Crowdsource the Cure for Cancer: One slide at a time.

For their latest and possibly most ambitious crowd-sourcing project Cellslider, Zooniverse has partnered with Cancer Research UK to analyze archival cancer research data.

While computers have gotten better at image analysis, the majority of this type af analysis is still being done by real people and is quite time intensive.  By harnessing the collective power of hundreds of thousands of people, Zooniverse hopes to speed up this process to discover new methods of treatment and detection.

So, next time you reach for your phone to play angry birds think about spending that time curing cancer instead.

Mapping the Retinal Connectome

The connectome is the map of the connections between each of your neurons. According to Sebabstian Seung it is the connectome, more so than your DNA, that is responsible for the uniqueness of a person.  To develop this theory Seung and his lab have recently launched a webapp called EyeWire to allow anyone to take part in charting the connections in the human retina.

To take part you simply explore a 3D section layer by layer coloring in the spaces where the computer algorithm missed. It’s as easy as coloring in between the lines. And as you can see by my score of 0 up above I’m not too good at coloring between the lines.

If you are interested in learning more about the connectome Sebastien has given a wonderful talk on the subject and if you’re interested in delving deeper, a massive amount of data and the tools to process it have been made freely available courtesy of the the Human Connectome Project.


SETI crowd sources search for ET

The SETI institute and Zooniverse have just released a project called SETI Live which is seeking crowd sourced help in classifying signals coming in from the Allen Telescope Array.  They are hoping that with the help of citizen scientists they can classify bands they’ve had to skip with their computer searches.

In order to avoid uneven and unknown completion of signal classification, SonATA skips over many “crowded” frequency bands. We are literally blind to any ET signals that might be arriving at those frequencies. Overall, it’s only a few percent of the entire 1 to 10 GHz frequency range we are trying to explore systematically, but those might be the most important frequencies!

Faster processors will help, but we really need to better understand what signals are in those crowded bands, and what is generating them, so that we can help SonATA do a better job of classifying and finding any really interesting candidates buried underneath all this clutter. That’s where you come in. We want to use your eyes and brains to help us work through these crowded bands. We want you to tell us about all the signals/patterns you can see, and why you think they may be from ET technologies rather than our own.

The thing that makes this project a bit different from Zooniverses other projects, is that you get to work on the data live as it’s coming from the ATA and possibly effect the planets the array targets.

Happy Searching!

School of Ants: Crowdsourced Biogeography

Dr. Andrea Lucky and her team bring us a pretty interesting crowd sourced experiment on picnics most feared enemy, ants. All you have to do to take partis collect some ants from an urban environment (Apparently pecan sandies are the optimal bait for this purpose), send them in to Dr. Lucky and her team will identify the species (e.g. Solenopsis xyloni) and post the results to their interactive map.

Via School of Ants

The MilkyWay Project launces today

The people behind the crowdsourced astronomy project Galaxy Zoo have just released their latest endeavor, The Milky Way Project.

The Milky Way Project is currently working with data taken from the Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (GLIMPSE) and the Multiband Imaging Photometer for Spitzer Galactic Plane Survey (MIPSGAL). We aim to bring you a host of interesting science problems as time goes by, and to begin with we’re looking for bubbles. These bubbles are part of the life cycle of stars. Some bubbles have already been found – by the study that inspired this project – but we want to find more! By finding more, we will build up a comprehensive view of not only these bubbles, but our galaxy as a whole. We’re asking you to help us map star formation in our galaxy.

Join The MilkyWay Project by Zooniverse

Genomera looking for Next Citizen Science Study

Genomera is a recently launched company with the mission of helping people understand and analyze their personal genomes. In the vein of their last study Butter Mind, They are currently holding a call for their next Citizen Science based genetic study. The top study will be hosted on the genomera platform and  receive the 23andMe Complete Edition receiving.  So if you have a question you’d like answered about your genome now is the time to ask it. (Details through the link)

Correction: The citizen science study can be anything, not just genetics.

So you think you can Science? The search for the next Citizen Science Study. via Genomera

The Great Yew Tree Hunt

Charles Harrison is working on a dissertation pertaining to Yew Trees in the UK and needs help collecting data. He is using an interesting iphone/android app called epicollect to allow anyone to submit Yew photos and relevant data(i.e. trunk width,location) via their phone. That data is then displayed online via the Yew Hunt project page.

If you live in the UK and are interested in helping Charles out, below are complete instructions on how to get started Yew Hunting.

How to identify Galaxies?

The Zooniverse is home to some of the most succesful and easy to get started citizen scientist projects.  All you have to do is pick the project that most interests you, sign up and answer a few questions per picture(similiar to the question below for Galaxy Zoo:Hubble).  The cumulative work of the volunteers is then translated into usable data even a few exciting discoveries.

The current projects include:

  • Old Weather: Help scientists recover worldwide weather observations made by Royal Navy ships around the time of World War I.
  • Moon Zoo: Explore the Moon in unprecedented detail using images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
  • Galaxy Zoo: Hubble: Help astronomers figure out how galaxies form and evolve by classifying their shape.
  • Solar Stormwatch:Help spot explosions on the Sun and track them across space to Earth. Your work will give astronauts an early warning if dangerous solar radiation is headed their way.
  • Galaxy Zoo: Mergers:  Help astronomers by trying to match a merger from SDSS with a simulation.
  • Galaxy Zoo: Supernovae: Help us to catch an exploding star.

So if you find yourself with a few moments of downtime each day, rather than spending it planting digital corn on farmville check out any of the Zooniverse projects.

P.s.  I think it’d be cool to see these projects adapted to work on the iphone or similiar platform.

Community Mapping Brings a Revolution to Geographic Information Science

A recent National Science Foundation Distinguished Lecture series featured Michael Goodchild, a world-renowned geographer and director of the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Center for Spatial Studies. On November 17, Prof. Goodchild presented his evolving views on the development and distribution of geographic information, and how these are being significantly influenced not only by new technologies, but, in particular, by the volunteer efforts of interested non-professionals connected in with the new technologies.

Below is my take on Prof. Goodchild’s talk.

Continue reading

Citizen Science and the Age of Knowledge Generosity

On the eve of Thanksgiving, we tend to start our annual pondering about how we might give more to our friends and family, and maybe even to the world. Citizen scientists–whether they consciously realize it or not–are behaving in a uniquely giving mood with every bird they count, PC time they donate, comet they spot, or galaxy structure they visually identify. The efforts of citizen scientists are a pure form of generosity through the free distribution of knowledge.

Scientific advancement through the professional academic universe certainly has developed an entrenched hierarchy of those who know the “truth,” those who are learning the “truth,” and … everyone else. Having personally experienced the educational opportunities inside advanced scientific learning, it would seem nearly impossible or impractical for an at-home, informal learner of any age to tap into meaningful research or scientific discovery. The notion of the average citizen directly contributing to actual scientific advancement would seem counter intuitive–to the professional academic community.

But, with the advancement of communication technologies in the 21st Century, from Internet technologies to hand-held computing devices, the power of real scientific participation is being delegated to the masses. And, the masses are taking part. Profoundly, they are volunteering their time, skills, and general enthusiasm to explore nature and the universe to not only help with the advancement of scientific understanding, but to increase their personal appreciation for that elusive “truth.”

Roger Highfield, former Telegraph science editor and current editor of New Scientist, recently realized this profound volunteer effort of the crowd and how their contributions have been dramatically influencing scientific advancements, and will certainly continue to do so.

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“Crowdsourcing and open source: knowledge is a gift” :: The Telegraph by Roger Highfield :: November 23, 2010 :: [ READ ]