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Page history last edited by Mitch Skinner 11 years, 11 months ago Saved with comment

Demoed Hacks at Science Hack Day SF 2011


  1. Science and Gender
  2. Isodrag typeface
  3. ISS Globe
  4. Save the Cardinal!
  5. Visualize the SA Govt Budget 
  6. Single Point Perspective
  7. Syneseizure!
  8. LHC Data Hack
  9. HomebrewMicroscope
  10. HIV/AIDS: Meaningful indicators?
  11. Buckets of Tears
  12. Space Ipsum
  13. EpiCell
  14. OpenROV Kinect-ivity
  15. DNAquiri
  16. Urban
  17. Thalamoid -- Remote Data Logger
  18. Subjects
  19. vSculpt
  20. OECD Threatened Species
  21. Beard Detector
  22. Hack Your Genome
  23. William Gunn, Matt Senate, Jacob Shiach
  24. Physical Computing
  25. Quake Canary "PEEPS"
  26. Spitzer Daily 


Science and Gender

Creators: Alex Kudlick, Matt Senate, and help from many others.


Using data from Facebook, Wikipedia, and US Census names and gender statistics, we are trying to assign (guess) gender to authors of scholarly works published in PLoS journals, accessible through the PLoS API.

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos:

Source code and links: https://github.com/cazDev/Science-And-Gender

Hack URL: https://github.com/cazDev/Science-And-Gender


Isodrag typeface

Creators: David Harris (@physicsdavid), Josh and Mia from Wellington


Most typefaces look for visual consistency in their design but what about physical consistency? In this hack, the aerodynamic properties of letters were determined in a home-made wind tunnel experiment and then those letters were rescaled so that all letter have approximately the same aerodynamic drag. For example, the letter "I" has low aerodynamic drag normally so it becomes much thicker in the isodrag typeface. Conversely, "W" has significant drag so it becomes thinner than usual.

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos: http://twitpic.com/7dpbrd

Source code and links:

Hack URL: http://twitpic.com/7dpbrd


ISS Globe

Creators: Nathan Bergey nathan.bergey@gmail.com, Steven Davis smd_1960@yahoo.com, Glenn LeBrasseur @glennlebrasseur, Nicolas Weidinger @drweidinger, Rachel Weidinger @rachelannyes


The position of the International Space Station in real time drawn on a physical globe with a laser pointer.

We took an vintage globe and two hobby servos and a laser and mounted the laser on the inside of the [translucent] globe such that the laser could be pointed at any point on Earth. Firmware was written as an interface between the servos and a laptop. A python client was written to talk to the microcontroller (a teensy) controlling the servos and place the laser dot on Earth where the ISS is in real time.

APIs, data and tools used: NORAD TLE database (http://celestrak.com/)
Maker Bot (printed gears)

Presentation: https://docs.google.com/present/edit?id=0AfKXiSQWDWnBYWg4NDV0YzN0NXF2XzI0NmZzbXZjOGZ6 

Screenshots, photos and videos:  http://yfrog.com/h74c0qjj

Source code and links: https://github.com/natronics/ISS_Globe

Hack URL: https://github.com/natronics/ISS_Globe


Save the Cardinal!

Creators: Devin Lee Drew


Ad Hoc Analysis: The Great Backyard Bird Count!

APIs, data and tools used:


GBBC.2011-5-3.txt.zip. 2011. Great Backyard Bird Count. Avian Knowledge Network. Ithaca, NY. <www.avianknowledge.net>. (Accessed: November 12, 2011)

Screenshots, photos and videos: http://tinyurl.com/sfhacks2011-adhocGBBC

Source code and links: one big gawk line, plus a combination of other little tricks for big files

Hack URL:http://tinyurl.com/sfhacks2011-adhocGBBC


Visualize the SA Govt Budget

Creators: Carolina Ödman-Govender @carolune, Brian Suda @briansuda


In every country, there are people claiming that we spend too much public money on Science. In South Africa, where the Govt support for science is very strong (Square Kilometer Array, Space Agency...), and the societal challenges are also very big, the debate is fierce!
Inspired by the famous billion-dollar-gram, this interactive treemap allows to compare spending portfolios of the South African Government and demonstrates visually why taking all the Science money and putting it into Social Developmet wouldn't make much of a difference to Social Development but would kill a high-impact area of investment of the National Government.

