “Encylopedia of Life” project has begun. It’s a pretty interesting concept, and if achieved, I think could very well prove to be the Periodic Table of Biology.

This ingenious plan is to store online profiles of every named species (currently 1.8 million) on a single database. It’ll be a wiki-style online encyclopaedia. Sustaining the encyclopaedia will cost lots of money, for sure, and will require lots of cooperation between biologists across the globe. The enormous effort is, nevertheless, worth it.

The internet can be a (near) universally accessible tool for biologists. If information on every known species is kept and updated based on new discoveries, you can very well bet that taxonomy will become manageable once and for all.

This situation can be thought of analogous to chemistry in the late nineteenth century. The periodic table of elements summarized all the known facts of a given element, with this simple, organized tool the science of chemistry was manageable and knowledge of chemistry flowed nicely into the public and high school curriculums.

Imagine how useful and fun such an encylopedia could be if integrated into high school biology.

I heard about this... sounds like an amazing project.
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