Last week, I upgraded the OakMapper iPhone app to version 2.2 (just updated to 2.2.1 after some minor bug fixes). It can now work on iPad as well. It’s been 4 years since the first version of OakMapper iPhone app. The iOS development has really improved a lot. I especially enjoy the Cocoapod integration, allowing me to take advantage of open source code from the iOS development community. Anyway, here is the link to download OakMapper 2.2 from the iTune App Store.
This past July 4th weekend, I took a trip up to Vancouver with the 4Corners Christian Fellowship staff. We stopped by Seattle Washington on the way up, visited the first Starbucks. The highlight was definitely Vancouver as we got to enjoy this modern city embedded in mountains and oceans. The modernity of the city reminds me of Hong Kong, but it’s just a lot nicer. Pastor Ed and Kelly Kang, along with Pastor Manny and Sunny Kim, were taking their sabbatical in University of British Columbia. We got to visit them, crash at their place for night, and enjoyed eating together and hanging out at the night market. It was so fun to spend time with them. We got to talk with some of the students on the UBC campus. They were so friendly and eager to converse. It was a great trip!
I uploaded a few pictures on my tumblr account. Just trying this new thing.
This is another case of science going in the “open” direction, trying to harness a network of small experiments. One of the main barrier to science is funding as well as collaboration. This strategy to carry out science aims to lower the barriers in these two dimensions.
The collaboration, called the Nutrient Network—now known as NutNet—has grown far beyond initial expectations, with scientists volunteering at 68 sites in 12 countries. In part, its popular because the simple experiments are designed to answer a broad set of questions about how grasslands respond to global change—without disproportionate effort by any one individual. “Its not a brand-new idea, but its novel that theyve pulled it off,” says Alan Townsend of the University of Colorado, Boulder, who is not involved. The network also provides an easy way for young faculty members, postdocs, and grad students to get involved in a large collaboration and contribute to high-profile papers.
So far, the effort has been funded with just a single $322,000 grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation NSF for coordinating data and analysis, yet already the first few papers have been published over the past year. The most recent, which appeared in Science last month 23 September, p. 1750, challenged a long-standing idea in ecology about plant diversity and productivity. Dozens more papers are in the works, and ecologists enthuse about the networks potential for cost-effective, rapid results. “NutNet has tremendously improved on the way weve done things,” says Alan Knapp of Colorado State University, Fort Collins, another ecologist who is not involved. “Ive been incredibly impressed.”
Applying the concept of “citizen science” in the bioscience field, which resembles the early days of computer science hacker culture, by lowering the barrier to entry into this field.
The BioCurious lab is an extension to the “Science Shop” idea mentioned in Alan Irwin’s book Citizen Science (1995) because BioCurious is set up by grassroots using investment money from KickStarter. The “Science Shop” is started by scientists but allowing citizens to be involved.
Get ready for “citizen science” to transform bioscience. In mid-October, 28-year-old Eri Gentry opened BioCurious, a nonprofit public-use biology laboratory in Sunnyvale, Calif., with 2,400 square feet of “hacker space for biotech.” Similar community labs are sprouting up elsewhere, too. Do-it-yourself biologists are setting up shop in garages, basements, and hacker spaces worldwide. Executive Director Gentry and five co-founders raised $35,000 for the BioCurious lab on Kickstarter.com a site that enables anyone to raise money from the public for creative projects.It all suggests we could start seeing more rapid progress in the biotechnology industry. Publications from USA Today to Nature have heralded the global rise of “biohacker” activities that include personal genome investigations, synthetic biology experimentation, and reverse-engineered research tools. AP journalist Marcus Wohlsen is one of several who have compared DIY biologists to the early code hackers who revolutionized personal computing. His 2010 book Biopunk casts Gentry and her cohorts as pioneers of a movement that is determined to democratize DNA and transform bioscience.
The Open Science Movement is a very neat concept (see excerpt from the QUEST interview with Joseph Jackson). Just like the Open Source movement that breaks open more opportunities and more development for the general public to partake in software development, I believe that Open Science Movement can theoretically make science much more participatory to the general public. However, doing science is expensive. The issue of funding, infrastructure, knowledge sharing and other things will need to be ironed out or built up. But just as the Open Source movement didn’t come to establishment over night, Open Science Movement will probably need to experience some ups and downs before it becomes more mainstream and established.
