Compiling the Latin dictionary has also given glimpses of life in the medieval era.
In establishing the Latin word for "muzzle", there was a record from 1252 showing that a muzzle had to be made for a polar bear, kept in the Tower of London, which had to be restrained when it was brought to fish in the river Thames.
The word for chimney - "caminus" - was sourced from a description of an earthquake which hit England in the 1340s which toppled chimneys.
There were also strange tales from coroner's courts, such as an account of a cat chasing a mouse down a well and then a woman drowning when she tried to rescue the cat.
Mr Leetaru began work on the project while researching communications technology at Georgetown University in Washington DC as part of a fellowship sponsored by Yahoo, the owner of photo-sharing service Flickr.
To achieve his goal, Mr Leetaru wrote his own software to work around the way the books had originally been digitised.
The Internet Archive had used an optical character recognition (OCR) program to analyse each of its 600 million scanned pages in order to convert the image of each word into searchable text.
As part of the process, the software recognised which parts of a page were pictures in order to discard them.
Mr Leetaru's code used this information to go back to the original scans, extract the regions the OCR program had ignored, and then save each one as a separate file in the Jpeg picture format.
The software also copied the caption for each image and the text from the paragraphs immediately preceding and following it in the book.
Each Jpeg and its associated text was then posted to a new Flickr page, allowing the public to hunt through the vast catalogue using the site's search tool.
Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge: systematic review of randomised controlled trials
BMJ 2003; 327 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.327.7429.1459 (Published 18 December 2003)
Gordon C S Smith, professor1, Jill P Pell, consultant2
1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Cambridge University, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, 2Department of Public Health, Greater Glasgow NHS Board, Glasgow G3 8YU
Objectives To determine whether parachutes are effective in preventing major trauma related to gravitational challenge.
Design Systematic review of randomised controlled trials.
Data sources: Medline, Web of Science, Embase, and the Cochrane Library databases; appropriate internet sites and citation lists.
Study selection: Studies showing the effects of using a parachute during free fall.
Main outcome measure Death or major trauma, defined as an injury severity score > 15.
Results We were unable to identify any randomised controlled trials of parachute intervention.
Conclusions As with many interventions intended to prevent ill health, the effectiveness of parachutes has not been subjected to rigorous evaluation by using randomised controlled trials. Advocates of evidence based medicine have criticised the adoption of interventions evaluated by using only observational data. We think that everyone might benefit if the most radical protagonists of evidence based medicine organised and participated in a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled, crossover trial of the parachute.
Contributors GCSS had the original idea. JPP tried to talk him out of it. JPP did the first literature search but GCSS lost it. GCSS drafted the manuscript but JPP deleted all the best jokes. GCSS is the guarantor, and JPP says it serves him right.