Wall Street Journal: More Scientists Treat Experiments as a Team Sport

…from the Wall Street Journal

Massive Collider, a Global Collaboration, Has a Bumpy Start; but Sometimes the Work of Crowds Yields Wisdom

“If all goes well, researchers Friday may power up the Large Hadron Collider — a $6 billion particle accelerator near Geneva. The atom smasher is so large that a brief status report lists 2,900 authors, so complex that scientists in 34 countries have readied 100,000 computers to process its data, and so fragile that a bird dropping a bread crust can short-circuit its power supply — as occurred earlier this month.

“Far from trouble-free, the proton accelerator is resuming operations after a catastrophic breakdown in 2008 that triggered a year of repairs and recriminations. Its large research teams operate on such an elaborate scale that project management has become one of science’s biggest challenges.

“Around the world, scientists are cutting across boundaries of place, organization and technical specialty to conduct ever more ambitious experiments. Inspired by such cooperative enterprises as Linux and Wikipedia, they are encouraging creative collaborations through networks of blogs, wikis, shared databases and crowd-sourcing.”

Washington Post: ‘Augmented Reality’ Fuses Your World and the Web

… from the Washington Post

“The cameras on some new phones don’t show the world as you’ve known it.

“Instead of just viewing the usual landscape of people, places and things on their screens, you see circles, rectangles and icons floating on top of the scenery. Tap one to display a snippet of Internet data about whatever lies behind that tag. As you look around, the view on the phone’s display shifts accordingly, presenting new shortcuts to whatever the Web knows about your surroundings.

“The concept goes by the name “augmented reality,” and it’s been quietly bringing one of the Internet’s hokiest promises to a mainstream audience.”

Cellphone App to Make Maps of Noise Pollution

…from New Scientist

“Cellphones could soon be used to fight noise pollution – an irony that won’t be lost on those driven to distraction by mobile phones’ ringtones.

“In a bid to make cities quieter, the European Union requires member states to create noise maps of their urban areas once every five years. Rather than deploying costly sensors all over a city, the maps are often created using computer models that predict how various sources of noise, such as airports and railway stations, affect the areas around them.

“Nicolas Maisonneuve of the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris, France, says that those maps are not an accurate reflection of residents’ exposure to noise. To get a more precise picture, Maisonneuve’s team has developed NoiseTube, a downloadable software app which uses people’s smartphones to monitor noise pollution. “The goal was to turn the mobile phone into an environmental sensor,” says Maisonneuve.”

Map of the Day: Contaminated Sites, City of Houston

…from the ESRI Map Book, Volume 24


“The City of Houston needed to locate all contaminated sites within its municipal boundary. Several agencies at the federal, state, and municipal levels tracked these locations, but there was no single source to show the entire universe of contaminated sites in the Houston area across all the programs. A comprehensive geodatabase would enable the city to analyze concentrations of these sites and prioritize locations to remediate.

“Aggregating and analyzing these contaminated sites based on ZIP Codes, neighborhoods, council districts, and other boundaries gave policy makers vital data to better serve citizens. Houston’s office of the mayor compiled the information from various environmental agencies and turned it over to the Planning Department’s GIS mapping team. The mapping team took the data, which was broken down by participating program, and geocoded the addresses. Afterward, the feature classes were organized into a geodatabase by program affiliation and the concentrations of these sites were analyzed based on various regional boundaries. The final presentation map set summarizes the findings of the study, highlighting the concentrations of these contamination program sites based on known Houston geographical areas.

“Courtesy of City of Houston Department of Planning and Development.”