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  • richardmitnick 4:14 pm on May 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Citizen Science, ,   

    From The Atlantic via SETI@home: “A Brief History of SETI@Home” 

    SETI@home
    SETI@home

    The Atlantic

    1
    Frank Drake, (Left) president of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) reviews data from radiotelescopes used to scan the universe for intelligent life.

    How astronomers deputized early internet users to help find alien civilizations.

    The year was 1999, and the people were going online. AOL, Compuserve, mp3.com, and AltaVista loaded bit by bit after dial-up chirps, on screens across the world. Watching the internet extend its reach, a small group of scientists thought a more extensive digital leap was in order, one that encompassed the galaxy itself. And so it was that before the new millennium dawned, researchers at the University of California released a citizen-science program called SETI@Home.

    The idea went like this: When internet-farers abandoned their computers long enough that a screen saver popped up, that saver wouldn’t be WordArt bouncing around, 3-D neon-metallic pipes installing themselves inch by inch, or a self-satisfied flying Windows logo. No. Their screens would be saved by displays of data analysis, showing which and how much data from elsewhere their CPUs were churning through during down-time. The data would come from observations of distant stars, conducted by astronomers searching for evidence of an extraterrestrial intelligence. Each participating computer would dig through SETI data for suspicious signals, possibly containing a “Hello, World” or two from aliens. Anyone with 28 kbps could be the person to discover another civilization.

    When the researchers launched SETI@Home, in May of ’99, they thought maybe 1,000 people might sign up. That number—and the bleaker view from outsiders, who said perhaps no one would join the crew—informed a poor decision: to set up a single desktop to farm out the data and take back the analysis.

    But the problem was, people really liked the idea of letting their computers find aliens while they did nothing except not touch the mouse. And for SETI@Home’s launch, a million people signed up. Of course, the lone data-serving desktop staggered. SETI@Home fell down as soon as it started walking. Luckily, now-defunct Sun Microsystems donated computers to help the program get back on its feet. In the years since, more than 4 million people have tried SETI@Home. Together, they make up a collective computing power that exceeds 2008’s premier supercomputer.

    But they have yet to find any aliens.

    SETI is a middle-aged science, with 57 years under its sagging belt. It began in 1960, when an astronomer named Frank Drake used an 85-foot radio telescope in Green Bank, West Virginia, to scan two Sun-like stars for signs of intelligent life—radio emissions the systems couldn’t produce on their own, like the thin-frequency broadcasts of our radio stations, or blips that repeated in a purposeful-looking way.

    Green Bank today



    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA

    Since then, scientists and engineers have used radio and optical telescopes to search much more of the sky—for those “narrowband” broadcasts, for fast pings, for long drones, for patterns distinguishing themselves from the chaotic background static and natural signals from stars and supernovae.

    But the hardest part about SETI is that scientists don’t know where ET may live, or how ET’s civilization might choose to communicate. And so they have to look for a rainbow of possible missives from other solar systems, all of which move and spin at their own special-snowflake speeds through the universe. There’s only one way to do that, says Dan Werthimer, the chief SETI scientist at Berkeley and a co-founder of SETI@Home: “We need a lot of computing power.”

    In the 1970s, when Werthimer’s Berkeley colleagues launched a SETI project called SERENDIP, they sucked power from all the computers in their building, then the neighboring building. In a way, it was a SETI@Home prototype. In the decades that followed, they turned to supercomputers. And then, they came for your CPUs.

    The idea for SETI@Home originated at a cocktail party in Seattle, when computer scientist David Gedye asked a friend what it might take to excite the public about science. Could computers somehow do something similar to what the Apollo program had done? Gedye dreamed up the idea of “volunteer computing,” in which people gave up their hard drives for the greater good when those drives were idle, much like people give up their idle cars, for periods of time, to Turo (if Turo didn’t make money and also served the greater good). What might people volunteer to help with? His mind wandered to The X-Files, UFOs, hit headlines fronting the National Enquirer. People were so interested in all that. “It’s a slightly misguided interest, but still,” says David Anderson, Gedye’s graduate-school advisor at Berkeley. Interest is interest is interest, misguided or guided perfectly.

    But Gedye wasn’t a SETI guy—he was a computer guy—so he didn’t know if or how a citizen-computing project would work. He got in touch with astronomer Woody Sullivan, who worked at the University of Washington in Seattle. Sullivan turned him over to Werthimer. And Gedye looped in Anderson. They had a quorum, of sorts.

    Anderson, who worked in industry at the time, dedicated evenings to writing software that could take data from the Arecibo radio telescope, mother-bird it into digestible bits, send it to your desktop, command it to hunt for aliens, and then send the results back to the Berkeley home base. No small task.

    They raised some money—notably, $50,000 from the Planetary Society and $10,000 from a Paul Allen-backed company. But most of the work-hours, like the computer-hours they were soliciting, were volunteer labor. Out of necessity, they did hire a few people with operating-system expertise, to deal with the wonky screensaver behavior of both Windows and Macintosh. “It’s difficult trying to develop a program that’s intended to run on every computer in the world,” says Anderson.

    __________________________________________________________________
    Today, you can use BOINC to serve up your computer’s free time to develop malaria drugs, cancer drugs, HIV drugs.

    __________________________________________________________________

    And yet, by May 17, 1999, they were up, and soon after, they were running. And those million people in this world were looking for not-people on other worlds.

    One morning, early in the new millennium, the team came into the office and surveyed the record of what those million had done so far. In the previous 24 hours, the volunteers had done what would have taken a single desktop one thousand years to do. “Suppose you’re a scientist, and you have some idea, and it’s going to take 1,000 years,” says Anderson. “You’re going to discard it. But we did it.”

    After being noses-down to their keyboards since the start, it was their first feeling of triumph. “It was really a battle for survival,” says Anderson. “We didn’t really have time to look up and realize what an amazing thing we were doing.”

    Then, when they looked up again, at the SETI@Home forums, they saw something else: “It was probably less than a year after we started that we started getting notices about the weddings of people who met through SETI@Home,” says Eric Korpela, a SETI@Home project scientist and astronomer at Berkeley.

    The SETI astronomers began to collect more and different types of data, from the likes of the Arecibo radio telescope. Operating systems evolved. There were new signal types to search for, like pulses so rapid they would have seemed like notes held at pianissimo to previous processors. With all that change, they needed to update the software frequently. But they couldn’t put out a new version every few months and expect people to download it.

    Anderson wanted to create a self-updating infrastructure that would solve that problem—and be flexible enough that other, non-SETI projects could bring their work onboard and benefit from distributed computing. And so BOINC—Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing—was born.

    Today, you can use BOINC to serve up your computer’s free time to develop malaria drugs, cancer drugs, HIV drugs. You can fold proteins or help predict the climate. You can search for gravitational waves or run simulations of the heart’s electrical activity, or any of 30 projects. And you can now run BOINC on GPUs—graphical processing units, brought to you by gamers—and on Android smartphones Nearly half a million people use the infrastructure now, making the système totale a 19 petaflop supercomputer, the third-largest megacalculator on the planet.

    Home computers have gotten about 100 times faster since 1999, thank God, and on the data distribution side, Berkeley has gotten about 10 times faster. They’re adding BOINC as a bandwidth-increasing option to the Texas Advanced Computing Center and nanoHUB, and also letting people sign up for volunteer computing, tell the system what they think are the most important scientific goals, and then have their computers be automatically matched to projects as those projects need time. It’s like OkCupid dating, for scientific research. BOINC, and SETI@Home can do more work than ever.

