Archive for the ‘Sound’ Category
Calling all music enthusiasts–the Bodleian Libraries are enlisting the help of the public in order to improve access to their music collections. About sixty-four boxes filled with unbound, uncatalogued sheet music from the mid-Victorian period has been digitized for public access. Although this particular genre of music was considered to have little academic value in the past, it has recently come into new light as a window of insight into amateur music making as well as social practices during the Victorian era.
For instance, the “Cleopatra Galop,” written by dance-master Charles d’Albert, was advertised as “new dance music” in New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay Herald in September 1878. Archival gems like these are not uncommon in the Bodleian collection. What’s even more fascinating is that the Bodleian team has partnered with the University of Oxford to make recordings of some of these works available so that users can aurally experience the pieces that they’re helping to describe. Listen to the “Cleopatra Galop” in the extensive recordings collection.
In order to help with the project, participants simply submit descriptions of the music scores by transcribing the information they see. There’s no pre-requisite of being able to read sheet music to take part, and the Library provides a superb step-by-step guide on how to do it.
The metadata collected from this project will eventually feed into a database, making the music collection ultimately more searchable online once it’s made available. By participating in this project, you’ll gain access to tons (all right, maybe pounds or kilos) of sheet music that has never been released to the public. Not only that, but the artful covers are worthy of a study in themselves.
Most importantly, the Bodleian Library has partnered with Zooniverse, a world leader in crowdsourced technology and a platform for various citizen science projects like Galaxy Zoo, Planet Hunters, and Bat Detective (many of which are searchable in SciStarter’s Project Finder).
Music enthusiasts, history buffs, archive divers, or those simply curious are all invited to take part in this sonically stimulating citizen science project. Help the Bodleian keep score!
Image: Musical Notes, NSF
Image: Bodleian tutorial, whats-the-score.org
We couldn’t have asked for a better citizen science project to start off October, a month often associated with Halloween and all things spooky.
Introducing Bat Detective, a project that enlists citizen scientists to screen sound recordings of bats to classify their distinct calls. Bats are nocturnal, making them very difficult to spot with the naked eye, so a growing number of bat surveys are being done acoustically instead. Bat calls “leak” information into the environment each night through echolocation, which bats use to sonically navigate, socialize, and locate prey in the dark.
Citizen scientists from all over the world have already recorded about 3,000 hours of acoustic surveys. Bat Detective has split the surveys in 4-second snapshots, so there are actually millions of files to be sorted. With only a few scientists, it would be an incredibly tedious, perhaps even impossible task. However, with the help of citizen scientists like you, the job will get done much more quickly!
These classifications will be used to create a new algorithm to help researchers easily extract information from their sound recordings and more closely monitor threatened bat populations. Bats are an integral part of their local ecosystems, but one in every five species of bat will face extinction over the next 50 years.
“Bats carry out lots of ‘ecosystem services’ like pollination and seed dispersal,” said Kate Jones, Professor of Ecology and Biodiversity at University College London and Zoological Society of London. “They also eat masses of insects. Losing bats means that all those services are degraded,” added Jones, whose Bat Detective project was made possible through Zooniverse , a popular online citizen science platform.
“The idea of Bat Detective really caught the imagination of the Zooniverse team, and when we heard the bat calls we were sold,” said Chris Lintott, director of Zooniverse. “The rapid sequence of calls that make up a feeding call, and which means the bat has found its prey, is once heard and never forgotten.”
Bats are also incredibly vulnerable to climate change, since their hibernation and migration patterns depend largely on weather patterns, so the success or failure of their local populations often serve as a early warning sign of the failing health of the local ecosystem as a whole. Need we say more?
Be sure to sign up for this sonically exciting and scintillating citizen science scheme! While you’re at it, check out our other bat-related citizen science projects in our Project Finder. You can help the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources with acoustic bat monitoring or identify Indian flying fox bats with the South Asian Bat Monitoring Program.
Coming soon: a collection of Halloween-themed citizen science projects. Keep your eyes (and ears) peeled!
Monty Harper, an Oklahama-based educator and entertainer, has released his latest song, “Citizen Scientist,” featuring SciStarter! We’ve adopted this as our theme song. Harper drew inspiration from the research of Dr. Janette Steets, a botanist at Oklahoma State University. And the best part is that Monty is a citizen scientist himself! He has personally participated in most of the projects mentioned in the song.
If you like the song as much as we do, please share with your friends, family, and anyone who else you think might be interested in learning about real science projects they can do.
Monty has been educating and entertaining children with his music about reading, creativity, and science since 1992. He’s the host of Born to Do Science, a live program and podcast that uses music to connect kids and families with scientists and their work. If you’d like to listen Monty’s other songs, selections from the program are featured on Harper’s Songs From the Science Frontier CD.
