Sunday, September 18, 2005

Wikipedia, who doesn't love it?

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.The English version, started in 2001, currently has 678,276 articles. But check how many it has today, as it steadily grows...
Once you've met it, and know a bit how to use it (Wikipedia derives 66% of it's ttraffic from search engine referrals, and 50% of that traffic comes from Google, meaning 33% of all Wikipedia traffic is from Google referals alone (according to Hitwise), you ought to be caught by it. Fancinated, and querying quite a lot of topics, as there is plenty of info on 'quite a few' items. If you look at the statistics page, you can see there are quite a lot of internal links.

Hyperlinks aren't bad.

Hypertext is good..

We see this in blogging, wiki's, manuals etc.
One thing you get from using links, and by visiting them, is that you can access related material. This might be more detailed info, of something completely different but from the same family. Like this plant page, or as a perfect example, the disambiguation page for the word "Plant". (I found that page because it was the first link on the plant page - there you have hypertext at work).
By wandering the WorldWideWeb this way (the way of the wiki) you can see the net visualised by a graph (commonly used in the study of complex systems and other interesting topics) (If you like it, take a lookt at NetworkX and graphviz to do some study yourself, or plot some of your own)
One disadvantage of the graph/net/linked structure, is that you can easily get lost in the maze of links... Or get to meet way to many interesting articles to read at a time. Wikipedia ofter does that to me.

Like the other day, someone posted this link, where i found that vegetarians were previously called "Pythagoreans". This has a reference to python the way i see it, though it originally refers to Pythagoras (the father of numbers).
Though i was enjoyed with this discovery at first, as the vegetarian page describes Pythagoras had said:
As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.

Following the link to Pythagoras (because, once again i got curious) i learned:
Another important discovery of this school -- which upset Greek mathematics, as well as the Pythagoreans' own belief that whole numbers and their ratios could account for geometrical properties -- was the incommensurability of the diagonal of a square with its side. This result showed the existence of irrational numbers.

Hmm. Irrational numbers, i never really understood what those were... so, i hit the link... and learned a bit about it:
In mathematics, an irrational number is any real number that is not a rational number, i.e., one that cannot be written as a ratio of two integers, i.e., it is not of the form a/b where a and b are integers and b is not zero. It can readily be shown that the irrational numbers are precisely those numbers whose expansion in any given base (decimal, binary, etc) never ends and never enters a periodic pattern, but no mathematician takes that to be a definition. Almost all real numbers are irrational, in a sense which is defined more precisely below.

But i also learned:
The story goes that Hippasus discovered irrational numbers when trying to represent the square root of 2 as a fraction (proof below). However Pythagoras believed in the absoluteness of numbers, and could not accept the existence of irrational numbers. He could not disprove their existence through logic, but his beliefs would not accept the existence of irrational numbers and so he sentenced Hippasus to death by drowning.

... i found it quite disturbing, that the man i was just getting fond of, had a man killed because of some mathematical theory.. So, he might be a vegetarian, but he definitly wasn't a better man..

And all this, i wouldn't have known, if it weren't for Wikipedia, and all the contributors. So thanks to all of you!