I write a monthly newsletter for my senior citizens and on the back page, I always try to add a small article that's either funny or interesting. They refer to these as "hope's little stories". Thought the information in next month's issue [hot off the press today!] might interest some of you.
Science Needs YOU!
After much research, scientists have finally found something smarter than a computer.
The human brain.
It’s true. Scientists have discovered that no matter how useful modern technology is, humans come out on top simply because we have the ability to reason. A computer is only as good as the information it’s fed or the tasks it’s instructed to perform. If humans see something odd or out of place, they stop and question “Why?”. That’s why science is looking for a few good people to help as volunteers. No, not as guinea pigs, but as “Citizen Scientists”.
I recently learned about the Citizen Scientist concept and the amazing number of projects which utilize volunteers for data collection. Now that’s not quite as boring as it sounds upon first reading. For most sites, all the “equipment” you need is computer access, a comfortable chair and some time. Often the computer is replaced with a pair of binoculars for say, bird sightings for the Audubon Society. In fact, the Audubon Project is cited as the first Citizen Science project as it began using volunteers in 1900.
Many of the projects below are part of “Zooniverse”, which can be found online at http://www.zooniverse.org/home. Sign in there, then choose from a variety of projects to aid.
Want to help turn WWI ship weather logs into data to aid scientists studying weather patterns? Select www.oldweather.org You can even pick which ship’s “Crew” to join.
Interested in counting craters and other impacts made on the Moon? Go to http://www.moonzoo.org or join NASA’s group at http://science.nasa.gov/citizen-scientists.
Perhaps you’re more interested in solar weather and flare eruptions. Then visit http://solarstormwatch.com.
If you grew up believing Space is truly “the final frontier”, there’s a site dedicated to discovering new worlds. You can boldly go where no man has gone before from the comfort of your own chair at http://www.planethunters.org. And in case you think only rocket scientists can handle this kind of stuff, one of the latest discoveries was made by...a 12 year old kid.
Google the phrase “Citizen Scientist projects” and you’ll come up with a myriad of interesting programs, some of which are local. Each simply requests your keen eye and a moment of your time. There’s no age or gender requirements. The fact that you’re simply YOU makes you an important asset to the scientific community.
Besides, wouldn’t you like to see the look on your kids’ faces when you tell them that instead of simply retiring, you’ve chosen to become a scientist?