Citizen science

Because you’re reading this blog, I’m going to assume that you have at least a passing interest in science. But why just read about it when you can get involved!

Recently on the show, Beth told us about some research projects that ordinary, non-professional scientists can join to expand the world’s knowledge – and have a bit of fun too. Here is a list to get you started:

  • Biodiversity Snapshots is a field guide for your mobile device that helps you identify animals and then submit the place you observed them to an online database.
  • EteRNA is an online game where you come up with new combinations of RNA (ribonucleic acid, which encodes and transmits genetic information) that can then be synthesised to see how they work.
  • Foldit is a similar game where you design proteins and score points depending on how well they fold.
  • SETI@home lets you donate your computer’s unused processing power to search for extraterrestrial signals in data collected by radio telescopes; it was one of the first distributed computing projects.
  • ClimateWatch tracks changes in flowering times, breeding cycles, migration movements and other phenology to monitor the effects of climate change.
  • Field Expedition Mongolia searches 85,000 satellite photos of Mongolia to try and locate the tombs of Genghis Khan and his descendants.

Apart from these mostly online projects, you can join real world organisations, like Frog Watch, or the the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria (which we also featured on-air recently, as its members found a new shrimp in Port Phillip Bay).

Of course, these are only the tip of the iceberg. You can find more citizen science ideas at Wikipedia, of all places, or just keep your eyes, ears, and curiosity open.

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