    The thing is, though, they’ve already done a lot of work—so much work they can’t keep up with themselves. Sitting in a database are 7 billion possible alien signals that citizen scientists and their idle computers have already uncovered.

    Most of these are probably human-made interference: short-circuiting electric fences, airport radar, XM satellite radio, or a microwave opened a second too soon. Others are likely random noise that added up to a masquerade of significance. As Anderson says, “Random noise has the property that whatever you’re looking for, it eventually occurs. If you generate random letters. You eventually get the complete works of Shakespeare.” Or the emissions are just miscategorized natural signals.

    Anderson has been working on a program called Nebula that will trawl that billions-and-billions-strong database, reject the interference, and upvote the best candidates that might—just might—be actual alien signals. Four thousand computers at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Germany help him narrow down the digital location of that holiest of grails. Once something alien in appearance pops up—say from around the star Vega—the software automatically searches the rest of the data. It finds all the other times, in the 18 years of SETI@Home history, that Arecibo or the recently added telescopes from a $100 milion initiative called Breakthrough Listen have looked at Vega. Was the signal there then too? “We’re kind of hoping that the aliens are sending a constant beacon,” says Korpela, “and that every time a telescope passes over a point in the sky, we see it.”

    If no old data exists—or if the old data is particularly promising—the researchers request new telescope time and ask SETI colleagues to verify the signal with their own telescopes, to see if they can intercept that beacon, that siren, that unequivocal statement of what SETI scientists and SETI@Home participants hope is true: That we are not alone.

    So far, that’s a no-go. “We’ve never had a candidate so exciting that we call the director and say, ‘Throw everybody off the telescope,’” says Werthimer. “We’ve never had anything that resembles ET.”

    And partly for that reason, the SETI@Homers are now working on detecting “wideband” signals—ones that come at a spread spectrum of frequencies, like the beam-downs from DIRECTV. Humans (and by extension, extraterrestrials) can embed more information more efficiently in these spread-spectrum emissions. If the goal is to disseminate information, rather than just graffiti “We’re here!” on the fabric of spacetime, wideband is the way to go. And SETI scientists’ thinking goes like this: We’ve been looking mostly for purposeful, obvious transmissions, ones wrapped neatly for us. But we haven’t found any—which might mean they just aren’t there. Extraterrestrial communications might be aimed at members of their own civilizations, in which case they’re more likely to go the DIRECTV route, and we’re likely to find only the “leakage” of those communication lines.

    “If there really are these advanced civilizations, it’d be trivial to contact us,” says Werthimer. “They’d be landing on the White House—well, maybe not this White House. But they’d be shining a laser in Frank Drake’s eyes. I don’t see why they would make it so difficult that we would have to do all this hard stuff.”

    And so humans, and our sleeping computers, may have to eavesdrop on messages not addressed to us—the ones the aliens send to their own (for lack of a better word) people, and then insert ourselves into the chatter. “I don’t mean to interrupt,” we might someday say, “but I couldn’t help overhearing…” And because of SETI@Home and BOINC, it might be your laptop that gets that awkward conversation started.

    See the full article here.

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    The science of SETI@home
    SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is a scientific area whose goal is to detect intelligent life outside Earth. One approach, known as radio SETI, uses radio telescopes to listen for narrow-bandwidth radio signals from space. Such signals are not known to occur naturally, so a detection would provide evidence of extraterrestrial technology.

    Radio telescope signals consist primarily of noise (from celestial sources and the receiver’s electronics) and man-made signals such as TV stations, radar, and satellites. Modern radio SETI projects analyze the data digitally. More computing power enables searches to cover greater frequency ranges with more sensitivity. Radio SETI, therefore, has an insatiable appetite for computing power.

    Previous radio SETI projects have used special-purpose supercomputers, located at the telescope, to do the bulk of the data analysis. In 1995, David Gedye proposed doing radio SETI using a virtual supercomputer composed of large numbers of Internet-connected computers, and he organized the SETI@home project to explore this idea. SETI@home was originally launched in May 1999.

    SETI@home is not a part of the SETI Institute

    The SETI@home screensaver image
    SETI@home screensaver

    To participate in this project, download and install the BOINC software on which it runs. Then attach to the project. While you are at BOINC, look at some of the other projects which you might find of interest.

    MAJOR PROJECTS RUNNING ON BOINC SOFTWARE

    SETI@home The search for extraterrestrial intelligence. “SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is a scientific area whose goal is to detect intelligent life outside Earth. One approach, known as radio SETI, uses radio telescopes to listen for narrow-bandwidth radio signals from space. Such signals are not known to occur naturally, so a detection would provide evidence of extraterrestrial technology.

    Radio telescope signals consist primarily of noise (from celestial sources and the receiver’s electronics) and man-made signals such as TV stations, radar, and satellites. Modern radio SETI projects analyze the data digitally. More computing power enables searches to cover greater frequency ranges with more sensitivity. Radio SETI, therefore, has an insatiable appetite for computing power.

    Previous radio SETI projects have used special-purpose supercomputers, located at the telescope, to do the bulk of the data analysis. In 1995, David Gedye proposed doing radio SETI using a virtual supercomputer composed of large numbers of Internet-connected computers, and he organized the SETI@home project to explore this idea. SETI@home was originally launched in May 1999.”


    SETI@home is the birthplace of BOINC software. Originally, it only ran in a screensaver when the computer on which it was installed was doing no other work. With the powerand memory available today, BOINC can run 24/7 without in any way interfering with other ongoing work.

    seti
    The famous SET@home screen saver, a beauteous thing to behold.

    einstein@home The search for pulsars. “Einstein@Home uses your computer’s idle time to search for weak astrophysical signals from spinning neutron stars (also called pulsars) using data from the LIGO gravitational-wave detectors, the Arecibo radio telescope, and the Fermi gamma-ray satellite. Einstein@Home volunteers have already discovered more than a dozen new neutron stars, and we hope to find many more in the future. Our long-term goal is to make the first direct detections of gravitational-wave emission from spinning neutron stars. Gravitational waves were predicted by Albert Einstein almost a century ago, but have never been directly detected. Such observations would open up a new window on the universe, and usher in a new era in astronomy.”

    MilkyWay@Home Milkyway@Home uses the BOINC platform to harness volunteered computing resources, creating a highly accurate three dimensional model of the Milky Way galaxy using data gathered by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. This project enables research in both astroinformatics and computer science.”

    Leiden Classical “Join in and help to build a Desktop Computer Grid dedicated to general Classical Dynamics for any scientist or science student!”

    World Community Grid (WCG) World Community Grid is a special case at BOINC. WCG is part of the social initiative of IBM Corporation and the Smarter Planet. WCG has under its umbrella currently eleven disparate projects at globally wide ranging institutions and universities. Most projects relate to biological and medical subject matter. There are also projects for Clean Water and Clean Renewable Energy. WCG projects are treated respectively and respectably on their own at this blog. Watch for news.

    Rosetta@home “Rosetta@home needs your help to determine the 3-dimensional shapes of proteins in research that may ultimately lead to finding cures for some major human diseases. By running the Rosetta program on your computer while you don’t need it you will help us speed up and extend our research in ways we couldn’t possibly attempt without your help. You will also be helping our efforts at designing new proteins to fight diseases such as HIV, Malaria, Cancer, and Alzheimer’s….”

