Author: Michelle Mason, PhD candidate studying active galactic nuclei
Citizen science: you can do it from the comfort
of your own home. No lab coats, no writing code,
no wandering the landscape looking for a specimen, no staying up all night gathering data. Just you, your computer, and your sweatpants.
I knew at a very young age that I wanted to pursue science. I liked it, I was good at it, I was always asking questions anyway -- it just made sense. Not everyone is as fortunate as me, finding their passion at the age of 9. However, some are, but they know 100% that they do NOT want to do science. More power to you, we need passionate people in all fields, regardless of what it is! But for everyone in between -- for those who like science but aren't "good" at it, for those who "couldn't compete" in the classroom, for those who enjoy the findings of science but have no desire to sit in a lab all day -- there is a fabulous and simple way for you to get involved.
I present to you: CITIZEN SCIENCE!
We are in the era of enormous data sets. Technology has surpassed the human ability to keep up with it all, yet human analysis will always be superior to a machine (in my humble opinion). Scientists found the answer -- get more people! But getting more specialists is a difficult and expensive endeavor, so scientists have turned to the general public. Non-experts can sift through the data as a first pass and flag anything interesting. The flags are reported to specialists, who then make that particular data a priority for analysis. This is a zero-pressure and fun way to get involved. If you're wrong, no biggie. If you're right, you just helped with a scientific discovery! And you can do this all from the comfort of your own home. No lab coats, no writing code, no wandering the landscape looking for a specimen, no staying up all night gathering data. Just you, your computer, and your sweatpants.
Stay tuned for more ways for you to get involved with a citizen science project!
"The Universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space."
-- Carl Sagan
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