Sunday, May 27, 2012

My Wikipedian train of thought: Kuiper Belt to Oscar Wilde

What do beavers, Oscar Wilde and deep-space rocks have in common?
One of the worst, and best, things about Wikipedia is how it can become such a colossal time suck.

You go onto the site to look up one thing, and through a series of links and "Hmm, I'd like to know more about thats" you end up somewhere completely different.

Take this morning. I visited Wikipedia out of boredom and saw that the featured article was about the Kuiper Belt. Being an amateur astronomer, I began reading the article.

That took me to the article about Makemake (left), a plutoid with such a funny name that I had to visit.

When it was first discovered, close to a certain holiday, Makemake was given the code name "Easter Bunny," so I had to visit the Wikipedia article about that particular holiday icon.
I learned that easter bunnies were associated with colored eggs because of the abundance of eggs due to abstinence during the spring celebration of Lent, which led to that article.

Reading about Lent, I was astonished to discover that some churches allowed the consumption of beaver tails during the normally meat-free (except for seafood) period. So I read about beavers.

Finally, on the beaver page, there was a famous picture (left) of Oscar Wilde in a beaver fur coat. So I ended up reading a bit about the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray -- an article I somehow refrained from reading.

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