    GPUGrid.net “GPUGRID.net is a distributed computing infrastructure devoted to biomedical research. Thanks to the contribution of volunteers, GPUGRID scientists can perform molecular simulations to understand the function of proteins in health and disease.” GPUGrid is a special case in that all processor work done by the volunteers is GPU processing. There is no CPU processing, which is the more common processing. Other projects (Einstein, SETI, Milky Way) also feature GPU processing, but they offer CPU processing for those not able to do work on GPU’s.

    gif

    These projects are just the oldest and most prominent projects. There are many others from which you can choose.

    There are currently some 300,000 users with about 480,000 computers working on BOINC projects That is in a world of over one billion computers. We sure could use your help.

    My BOINC

    graph

     
  • richardmitnick 12:13 pm on April 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Citizen Science, Crédit Agricole contributes computer power to WCG,   

    From WCG: ““It’s not just big data. It’s for the good of humanity.” 

    New WCG Logo

    WCGLarge

    World Community Grid (WCG)

    27 Apr 2017

    Summary
    Three co-workers wanted their company to support World Community Grid, but they knew they’d need to convince many people to make their vision a reality. Here’s how they did it.

    Each year, employees with SILCA (one of the information technology and services arms of Crédit Agricole, an international bank based in France) are invited to submit proposals for new company initiatives at Crédit Agricole’s Innovation Week. In 2015, a small group at SILCA presented a carefully crafted proposal to run World Community Grid on company computers. Their proposal led to a successful pilot project, and eventually a wide-scale implementation that currently includes more than 1,200 computers.

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    David Dubuis, Philippe Mangematin, and Stephane Douglay at Innovation Week 2017, after their successful pilot of World Community Grid won an Innovation Award. (Photo by Alain Goulard)

    A Carefully Planned Pilot

    Social responsibility, environmental responsibility, and solidarity are very strong values within SILCA. So when David Dubius, Philippe Mangematin, and Stephane Douglay learned about World Community Grid several years ago, they realized that this was an opportunity for their organization to donate unused computing power from its desktops for important humanitarian research.

    “First, we planned a pilot project that involved 10 computers,” explains David. “We presented a proposal for this pilot project to a jury at Innovation Week 2015, and it was considered one of the best proposals of the year.”

    As the IT department for a bank, SILCA is strongly committed to security at every level. To pre-emptively address security questions about World Community Grid, the pilot project team created a proof of concept plan. Their pilot project included communicating frequently with World Community Grid’s development team, and discussing any new security questions as they came up.

    The team also showed their colleagues at SILCA how much they could potentially contribute to research projects to combat AIDS, Ebola, Zika, cancer, and other diseases. “We monitored the data flow daily, and turned in weekly reports that detailed exactly what the computers in the pilot project were doing,” says David. They also enlisted the help of Dr. Alessandra Carbone, who led the Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy project. Dr. Carbone, who is based in France, worked with the team to create a podcast where she explained how useful and important World Community Grid was for her research, and for humanitarian science projects in general.

    An Award and an Expansion

    By January 2017, the team was ready to showcase the results of the pilot project at another Innovation Week. With their presentation “Desktop Grid, Soyons Solidaires,” they received a first-prize Innovation Award out of 60 projects presented within the Crédit Agricole group. Their message, “It’s not just big data, it’s for the good of humanity,” had once again resonated with the Innovation Week judges.

    SILCA formalized its collaboration with World Community Grid in December 2016, becoming an official partner and installing the World Community Grid app on 1,200 workstations of its employees.

    Plans for the Future

    The team is working on internal marketing efforts to continue to spread the word within SILCA, such as working with their communications team to put a World Community Grid widget on SILCA’s intranet site.

    The team would like to extend the project to other groups within Crédit Agricole. “SILCA is just one subsidiary of Crédit Agricole,” says David. “We are presenting the results of our project to other groups, and it would be a great victory if others would join.”

    See the full article here.

    Ways to access the blog:
    https://sciencesprings.wordpress.com
    http://facebook.com/sciencesprings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    World Community Grid (WCG) brings people together from across the globe to create the largest non-profit computing grid benefiting humanity. It does this by pooling surplus computer processing power. We believe that innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can help make the planet smarter. Our success depends on like-minded individuals – like you.”
    WCG projects run on BOINC software from UC Berkeley.
    BOINCLarge

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.

    BOINC WallPaper

    CAN ONE PERSON MAKE A DIFFERENCE? YOU BET!!

    My BOINC
    MyBOINC
    “Download and install secure, free software that captures your computer’s spare power when it is on, but idle. You will then be a World Community Grid volunteer. It’s that simple!” You can download the software at either WCG or BOINC.

    Please visit the project pages-

    FightAIDS@home Phase II

    FAAH Phase II
    OpenZika

    Rutgers Open Zika

    Help Stop TB
    WCG Help Stop TB
    Outsmart Ebola together

    Outsmart Ebola Together

    Mapping Cancer Markers
    mappingcancermarkers2

    Uncovering Genome Mysteries
    Uncovering Genome Mysteries

    Say No to Schistosoma

    GO Fight Against Malaria

    Drug Search for Leishmaniasis

    Computing for Clean Water

    The Clean Energy Project

    Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together

    Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy

    Help Fight Childhood Cancer

    Help Conquer Cancer

    Human Proteome Folding

    FightAIDS@Home

    faah-1-new-screen-saver

    faah-1-new

    World Community Grid is a social initiative of IBM Corporation
    IBM Corporation
    ibm

    IBM – Smarter Planet
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  • richardmitnick 9:22 am on April 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Citizen Science, , , Exoplanet discovery by an amateur astronomer shows the power of citizen science,   

    From CSIRO via The Conversation: “Exoplanet discovery by an amateur astronomer shows the power of citizen science “ 

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    The Conversation

    4.7.17
    Ray Norris

    You don’t need to be a professional astronomer to find new worlds orbiting distant stars. Darwin mechanic and amateur astronomer Andrew Grey this week helped to discover a new exoplanet system with at least four orbiting planets.

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    An artist’s impression of some of the thousands of exoplanets discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/JPL

    But Andrew did have professional help and support.

    The discovery was a highlight moment of this week’s three-evening special ABC Stargazing Live, featuring British physicist Brian Cox, presenter Julia Zemiro and others.

    Viewers were encouraged to join in the search for exoplanets – planets orbiting distant stars – using the Exoplanet Explorers website. After a quick tutorial they were then asked to trawl through data on thousands of stars recently observed with NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope.

    NASA/Kepler Telescope

    Grey checked out more than 1,000 stars on the website before discovering the characteristic dips in brightness of the star in the data that signify an exoplanet.

    2
    As the planet passes in front of the star, it hides part of the star, causing a characteristic dip in brightness. ABC/Zooniverse

    Together with other co-discoverers, Grey’s name will appear on a scientific paper reporting the very significant discovery of a star with four planets, orbiting closer to the star than Mercury is to our Sun.

    Grey told Stargazing Live:

    “That is amazing. Definitely my first scientific publication … just glad that I can contribute. It feels very good.”

    Cox was clearly impressed by the new discovery:

    “In the seven years I’ve been making Stargazing Live this is the most significant scientific discovery we’ve ever made.”

    A breakthrough for citizen science

    So just what does this discovery signify? First, let’s be clear: this is no publicity stunt, or a bit of fake news dressed up to make a good story.

    This is a real scientific discovery, to be reported in the scientific literature like other discoveries made by astronomers.

