Friday, April 20, 2012

Seeing the Science

Many of Eli's readers are fascinated by Nick Stokes' development of data visualization tools and are already making use of them (in spite of Blogger).   Nick's interactive JS Plotter shows how better tools allow bunnies to see better and further.  Today's data flood too easily gets interred into data morgues with only small bits cut out and published in the first autopsy. 

But before Nick (and still), there is Horace Mitchell who has created a unique resource at Goddard Space Flight Center, the Scientific Visualization Studio.  You may have seen some of their video on YouTube including the one below. 

Horace was perhaps the first to realize that the massive data stream from satellites would overwhelm the capabilities of people to fully make use of the resource and that humans are visual processors. NASA was smart enough to give him and the SVS team the needed.  The mission of the SVS is to find new ways to view information and use the information to further scientific understanding.  That many of their products are beautiful and educational is a bonus we share in but these are serious data management tools which have allowed researchers to advance knowledge in ways that simply could not have happened without them.  Oh yes, Horace also made the first fly in that Eli ever saw. Blew the Bunny away.

Have a poke about at the SVS site and on YouTube.  You will enjoy it


owlbrudder said...

Beautiful images. Who says science is boring and elitist? Not me. "8-)

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Boring? Only the profoundly ignorant.

Elitist? Well, I think it is probably true that only an elite will be able to DO science. However, I think many, and perhaps even a majority can understand much science that is done and would benefit greatly from it.

Understanding how things work is one of the most satisfying experiences in life.

Anonymous said...

"it is probably true that only an elite will be able to DO science."

As someone who has taught secondary science to young people, Horatio would respectfully would Horatio's brother, who is an elementary science teacher, whose students are almost daily involved in "doing" science.

There are varying levels at which science is "done", of course, but simple experimentation and even doing original research and publishing in peer reviewed journals are not reserved for an "elite".

Thousands of amateur astronomers are also doing basic science with very rudimentary training and "skills" that pretty much everyone possesses.

Somewhere along the way, many people acquire the "perception" that science is something that only an elite can do, but that is a different matter.