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos: http://carolune.org/ZA_Budget/

Source code and links: http://carolune.org/ZA_Budget/za_budget.zip

Hack URL: http://carolune.org/ZA_Budget/



Single Point Perspective

Creators: Jesse Wolfe @jes5199


What if you could take a picture of the Earth? Well, actually, most photographs are of the Earth, just a very small section of it.
What if we made a mosaic of people's photographs of the world around them, and zoomed way out until we were looking at the whole world?
This project asks Flickr for recently published photographs that have been Geotagged with their latitude and longitude, shrinks each of them down to a single dot, and draws it on a blank map. Gradually, the outlines of continents appears, with more detail appearing in locations with denser populations (especially Europe!), given enough time, perhaps eventually rivers and mountains will begin to appear.

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos: http://jes5199.com/flickrmap1.png

Source code and links: http://jes5199.com/single_point_perspective.html

Hack URL: http://jes5199.com/single_point_perspective.html





Our consciousness does not contain reality - there is too much
information in reality to handle, our brains would fry. Therefore, our
various sensory cortexes have really complex data compression and
processing algorithms to present us with the most useful information
to help us kill antelopes, run away from lions and find attractive
mates. This means we ignore a lot of reality. Perhaps we can see a
different aspect of reality by listening to our eyeballs or looking
through our nose.

Synesthesia is a condition in which one sensation (sight, hearing, etc) gets mixed up with another. This can cause situations in which someone "smells" sounds, or "sees" touches.

For this hack, we designed and built a full head mask that allows the wearer to feel images in real time. The mask is arrayed with 12 speakers that contact the skin of the face. When an image is captured with a webcam and converted into a 12 pixel black-and-white representation. The computer activates arduinos that control the speakers. If the pixel is white, the corresponding speaker is turned on. If the pixel is black, the corresponding speaker is turned off. This allows the wearer to feel (via the vibrations of the speakers) on their face.

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos:
• http://syneseizure.wordpress.com

• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuXJ_qzjSHI (video of first test)

Source code and links:
The mask was based on this hood pattern:

Repository of Arduino and Processing sketches used:


Hack URL:


LHC Data Hack

Creators: Matt Bellis (@matt_bellis), Lynn Root (@roguelynn), Aaron Culich (@aculich), Morris Mwanga (Kenya ambassador), Tim Clem, Kevin


One of the experiments from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment), has released a small amount of the data for educational purposes. However, it is hard to access and even more difficult to understand.

We set out to create an interface to these data that tries to explain both the data format and the physics. Along the way, we came up with some very cool visualizations to tell the story of how physicists do their work.

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos:

Source code and links:

Hack URL: http://www.mattbellis.com/index.php?title=LHC_Data_Hack



Creators: Simon Quellen Field


Make a microscope capable of sub-micron resolution using plumbing parts, an objective lens, and a digital camera.

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos:


Source code and links:

Hack URL:


HIV/AIDS: Meaningful indicators?

Creators: Brian Suda @briansuda, Carolina Ödman-Govender @carolune


HIV/AIDS spread follows complex human network dynamics, the details of which are very difficult to measure. We are trying to see if, among available data sets, there are indicators that, combined in a clever way, are meaningful in determining risk levels and risk factors of certain populations. This could inform prevention and intervention policies.
The example is very limited, it's more of a proof of concept, and more data need to be included, but it seems to be feasible.

APIs, data and tools used: Data: UNAIDS data from http://data.un.org/ (painfully cleaned and turned into WEKA data format by hand - no APIs available)
Software: WEKA (machine learning library & GUI)

Screenshots, photos and videos:

Source code and links:

Hack URL:


Buckets of Tears



BUCKET OF TEARS is a data visualization and crowdsourcing project. Our goal is to provide a web interface for the crowd to bring comfort to people who are experienceing sadness.

We present tweets from all over the world that contain the word "crying" in multiple languages. While they are being streamed in real time, tear droplets show up on a world map to indicate their location.

We are working on adding a "Comfort" button which which visitors can interact with the sad tweeters to cheer them up.

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos: see it live on www.bucketsoftears.com

Source code and links: https://github.com/arfon/Tears

Hack URL: bucketsoftears.com


Space Ipsum

Creators: Sean Herron @seanherron, Nick Skytland @skytland, William Eshagh @eshagh


Have you ever needed filler text, but wished you had more exciting options then the generic   “lorem ipsum” variations?  If so, you are in luck!  We’ve created this space themed random content generator, that uses phrases from historic moments in spaceflight.