    It will help us understand the formation of our own Earth. It’s also a step towards establishing whether we are alone in the universe, or whether there are other planets populated by other civilisations.

    On the other hand, it must be acknowledged that this discovery joins the list of more than 2,300 known exoplanets discovered by Kepler so far. There are thousands more candidate planets to be examined.

    If Grey and his colleagues hadn’t discovered this new planetary system, then somebody else would have eventually discovered it. But that can be said of all discoveries. The fact remains that this particular discovery was made by Grey and his fellow citizen scientists.

    Amateurs and professionals working together

    I think that the greatest significance of this discovery is that it heralds a change in the way we do science.

    As I said earlier, Grey didn’t make this discovery alone. He used data from the Kepler spacecraft with a mission cost of US$600 million.

    Although we can build stunning telescopes that produce vast amounts of valuable data, we can’t yet build an algorithm that approaches the extraordinary abilities of the human brain to examine that data.

    A human brain can detect patterns in the data far more effectively than any machine-learning algorithm yet devised. Because of the large volume of data generated by Kepler and other scientific instruments, we need large teams of human brains – larger than any research lab.

    But the brains don’t need to be trained astrophysicists, they just need to have the amazing cognitive abilities of the human brain.

    This results in a partnership where big science produces data, and citizen scientists inspect the data to help make discoveries. It means that anyone can be involved in cutting-edge science, accelerating the growth of human knowledge.

    A gathering of brainpower

    This is happening all over science and even the arts, from butterfly hunting to transcribing Shakespeare’s handwriting.

    Last year citizen scientists in the Australian-led Radio Galaxy Zoo project discovered the largest known cluster of galaxies.

    None of these projects would be possible without widespread access to the internet, and readily-available tools to build citizen science projects, such as the Zooniverse project.

    Will machines ever make citizen scientists redundant? I have argued before that we need to build algorithms called “machine scientists” to make future discoveries from the vast volumes of data we are generating.

    But these algorithms still need to be trained by humans. The larger our human-generated training set, the better our machine scientists will work.

    So rather than making citizen scientists redundant, the machine scientists multiply the power of citizen scientists, so that a discovery made by a future Andrew Grey may result in hundreds of discoveries by machines trained using his discovery.

    I see the power of citizen scientists continuing to grow. I suspect this is only the start. We can do much more. We can increase the “fun” of doing citizen science by introducing “gaming” elements into citizen science programs, or by taking advantage of new technologies such as augmented reality and immersive virtual reality.

    Perhaps we can tap into other human qualities such as imagination and creativity to achieve goals that still frustrate machines.

    I look forward to the day when a Nobel prize is won by someone in a developing country without access to a traditional university education, but who uses the power of their mind, the wealth of information on the web and the tools of citizen science to transcend the dreams of traditional science.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:50 pm on March 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Astronomy Rewind, , , , Citizen Science, ,   

    From CfA: “With Astronomy Rewind, Citizen Scientists Will Bring Zombie Astrophotos Back to Life” 

    Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics


    Center For Astrophysics

    March 22, 2017
    Rick Fienberg / Julie Steffen
    AAS Press Officer / AAS Director of Publishing
    +1 202-328-2010 x116 / +1 202-328-2010 x125
    rick.fienberg@aas.org / julie.steffen@aas.org

    Rob Bernstein
    Publisher, IOP Publishing
    +1 202-747-1807
    rob.bernstein@iop.org

    Megan Watzke / Peter Edmonds
    Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
    +1 617-496-7998 / +1 617-571-7279
    mwatzke@cfa.harvard.edu / pedmonds@cfa.harvard.edu

    Alyssa Goodman
    Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University
    Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Science
    agoodman@cfa.harvard.edu

    Laura Trouille
    Director of Citizen Science, Adler Planetarium
    Co-Investigator, Zooniverse
    +1 312-322-0820
    trouille@zooniverse.org

    1

    A new citizen-science project will rescue tens of thousands of potentially valuable cosmic images that are mostly dead to science and bring them fully back to life. Called Astronomy Rewind, the effort, which launches today (22 March 2017), will take photographs, radio maps, and other telescopic images that have been scanned from the pages of dusty old journals and place them in context in digital sky atlases and catalogs. Anyone will then be able to find them online and compare them with modern electronic data from ground- and space-based telescopes, making possible new studies of short- and long-term changes in the heavens.

    “There’s no telling what discoveries await,” says Alyssa Goodman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, CfA), one of the project’s founders. “Turning historical scientific literature into searchable, retrievable data is like turning the key to a treasure chest.”

    Astronomy Rewind is the latest citizen-science program on the Zooniverse platform, which debuted at Oxford University a decade ago with Galaxy Zoo and now hosts more than 50 active “people-powered” projects across a variety of scientific disciplines. After going through a short exercise to learn what they’re looking for, users will view scanned pages from the journals of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) dating from the 19th century to the mid-1990s, when the Society began publishing electronically. Volunteers’ first task will be to determine what types of images the pages contain: photos of celestial objects with (or without) sky coordinates? maps of planetary surfaces with (or without) grids of latitude and longitude? graphs or other types of diagrams?

    The images of most interest are ones whose scale, orientation, and sky position can be nailed down by some combination of labels on or around the images plus details provided in the text or captions. Pictures that lack such information but clearly show recognizable stars, galaxies, or other celestial objects will be sent to Astrometry.net, an automated online service that compares astrophotos to star catalogs to determine what areas of sky they show.

    Modern electronic astronomical images often include information about where they fit on the sky, along with which telescope and camera were used and many other details. But such “metadata” are useful to researchers only if the original image files are published along with the journal articles in which they’re analyzed and interpreted. This isn’t always the case — though it’s becoming more common with encouragement by the AAS — so some electronic journal pages will eventually be run through Astronomy Rewind and Astrometry.net too.

    Thanks to these human-assisted and automated efforts, many thousands of “new old” images will ultimately end up in NASA’s and others’ data repositories alongside pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope. They will also be incorporated into the Astronomy Image Explorer, a service of the AAS and its journal-publishing partner, the UK Institute of Physics (IOP) Publishing, and viewable in WorldWide Telescope, a powerful data-visualization tool and digital sky atlas originally developed by Microsoft Research and now managed by the AAS.

    The scans of pages from the AAS journals — the Astronomical Journal (AJ), Astrophysical Journal (ApJ), ApJ Letters, and the ApJ Supplement Series — are being provided by the Astrophysics Data System (ADS), a NASA-funded bibliographic service and archive at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), part of the CfA.

    Astronomy Rewind is built on a foundation laid by the ADS All-Sky Survey, an earlier effort to extract scientifically valuable images from old astronomy papers using computers. “It turns out that machines aren’t very good at recognizing celestial images on digitized pages that contain a mixture of text and graphics,” says Alberto Accomazzi (SAO/ADS). “And they really get confused with multiple images of the sky on the same page. Humans do much better.”

    Accomazzi’s CfA colleague Goodman, who runs a collaboration called Seamless Astronomy to develop, refine, and share tools that accelerate the pace of astronomical research, helped bring ADS and Zooniverse together. According to Zooniverse co-investigator Laura Trouille (Adler Planetarium), 1.6 million volunteers have made about 4 billion image classifications or other contributions using the platform over the last 10 years. “This isn’t just busywork,” says Trouille. “Zooniverse projects have led to many surprising discoveries and to more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications.”

