Month: August 2009

Cell Phones for Citizen Science

You are one of millions and millions of human beings who are carrying a special research tool in your pocket or purse. It’s your cell phone, of course! And, with mobile technologies advanced to nearly the point that we now can have mini-computers resting in the palm of our hand, scientists are beginning to realize the untapped potential of world-wide data collection from citizen scientists.

There are many exciting potential uses for how the average cell phone user–nearly everyone of us!–can participate in important science studies where ever one might live. Local climate measurements, traffic conditions, and real-time observations via text messages are just an inkling of where cell phone citizen science can be used.

This opportunity for scientists has already been realized and an important study was completed out of UCLA, which describes how existing mobile technologies can be used to enhance citizen science participation. If you are interested in learning more, and even would like to find out how to get involved with your own phone, read the paper and see how you can connect as a mobile citizen scientist.

“Participatory Sensing: A citizen-powered approach to illuminating the patterns that shape our world” [ READ THE PAPER (pdf) ]

UCLA’s Center for Embedded Networked Sensing

“There’s a sensor in your pocket” :: FirstScience News :: May 19, 2009 :: [ READ ]

“Cell Phones Allow Everyone to Be a Scientist” :: LiveScience :: June 4, 2009 :: [ READ ]

Help Review a Scientific Paper

Prof. Mike Brown and colleagues from the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at Caltech have written a paper, and it is currently in its final editing stages prior to submission to a professional journal.

This isn’t a particularly special event, as thousands of other scientists across the country are working on their own draft versions of their own research at this very moment… but what is particularly interesting here is that Prof. Brown wants serious reviews from citizen scientists to assist with the editing process before making his submission final.

There has been growing indirect evidence that Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, has a planetary water cycle (or, hydrological cycle) much like Earth’s cycle with water continuously moving between land and air through evaporation and precipitation. Only on Titan, this cycle contains methane instead of water.

Using imaging from the Cassini spacecraft, this group of scientists claims to have observed fog at the southern pole of the moon. They argue that the appearance of fog on Titan can only be caused by the evaporation of liquid methane into the atmosphere, and therefore this provides the first direct evidence of an active hydrological cycle on the moon.

So, if you feel up to this important challenge for citizen science, carefully read and review the draft paper, and post your serious comments on Prof. Brown’s website… or send him messages directly.

“Fog! Titan! Titan Fog! (and a peer review experiment)” :: Mike Brown’s Planets :: August 27, 2009 :: [ READ ]

If you take part in this review process, please let us know here at DPR about your experience!

Ohio Beetle Tracking Project for Citizen Scientists

The classic lady bug — or, Coccinellidae, the pretty red ones — is actually a farmer friendly little creature that is critical for reducing populations of annoying pests like aphids, or nasty plant-eating lice.

The population level of the lady bug seems to be declining in the Midwestern United States, and Dr. Mary Gardiner of Ohio State University wants to find out what is going on. She has setup a great new citizen science program called the Buckeye Lady Beetle Blitz Volunteer Network, that is a perfect opportunity for Ohio residents to contribute in important ways to the local agricultural science. A new round of studies will begin again next summer, and required training for volunteers starts in February 2010.

If you live anywhere in Ohio and are interested in helping out next year with this important project, take a moment to learn more and consider taking the time to train…

Buckeye Lady Beetle Blitz

“Beneficial Beetle Being Tracked” :: Ohio Farmer :: July 1, 2009 :: [ READ ]

“Ohio State University Recruits Citizens to Count Lady Beetles” :: OSU Extension :: June 23, 2009 :: [ READ ]

A Celestial Mystery Perfect for the Amateur Astronomer

epsaur-nico-small.pngThis might be the greatest citizen science project to come along in 2009.

Although, this point would be debatable, it really doesn’t matter because we have access to a great new partnership called Citizen Sky from the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) that has just been funded by the National Science Foundation. Citizen Sky is so exciting because it opens up an incredible opportunity for anyone interested in “looking up” to do real and very serious science.

In fact, this is not just a “fun” project that the AAVSO wants to offer to carve a few good karma, public education support notches in their belts… this project demands the use of citizen scientists because the high-tech astronomical equipment used by the professionals is not ideal for the observation needs of the data collection!

The project is looking at an odd behavior of the very large, and very bright star, Epsilon Aurigae (more). First observed back in 1821, it was realized that it’s brightness (and it is pretty bright) dims to nearly half its normal level every 27 years, and it remains dim for nearly 2 years! So something might be eclipsing the star, but it’s still odd and many hypothesis have been suggested… and scientists from the AAVSO need the help of citizen scientists to finally figure out the solution to this important observation of our universe.

Learn more about this wonderful new program, and consider taking part in what will be an historically important movement for the advancement and success of citizen science…

“Calling All Amateur Astronomers: Help Solve a Mystery” :: Wired Magazine :: August 24, 2009 :: [ READ ]

“Reach for the Citizen Sky — During IYA2009 and Beyond!” :: IYA2009 Newscenter :: August 25, 2009 :: [ READ ]

Join today! Citizen Sky

Dancing with the Grunion Fish

Experiencing interesting citizen science might come upon you unexpectedly in life, but it will surely have great rewards. Take a moment to read this inspiring story by a writer living in Southern California…

As a young child, Leslie spent several late summer nights dancing with and chasing back to sea a little fish called a Grunion. These odd little guys lay eggs on the beach and then have to flop their way back into the water after their mating ritual is complete. Leslie gained many fond memories of this childhood experience, and was interested again later in life when she stumbled upon an organized monitoring effort supported by Pepperdine University that established the “Grunion Greeters” to help learn about the animal’s behavior.

Her official graduation to a “real” citizen scientist was actually a proud moment–as it should be!–and her excitement and new appreciation for our universe will spread to everyone she meets.

“Greeting the Grunion” :: Daily Sound:: July 3, 2009 :: [ READ STORY ]

Learn more about the Grunion Greeters Project

A little Citizen Science while on Vacation in the Tropics

If you are fortunate enough to take a trip to spend time swimming with the reefs, then you will surely experience one of the most impressive displays available from our natural world. The coral reefs are certainly a primary focus of conservation right now as pollution and disrespectful visitors are reeking havoc on this ocean wonder.

However, as a tourist you should not be shy and stay away from this experience in the name of conservation. In fact, it is your first-hand respect and attention that will help save the reefs from further destruction.

Read more about what sort of respectful caution you should consider while visiting a reef, and even consider getting involved with an important citizen science effort, the Reef Environmental Education Foundation’s Volunteer Survey Project.

“How the Vacation-Bound Can Limit Damage to Coral Reefs” :: The Washington Post :: August 13, 2009 :: [ READ MORE]

The REEF Volunteer Survey Project

Last updated April 5, 2020