Archive for the ‘Apps’ Category
Help researchers monitor and understand light pollution with a simple smartphone app
Guest post by Christopher Kyba
How many stars can you see when you look up at the night sky? The answer depends a bit on your vision and a lot on where you live. The bright sky over cities reduces the contrast between the stars and the spaces between them, making them difficult or impossible to see. It’s similar to how the noise from traffic makes it hard to hear singing birds.
This phenomenon is known as light pollution and is of concern for both ecological and human health reasons. For example, the croaking of frogs and toads is a nighttime breeding ritual and artificial right disrupts this activity, reducing populations. Similarly, birds that migrate or hunt at night can have their navigation severely affected by artificial light. Read the rest of this entry »
Interested in citizen science you can do on your phone? Check out these cool projects on SciStarter that let you contribute valuable data to research via cell phone apps!
by Nina Friedman
I was on a call with Teresa Murphy-Skorzova, Community Growth Manager for OpenSignal, an app that uses crowd-sourcing to aggregate cell phone signals and WiFi strength data throughout the world. Teresa began to explain how OpenSignal maps signal strength and how this process contrasts the way cell phone networks map it. “We aren’t following a pre-determined route like they are; we measure the amount of time a user has coverage, not the …” The connection becomes fuzzy. “Can you repeat that?” I ask.
Teresa wonders if my latency connection (a metric used to measure mobile data connection quality) is poor. She explains that while cell phone networks like Verizon and AT&T measure the percent of the population that usually has coverage, OpenSignal is “measuring the experience of the user,” mapping signals from the devices themselves in real time. Individuals record their connection as they go about their day. The app recognizes that people and their cell phone devices are, well… mobile. Read the rest of this entry »
Calling volunteers! Cancer Research UK has a new project called The Trailblazer Project. The goal is to develop an app that improves how users analyze cancer pathology data. Volunteers to help test the prototype.
The Cancer Research UK’s Citizen Science team is committed to finding innovative ways to accelerate research by crowdsourcing. Already, the team has three web-based projects up and running. Their new project channels the success of their earliest app Cell Slider. Cell Slider asked participants to identify cancer cells from healthy cells. The team found the public was able to identify cancer cells with a promising degree of accuracy. Now they are developing a new analysis mechanic which will allow for even greater levels of accuracy.
Early beta testing by pathologists and volunteers showed promising levels of agreement. The final iteration of the new mechanic will be ready for testing by volunteers in early August. Testing involves looking for cancer cells in tissue slides rendered into images on an online platform. Each image is divided into 12 sections, and testers click on regions they suspect contains cancerous cells. The team needs at least 30 volunteers to help with this final round of testing.
Once finished, the analysis mechanic will be made available either as a web-based app or a mobile game. This is a unique opportunity for volunteers to not only learn about cancer but to be directly involved in project development. Register to volunteer by emailing your full name to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of SciStarter’s regular radio series with WHYY’s The Pulse, we highlight new developments in citizen science and a few projects ripe for spring!
As the weather starts warming up and we all begin shedding our thick, winter coats, a crop of new citizen science projects are enticing us to get outdoors in the name of science.
Darlene Cavalier, founder of the citizen science website SciStarter and regular Pulse contributor, says a top project this spring involves paying attention to phenology, or the life cycle changes of plants and animals.
“This might be changes in the nesting habits of birds, certainly in the leafing cycle of plants near you and, specifically, looking at the timing that your lilacs bloom and when they die,” says Cavalier.
All of that information is connected in the sense that birds tend to time their nesting habits to when insects will likely be around to feed their baby birds. And those insects are dependent on certain plants to be around to survive.
Cavalier says the information that’s collected through this phenology project will eventually help inform climate assessment acts in the U.S.
As part of the Philadelphia Science Festival in April, the SciStarter crew will be at the Schuylkill Nature Center in Roxborough to get people involved in the Zombee Watch project.
“We have zombie flies that actually infect honeybees and we’ll tell you how to look for that,” says Cavalier. “It’s pretty disgusting and it’s also eerily attractive for some reason.”
But Cavalier says not all scientific research has to happen outdoors.