Archive for the ‘Appearances’ Category

Does Looking Older Impact Life Expectancy?

By October 4th, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Comment

Man's head with question mark for a face

I’ve never been that great at guessing people’s ages. But I didn’t think much about my lack of ability until I met my husband, who seems to be pretty good at it. That’s why I was intrigued to learn about AgeGuess, a citizen science project and online game that challenges players to accurately guess other players’ ages based on their photos.

The researchers behind the game hope the data it collects will shed light on the differences between perceived age (how old we look) and chronological age (our real age). Previous research has suggested that perceived age could be a biomarker—or predictor—of life expectancy.

A Different Kind of Dataset

The game got its start when Dr. Dusan Misevic attended a presentation given by his colleague, Dr. Ulrich Steiner, about the idea of using citizen science to gather data on human aging. The two shared a background in evolutionary systems biology. “I became interested in the project,” says Misevic, “and we spent much time in the following months discussing the idea and looking for a way to implement it. It still took more than a year to then build things up to the creation of a first version of”

Volunteer participation is critical to the project’s success. “The users are not only providing the guesses,” says Dr. Misevic, “but they also provide the pictures that are guessed upon. Because of that, the volunteers built up both the input side of the project (photos) and the result side (guesses on the photo). This initiates a circle of growth for both sides and a diversity of pictures that we would not be able to gather in a classical scientific study.”

Understanding Aging

The researchers plan to use game data to address a variety of questions about perceived age and aging rate:

  • Are people who look older than their real age more likely to die early?
  • Do all people age at the same rate, or do some age more rapidly than others?
  • Can a person’s rate of aging speed up or slow down due to stress or health problems?
  • Are there trends in aging rate associated with gender or ethnicity?
  • Do people tend to look about as old as their parents did at the same age?
  • Are some groups of people—say, 20-year-old women—better age guessers than others?

“Life expectancy is increasing at a constant rate of about 6 hours per day for the last 150 years,” Dr. Steiner notes. “However, it is important to stress that the goal of AgeGuess is not to ‘cure aging’ and that the project is much closer to basic than applied science. It is most likely to first help scientists who are studying aging by providing them with a new aging dataset and potentially new age biomarkers.“

The project is young and welcomes citizen scientists from around the world. So why not help the pro scientists out? As Steiner says, “Scientists are people too, right?”


Norene Griffin is a freelance writer and science enthusiast who regularly blogs about K-12 education, reading, and the neuroscience of learning. She is a passionate self-learner who often starts her investigations in the middle of the story, with the details, and comes back later to the generalizations of beginnings. She earned a bachelor’s degree in humanities from the University of California, San Diego and later studied photography and 3D art at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her musician husband and son and a cat named Mr. Peepers.

Expert & Citizens Assessment of Science & Technology, for citizen scientists.

By May 25th, 2012 at 11:45 am | Comments (3)

SciStarter is a proud founding partner of Expert & Citizen Assessment of Science & Technology (ECAST), a network that cordially invites you to the USA launch of the World Wide Views on Biodiversity project:
A distributed, agile, collaborative, and non-partisan 21st century approach that integrates citizen participation, deliberation, expertise, and assessment into government policy making, management, research, development, informal education, and dissemination at the national and international levels.

11AM – 2PM, Tuesday, June 5, 2012 (Lunch Provided)
Koshland Science Museum, 525 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001

Introduction and Welcome – Darlene Cavalier, Science Cheerleader
From OTA to ECAST, a 21st Century Model for Technology Assessment – Richard Sclove, Loka Institute, invited

WWViews Process: From Global Warming to Biodiversity – Richard Worthington, Pomona College

CBD & COP 11: US Government Perspectives and Priorities – Barbara DeRosa-Joynt, US State Department, invited

Panel Discussion: Non Governmental Issues and Priorities – Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Americaspeaks, moderator

Real-time Deliberation on National Priority Questions for Biodiversity – Netra Chhetri, Arizona State University

Dissemination and Amplifications of the Results – David Sittenfeld, Museum of Science, Boston

Reflections from the Participants – Gretchen Gano, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Technology Assessment and Citizen Participation – Naba Barkakati, US Government Accountability Office

Results and Next Steps – Jeanne Troy, Koshland Science Museum

World Wide Views on Biodiversity
On Saturday September 15th, 2012, groups of one hundred ordinary citizens in Washington, Boston, Denver and Phoenix will join similar groups across the globe to learn about biodiversity issues, discuss important policy choices, make up their minds, and express their views. The citizen meetings will start at dawn in the Pacific and continue until dusk in the Americas. All meetings will have the same agenda and use the same approach in order to make results comparable and useful for policymakers who will gather the following month in India to discuss future measures for preserving biological diversity.

World Wide Views (WWViews) Alliance
The project is organized within the World Wide Views Alliance, consisting of national and supportive partners and is coordinated by the Danish Board of Technology, a non-profit and impartial parliamentary advisory board.

Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) Network
ECAST is a national network of nonpartisan policy research institutions, universities, and science centers working together to conduct balanced technology assessments. Its mission is to support better-informed governmental and societal decisions on complex issues involving science and technology.

WWViews USA Alliance
Arizona Science Center; Colorado School of Mines; Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University; Denver Botanical Garden; Koshland Science Museum; Loka Institute; Museum of Science Boston; Science & Technology Innovation Program at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Science and Technology in Society Program at Virginia Tech; Science Cheerleader; Science, Technology and Society Initiative at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst; and SciStarter.

Teachers: here’s a great citizen science project taking place 4/27 ,1:30 pm ET!

By April 23rd, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Comment

Big Cheer for Science

goal: Help seismologists detect and warn of earthquakes.

task: Do a 1 minute cheer with your class and measure the shaking of your classroom.

Join the Big Cheer for Science and Engineering on April 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm ET, presented by SciStarter, Science Cheerleader, the USGS, the Iris Consortium, Discover Magazine and the USA Science and Engineering Festival. Anchored at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC, this one minute cheer will include plenty of stomping and shaking in an effort to get kids jazzed about science AND measure seismic activity caused by their cheer! By downloading the free software as instructed, your classroom can become part of a national network to help researchers at the USGS detect future earthquakes!

In Washington, DC, dozens of Science Cheerleaders (scientists and engineers–who also happen to be cheerleaders for the Redskins, Wizards and Ravens among other NFL and NBA teams) will lead a one minute cheer for science with 10,000 students at the DC Convention center. While they’re doing the cheer in DC, hundreds of schools across the country will do the same cheer at the same time. In fact, Mayor Nutter will lead the Big Cheer in Philadelphia and several Science Cheerleaders will be in local schools to lead the cheer.

During the cheer, you can have your students record your local ground movement and share it with other participating schools for comparison. Comparisons can be further made to how much the ground shakes during the Big Cheer at the Washington D.C. Convention Center and in your classroom and to how much it shakes during an actual earthquake.

To measure the shaking of your Big Cheer, all you need is a smart phone, a Mac or IBM Thinkpad laptop, or one of the Quake Catch Network sensors that connects to a computer’s USB port. Each of these devices has an accelerometer inside that can record ground motion in three dimensions. The software is simple to download and install.

Learn more and get started here on the Big Cheer for Science project page!

Thank you,

Meet the SciStarter team in Philadelphia!

By April 19th, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Comment 1

carlynCome join the SciStarter team at that “Woodstock of Science,” the Philadelphia Science Festival this Saturday, April 21st. Stroll along the beautiful Ben Franklin Parkway amid hundreds of hands-on science experiments and exhibits! And, on Tuesday, 4/24, meet SciStarter founder Darlene Cavalier, Azavea (creators of Philly Tree Map, see below) CEO Robert Cheetham, and SciStarter contributor and birder extraodonaire Kate Atkins when they talk about citizen engagement in science at WHYY TV as part of the Philly Tech Week celebration! RSVP to this free event, here.

But first, on Saturday at the Philadelphia Science Festival, your SciStarter team will host our own exhibit (Booth 11 in the Blue Zone) featuring two different opportunities to participate in hands-on scientific research. Come say hello and check out our cool featured projects, including:

mastodon-matrixMastodon Matrix Project In 1999 a yard project led the Lozler family of Hyde Park, NY to discover a nearly intact 14,000 year old mastodon skeleton. Now you can help scientists understand the ecology of the late Pleistocene era by sifting through the actual matrix (“dirt”) it was found in. Sign up to have some of the matrix mailed directly to your house so you can sift through it on a hunt for bits of shell, bone and plants. Your findings will be shared with the Paleontological Research Institution and combined with the work of thousands of other citizen scientists for an emerging picture of the environment in which mastodons once thundered.

TreeMapPhillyTreeMap What is the economic and environmental benefit of the tree in front of your home? PhillyTreeMap will help you find out through this open-source, web-based map database of trees in the Philadelphia region. And they need your help identifying and cataloging other trees in Philadelphia’s urban forest.

We hope to see you on Saturday at the Philadelphia Science Festival and on Tuesday at the Philly Tech Week event!

This is a guest blog post by SciStarter contributor Jacqueline Lewis (who will also be at the Philadelphia Science Festival!).

The landscape and promise of Citizen Science

By February 9th, 2012 at 10:45 am | Comment

Some of you expressed interest in viewing the slides I shared during a talk at the workshop at UC Davis.

The talk was designed to give an overview of citizen science projects and a peek at the opportunities and challenges ahead for people involved in the production of such projects. It also pointed towards the next, organic phase of citizen science in which participants actively shape policies.

Harnessing the power of citizen scientists (Darlene Cavalier. Science Progress. July 2008.)
Reinventing Technology Assessment in the 21st Century (Richard Sclove. Science and Technology Innovation Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. April 2010.)