Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The joy of SEW...

... SEW being Simple English Wikipedia. SEW describes itself as "using simple English words and grammar" and being for "children and adults who are learning English". It's a pretty good idea in general. But accessing it as someone who isn't a child or an adult who is learning English can be fun too, especially when accessing some of the pages on complex concepts and ideas. Some of my favourites...

SEW on quantum mechanics:
"QM explains how certain very small things (around the size of atoms) behave. The main things studied are called subatomic particles and electromagnetic waves. Quantum mechanics uses mathematics, much of it is very hard mathematics. QM is important to physics and chemistry."

("very hard mathematics" just makes me smile every time I read it)

SEW on philosophy:
"The ideas in philosophy are abstract, which means that they are 'things that cannot be touched.'"
(I just love the definition of an abstract idea - "Don't you be touchin' them ideas, boy, them's abstract ideas!")

SEW on 9/11:
"People in the group al-Qaeda took control of four airplanes and crashed three of the airplanes into buildings in the United States on purpose."
(This just sounds like a child's account of something that happened in the playground when they've been asked by a teacher what happened)

SEW on Shakespeare:
"He wrote plays about history and tragedy and he wrote comedies"
(Sounds like its been lifted from a GCSE Literature essay which received a low grade)

SEW on evolution:
"The earth has been around for a very long time. By doing research on the layers of rock we can find out about its past. That kind of research is called historical geology. We know that living things have changed over time, because we can see their remains in the rocks. These remains are called "fossils". So we know that the animals and plants of today are different from those of long ago. And the further we go back, the more different the fossils are. How has this come about? Evolution has taken place."
(Imagine Charles Darwin saying this to The Pope and it's even better)

As I said, I'm all for the idea of what Simple English Wikipedia is for, but it's still good fun to imagine its definitions being said slowly and patronisingly to a particularly thick person. Some of the entries do feel genuinely over-simple almost to the point of inaccuracy, but as ultimately we are dealing with a wiki then that's to be expected. If anyone finds any more gems on SEW please share them.


TheTelf said...

That's a brilliant site - I love it :D

"The Higgs Boson is a very small particle, much smaller than anything a person could see without special tools. Compared to other particles, the Higgs Boson is very small, which makes it difficult to detect with the tools that we use."

Anonymous said...

Another one that I missed originally: "Light moves very fast, faster than anything else in the universe. There is a thing called the speed of light, which is the exact speed that light moves. The speed of light is a very big number: 670,616,629 miles in one hour. Most cars can only travel about 100 miles in one hour, and most people can only run 12 miles in one hour. As you can see, the speed of light is much faster than cars or people."

happylittlecynic said...

"most people can only run 12 miles in one hour"?!? Maybe most people have a top speed of 12 mph if they're sprinting pretty hard. I'm pretty sure I don't know anyone who can keep that up for a whole hour though!

Hanspan said...

"There is a thing called the speed of light, which is the exact speed that light moves."

There is a thing called a tautology where something is repeated while providing little more useful information, this is known as a tautology.