Researchers need YOUR help tracking the presence of American robins, so they can compare your observations with other environmental data, including climate and weather changes. American robins are arriving in the Colorado Rockies 14 days earlier than they did 30 years ago and have been spotted in parts of Alaska for the first time. Because robins consume a wide variety of foods, an increase or decrease in their population may indicate (or impact) changes in other animal and plant species. It’s time for you to get involved and help the planet!
All you have to do:
1. Spot a robin
2. Record the date and location
3. Take note of its activity (what is it doing? what is it eating? is it near other birds?)
4. Share your results
This project is part the Changing Planet series, presented by the National Science Foundation, NBC News, Discover Magazine, Science For Citizens and Planet Forward. Changing Planet” is a series of three televised Town Hall meetings, hosted by Tom Brokaw of NBC News, on what climate change means. The first event, held at Yale, airs on the Weather Channel tonight at 8pm ET. We’ll also post the video here on Monday, April 25.
Here are four other awesome projects to start on Earth Day:
|Earth Day Photo and Essay Contest: Celebrate Earth Day with middle school students (grades 5-8) across the country by taking a photograph of something changing in your local environment. Then, research and write an essay about the photograph. The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies will award a variety of prizes, including a digital camera, digital photo frame and digital photo keychain, and more. Send in your pictures by April 29, 2011!|
|Sound Around You: Help researchers build a sound map of the world as part of a study into how sounds in our everyday environment make us feel. Just use your mobile phone (or other recording device) to record 10 to 15 second clips from different sound environments, or “soundscapes” – anything from the inside of a family car to a busy shopping center. Then, upload the clips to a virtual map!|
|Cloned Plants Project: Plant a lilac and contribute to a phenology monitoring project over 50 years in existence! Participants plant a lilac clone and record observations of recurring life cycle stages such as leafing and flowering on the USA National Phenology Network webpage. Observations of cloned plants help predict crop yields and bloom dates of other species, control insects and disease, and assist with monitoring the impact of global climate change.|
|BeeSpotter: Get out there with your camera and capture some good pictures of bees! Researchers need your help better understand bee demographics in the state of Illinois. You’ll help BeeSpotter researchers establish a baseline for monitoring bee population declines and learn about bees in the process.|
Which citizen science projects in our Project Finder were the most visited in 2010? Check out the top 10! Is your favorite on this list? If not, tell us about your favorite citizen science project(s) on your very own (free) member blog!
7. Moon Zoo
|Moon Zoo invites you to help astronomers count and analyze craters and boulders on the surface of the moon. You will examine images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which show the lunar surface in remarkable detail, including features as small as about one and a half feet across. While exploring the lunar surface, who knows what else you might find.|
|Tech musician Stephen Hobley’s laser harp was the most popular project in our Project Finder. After building your laser harp, you’ll coax out the computer-generated sounds by waving your hands to break the light beams and change their lengths. We first found out about Stephone’s harp in recent issue of Make magazine that was devoted to build-them-yourself, high-tech musical instruments. Sounds awesome, huh?|
For those citizen scientists in the western states who like staying up late, here’s your chance to spy on some winged mammals for science. Two monitoring projects still need your help observing and listening for bats this summer.
Citizen scientists in Seattle are needed to help researchers determine what types of bats are chirping in the forest near Seward Park. The researchers provide the monitoring devices and software but they need your help to actually collect the data. You’re also welcome back in the lab to analyze your findings using Sonobat software, a program that lets researchers visualize and analyze bat calls. (This is only one of the many citizen-science projects taking place at the Seward Park Audubon Center.)
Farther north, researchers at the Alaska Bat Monitoring Project need help from observers all over the state. Citizen scientists are asked to take note of when and where they see bats across Alaska. Five kinds of bats are thought to live in Alaska, and previous reports from volunteers have helped scientists get a better idea of their range. However, researchers would like to better understand where bats live during the summer. This is where you come in: If you see a bat, try to figure out what kind it is using pictures on the website, and then send in your observations to the Alaska Bat Monitoring Project.
Surveys such as these are crucial, as bats are important for keeping insect populations under control. According to Bat Conservation International, most bats are insectivores, and a single little brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects per hour! Other bats that feed on fruit or nectar are helpful pollinators and seed-dispersers. Unfortunately, many factors, from destruction of habitat and food sources to outright killing by humans, coupled with a slow reproduction rate have led to a global decline in bats. Recently, a mysterious white fungus, called “white-nose syndrome” has been particularly devastating to bats populations. Researchers are still unraveling the reason for this outbreak, but have not been able to halt its spread.
According to the Organization for Bat Conservation, the best time to spot a bat is on a warm summer evening just after the sun has set. Remember, bats like to eat insects, so look for places with lots of flying critters (and don’t forget the bug spray for yourself). With your help, researchers hope to gain a better idea of how many bats are left and where they live.