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos: http://spaceipsum.com

Source code and links: https://github.com/seanherron/Space-Ipsum

Hack URL: http://spaceipsum.com



Creators: * Aaron Steele: @eightysteele * Andrew Hill: @andrewxhill * Arfon Smith: @arfon * Julia Bossmann: @juliabossmann * Nancy Burgess: NancyB * Roman Gurovich: @romangurovich * Ryan Balfanz: @RyanBalfanz * Stuart Lynn: @stuart_lynn


Background: Disease is prevalent but healthcare is not. However, much of the world now has access to a cell phone. Technologies are being developed that can turn cell phones into diagnostic devices. These devices can be used at the point of care and the information can be transmitted in real-time to experts and databases. If properly deployed and used, mobile diagnostic devices could facilitate addressing the needs of individuals in impoverished areas and tracking the emergence of disease outbreaks.

Hack: To determine where such devices should be deployed, we collected open source geospatial data and created a map to identify locations where healthcare was scarce, but cell phone coverage was readily available.

APIs, data and tools used: geodata.grid.unep.ch
Google maps API
bootstrap (twitter API)
j query
wax (development seed)
simple GEO APIs
Google Chrome
Vizzuality windshaft
Post GIS

Screenshots, photos and videos:

Source code and links: epicell.github.com

Hack URL: epicell.github.com


OpenROV Kinect-ivity

Creators: Eric Stackpole (@eerrp), David Lang (@davidTlang), Mika McKinnon (@mikamckinnon), Tim Clem (@timothyclem), Jay Freeman 1, Jay Freeman 2(@saurik)


1. Explore OpenROV controllers, including iPhone & interwebs. Success!

2. Mount geophysical exploration package to ROV. Successfully disassembled Kinect case and extracted key hardware, but failed to mount due to half-inch size difference. Will re-attempt with slightly larger ROV.

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos: http://openrov.com/profiles/blogs/6365107:BlogPost:14103

Source code and links:

Hack URL:



Creators: Patrik D'haeseleer @patrikd, Bonnie Barrilleaux, Lily Lew @sulfur_blue, Joseph @codonAUG, Michelle Peters


We developed a DNA extraction protocol, the product of which also happens to be a tasty cocktail. Fruit cells (strawberry and others) are lysed by freeze/thaw and heat cycles to eliminate the use of surfactants. Salt is minimized and sugar added in order to mask any salty flavor. Bacardi 151 is layered over fruit purée to extract DNA into the ethanol phase. A tiny umbrella completes the tropical vibe.

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos: http://twitpic.com/7dz2ah http://twitpic.com/7dz23m

Source code and links:

Hack URL:



Creators: Amber Didow, Vicki Moulder, Satoka


This draft UI design would turn animal tracking data into visual patterns for display in public installation and through a mobile device. People viewing this data would be able to monitor species habitat and migration.

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos:

Source code and links:

Hack URL: http://interactionart.org/?page_id=483



Creators: Matteo Borri, Paul Mans, Akhsar Kharebov, Geoffrey Chu


Using the Thalamoid we have connected an Android mobile device to analog ultrasonic scientific sensors. This demonstrates Thalamoid's ability to serve as a data collection system. The system logs environmental data to the SD card in addition to displaying it on the screen for immediate feedback. From the mobile device information can be passed along to the cloud and from there the world.

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos:

Source code and links: www.Thalamoid.com


Hack URL:



Creators: Jen, Joe, Alex


tried to display subjects associated with articles in an interesting ways.

APIs, data and tools used: PLoS search api


Screenshots, photos and videos:

Source code and links: http://api.plos.org/

Hack URL:



Creators: David Allen, Han Wei, Sabrina Atienza, Luke Rast


vSculpt is a program which allows users to use gestures in front of a webcam to sculpt a 3d model and then print it on a 3d printer.

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos:

Source code and links: github.com/laughinghan/opentld

Hack URL:


OECD Threatened Species

Creators: Erin Richey @erinjo


This project is designed to visualize some of the environmental data put out by the OECD on threatened species. The OECD produces reports on the state of the environment based on data from participating countries. The aim of this project is to compile and visualize the information on threatened (endangered, vulnerable, and critically endangered) species by country so that it is easily accessible. The current hack only includes the mammals data, but new pages for fish, birds, amphibians, invertebrates, plants, and reptiles will be added soon.

APIs, data and tools used: The project is built with the Google Chart apis for visualizing data. Currently in use are the geo chart and bar chart. The data is from the OECD Environmental Data Compendium (xls format): http://www.oecd.org/document/49/0,3746,en_2649_37465_39011377_1_1_1_37465,00.html

Screenshots, photos and videos:

Source code and links:

Hack URL: http://www.erinjorichey.com/endangered/mammals-map.html


Beard Detector

Creators: Joshua Gourneau


An application to find out how long your beard hair is!


