These days anyone can contribute to a great scientific endeavour, whether it’s astronomy, molecular biology or sleep research. Clare Freeman investigates the growing importance of citizen scientists and crowdsourced research.
In this week’s show we delve into the world of crowdsourced science to find out why scientists are increasingly relying on members of the public to make observations, gather information and analyse vast clumps of data. The list of crowdsourced projects is seemingly endless, from folding proteins in computer games, to discovering new planets and searching for extraterrestrial intelligence.
Prof Chris Lintott started his first crowdsourcing project in 2007, Galaxy Zoo. He explains to Clare Freeman how this and all the other Zooniverse projects have developed over the years. It’s not just the technology that has advanced but also the community, with citizen scientists willing to spend more time than ever scouring data.
In the two months since our Science Weekly call-out, almost 6,000 Britons have contributed to Prof Russell Foster’s crowdsourced survey of sleep "chronotypes" – whether you’re an owl or a lark. He reveals the initial results comparing the sleep patterns of Germans and Britons.
Knowing your chronotype can help you maximise your intellectual performance, but could your school or employer be persuaded to let you start work later or earlier depending on your chronotype?