    If Astronomy Rewind attracts volunteers in numbers comparable to other astronomy projects on Zooniverse, Trouille estimates that at least 1,000 journal pages will be processed daily. Each page will be examined by five different citizen scientists; the more of them agree on what a given page shows, the higher the confidence that they’re right. It shouldn’t take more than a few months to get through the initial batch of pages from the AAS journals and move most of them on to the next stage, where the celestial scenes they contain will be annotated with essential information, extracted into digital images, mapped onto the sky, and made available to anyone who wants access to them.

    “You simply couldn’t do a project like this in any reasonable amount of time without ‘crowdsourcing,'” says Julie Steffen, AAS Director of Publishing. “Astronomy Rewind will breathe new life into old journal articles and put long-lost images of the night sky back into circulation, and that’s exciting. But what’s more exciting is what happens when a volunteer on Zooniverse looks at one of our journal pages and goes, ‘Hmm, that’s odd!’ That’ll be the first step toward learning something new about the universe.”

    This video provides a quick demonstration of the value of placing “antique” astronomy images back on the sky in WorldWide Telescope through the project called Astronomy Rewind.

    Astronomy Rewind and its partners and precursors have received funding from NASA’s Astrophysics Data Analysis Program, Microsoft Research, Astrometry.net, Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg (CDS), IOP Publishing, and the American Astronomical Society (AAS).

    The American Astronomical Society (AAS), established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The membership (approx. 8,000) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the American Astronomical Society is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

    IOP Publishing provides publications through which leading-edge scientific research is distributed worldwide. Beyond IOP’s core journals program of more than 70 publications, high-value scientific information is made easily accessible through an ever-evolving portfolio of community websites, magazines, open-access conference proceedings, and a multitude of electronic services. The company is focused on making the most of new technologies and continually improving electronic interfaces to make it easier for researchers to find exactly what they need, when they need it, in the format that suits them best. IOP Publishing is part of the Institute of Physics (IOP), a leading scientific society with more than 50,000 international members. The Institute aims to advance physics for the benefit of all by working to advance physics research, application, and education; and engaging with policymakers and the public to develop awareness and understanding of physics. Any financial surplus earned by IOP Publishing goes to support science through the activities of the Institute.

    Zooniverse is the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research. This research is made possible by volunteers — hundreds of thousands of people around the world who come together to assist professional researchers. Its goal is to enable research that would not otherwise be possible or practical. Zooniverse research results in new discoveries, datasets useful to the wider research community, and many refereed publications.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Center for Astrophysics combines the resources and research facilities of the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory under a single director to pursue studies of those basic physical processes that determine the nature and evolution of the universe. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution, founded in 1890. The Harvard College Observatory (HCO), founded in 1839, is a research institution of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, and provides facilities and substantial other support for teaching activities of the Department of Astronomy.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:04 pm on March 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Citizen Science, , Major French Bank Now Supporting Humanitarian Research Through World Community Grid, SILCA,   

    From WCG via HPC Wire: “Major French Bank Now Supporting Humanitarian Research Through World Community Grid” 

    New WCG Logo

    WCGLarge

    World Community Grid (WCG)

    1

    HPC Wire

    March 10, 2017
    No writer credit

    SILCA, the information technology and services arm for Crédit Agricole Group, has formally signed on to donate its surplus computer processing power to IBM’s (NYSE: IBM) World Community Grid in support of humanitarian research.

    In just its first month of participation, after installing the World Community Grid app on 1,100 employee workstations, it contributed the equivalent of three years of computing time to scientific research.

    World Community Grid is an IBM-funded and managed program that advances scientific research by harnessing computing power “donated” by volunteers around the globe. This resource is the equivalent of a virtual supercomputer that helps enable scientists to more quickly conduct millions of virtual experiments. These experiments aim to pinpoint promising drug candidates for further study.

    SILCA, which ensures the security and digital transformation of Crédit Agricole Group, first proposed this project at Crédit Agricole Group’s “Innovation Day” event, and won the company’s top award, chosen from among 60 initiatives described by the bank’s subsidiaries. Thanks to this project, SILCA will contribute to significant research studies in many areas, including Zika, tuberculosis, AIDS, Ebola, cancer and clean energy.

    For Philippe Mangematin, in charge of innovation development at SILCA, its participation is “a powerful message for Crédit Agricole to send about its commitment to a social responsibility agenda.”

    To date, World Community Grid has connected researchers to half a billion U.S. dollars’ worth of free supercomputing power. This resource to accelerate scientific discovery, partially hosted in IBM’s cloud, has been fueled by 720,000 individuals and 440 institutions from 80 countries who have donated more than 1 million years of computing time on more than 3 million desktops, laptops, and Android mobile devices. Their participation has helped identify potential treatments for childhood cancer, more efficient solar cells, and more efficient water filtration materials.

    World Community Grid is enabled by Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC), an open source software platform developed at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Join World Community Grid today to enable your computer or Android device for a humanitarian project.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    World Community Grid (WCG) brings people together from across the globe to create the largest non-profit computing grid benefiting humanity. It does this by pooling surplus computer processing power. We believe that innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can help make the planet smarter. Our success depends on like-minded individuals – like you.”
    WCG projects run on BOINC software from UC Berkeley.
    BOINCLarge

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.

    BOINC WallPaper

    CAN ONE PERSON MAKE A DIFFERENCE? YOU BET!!

    MyBOINC

    “Download and install secure, free software that captures your computer’s spare power when it is on, but idle. You will then be a World Community Grid volunteer. It’s that simple!” You can download the software at either WCG or BOINC.

    Please visit the project pages-

    FightAIDS@home Phase II

    FAAH Phase II
    OpenZika

    Rutgers Open Zika

    Help Stop TB
    WCG Help Stop TB
    Outsmart Ebola together

    Outsmart Ebola Together

    Mapping Cancer Markers
    mappingcancermarkers2

    Uncovering Genome Mysteries
    Uncovering Genome Mysteries

    Say No to Schistosoma

    GO Fight Against Malaria

    Drug Search for Leishmaniasis

    Computing for Clean Water

    The Clean Energy Project

    Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together

    Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy

    Help Fight Childhood Cancer

    Help Conquer Cancer

    Human Proteome Folding

    FightAIDS@Home

    faah-1-new-screen-saver

    faah-1-new

    World Community Grid is a social initiative of IBM Corporation
    IBM Corporation
    ibm

    IBM – Smarter Planet
    sp

     
  • richardmitnick 1:41 pm on February 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Citizen Science,   

    From CfA: “Astronomers Propose a Cell Phone Search for Galactic Fast Radio Bursts” 

    Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics


    Center For Astrophysics

    February 14, 2017
    Christine Pulliam
    Media Relations Manager
    Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
    617-495-7463
    cpulliam@cfa.harvard.edu

    1

    Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are brief spurts of radio emission, lasting just one-thousandth of a second, whose origins are mysterious. Fewer than two dozen have been identified in the past decade using giant radio telescopes such as the 1,000-foot dish in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

    NAIC/Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico, USA
    NAIC/Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico, USA

    Of those, only one has been pinpointed to originate from a galaxy about 3 billion light-years away.

    The other known FRBs seem to also come from distant galaxies, but there is no obvious reason that, every once in a while, an FRB wouldn’t occur in our own Milky Way galaxy too. If it did, astronomers suggest that it would be “loud” enough that a global network of cell phones or small radio receivers could “hear” it.

