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I could teach every semester for my entire lifetime and not reach as many students as these Wikipedia pages reach in a single day

Wikipedia pages on physics have a huge impact. The numbers speak for themselves. The page “Quantum computing” is viewed in excess of 3,000 times every day. “Nanotechnology” is viewed in excess of 2,000 times per day. Even a topic like “Monte Carlo method” is viewed 2,000 times per day. I could teach every semester for my entire lifetime and not reach as many students as these Wikipedia pages reach in a single day.

Science Wikipedia pages aren’t just for non-experts. Physicists – researchers, professors, and students – use Wikipedia daily. When I need the transition temperature for a Bose-Einstein condensate (prefactor and all), or when I want to learn about the details of an unfamiliar quantum algorithm, Wikipedia is my first stop. When a graduate student sends me research notes that rely on unfamiliar algebraic structures, they reference Wikipedia. The influence on academics is even directly apparent in their publications: Language from Wikipedia articles has been found to influence the language of academic papers after just a couple years.

What do you think?

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Posted by Copperz

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