Join the Citizen Science brigade

By Phil Plait | July 13, 2012 11:00 am

A lot of people think only scientists can do science.

They’re right. But then, anyone who does science is a scientist. You can do science. So, you wanna be a scientist?

For a while now, more and more regular ol’ people have been participating in science. It started a few years back with SETI@Home, where you could download software to automatically process data taken from radio telescopes using your CPU. Still, as advanced as computers are, there are still things that are just better done with human brains (what we call "wetware"). Pattern recognition. Pulling weak data out of strong noise. Seeing the anomaly in the field of sameness.

Citizen Science, it’s called. It’s a powerful new tool, crowdsourcing the work to people interested in helping out. And the cool thing is: it works. People categorize galaxies. They examine lunar craters. They look for lonely iceballs orbiting the Sun out past Neptune.

The only problem has been finding these projects… but that’s not a problem any more. SciStarter is your one-stop shopping for citizen science. Founded by my pal Darlene Cavalier (from Science Cheerleader), SciStarter has tons of projects with which you can participate. And not just astronomy and space science; there’s biology, archaeology, chemistry, health, climate…. the list is impressive.

Even better, Discover Magazine has partnered with SciStarter to create Your Research Mission, a weekly highlighted project in Citizen Science. It’s a great place to start if you’re looking to participate and make a real difference for science research. Of course, if you read my blog (and you do) then Astronomy and Space may be of particular interest to you. So why not check out what they’ve got there?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Science

Comments (8)

  1. Trebuchet

    OK, Phil, I’ve got to bring this up:

    There’s another citizen science effort you may have heard of: It’s called CosmoQuest, and the reason I bring it up is that the BAUT forum (with BA standing for Bad Astronomy) has just been merged into the CosmoQuest forum. This came as a big surprise to the BAUT regulars, which in turn came as a big surprise to Pamela Gay, who runs CosmoQuest. She had assumed, quite reasonably, that you might have mentioned the change in your blog, or even have mentioned it on your own forum. The regular Bautizens had to explain to her, and to Fraser, I think, that you haven’t been seen on the forum in ages approaching geologic time! There doesn’t even seem to be a link to the forum from you blog!

    Can you comment? Please?

  2. Trebuchet

    Oops! Links to CosmoQuest are there! Sorry Phil.

  3. 10 Ways You Can Use Your Smartphone to Advance Science

    dubjahdubjahdubjah dot mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/133598

  4. @Trebuchet #1 & #2. There is, and always has been, a link to the Bad Astronomy and Universe Today Forum in the “blogroll” on the right side of this page (below the ad for “Death from the Skies”).

    That said, Phil seems to have pretty-much personally abandoned that forum in favor of shinier objects, such as this blog.

  5. Don

    Kirk Pearson has been maintaining a similar list for a long, long time:

    http://www.distributedcomputing.info/

    Seems a shame that there are multiple sites trying to do the same thing.

    /Don

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