Friday, January 21, 2011

Wildlife and Data

Two things make my heart beat faster this evening:

The Library of Congress Blog has an update on the hawk-in-the-reading-room situation (with, sadly, fewer terrible puns).

And More Grumbine Science refers us to an awesome project that involves transcribing climate data. It's called Data Rescue at Home, and it involves looking at a picture of a page of handwritten numbers, and copying them in type.

It aims to collect lots of historical temperature data into a format that can be easily worked with. The pages have all been scanned, but the scribbled numbers are too hard for the optical character recognition programs to handle, so they want a human eyeball to examine the pictures and indicate what the numbers are.

It's basically like doing a bunch of CAPTCHAs all at once...but for a good cause! You'll be advancing the frontiers of science and such.

You can choose to work on either "German Radiosonde Data from the Second World War" or "Tulagi (Solomon Islands), station data." All the temperatures I've seen so far have been quite warm, which could be good or bad considering it's the dead of winter right now where I am.

Am I comforted, or filled with jealous rage, to think of 80-degree weather while it freezes outside?

It's actually kind of challenging. Some of those people had really bad handwriting.

"Is that a 1 or a squished-up 9?"

I can't do science, but I can participate in science.


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