    “The search for nearby fast radio bursts offers an opportunity for citizen scientists to help astronomers find and study one of the newest species in the galactic zoo,” says theorist Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

    Previous FRBs were detected at radio frequencies that match those used by cell phones, Wi-Fi, and similar devices. Consumers could potentially download a free smartphone app that would run in the background, monitoring appropriate frequencies and sending the data to a central processing facility.

    “An FRB in the Milky Way, essentially in our own back yard, would wash over the entire planet at once. If thousands of cell phones picked up a radio blip at nearly the same time, that would be a good sign that we’ve found a real event,” explains lead author Dan Maoz of Tel Aviv University.

    Finding a Milky Way FRB might require some patience. Based on the few, more distant ones, that have been spotted so far, Maoz and Loeb estimate that a new one might pop off in the Milky Way once every 30 to 1,500 years. However, given that some FRBs are known to burst repeatedly, perhaps for decades or even centuries, there might be one alive in the Milky Way today. If so, success could become a yearly or even weekly event.

    A dedicated network of specialized detectors could be even more helpful in the search for a nearby FRB. For as little as $10 each, off-the-shelf devices that plug into the USB port of a laptop or desktop computer can be purchased. If thousands of such detectors were deployed around the world, especially in areas relatively free from Earthly radio interference, then finding a close FRB might just be a matter of time.

    This work has been accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and is available online.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Center for Astrophysics combines the resources and research facilities of the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory under a single director to pursue studies of those basic physical processes that determine the nature and evolution of the universe. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution, founded in 1890. The Harvard College Observatory (HCO), founded in 1839, is a research institution of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, and provides facilities and substantial other support for teaching activities of the Department of Astronomy.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:11 pm on October 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Citizen Science, , ,   

    From Symmetry: “Citizen scientists join search for gravitational waves” 

    Symmetry Mag
    Symmetry

    10/12/16
    Amanda Solliday

    1
    Artwork by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    A new project pairs volunteers and machine learning to sort through data from LIGO.

    Barbara Téglás was looking to try something different while on a break from her biotechnology work.

    So she joined Zooniverse, a website dedicated to citizen science projects, and began to hunt pulsars and classify cyclones from her home computer.

    “It’s a great thing that scientists share data and others can analyze it and participate,” Téglás says. “The project helps me stay connected with science in other fields, from anywhere.”

    In April, at her home in the Caribbean Islands, Téglás saw a request for volunteers to help with a new gravitational-wave project called Gravity Spy. Inspired by the discovery of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, she signed up the same day.

    LSC LIGO Scientific Collaboration
    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo Hanford, WA, USA installation
    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo Hanford, WA, USA installation
    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Livingston, LA, USA
    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Livingston, LA, USA

    “To be a complete outsider and have the opportunity to contribute to an astrophysics project such as LIGO, it’s extraordinary,” Téglás says.

    Tuning out the noise

    It took a century after Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves—or ripples in space-time—for scientists to build an instrument sophisticated enough to see them. LIGO observed these ripples for the first (and second) time, using two L-shaped detectors called interferometers designed to measure infinitesimal changes in distance. These changes were generated by two black holes that collided a billion years in the past, giving off gravitational waves that eventually passed through Earth. As they traveled through our planet, these gravitational waves stretched and shrank the 4-kilometer arms of the detectors.

    The LIGO detectors can measure a change in distance about 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of a proton. Because the instruments are so sensitive, this also makes them prone to capturing other vibrations, such as earthquakes or heavy vehicles driving near the detectors. Equipment fluctuations can also create noise.

    The noise, also called a glitch, can move the arms of the detector and potentially mimic an astrophysical signal.

    The two detectors are located nearly 2000 miles apart, one in Louisiana and the other in Washington state. Gravitational waves from astrophysical events will hit both detectors at nearly the same time, since gravitational waves travel straight through Earth at the speed of light. However, the distance between the two makes it unlikely that other types of vibrations will be felt simultaneously.

    “But that’s really not enough,” says Mike Zevin, a physics and astronomy graduate student at Northwestern University and a member of the Gravity Spy science team. “Glitches happen often enough that similar vibrations can appear in both detectors at nearly the same time. The glitches can tarnish the data and make it unusable.”

    Gravity Spy enlists the help of volunteers to analyze noise that appears in LIGO detectors.

    This information is converted to an image called spectrogram, and the patterns show the time and frequencies of the noise. Shifts in blue, green and yellow indicate the loudness of the glitch, or how much the noise moved the arms of the detector. The glitches show up frequently in the large amount of information generated by the detectors.

    “Some of these glitches in the spectrograms are easily identified by computers, while others aren’t,” Zevin says. “Humans are actually better at spotting new patterns in the images.”

    The Gravity Spy volunteers are tasked with labeling these hard-to-identify categories of glitches. In addition, the information is used to create training sets for computer algorithms.

    As the training sets grow larger, the computers become better at classifying glitches. That can help scientists eliminate the noise from the detectors or find ways to account for glitches as they look at the data.

    “One of our goals is to create a new way of doing citizen science that scales with the big-data era we live in now,” Zevin says.

    Gravity Spy is a collaboration between Adler Planetarium, California State University-Fullerton, Northwestern University, Syracuse University, University of Alabama at Huntsville, and Zooniverse. The project is supported by an interdisciplinary grant from the National Science Foundation.

    About 1400 people volunteered for initial tests of Gravity Spy. Once the beta testing of Gravity Spy is complete, the volunteers will look at new images created when LIGO begins to collect data during its second observing run.

    2
    Artwork by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    A human endeavor

    The project also provides an avenue for human-computer interaction research.

    Another goal for Gravity Spy is to learn the best ways to keep citizen scientists motivated while looking at immense data sets, says Carsten Oesterlund, information studies professor at Syracuse University and member of the Gravity Spy research team.

    “What is really exciting from our perspective is that we can look at how human learning and machine learning can go hand-in-hand,” Oesterlund says. “While the humans are training the machines, how can we organize the task to also facilitate human learning? We don’t want them simply looking at image after image. We want developmental opportunities for the volunteers.”

    The researchers are examining how to encourage the citizen scientists to collaborate as a team. They also want to support new discoveries, or make it easier for people to find unique sets of glitches.

    One test involves incentives—in an earlier study, the computing researchers found if a volunteer knows that they are the first to classify an image, they go on to classify more images.

    “We’ve found that the sense of novelty is actually quite motivating,” says Kevin Crowston, a member of the Gravity Spy science team and associate dean for research at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies.

    Almost every day, Téglás works on the Gravity Spy project. When she has spare time, she sits down at her computer and looks at glitches. Since April, she’s classified nearly 15,000 glitches and assisted other volunteers with hundreds of additional images through talk forums on Zooniverse.

    She’s pleased that her professional skills developed while inspecting genetics data can also help many citizen science projects.

    On her first day with Gravity Spy, Téglás helped identify a new type of glitch. Later, she classified another unique glitch called “paired doves” after its repeating, chirp-like patterns, which closely mimic the signal created by binary black holes. She’s also found several new variations of known glitches. Her work is recognized in LIGO’s log, and the newly found glitches are now part of the official workflow for the experiment.

    Different experiences, backgrounds and ways of thinking can make citizen science projects stronger, she says.

    “For this project, you’re not only using your eyes,” Téglás says. “It’s also an opportunity to understand an important experiment in modern science.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.