APIs, data and tools used:  Veho 004 usb microscope 

Screenshots, photos and videos: http://www.justin.tv/gourneau/b/299963664

Source code and links:  https://github.com/gourneau/BeardDetector

Hack URL: http://labs.radiantmachines.com/beard


Hack Your Genome

Creators: Mitch Skinner, Jun Axup @junnibug, Patrik D'haeseleer @patrikd, Will Reinhardt @wreinhardt, Mohammed Rahman @8iterations, Eri Gentry @erigentry


Have your 23andMe genotype? Wondering what you can do with it? Let's find out!

We developed a basic genome browser to display SNP data from 23andMe, showing the rarity of each genotype, overlaid on the gene structure.

APIs, data and tools used:




  • Trie/NCList data structure implementations from the JBrowse project
  • Hosting from Amazon Web Services
  • Emacs!
  • HTML/CSS/JS/Python/Perl
  • Powerpoint
  • Photoshop


Screenshots, photos and videos:

Source code and links:



Hack URL: http://arctur.us/genomehack/hackday.html


William Gunn, Matt Senate, Jacob Shiach

Creators: William Gunn (@mrgunn), Matt Senate (@wrought), Jacob Schiach


Instead of hacking with science, we hacked on science. Scientists always need better tools to find just the right research that can help their work progress faster. Traditionally, the number of citations a researcher's paper received from other papers was used as an indication of how important his peers judged his work to be. However, with the rise of electronic publishing and the social web, there are exciting new opportunities to look at a broader dimension of how a researcher influences his peers and is in turn influenced. I decided to adapt a technique often used by corporations to get a feel for what people are saying about them online to look at one dimension of academic impact which has until now gotten little attention. Using the Open APIs provided by the open access publisher the Public Library of Science, I analyzed research papers and gave them a score corresponding to how much confidence an author of a paper expressed in his work. This allows us to tune into the signals expressed by the researcher about his own work, which gives us a much earlier signal of potential importance than we get by waiting for a paper to get citations. It's a good thing in some respects that science moves slow, but nothing's fast enough for researchers pushing the leading edge of research in areas like cancer research, stem cell biology, and other critical rersearch areas.

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos: http://db.tt/1OZnYaaT

Source code and links: http://github.com/williamgunn/SciSentiment

Hack URL: http://github.com/williamgunn/SciSentiment


Physical Computing

Creators: Henrik Brink, Lisa Ballard


Using everyday objects as computing tools.

“physical objects have a sensory richness of meaning
that screen-based elements do not. When we see,
hear and feel real-world objects we are enabled
to train both cognitive and perceptual skills in combination.”

APIs, data and tools used:

Screenshots, photos and videos: slidesha.re/brinkhack

Source code and links: 

Hack URL:


Quake Canary "PEEPS"

Creators: Ryan Anderson, Chris Swanson, Ariel Rokem, David McKeown, Jen Blank, Mika McKinnon, Rachel Weidinger (7), thanks to Pete Worden (openheatmap.com)


Basically, the concept is:

1) We’re using accelerometer data from arduinos and iphones and geophones to act as a notification of an earthquake.
2) We collect this publically-contributed seismic data and publish it to a online map using openheatmap.com.
3) We compare with USGS and other seismic data available to the public in real time - also added to our map.
4) We notify users of a recent or pending earthquake using an iphone app.

APIs, data and tools used: Hardware: iphones, arduino, geophones, 3D accelerometer, active seismometers (USGS, UCBerkeley network, IRiS)
APIs: openheatmap.com (by Pete Worden)
Tools: custom server process, numpy (numerical algorithms library), swc (software used to download the USGS seismic data)
Data: USGS and UC Berkeley Northern California Seismic data
Kits - none

Screenshots, photos and videos: “REALTIME” from SF HACK 2011 venue (California wide J




Source code and links: Portal with Open Access Data CSV


Hack URL: “REALTIME” from SF HACK 2011 venue (California wide J http://www.openheatmap.com/view.html?map=UnbloodinessJargonistWernerism USGS http://www.openheatmap.com/view.html?map=TachisteGastrolithPyrene Portal with Open Access Data CSV http://www.sysdel.com:7625/


Spitzer Daily

Creators: Lisa Ballard

APIs, data and tools used: Python, Beautiful Soup, Twitter API, cron, spitzer.caltech.edu

Source code and links:  http://spitzerdaily.blogspot.com

Hack URL: http://twitter.com/SpitzerDaily

A tiny hack: screen scraped the Spitzer space telescope website for image detail page urls, image locations, and image titles. Found around 500. Python script selects random image and posts to twitter, keeping track of what's been tweeted already.

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