The Open Science Summit gathers a broad coalition of individuals and organizations striving to transform our science and innovation system to be radically more effective. We examine the biggest opportunities for distributed collaboration and problem solving, while considering the barriers and obstacles standing in the way of the transition to a more fully Open Science paradigm. This year’s Summit covers many topics including the future of scientific publishing and peer review (Open Access), data sharing and the future of data driven science, the effects of the patent system on innovation, personal genomics, collaborative (Open Source) models for drug discovery, and new transparent models for clinical trials.
Last week, I had to stay home to watch Charis, my daughter because my mom went to take the naturalization test, which she passed with flying color. At first, I was thinking that I would be able to put her to sleep and do some work. I was not quite able to do that as she kept waking up and wanting to play. I guess she doesn’t get to hang out with Daddy that often. So, I decided to make the most out of the time I could spend with her by filming her and taking pictures of her. I had a great time with her, and it seemed that she had fun as well. Check out the video clip and the picture slideshow.
On September 12, 2011, I went on my first SNAMP field trip visit the Last Chance, which is the northern site in the project, to see how the treatment has been going. I took a lot of pictures of the place, the treatment, as well as the participants who attended the events. Among the participants were UC Science Team, USFS rangers/managers, Sierra Pacific Industries-the logging industry, environmental groups, as well as, elected representative from the public. We started out by gathering at the Foresthill station. Kim and John gave the opening orientation using the handouts that PPT prepared beforehand. After the initial orientation, we drove to the treatment site, which was about one hour away from the USFS station.
At the first stop, I saw what forest mastication looked like, which was like grounding tree. I also learned that the trees that will be cut down were marked by blue marks. Some questions were raised about how the trees were selected. Things got more interesting at the second stop where we saw the fellerbuncher at work on one side of the road. It was an eye-opening experience for me as I watched these powerful machines thinning the forest and logging at the same time. On the other side of the road was a pile of logs that were to be burned up in order to reduce the fuel load in that region. At this stop, people asked what SPLAT was, which I was not sure about prior to this. One of the gentlemen (I believe that he’s with SPI) explained about the economics for using these big machines as well as for using/transporting these fell logs. His analysis on the economics of this operation helps me to understand that it would not be cost-effective to transfer the big pile of refused logs to be burned for energy production. That was why “the best way” (even though it’s still probably a poor way) to handle the fell logs were to burn them, after minimizing the damage to the surrounding and to the soil. I was impressed by how many factors that we need to take into consideration for such an operation.
And then we were taken to close-by site to see the difference between the original forest and the thinned out forest. It was quite a contrast between the before and after treatment. You can see through the woods after the treatment (see picture on the right). At this point, many of the participants asked questions about Lidar. When Maggi and John went over the time table about doing the Lidar by next year, one of the SPI representatives commented that he was able to understand why things had to move so fast. It seemed that SPI probably have never worked on the project where science/research played a factor in their timeline. That is really interesting to me in such a collaborative management project, where multiple processes are happening and different actors who do not necessarily cross path before are interacting with one another. Information flow and dialogue seem to be really important here, and this field trip is clearly fulfill that role.
At the last stop, we were shown a site where underburn would take place. People were able to walk around the area, and many conversations took place in clutters of individuals with the 5 USFS representatives present. And when we gathered back to the trucks that transported us to the site, there were questions about why we should still stick to the 1991 forest management guidelines. One of the older gentlemen questioned who set the guidelines and why we were still following it. The USFS reps explained that they couldn’t do much about it since that was the policy. On the less combative end, one of the elected public representative proclaimed that private homeowners should accept the reality of fire risk in the forest when they first decided to live in the Sierra forest.
Overall, the field trip was very enjoyable and informative. Kudos to the UC Science Team and USFS. There were a lot of open and diverse perspectives and dialogues. The questions and answers seemed to be helpful for everyone who was present.
I finally got my acts together today to set up the Android Development environment on my Windows PC today. The great thing is that it uses Eclipse for development environment, which I have been using to do all my web development. Installation and setup was a breeze without a kink. I am looking forward to building my Hello World Android app soon. The eventual goal is to port the OakMapper iPhone app to the Android platform. I think it will be fun and useful at the same time.
Project Noah is a project that is very much similar to iNaturalist and OakMapper, harnessing the power of citizen science. I hope to dig into this more in the upcoming days.