     
  • richardmitnick 11:43 am on August 4, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Citizen Science,   

    From The Conversation: “Expanding citizen science models to enhance open innovation” 

    Conversation
    The Conversation

    August 3, 2016
    Kendra L. Smith

    Over the years, citizen scientists have provided vital data and contributed in invaluable ways to various scientific quests. But they’re typically relegated to helping traditional scientists complete tasks the pros don’t have the time or resources to deal with on their own. Citizens are asked to count wildlife, for instance, or classify photos that are of interest to the lead researchers.

    This type of top-down engagement has consigned citizen science to the fringes, where it fills a manpower gap but not much more. As a result, its full value has not been realized. Marginalizing the citizen scientists and their potential contribution is a grave mistake – it limits how far we can go in science and the speed and scope of discovery.

    Instead, by harnessing globalization’s increased interconnectivity, citizen science should become an integral part of open innovation. Science agendas can be set by citizens, data can be open, and open-source software and hardware can be shared to assist in the scientific process. And as the model proves itself, it can be expanded even further, into nonscience realms.

    1
    Since 1900 the Audubon Society has sponsored its annual Christmas Bird Count, which relies on amateur volunteers nationwide. USFWS Mountain-Prairie, CC BY

    Some major citizen science successes

    Citizen-powered science has been around for over 100 years, utilizing the collective brainpower of regular, everyday people to collect, observe, input, identify and crossmatch data that contribute to and expand scientific discovery. And there have been some marked successes.

    eBird allows scores of citizen scientists to record bird abundance via field observation; those data have contributed to over 90 peer-reviewed research articles. Did You Feel It? crowdsources information from people around that world who have experienced an earthquake. Snapshot Serengeti uses volunteers to identify, classify and catalog photos taken daily in this African ecosystem.

    FoldIt is an online game where players are tasked with using the tools provided to virtually fold protein structures. The goal is to help scientists figure out if these structures can be used in medical applications. A set of users determined the crystal structure of an enzyme involved in the monkey version of AIDS in just three weeks – a problem that had previously gone unsolved for 15 years.

    Galaxy Zoo is perhaps the most well-known online citizen science project. It uploads images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey [SDSS] and allows users to assist with the morphological classification of galaxies. The citizen astronomers discovered an entirely new class of galaxy – “green pea” galaxies – that have gone on to be the subject of over 20 academic articles.

    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point, NM, USA
    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point, NM, USA

    These are all notable successes, with citizens contributing to the projects set out by professional scientists. But there’s so much more potential in the model. What does the next generation of citizen science look like?

    2
    People can contribute to crowdsourced projects from just about anywhere. Nazareth College, CC BY

    Open innovation could advance citizen science

    The time is right for citizen science to join forces with open innovation. This is a concept that describes partnering with other people and sharing ideas to come up with something new. The assumption is that more can be achieved when boundaries are lowered and resources – including ideas, data, designs and software and hardware – are opened and made freely available.

    Open innovation is collaborative, distributed, cumulative and it develops over time. Citizen science can be a critical element here because its professional-amateurs can become another significant source of data, standards and best practices that could further the work of scientific and lay communities.

    Globalization has spurred on this trend through the ubiquity of internet and wireless connections, affordable devices to collect data (such as cameras, smartphones, smart sensors, wearable technologies), and the ability to easily connect with others. Increased access to people, information and ideas points the way to unlock new synergies, new relationships and new forms of collaboration that transcend boundaries. And individuals can focus their attention and spend their time on anything they want.

    We are seeing this emerge in what has been termed the “solution economy” – where citizens find fixes to challenges that are traditionally managed by government.

    Consider the issue of accessibility. Passage of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act aimed to improve accessibility issues in the U.S. But more than two decades later, individuals with disabilities are still dealing with substantial mobility issues in public spaces – due to street conditions, cracked or nonexistent sidewalks, missing curb cuts, obstructions or only portions of a building being accessible. These all can create physical and emotional challenges for the disabled.

    To help deal with this issue, several individual solution seekers have merged citizen science, open innovation and open sourcing to create mobile and web applications that provide information about navigating city streets. For instance, Jason DaSilva, a filmmaker with multiple sclerosis, developed AXS Map – a free online and mobile app powered by Google Places API. It crowdsources information from people across the country about wheelchair accessibility in cities nationwide.

    Broadening the model

    There’s no reason the diffuse resources and open process of the citizen scientist model need be applied only to science questions.

    For instance, Science Gossip is a Zooniverse citizen science project. It’s rooted in Victorian-era natural history – the period considered to be the dawn of modern science – but it crosses disciplinary boundaries. At the time, scientific information was produced everywhere and recorded in letters, books, newspapers and periodicals (it was also the beginning of mass printing). Science Gossip allows citizen scientists to pore through pages of Victorian natural history periodicals. The site prompts them with questions meant to ensure continuity with other user entries.

    The final product is digitized data based on the 140,000 pages of 19th-century periodicals. Anyone can access it on Biodiversity Heritage Library easily and for free. This work has obvious benefits for natural history researchers but it also can be used by art enthusiasts, ethnographers, biographers, historians, rhetoricians, or authors of historical fiction or filmmakers of period pieces who seek to create accurate settings. The collection possesses value that goes beyond scientific data and becomes critical to understanding the period in which data was collected.

    It’s also possible to imagine flipping the citizen science script, with the citizens themselves calling the shots about what they want to see investigated. Implementing this version of citizen science in disenfranchised communities could be a means of access and empowerment. Imagine Flint, Michigan residents directing expert researchers on studies of their drinking water.

    Or consider the aim of many localities to become so-called smart cities – connected cities that integrate information and communication technologies to improve the quality of life for residents as well as manage the city’s assets. Citizen science could have a direct impact on community engagement and urban planning via data consumption and analysis, feedback loops and project testing. Or residents can even collect data on topics important to local government. With technology and open innovation, much of this is practical and possible.

    What stands in the way?

    Perhaps the most pressing limitation of scaling up the citizen science model is issues with reliability. While many of these projects have been proven reliable, others have fallen short.

    For instance, crowdsourced damage assessments from satellite images following 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines faced challenges. But according to aid agencies, remote damage assessments by citizen scientists had a devastatingly low accuracy of 36 percent. They overrepresented “destroyed” structures by 134 percent.

    4
    Crowds can’t reliably rate typhoon damage like this without adequate training. Bronze Yu, CC BY-NC-ND

    Reliability problems often stem from a lack of training, coordination and standardization in platforms and data collection. It turned out in the case of Typhoon Haiyan the satellite imagery did not provide enough detail or high enough resolution for contributors to accurately classify buildings. Further, volunteers weren’t given proper guidance on making accurate assessments. There also were no standardized validation review procedures for contributor data.

    Another challenge for open source innovation is organizing and standardizing data in a way that would be useful to others. Understandably, we collect data to fit our own needs – there isn’t anything wrong with that. However, those in charge of databases need to commit to data collection and curation standards so anyone may use the data with complete understanding of why, by whom and when they were collected.

    Finally, deciding to open data – making it freely available for anyone to use and republish – is critical. There’s been a strong, popular push for government to open data of late but it isn’t done widely or well enough to have widespread impact. Further, the opening of of nonproprietary data from nongovernment entities – nonprofits, universities, businesses – is lacking. If they are in a position to, organizations and individuals should seek to open their data to spur innovation ecosystems in the future.

