July 10, 2008 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Is there something like the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, only for science?

The top hits on Google looked promising, but turned out not to be - they offer cursory definitions at best. Wikipedia is good, but I want more.
posted by softsantear to Science & Nature (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Scirius is starting one. There's a link to the "topics pages" beta version from there. They're soliciting contributions as we speak - actual scientists authoring the entries and everything.

It's in its infancy at the moment, but there are more topics coming in every day. Pretty soon it should be a great source.
posted by ultraultraboomerang at 9:27 AM on July 10, 2008

posted by phrontist at 10:26 AM on July 10, 2008

Well if it's Social Science, Lexis Nexis is doing an Academic Wiki (open to librarians or teaching faculty at U.S. higher education institutions that subscribe to them). They have a wiki listing page that makes it seem like other science branches may follow.
posted by cashman at 10:30 AM on July 10, 2008

Response by poster: Hmmm, Scirius gets high marks for coverage of the broad spectrum of the sciences and for authorship, but it is pretty, uh, serious - for scientists, by scientists: e.g., "Reactive oxygen and reactive nitrogen species (ROS and RNS, respectively)-mediated oxidative/nitrative stress play important roles in cellular, physiological, and pathological processes..." It seems that much of the content is journal literature-type stuff.

Hyperphysics gets points in the communications department, for having, well, explanations a layman can grasp, but it is limited in its scope: physics, namely. And the entries are rather short.

Perhaps I should have specified that I was hoping for a broad, catch-all encyclopedia that breaks down key issues in the sciences (be they physical-, life-, social-, etc.) for the layman deeply interested in science but lacking the expertise to understand arcane formulae, but I feel like such a resource doesn't quite exist.

What I liked about the IEP is that it is eminently readable even to the neophyte.

Scattershot wikipedia entries and "science journalism" type printed matter are still the best bet, I guess. Maybe I need to make Sciencepedia to fill this void and educate myself as I go along (not bloody likely).
posted by softsantear at 11:19 AM on July 10, 2008

Take a look at Scholarpedia. The articles I've looked at are very good, and quite technical.
posted by lukemeister at 8:55 PM on July 10, 2008


I didn't read your comment until I posted mine. Sounds like Scholarpedia's probably not what you want. I have a new suggestion.
posted by lukemeister at 9:01 PM on July 10, 2008

Response by poster: Luke,

Thanks for your suggestions.

Scholarpedia was quite interesting, in fact, as long as you pick the right articles. Those dealing with general concepts and history of science topics were quite readable and very interesting. But yes, it does tend towards the technical...

Re "The Internet Encyclopedia of Science" - that was one of the ones that came up immediately through a Google search, but the entries are so short. It's more like a dictionary.

I'm going to try asking the folks at ScienceBlogs if there is a resource like this.
posted by softsantear at 12:11 PM on July 11, 2008


I'll be interested to see what you find out.
posted by lukemeister at 5:59 PM on July 13, 2008

Response by poster: I was pointed to Citizendium, which looks pretty darn good, but is a work in progress.
posted by softsantear at 11:05 AM on July 14, 2008

Given that the sciences have rather sprawled out nowadays and people tend to study more for depth than breadth, I expect there's not much out there that tries to be very broad. And the content is changing a lot in many fields, so your best bet is probably to find resources that are discipline-specific. Of these I know of 3.

Environmental science:
Encyclopedia of Earth

Biology (species and taxonomy-based):
Encyclopedia of Life
Tree of Life
posted by Tehanu at 3:39 PM on July 28, 2008

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