The Encyclopedia of life

Imagine an electronic page for each species of organism on Earth, available everywhere by single access on command.” – Edward O. Wilson

Eminent biologist E.O. Wilson’s new challenging project Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) aspires to incorporate all the known information about 1.8 million known species of the world into one easy-to-use website. Great thing is that it aims to be freely accessible online within just 10 years.

Wilson, speaking at the recent project launch at Harvard University, said that EOL will “transform the very nature of biology”.

The encyclopedia entries will be designed to suit the need of novice as well as advanced users seeking in-depth genetic information with links to all the scientific literature ever published about each organism. EOL will use the recent advances in aggregation or “mashup” software for fast incorporation of information from different sources, unlike other existing online databases.

Some cool features include

  • Customizable EOL pages to suit the need different categories of users.

  • Media resources including images, maps, videos, sound recordings, RSS feeds from publishers and the public media.

  • Interactive evolutionary tree for visualizing biodiversity.

  • Link to resources from the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL)

  • Exploration of related species

You can view the demonstration pages for polar bears, rice, death cap mushrooms, and the yeti crab here.

Watch Video: TED Prize wish: Help build the Encyclopedia of Life

Wilson accepts his 2007 TED Prize, he makes a plea on behalf of his constituents, the insects and small creatures, to learn more about our biosphere. We know so little about nature, he says, that we’re still discovering tiny organisms indispensable to life; yet we’re still steadily destroying nature. Wilson identifies five grave threats to biodiversity (a term he coined), using the acronym HIPPO, and makes his TED wish: that we will work together on the Encyclopedia of Life, a web-based compendium of data from scientists and amateurs on every aspect of the biosphere.

Read more on EOL here…

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