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The iBook of Life

From The New York Times:

Imagine the Book of All Species: a single volume made up of one-page descriptions of every species known to science. On one page is the blue-footed booby. On another, the Douglas fir. Another, the oyster mushroom. If you owned the Book of All Species, you would need quite a bookshelf to hold it. Just to cover the 1.8 million known species, the book would have to be more than 300 feet long. And you’d have to be ready to expand the bookshelf strikingly, because scientists estimate there are 10 times more species waiting to be discovered.

It sounds surreal, and yet scientists are writing the Book of All Species. Or to be more precise, they are building a Web site called the Encyclopedia of Life. On Thursday its authors, an international team of scientists, will introduce the first 30,000 pages, and within a decade, they predict, they will have the other 1.77 million.

It sounds impressive, but perhaps less so when put up against other ambitious, web-only projects “ like, say, deleting Garfield from Garfield cartoons.