Uwingu: how *you* can directly fund science

By Phil Plait | September 24, 2012 9:58 am

Scientific research is facing a funding crisis, and you can help.

A group of top-notch research scientists got the idea that we need a way for people to directly fund space and scientific research. They created Uwingu – Swahili for "sky" – a project where they provide services and goods for people, and the money made goes toward furthering exploration. The project needs $75,000 to get started (server costs, salaries, and so on), and so an IndieGoGo funding drive (much like KickStarter) was started.

The fundraising drive ends at midnight Pacific time tonight, Monday night (08:00 Tuesday morning UTC). As I write this, it still needs about $7500 to meet the goal.

Full disclosure: I am officially on the Board of Advisors (a volunteer, unpaid position) for this project. At the current time, we don’t want to reveal everything we have planned to raise money for research once the seed money is achieved, but the ideas I have heard are solid and worth pursuing. Also, the people involved really are good folks, and personal friends of mine: Alan Stern (head cheese of the New Horizons Pluto probe, former Associate Administrator of science for NASA, and someone who has experience getting grass-roots projects for funding science off the ground), planet hunter extraordinaire Geoff Marcy, educator Pamela Gay, space historian and author Andy Chaikin, and other seriously talented folks. You can see the list of everyone involved on the Uwingu IndieGoGo page.

I met with Alan Stern yesterday and we talked some specifics, and again while I cannot reveal anything here just yet, I’m confident the ideas behind Uwingu are good ones, and can help scientific research. We already have groups involved like SETI, Planetary Resources (the asteroid mining people), Lockheed-Martin, Ball Aerospace, and XCOR Aerospace. And once Uwingu is up and running the first planned funding will go to the SETI Allen Telescope Array.

If you want more info, Dr. Stern is scheduled to be on Coast to Coast AM radio tonight to talk about Uwingu, while there’s still a couple of hours left in the campaign. I’ve also written about Uwingu in an earlier post if you need more.

Thanks for your help. We need it.


Comments (6)

  1. Austin

    I know it’s a little smaller scale than your project aims to be, but have you talked to the folks at SciFund Challenge (http://scifundchallenge.org/)? They may have learned a thing or two in their few years of hitting up the public for scientific funding.

  2. oldebabe

    While I’m all for it, and have contributed, I am slightly put off by the secrecy bit, i.e. “while I can’t reveal…” but send the $.

  3. theoncomingstorm

    Wish I could help but I have absolutely no funds.

  4. Don K

    Congrats to Uwingu, I just check and they have reached their goal with 10 hours to spare.

  5. Mark Pearl

    Why should I end money to Dr. Stern and this uwingu group for the SETI Institute and have them take a 50% cut as their profit when I can simply send it all to the SETI Institute in the first place? Here’s how: https://setistars.org

    As for the coast-to-coast appearance you mention, their website says that tonight’s show is “Alien Artifacts on the Moon”: Mon 09-24 10pm – 2am PT Author, lecturer and aerospace engineer, Mike Bara, will discuss how the Moon is littered with ancient artifacts which suggest that it was once inhabited by an extra-terrestrial civilization. He will also examine the mystery of what happened to the builders of these structures.” So this must be what the uwingu secret project is all about – finding alien artifacts on the moon. I’ll bet that Dr. Stern is going to reveal how uwingu will help document these alien artifacts. Cool. That is important research that NASA is ignoring.

  6. Mark Pearl (#5): Of course you can send money to SETI directly. But as I wrote, and have written before, SETI is but one thing Uwingu will help fund. Also, note that while C2C does have its share of crackpots on the show, there are also scientist who go on, or have gone on… including me.


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