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Monday, May 14, 2007

WooHoo!



Earth. Earth is beautiful. Earth is complex. Earth is fragile. Earth is a delicate interdependent web of ecosystems that provides the basis for all life forms. Constantly reconfiguring, morphing, decaying, the natural world is at once confounding, sublime, brutal, and unspeakably elegant ......

These are the openning lines of The Encyclopedia of Life website's introductory flash trailer. And here's what can be read of the project in the news - Leading scientists announce creation of Encyclopedia of Life ......

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Realizing a dream articulated in 2003 by renowned biologist E.O. Wilson, Harvard and four partner institutions have launched an ambitious effort to create an Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), an unprecedented project to document online every one of Earth's 1.8 million known species. For the first time in history, the EOL would grant scientists, students, and others multimedia access to all known living species, even those just discovered ......

With a Wikipedia-style Web page detailing each organism's genome, geographic distribution, phylogenetic position, habitat, and ecological relationships, organizers hope the EOL will ultimately serve as a global beacon for biodiversity and conservation.

Harvard joins the Field Museum in Chicago, the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., the Smithsonian Institution, and the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) to initiate the project, bringing together species and software experts from across the world. An international advisory board of distinguished individuals will help guide the EOL.

Harvard's EOL participation will be led by James Hanken, director of Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology and Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Harvard scientists will partner with colleagues at the Smithsonian to spearhead the education and outreach facets of the project ......

Over the next 10 years, the EOL will create Web pages for all 1.8 million living species known to exist on Earth. The pages, housed at http://www.eol.org, will provide written information and, when available, photographs, video, sound, location maps, and other multimedia information on each species. Built on the scientific integrity of thousands of experts around the globe, the EOL will be a moderated Wikipedia-like resource, freely available to all users everywhere ......

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I'm not sure why, but this makes me happy :-)

Here's one of the sample pages from the website (click on it to see at real size) ...




4 Comments:

Blogger Paul said...

Yeah, I heard that on NPR. They better get cataloging while there's this much left to catalog.

Earth is going through the greatest mass extinction of species since the dinosaurs were wiped out - sponsored, of course, by homo sapiens...

If I sound like a gloomy gus here, blame it on the BBC. They have this feature, One Planet, I think it's called, and the environmental news is terrible to have to listen to - for example there are something like 7000 tigers left on the face of the planet, we're creating massive deserts under the ocean - just off the top of my head. Every time they air the program it's about another species or habitat on the verge of destruction.

A big problem is that the planet is in fact one, but the nations people have created haven't figured out how to act in the global interest of the earth and our own species. Global warming is really highlighting this problem...

7:26 AM  
Blogger Cura Animarum said...

I think the EOL is an extremely cool idea. I'm with you Crystal, I don't know why but it makes me happy to see somehting like that freely available and accessable to everyone.

Just plain neat.

8:36 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Paul,

nope, I don't think you're being gloomy, just realistic. Just thinking of the Amazon, where the Pope's been visiting last week (Brazil) .... it's incredible how fast it's being decimated by logging, ranching and farming.

10:08 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Cura,

yes neat! :-) I hope it doesn't end up being info about plants and animals that no longer exist in real life.

10:09 AM  

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