Doubleplusgood Wikipedia

Updated on Apr 9, 2018.

I really admire the Wikipedia project. It is a single point of reference for a colossal amount of topics. Had someone access only to Wikipedia and not the rest of the internet, they would still have access to an unprecedented knowledge repository, never witnessed before in the human history.

The answer to how did we get here is also amazing: crowdsourcing. The vision was that anyone could contribute to the initial empty Wikipedia and gradually it would become better than Encyclopædia Britannica. Should someone describe a similar concept today, they would have been laughed off. It would have been dismissed as impossible and the human nature would have been invoked as an argument. However, it was marvelously pulled off.

So, after all these years reading Wikipedia everyday I collected some of my favorite entries.

  • Benford's law, also called the first-digit law. Haven't you noticed that there are more 1s than any other digit in the world?

  • Two Generals' Problem. How can you trust that nothing has changed from the moment that you got the OK message?

  • Polyphasic sleep. In the past, people used to take a break from their everynight sleep. By leveraging human habits someone could have more sleep sessions for less hours overall.

  • List of common misconceptions. This is one of the most amazing lists of Wikipedia. Fascinating and stunning how much sciolism exists. For instance, no, waking sleepwalkers does not harm them.

  • Supervenience is an ontological relation that is used to describe cases where the upper-level properties of a system are determined by its lower level properties. A notion, intuitively clear yet difficult to formalize.

  • Phantom time hypothesis. How do we know that the historians of the past didn't want to prank their future readers and write about an era that did't exist except on their minds?

  • Diffie–Hellman key exchange. How can we decide on how can we communicate secretly if there is no channel where we are not overheard?

  • Kardashev scale. A scale of civilization advancement on a technological level. Seems like a science fiction inspired idea though, since the base unit is quite high.

  • Streisand effect. Some of the fun consequences of the age of the internet.

  • Sonoluminescence. Can sound cause light?

  • Socratic method. Socrates' guided technique of discovering and acquiring knowledge.

  • Fast inverse square root. Another fact from the tangled world of mathematics that causes you to question how something like this can exist!

  • Hapax legomenon is a word that occurs only once within a context, either in the written record of an entire language, in the works of an author, or in a single text.

  • Pythagorean cup. Greed punishing cup, done in a brilliant way.

  • Nils Olav. The Colonel-in-Chief of the Norwegian Royal Guard, a knighted sir. Also, not a human.

  • Turritopsis dohrnii. A jellyfish proving that biological immortality is possible.

  • Occam's razor: Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.

  • Vacuum airship. What if we created an airship, evacuate it, leave it airless and thus causing it to fly without using any fuel or other form of energy?

  • Row hammer is an extraordinary, out of the box, quintessential hacking technique that teaches you to never forget the fundamentals of a system.

  • Normative ethics. An entry on what is right and wrong, the various theories and philosophic views.

  • Micromort is a unit of risk measuring a one-in-a-million probability of death (from micro- and mortality).

  • EURion constellation. Have you ever tried scanning banknotes? Me neither.

  • The Seven Basic Plots. A book with an interesting approach to story-telling.

  • Worse is better. The idea is that quality does not necessarily increase with functionality. It was first conceived to describe software, however, I believe that it has many more profound applications.

  • Cicada 3301 is a name given to an enigmatic organization that on four occasions has posted a set of complex puzzles and alternate reality games to recruit codebreakers from the public.

  • Barnum effect. A scientific approach onto why people continue to read their horoscope reports.

  • Extreme ironing is an extreme sport in which people iron with ironing boards to remote locations.

  • Cool S, a pop culture signature/sketch you may know.

  • Moving sofa problem. Pivot! Pivot! Pivot!

  • Trolley problem is a thought experiment in ethics, in which you hve to decide between doing something and killing few or do nothing and knowingly let something kill many.

  • Birthday_problem is probability paradox. It claims that in a set of n randomly chosen people, a suprisingly large amount of pairs of them will have the same birthday.

  • Printer steganography is a practice of printing barely visible yellow dots on the paper which is encoded information of printer serial numbers and timestamps.

  • Heat burst. Imagine, suddenly, at midnight, the temperature rising to 40°C.

  • Sunrise equation. A mathematical way to learn the sunrise and sunset time of a place.

  • Wabi-sabi. Japanese worldview on the acceptance of imperfection. An alternative "worse is better".

  • NATO phonetic alphabet. All these words soldiers talk in movies.

  • Köppen climate classification. Detailed climate classification for all earthly places.

  • Manhattanhenge. When the Manhattan grid lines up with the sun.

  • List of lists of lists, the most meta wikipedia article.

  • Wikipedia:Unusual_articles, a meta article, a list with the most unusual articles.

And finally, the post title reference explained by the protagonist.