By Louise Mayor
Being online right now, chances are you’ve recently been to the fifth most visited site on the Web: Wikipedia.
I am happy to admit that I use Wikipedia frequently and find it very useful – particularly for physics. It’s great when I want an introduction to a phenomenon or technique, or to get the cogs going again on something I learned long ago at university.
However, I do remember a time when using Wikipedia was a bit more hit and miss. It was pot luck whether an article would be either well written and accessible, or an impenetrable wall of techno-speak and equations.
Now, thanks to more than a billion edits since Wikipedia’s inception, the odds of finding a well-written article are much higher and article quality continues to improve every day.
But there’s still a long way to go before the site’s eventual goal is achieved: to assemble a complete overview of human knowledge. And this is where you come in. Yes, you! With a lay or professional interest in physics, you are ideally placed to contribute.
According to Martin Poulter, a new media manager at the University of Bristol, and Mike Peel, an astrophysicist at the University of Manchester, it is rewarding work. In “Physics on Wikipedia”, an article published this month in Physics World, Poulter and Peel argue that if you have knowledge you can share, Wikipedia needs you.
Also, how about images you can share? You may be ideally placed, for example, to capture photographs of things the public would not normally be able to see, such as pieces of equipment or research facilities. The image at the top of this blog entry (By ESO/Yuri Beletsky (ybialets at eso.org) (http://www.eso.org/public/images/potw1036a/) [CC-BY-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons is a great example of this, and was picture of the year 2010 on Wikimedia Commons, an online respository where you can upload your images for free use.
Read “Physics on Wikipedia” now to find out why you should click that edit button.