Citizen Science

This is a new term for me. I first came across it on Twitter when @NearbyWild made reference to the term during a conversation. I had to Google it to find out the meaning. On Wikipedia it is defined as:

Citizen science (also known as crowd science, crowd-sourced science, civic science, volunteer monitoring or networked science) is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur or nonprofessional scientists.

My first foray into what is now referred to as Citizen Science was many years ago with the SETI@home  project. For those that aren’t aware SETI is an acronym for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. It basically requires very little input on your part. You simply download a program which runs on your computer. Your computer is used to analyse data from the project. The overall objective is to speed up processing the vast amounts of data by using some of the millions of computers in the world today. The idea was you let the machine process the data when you weren’t using it. A great idea IMHO. That project is still running and can be found here if you want to read more about it.

Since that ‘tweet’ I have been thinking more about citizen science and I have found a fantastic website which has several projects for people to become involved in. The website is Zooniverse . On that website you will find projects on space, climate, humanities, nature, biology and physics. Personally I have joined two of the projects, Galaxy Zoo and Floating Forests.  Both actually require some work on my part so they are more involved than seti@home. The first has you looking at images from space and classifying galaxies (nothing taxing – just comparing what you see against a set of on screen guide notes). Floating Forests involves recording the amount of Giant Kelp visible on satelite images and your task is simply to draw a shape around any green blobs seen off the coastlines. Again there is guidance in the form of a short tutorial on what is required.  The beauty of these projects is you only do what you can. No pressure and every bit you do helps to further the research. That gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside and it stops me from playing computer games, which is no bad thing! 😀

In addition to the projects at Zooniverse I am also signed up for RECORD which is a biodiversity information system for Cheshire, Halton, Warrington and Wirral. It is where I record my sightings in my local region. I have also joined Cheshire Active Naturalists and I am looking forward to learning more about local wildlife under expert guides and meeting others who share the same passion for all nature has to offer.

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