December 31, 2008

Wikipedia in Simple English
Istanbul, Turkey

I love poking around at the articles on, the verbally simplified version of the community-based encyclopedia.

We only use simple English words and grammar here. The Simple English Wikipedia is for everyone! That includes children and adults who are learning English.

Most articles are reduced to an enjoyably consolidated level, perfect for skimming (especially those detailed topics from the sciences). A few examples:

Quantum entanglement

Simple: Quantum entanglement is a term used to describe how two very tiny particles act together.

Normal: Quantum entanglement is a quantum mechanical phenomenon in which the quantum states of two or more objects are linked together so that one object can no longer be adequately described without full mention of its counterpart—even though the individual objects may be spatially separated. This interconnection leads to correlations between observable physical properties of remote systems.


Simple: Chromosomes are parts of a cell that have genetic information. Each chromosome contains many genes. Chromosomes come in pairs: one from the mother; the other from the father. Scientists have labeled chromosomes with numbers.

Normal: A chromosome is an organized structure of DNA and protein that is found in cells. A chromosome is a single piece of DNA that contains many genes, regulatory elements and other nucleotide sequences. Chromosomes also contain DNA-bound proteins, which serve to package the DNA and control its functions.


Simple: Animals are living things. Animals are not plants so they can't make their own food or energy by themselves. Animals have to eat other living things (animals, plants, fungi, etc.) to get energy to live. Many animals live in this world. Some are big and some are small. Some live in water, others live on the ground and some animals can fly. Being able to move from one place to another is another distinctive characteristic of an animal.

Normal: Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and independently. Animals are also heterotrophs, meaning they must ingest other organisms for sustenance.

Occam's Razor

Simple: Occam's razor (or Ockham's razor) is a principle from philosophy. It says that the simplest explanation is usually the best one.

Normal: Occam's razor, also Ockham's razor, is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar, William of Ockham. The principle states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory.


The United States


March 2nd, 2009

OK. What gives? I've encountered Occam's Razor three times today. Philosophy is fun but the simplest explanation for this coincidence is probably just that - coincidence. Nevertheless, my mind has been boggled.

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