Care about Alzheimer's research? Think you might be able to pick out a new constellation on a clear night? Have an answer to a math problem that is leaving researchers scratching their heads? Step right up, Dr. Everyman.
In your own home, you have all the tools you need to contribute to the next big scientific discovery. All you need is an idea, an opinion and a keyboard, and you're welcomed into the scientific community.
Some scientists believe that the days of keeping discoveries hidden behind closed doors until a paper is published are over. They are part of a movement towards a new model of research: one that prefers the input of many minds - minds formally educated in science - or not. Today, some science is being done in an open, interactive and collaborative way that encourages people from all walks of life to get involved. What is all this? Welcome to Science, version 2.0.
With a website called Folding @ Home, students, kids, stay-at-home moms, farmers, hairdressers, construction workers and anyone else - anywhere else, can help researchers learn about the folding of the proteins - proteins that form the building blocks of our lives when they work properly, and cause us to get sick when they don't. Scientists and citizens interact on websites like Galaxy Zoo, where anyone from your five-year-old niece to your 90-year-old Grandpa can help identify a galaxy in a satellite photo.
At the heart of this movement is a big change in science: scientists themselves are creating new ways of doing research. Instead of keeping their ideas, methods and discoveries secret until they're ready to make headlines with them, scientists are opening doorways into their labs online. From their first ideas to their final discoveries, they're publishing their work on websites like Open Science, and asking for contributions from other researchers and from the new and growing pool of citizen scientists.
This culture of Maker Science isn't exactly new. It started long ago when big thinkers like Bell, Edison, Tesla and Engelbart revolutionized our lives and our ways of thinking with their discoveries.
In the Science Episode of Maker Culture, Carrie, Maria and Jess will tell you all about where Science Makers got their start, how the scientific method itself is changing, and how citizens and scientists themselves are dealing with those changes.
Thank you for reading this story…
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