    Citizen science has proven itself in some fields and has the potential to expand to others as organizers leverage the effects of globalization to enhance innovation. To do so, we must keep an eye on citizen science reliability, open data whenever possible, and constantly seek to expand the model to new disciplines and communities.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Conversation US launched as a pilot project in October 2014. It is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public.
    Our team of professional editors work with university and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.
    Access to independent, high quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy. Our aim is to promote better understanding of current affairs and complex issues. And hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversation.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:50 pm on July 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Citizen Science, , ,   

    From APS News: “Citizen Science Project Gravity Spy Undergoes Testing” 

    AmericanPhysicalSociety

    American Physical Society

    June 29, 2016
    Rachel Gaal

    LIGO team recruits public to help with gravitational wave data analysis

    1
    Gravity SpyImage. Gravityspy.org

    In the wake of LIGO’s second black hole merger observation, scientists are hopeful of the future possibilities for gravitational wave detection. To ease the chore of sifting the data, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) is turning to their followers to test out an upcoming project that will help the LIGO team improve their search for gravitational waves.

    A project aimed at identifying glitches in LIGO data, Gravity Spy combines human collaboration and automated processing to improve the classification abilities of computers designed to filter out erroneous data. With help from volunteers, the Gravity Spy team hopes to increase public engagement with science and to provide training to both citizens and their machine learning algorithms.

    9
    This image shows a particular kind of glitch common in LIGO data called a “whistle.” In this case, the origin of the glitch is known to be part of the electronic control systems. Features like this in the data can fool astrophysics search codes. The Gravity Spy project will help discover and classify glitches, and help make our computer search algorithms more adept at recognizing them in the data.

    The classification of glitches, which is done manually by volunteers and vetted by the Gravity Spy team, helps the algorithms preform the same cataloging on larger datasets and provides researchers the ability to define and discard sources of noise, increasing LIGO’s detection sensitivity.

    The Gravity Spy team, representing multiple institutions and researchers, runs the project through Zooniverse — an online platform that hosts popular citizen-science projects in multiple disciplines. LIGO researchers within The Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astronomy (CIERA) at Northwestern University, LIGO Researchers at Caltech, machine learning researchers at Northwestern University, and crowd-sourced researchers at Syracuse make up the main team players.

    Gravity Spy is now in beta testing and accepting open feedback from the public. Visit gravityspy.org to learn more and participate.

    1
    Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration & Research in Astrophysics

    Northwestern U bloc

    Gravity Spy Project

    Gravity Spy is an NSF-funded interdisciplinary project incorporating citizen science, machine learning, social science, and aLIGO detector characterization
    One major issue afflicting aLIGO’s ability to detect gravitational waves is poorly-modeled noise known as “glitches”
    Gravity Spy will aid in the classification and characterization of glitches by combining human intuition and pattern recognition with the power of computers to process large amounts of data systematically
    Zooniverse Project volunteers will morphologically classify glitches from the LIGO data stream, which are used to train machine learning algorithms for further classification
    In addition to the characterization and elimination of problematic noise in the aLIGO data stream, Gravity Spy promotes gravitational wave science and involves the lay public in scientific progress

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    NSF

    2
    Adler Planetarium

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    Cal State Fullerton

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    Syracuse University

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    University of Alabama Huntsville

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    Zooinverse

    PRINCIPLE INVESTIGATOR
    Vicky Kalogera, Northwestern University
    CO-INVESTIGATORS
    Kevin Crowston, Syracuse University
    Shane Larson, Northwestern University, Adler Planetarium
    Josh Smith, California State University – Fullerton
    Laura Trouille, Adler Planetarium, Zooniverse
    PROJECT MEMBERS
    Northwestern University
    Sara Bahaadini
    Emre Besler
    Scotty Coughlin
    Vicky Kalogera
    Aggelos Katsaggelos
    Shane Larson
    Avery Miller
    Brandon Miller
    Ben Nelson
    Neda Rohani
    Laura Sampson
    Mike Zevin

    Adler Planetarium
    Shane Larson
    Laura Trouille
    California State University – Fullerton
    Josh Smith
    Syracuse University
    Kevin Crowston
    Tae Lee
    Carsten Osterlund
    University of Alabama at Huntsville
    Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research
    Tyson Littenberg
    Zooniverse
    Sarah Allen
    Laura Trouille

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    American Physical Society
    Physicists are drowning in a flood of research papers in their own fields and coping with an even larger deluge in other areas of physics. How can an active researcher stay informed about the most important developments in physics? Physics highlights a selection of papers from the Physical Review journals. In consultation with expert scientists, the editors choose these papers for their importance and/or intrinsic interest. To highlight these papers, Physics features three kinds of articles: Viewpoints are commentaries written by active researchers, who are asked to explain the results to physicists in other subfields. Focus stories are written by professional science writers in a journalistic style and are intended to be accessible to students and non-experts. Synopses are brief editor-written summaries.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:39 pm on January 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Citizen Science,   

    From World Community Grid: “New and improved sign-up page leads to 25 percent increase in registration rate” 

    New WCG Logo

    13 Jan 2016
    No writer credit found

    Summary
    World Community Grid volunteers asked us to better explain the power and potential of volunteer computing, so that they could more easily recruit their family and friends. We listened, and our new sign-up page has already increased the registration rate by 25 percent.

    __________________________________________________________________________________
    There’s a new way for World Community Grid volunteers to explain their work and help new members sign up.

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    In our 2013 member study, many volunteers told us that they’re eager to share World Community Grid with friends and family, but had difficulty getting them to join. Many volunteers felt that new recruits had to be relatively tech-savvy to understand World Community Grid and navigate the sign-up process. To improve the sign-up experience, we worked with designers and user experience (UX) experts, rethinking the experience of learning about and joining World Community Grid from the point of view of someone who is completely unfamiliar with the program.

    After extensive testing and refinement, we launched a new web experience to explain what World Community Grid is, how it works, and the scientific impact of volunteer computing. The new web page also guides people through the sign-up process in a simple and clear way. During the month of December, we compared the performance of the new web page to the performance of World Community Grid’s home page. The registration rate of the new page was 25 percent higher, suggesting that this new approach to registration may resonate with greater numbers of potential volunteers in the future.

    Volunteers are the heart of World Community Grid. Your dedication is essential, and you’ve done so much to help build the community – now it’s easier for you to help it grow! So be sure to use your personal recruitment link [shown below, visit the article to get it.] to share the new web experience today.

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    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    World Community Grid (WCG) brings people together from across the globe to create the largest non-profit computing grid benefiting humanity. It does this by pooling surplus computer processing power. We believe that innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can help make the planet smarter. Our success depends on like-minded individuals – like you.”

    WCG projects run on BOINC software from UC Berkeley.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.

    BOINC WallPaper

    CAN ONE PERSON MAKE A DIFFERENCE? YOU BET!

    “Download and install secure, free software that captures your computer’s spare power when it is on, but idle. You will then be a World Community Grid volunteer. It’s that simple!” You can download the software at either WCG or BOINC.

    Please visit the project pages-
    Outsmart Ebola together

    Outsmart Ebola Together

    Mapping Cancer Markers
    mappingcancermarkers2

    Uncovering Genome Mysteries
    Uncovering Genome Mysteries

    Say No to Schistosoma

    GO Fight Against Malaria

    Drug Search for Leishmaniasis

    Computing for Clean Water

    The Clean Energy Project

    Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together

    Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy

    Help Fight Childhood Cancer

    Help Conquer Cancer

    Human Proteome Folding

    FightAIDS@Home

    World Community Grid is a social initiative of IBM Corporation
    IBM Corporation
    ibm

    IBM – Smarter Planet
    sp

     
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