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October 25 2012

Retrieving the Weather of the Past


Citizen scientists have been invited to help transcribe logbooks from legendary American vessels like the Bear, which plied Arctic waters for four decades for the United States Revenue, the precursor of the Coast Guard.

For many years now, volunteers working from home —people like you— have been able to help scientists with important problems.

In the first wave of these “citizen science” projects, people simply lent their computers to help solve problems that could be farmed out in pieces to thousands of machines. Among the first of these was searching incoming radio signals for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, although my favorite involved analyzing the folding of proteins to help study diseases and treatments.

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