Inspiring Citizen Science

Fusion In Reach for the Amateur Scientists

The AmSci Journal has reported on plenty of wonderful citizen science projects from watching fireflies to monitoring plant growth in your own backyard, but now this is some serious amateur research… build your own fusion reactor.

Harnessing the power of nuclear fusion–forcing two or more atoms together so close that they join to create a new, heavier nucleus, and release a ton of energy at the same time–has been the holy grail in nuclear energy research since the 1950s… after uncontrolled nuclear fusion was used to create the powerful hydrogen bomb. Fusion is the process that powers the stars in our universe, and it does not result in piles of radioactive waste that will take eons to decay. So, if nuclear fusion can be generated in the lab and the released energy efficiently exported, then energy for civilian usage could become incredibly cheaper and infinitely safer for our environment.

This noble task has been taken on by a close-knit group of nearly one hundred amateur scientists around the world, many of whom have already built at least one version of a fusion reactor in their home laboratory (i.e., basement, attic, or garage).

Read the following story on Kit Hull and Frank Sanns featured in The Wall Street Journal, and see how amazing the amateur research community can be.

“Nuclear Ambitions: Amateur Scientists Get a Reaction From Fusion” :: The Wall Street Journal :: August 18, 2008 :: [ READ ]

The Open Source Fusor Research Consortium :: [ VISIT ]

And check out some of the efforts from the “big boys”…

“Virtual National Laboratory for Heavy-Ion Fusion” [ VISIT ]

Crowdsourcing and the Citizen Scientist

Rise up all ye amateur scientists and join the revolution that is just beginning! A little dramatic to be sure, but right before our very eyes is an evolving wave of collective, nearly self-organized, efforts in discovery for scientific principles, mapping in natural habitats, and even individual consumer behavior.

Crowdsourcing is the notion where a large, undefined group of individuals collectively contribute to the solution of an “open call.” This idea is beginning to be used by more organizations, from those who sell t-shirts to those who are searching for life in the cosmos.

The growing realization that the masses can be useful is only a boon to those who are interesting in doing real science, but are not directly implanted into the deep academic universe. There are many endeavors that require a great deal of data collection, often over vast geographical regions, where a small team of scientists–let alone a single researcher–could never reach the the individual capabilities required to complete the task at hand. Here is where the citizen scientist comes into play: an individual who has a sincere desire and interest to learn something new and contribute meaningful information to a larger scientific program is an asset to the professional scientist with unmeasured value.

These collective efforts will not only act to drive the individual success of some academic higher into the ranks of the University (although, it will certainly help!), but they will provide critical information for a broader understanding of our universe (locally and throughout the galaxy). And — possibly, more importantly — these personal efforts as an amateur researcher offer grand enjoyment and education for oneself and an entire family, if the kids are allowed to join in the discovery process (and they most certainly should be a part of the experience!)

The following video clip is only a plug to present the new book by Jeff Howe called “Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business.” This author has not yet read the book–it’s released at the end of this month–but, it will certainly be on my short wish list for books to read by the end of the year. The video is clearly developed by a small production team and not a result of crowdsourcing efforts, but none-the-less, if does provide a great overview of the potentials and an interesting view into the future of crowdsourcing.

“The Rise of Crowdsourcing” by Jeff Howe :: WIRED Magazine :: Issue 14.06 – June 2006 :: [ READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE ]

Physicists are learning to Love the Citizen Scientist

The role of the citizen scientist continues to grow into a new, profound tool for the scientific community. This realization from the academic world is once again made apparent by a new Job Posting from the University of Oxford’s Department of Physics.

They are in search of not one, but two, postdoctoral associates to lead the development of new research programs that utilized citizen scientists in data collection. Most of this inspiration is stemming from another Oxford-lead program, GalaxyZoo, which is continuing to reap successful results from their world-wide community approach.

So, as a citizen scientists, it’s time to really jump on the bandwagon. It’s always a win-win … the academic world gets tons of free data, that’s reasonably reliable, and we get to be part of something important … and have a whole lot of fun with the experience.

“Postdoctoral Researcher in Internet-Based Citizen Science (two posts)” :: Department of Physics, University of Oxford :: July 27, 2008 posted :: [ READ JOB POSTING ]

A Little Research in the Early Morning

The DPRI AmSci Journal does focus on reporting great opportunities to do real research as a citizen scientist. But, we cannot stress enough the importance of keeping your eyes open at any moment for the science discovery that might present itself just to you. It might not be a profound discovery never seen by any other human being, but it might still be intriguing, inspirational, and breathtaking.

In fact, we’re starting a new category called “Inspiring Citizen Science” to present how others experience great personal moments in science discovery–large and small–and how you might be inspired to enjoy exploring as a citizen scientist.

Please read the following post from a woman who has moved out into the wilderness to start a new life, and be inspired by her openness to interact with the world around her…

“Inner Children will be Children” :: Liven’ the Life by Meg Menkedick :: July 21, 2008 :: [ READ BLOG POST ]

If you have a personal science experience that you would like to share with the other readers of the DPRI AmSci Journal, please submit your story to the publisher or post your own Citizen Science Public Journal Report.

Stumble Upon Citizen Science

Be inspired to experience science when it’s least expected.

This featured article has nothing to do with wonderful and exciting citizen science projects searching for the answers to major research questions; it doesn’t announce the successful achievements of an amateur for a great scientific discovery.

But, it does remind us that simple–yet profound and beautiful–scientific experiences can happen to every one of us at nearly any point in time. We must only be open to the opportunity and ready to take in a few observations of the amazing universe in which we live… and enjoy it. Simply enjoy it. This is the essence of everyday citizen science, and it should be enjoyed by everyone on the planet as often as possible.

Read as the author has a “bad day” and heads to the forest looking for a little relaxation. What she finds is nature at its best and most amazing, and is inspired to tell everyone to come out an join her.

“Time out in nature” :: Leader-Telegram Online :: October 6, 2007 :: [ READ ]

Last updated October 26, 2021