At midnight, Wikipedia is shutting itself down (temporarily) to protest the Stop Online Piracy and Protect Intellectual Property Acts , and, unlike most blackouts, stocking up on canned food and bottled water will do nothing to help you through the strike. Instead, it’s probably a good idea to go wild with Wikipedia surfing today, in order to preemptively satisfy your random information cravings.
We’ve compiled a list of weird and wonderful topic pages to get you started, because, hey, tomorrow you aren’t going to get the chance to research what the “RoboTuna” is on your lunch break. Now, quick, after the jump before the darkness descends!
Well, it’s the most obvious place to start, right? Even though the article is tagged with the “disputed neutrality” Wiki qualifier, it gives a pretty good rundown of the possible implications of House Bill 3261.
2) Schrodinger’s Cat
There is a category of Wikipedia pages that can only be appropriately classified as “mindfucks.” They will keep you up late at night, pondering your existence in a world where everything, everything, is uncertain. Schrodinger’s Cat is one of those pages.
This one kind of relates to the last one in that it is also a Wiki mindfuck, but it basically gives you all of the hypotheses and scenarios where alternate universes could be possible. Doppelgangers! Chaotic inflation! String theory landscape! Waaaaaaaaah.
4) Golden Ratio
A nice supplement to that one educational video you watched about this when your middle school math teacher was out sick.
In 1977, a committee chaired by Carl Sagan gathered 116 images and sounds to be encoded on records carried aboard the Voyager spacecraft in case of contact with alien life. The music on the golden records included Beethoven, Blind Willie Johnson and Chuck Berry (among many others), but when Carl Sagan reached out to The Beatles to include “Here Comes the Sun,” EMI turned him down. This is perhaps one of the greatest injustices in human history.
“…is the fear of anything that falsely represents a sentient being. This includes, but is not limited to, ventriloquist dummies, animatronic creatures, and wax statues.”
In 1993, a team of scientists at MIT designed a robotic fish in order to study how to better the design of robotic submarines. And so, the RoboTuna was born.
Okay, so really this Wiki article is entitled “Risks to civilization, humans and planet Earth,” but it basically outlines everything that could cause the world to end in the “near and very far future.” If you weren’t thinking about the implications of artificial intelligence and mass ecological disaster before reading this article, you will now.
Nauru, an island country in the South Pacific, is the world’s smallest republic, and contains only 21 square miles. Its economy is “dependent almost entirely on the phosphate deposits that originate from the droppings of sea birds.”
Bread has been around for 30,000 years, which is probably why this Wikipedia article is so extensive. It even includes its own photo gallery of types of bread, as well as explores the cultural and political importance of the food staple.
Wikipedia is one of the few safe havens to explore one’s natural curiosities about mythical creatures without feeling weird or childish about it. Why not start with werewolf? Wikipedia also maintains pages on fairies, unicorns and yetis.
12) Roanoke Colony
Established off the coast of North Carolina in the late 16th century, Roanoke Colony experienced a slew of problems before the colonists mysteriously “disappeared.” There are loads of hypotheses as to why this happened: starvation, getting lost at sea, being eaten by cannibals. The only thing the Wikipedia article is lacking is the idea that the Lost Colony was abducted by aliens.
Kind of fascinating for the hypochondriacs and disease information enthusiasts among us. Warning: there are graphic photos.
14) Angora rabbit
These balls of fluff are bred for their wool and look like furbies.
Wikipedia has its own Wikipedia page, which is, holy moly, so meta. It also includes pretty much everything you could ever want to know about its history, editing practices and content policies.
Follow Sydney Brownstone on Twitter @sydbrownstone