10 years

Wikipedia-logo-v2.svgHot on the heels of Saturday’s 10 year college reunion, today marks 10 years since I registered a Wikipedia account and made my first edit with it (there were a few anonymous edits before that, but they’ve been lost to the mists of time). Ironically given recent events, that first edit was defending Jeremy Clarkson!

It was impossible to imagine what that start would lead to. Since 2005, I’ve racked up around 75,000 more edits on the English Wikipedia (not counting the forays into other Wikimedia sites). Far more than that: I’ve learnt a huge amount, travelled to exciting places, and best of all met so many fascinating and fantastic people. Now I’m even fortunate enough to have a job supporting the project I love.

Here’s to another 10 years!


Everyone knows about the “trial by ordeal” prevalent in the middle ages. Women being dunked in water, to see if they float and are therefore obviously a witch. People having to walk over hot ploughshares. Other such fun stuff.

But did you know there was another form of trial by ordeal, typically reserved for the clergy. Corsned.

If a member of the clergy was accused of a crime, what horrible torture or feat of endurance did they have to undergo?




Eating a piece of bread and cheese.

Wikipedia Day

I’ve been following the Wiki dramahz going on today (and just spent a fruitless 20 mins trying to explain it to one of my housemates), but managed to completely miss that it’s Wikipedia’s 8th birthday! See the official blog. I can hardly believe it’s 8 years old, and even less that I’ve been there for almost half that time. Happy Wikipedia Day everyone!


Ok, so there was no post yesterday. I blame being unexpectedly dragged into the lab, resulting in being out from 8.40 till half past midnight. Although the later bit may have been due to watching “classic” 80s music videos in the MCR. Hooray for Sky! I did make it home for about half an hour actually, but getting food somehow took priority.

Anyway, I finally took a look at the Wikimedia Foundation’s first Annual Report. It’s impressively professional, it really shows how far the Foundation has come. And I say this having been to a careers fair today, where I was bombarded with many nicely put together booklets. I think the WMF one is my favourite, and not just because it’s something I’m rather close to. The report is well worth a look if you want to find out more about Wikimedia – the “anatomy of a wikipedia article” in the middle is particularly wonderful.

Random article: Faddeev-Popov ghost

Things like this make me wonder if quantum physics isn’t all a hugely elaborate practical joke by scientists on the rest of us mere mortals. Negative probabilities? Seriously?

In physics, Faddeev-Popov ghosts (also called ghost fields) are additional fields which need to be introduced in the realization of gauge theories as consistent quantum field theories.

The Faddeev-Popov ghosts are sometimes referred to as “good ghosts“. The “bad ghosts” represent another, more general meaning of the word “ghost” in theoretical physics: states of negative norm—or fields with the wrong sign of the kinetic term, such as Pauli-Villars ghosts—whose existence allows the probabilities to be negative.

Random article: Rosenhan experiment

The Rosenhan experiment was a famous experiment into the validity of psychiatric diagnosis conducted by David Rosenhan in 1972. It was published in the journal Science under the title “On being sane in insane places.”

Rosenhan’s study consisted of two parts. The first involved the use of healthy associates or “pseudopatients,” who briefly simulated auditory hallucinations in an attempt to gain admission to 12 different psychiatric hospitals in five different states in various locations in the United States. The second involved asking staff at a psychiatric hospital to detect non-existent “fake” patients. In the first case hospital staff failed to detect a single pseudopatient, in the second the staff falsely detected large numbers of genuine patients as impostors. The study is considered an important and influential criticism of psychiatric diagnosis.