I stumbled across a very cool project underway called "The Encyclopedia of Life," located on the web at eol.org. Their press release issued today describes the project as "...an unprecedented global effort to document all 1.8 million named species of animals, plants, and other forms of life on Earth. For the first time in the history of the planet, scientists, students, and citizens will have multi-media access to all known living species, even those that have just been discovered." Click on the image of the Yeti Crab web page on the left to see a full-screen sample demonstration page.
Each page will have both novice and expert information available, with a slider on the side of the page to adjust the content to the desired level. The web site will be available at no charge.
The project has been underway for some time now, but recently received a significant boost in the form of a $10 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and $2.5 million in funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The total cost of the project is expected to run $50 million and take 10 years to complete.
The scope of this effort is enormous. The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), a storehouse of scientific information and data on which the project will draw, will scan and digitize tens of millions of pages in support of the encyclopedia. To date, the BHL has already scanned 1.25 million pages for the project. Portions of the encyclopedia will start to become available in 2008.
Project demonstration pages are linked here, and a descriptive video is available on YouTube (see below - length = 4:00) Click on the "play" button in the bottom left-hand corner to play the video.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!