What is Qwikipedia?

Ever been on Wikipedia to look up an article? More often than not, we start with one topic, click a few links and within no time are reading about something else. Qwikipedia is a game that tries to quench this curiosity in us. The objective is to get to a particular wiki page, starting from a specific article, using minimal clicks. There is no single correct answer, so we might surprise ourselves by finding new routes each time!

Friday’s Free rider

Academy Awards —> Syringe

Academy Awards

Winning an Oscar, as the Academy Awards are informally known, is like a dream come true for most people in the field of cinema.  The awards were first given in 1929. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences oversees the awards.

This year, Bombay Jayashri’s lyrics for the title song in Life of Pi is one of the nominations in the music (original song) category. The golden statuette that is given to the awardees is a coveted trophy. The awardees or their heirs are legally bound to not sell the statue unless they first offer the Academy to buy back the statue for one US dollar! This legal requirement was put in place in 1950.

Oscar statuettes won before that year have been sold or publicly auctioned for six figure sums. For example, the 1941 Oscar won by Orson Welles for his film Citizen Kane was put up for auction by his heirs.

Citizen Kane

This film won Herman Mankiewicz and Orson Welles an Oscar for original screenplay. It was released on May 1, 1941. The story is based on the life of an eccentric newspaper baron. Although presented as fiction, Citizen Kane was based on the life of publisher William Randolph Hearst. The movie’s protagonist – Charles Kane – has humble beginnings but later becomes one of the most powerful newspaper owners who can influence public opinion. However, he dies alone in his vast estate.

The movie so angered William Hearst that he banned any mention of the film in his newspapers. The director Orson Welles said that the role of his protagonist was drawn from more than one real life character, including that of millionaire business magnate Howard Hughes.

Howard Hughes

Aviation expert. Filmmaker. Hotelier. Philanthropist. One of the wealthiest persons in the world during his life. That’s how you’d describe Howard Hughes (1905 – 1976). He made big budget films and his aviation exploits were daring. But after an almost fatal aircraft crash in 1946, he developed chronic pain.

In his later years, Hughes injected himself with codeine to manage the pain. He became a recluse and died on board an aircraft. Autopsy showed that he had died of kidney failure. X-rays revealed that the flesh in his arm had broken metal needles from syringes that he used to administer codeine. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute that he founded is one of the largest privately funded biological research organisations in the U.S.


There are some of us who tremble at the very sight of a syringe and its needle. Syringes are widely used in hospitals to inject medicine directly into the bloodstream or used to draw blood for tests. A syringe is a simple pump that has a plunger that fits tightly into a tube.

Romans are known to have used nasal syringes. In 1853, Charles Pravas and Alexander Wood developed a medical syringe with a needle fine enough to pierce the skin. But advances in medical sciences have made an alternative possible for those who fear syringes and needles. Soon it may be possible to get vaccinated through skin patches that you just have to stick on to your arm.

So the path that we have traversed today is:

Academy Awards —> Citizen Kane —> Howard Hughes —> Syringe

Three clicks! Hop over. Its time for the next question:

Saturday’s Surfer

Polio —> Kalpana Chawla

Send in your paths for the above question to school@thehindu.co.in with the subject “Qwikipedia”. Do include your name, class and school!