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The idea of a comprehensive encyclopedia has been launched a long time ago, and the internet was the perfect way to make it possible and to promote it and make it popular. The internet has done its job too well, because the computers which hosted the encyclopedia were overwhelmed and couldn’t keep it alive when it debuted Tuesday.

I tried to give it a look, but it was down at the moment. Organizers said that this would be fixed after the 1 million page Encyclopedia of Life crashed in the very first day. They sought help from Wikipedia, because the massive interest was just overwhelming! Hopefully this will be just a temporary problem.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by traffic,” encyclopedia founding chairman Jesse Ausubel said. “We’re thrilled.”

The encyclopedia’s Web site logged 11.5 million hits over 5 1/2 hours, including two hours of down time, according to organizers. This happened although the fact that Tuesday’s unveiling included limited Web pages for 30,000 species.

What promises to be the greatest attraction is the fact that they included “exemplar pages” that go into more depth with photos, video, scientific references, maps and text of 25 species ranging from the common potato to the majestic peregrine falcon to a relatively newly discovered obscure marine single celled organism called Cafeteria roenbergensis. Eventually, they will have all 1.8 million species on the Web. Strangely enough the most popular of the species for Web searches is the poisonous death cap mushroom, which may say something about people’s homicidal intentions, joked Ausubel.