Charlie Mydlarz is working on a fascinating PhD thesis at the University of Salford near Manchester, England. He’s studying how everyday sounds make us feel.
Did you know that our human desire to be around other people draws us to the sounds of “hustle and bustle?” Or that insistent and annoying noise can raise blood pressure and cause chronic anxiety? By measuring sound environments around the world, Charlie’s research can help urban planners make informed decisions, let home buyers find peaceful locations, and affect the thinking of other professional and social groups.
As part of his research, Charlie and other scientists at the university’s Audio and Acoustic Engineering Research Centre are building a sound map of the world, and they are asking for your help. Sound Around You is a citizen science project that makes it easy for you to use your mobile phone (or any digital recording device) to record and upload 10- to 15-second clips from any “soundscape”–or sound environment–you choose. Simply upload the clips to Charlie’s virtual map along with a few words to explain why you chose to record a particular soundscape, and Charlie and his team will analyze the data and share their findings sometime this winter. In the meantime, you can listen to the sounds of the world, from a busy road in Hong Kong (eventful, not tranquil) to an accordion player in Cognac, France (pleasant, not at all negative).
I asked Charlie if Sci4Cits could help target any regions in particular. “It would be brilliant to get some recordings from the the West Coast and southern regions of the U.S.,” he said. “And Africa and the Middle East are other blanks on the map I’d like to fill!” He also added this tip: “The hardest part is remembering where you were when you made the recording, so it’s usually worth writing down the rough location when you record the ’scapes.”
Charlie and hundreds of other researchers whose citizen science projects are featured in the Sci4Cits Project Finder eagerly await your participation.
If you’re a veteran citizen scientist who has worked primarily in one field (birds, for example), challenge yourself this summer by trying another area of research (like Charlie’s sound project). Then, share your crossover experience on your member blog. Not only will your fellow citizen scientists enjoy reading about your adventures, but your feedback can help inform researchers and scholars as they create new opportunities for citizen scientists.
Having just returned from a vacation to one my favorite cities of all time, Seattle, I thought I would highlight some of the amazing citizen science projects taking place in Washington state. Below, I’ve provided just a quick sampling of some the projects we’ve added to our Project Finder.
Do you know of any other projects in the state of Washington? If so, leave a comment or add them to the Project Finder yourself!
- Beach Environmental Assessment, Communication, and Health (BEACH) volunteers monitor high-risk Washington state beaches for bacteria called “enterococci”. The presence of this bacteria at elevated levels means there is a potential for disease-causing bacteria and viruses to also be present. BEACH is intended to reduce the risk of disease for people who play in saltwater.
- State of the Oyster volunteers help monitor bacterial contamination levels in edible shellfish collected from privately owned Washington state beaches in Hood Canal and throughout Puget Sound
- The Salish Sea Hydrophone Network needs volunteers to help monitor the critical habitat of endangered Pacific Northwest killer whales by detecting orca sounds and measuring ambient noise levels. Volunteers are especially needed in 2010 to help notify researchers when orcas are in the Salish Sea, which encompasses the waters of Puget Sound and the surrounding area.
- Seward Park has gone bonkers for citizen science. They need volunteers for a wide range of cool projects, including hemlock tree monitoring, plankton sampling, bat surveys, water chemistry, phenology, eagle and raptor DNA fingerprinting, and even coyote tracking with the help of Twitter. That’s enough citizen science to last a lifetime!
The Pacific Biodiversity Institute offers two surveying projects: the Harbor Porpoise Monitoring Project at locations near Anacortes, Whidbey Island, and San Juan Island, and the Western Gray Squirrel Project in the Methow Watershed.
- Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) is a network of citizen scientists that monitor marine resources and ecosystem health at 300 beaches across northern California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Team volunteers pledge to survey their beach every month, and, in return, the COASST office gives that information back out to volunteers and the communities.
- SoundCitizen is a community-based water sampling network in the Puget Sound area of Washington state. Staffed by undergraduate students at the University of Washington, the project needs citizen volunteers and school groups, who voluntarily collect water samples from aquatic systems, perform a series of simple chemical tests, and then mail samples to the lab to be analyzed for cooking spices and emerging pollutants.
Are you a Westchester (NY), Putnam (NY), or Fairfield County (CT) resident just itching for a reason to dust off that old boombox?
If so, the The Who’s Whoo-ing citizen science project needs you to play a CD of owl calls for 10 minutes and record if a response is heard. Using simple “call playback surveys”, the Mianus River Gorge Preserve hopes to better understand where eastern screech owls, barred owls, and great horned owls live and co-occur in these suburban counties.
Residents conduct six surveys between March and November for each species of owl — that’s just three hours to help these important predators flourish in their suburban ecosystem.
Check out the Who’s Whoo-ing project page and share any pictures, video, or thoughts you have on your very own Science for Citizens member blog. Owl look forward to learning more about your experiences! (worst pun ever)