Random Article

I put Wikipedia’s promise of a comprehendible world to the test. /

Most nights when I stay up too late online, I go to bed regretting my lack of self-control—unless I’m on a Wikipedia binge. These binges typically start with the desire to answer a simple question. For example: when did the Spanish-American war take place and why? Two hours later, I’ve read about everything from Theodore Roosevelt to the federal telephone excise tax (used to fund the war). One of my favorite of these binges started with the rather benign search for details about the 1990s Disney Afternoon cartoon DuckTales and led to the discovery that the Beagle Boys and their mom were based on real-life gangster-mom Ma Barker. I think I shut my browser down sometime around the Pinkerton Detective Agency. I don’t feel guilty going on these excursions because I’m really just delighting in the vastness of God’s creation. No matter how many times I click on a new article, there’s always something else wonderful and new and astounding to learn.

To convey the wonder of exploring Wikipedia, I’ve decided to do a little experiment. What follows is a journey into Wikipedia’s depths by way of the “Random Article” feature on its front page and left navigation. Could repeatedly hitting the random button reveal something about this awesome universe we live in and our desperate attempts to understand it?

David L. Gregg (1819–1868)

Mr. Gregg is most notable for his 1853 appointment by President Franklin Pierce as Commissioner to the Kingdom of Hawaii. In this role he was to negotiate its annexation, which he failed to do. The picture of Mr. Gregg on his Wikipedia entry is a very faded grayish brown, and is either a competent drawing or a bad photograph of a young looking ...

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Also in this Issue

Issue 28 / August 6, 2015
  1. Editors’ Note

    Issue 28: Meeting an octopus, Wikipedia’s world, discoveries and poetry on Pluto.

  2. The Aliens in Our Oceans

    An octopus’s thoughts are not our thoughts. /

  3. Pluto’s New Horizons

    Facts we learned—and stuff people are wondering about—from the exploration mission so far. /

  4. Pluto’s Heart

    ‘This cloud-tattooed heart / So carelessly worn / Orbits everything’ /

  5. Wonder on the Web

    Issue 28: Links to amazing stuff /

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