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SFideas2012

Page history last edited by David Harris 7 years, 9 months ago

 (Need some pointers on how to use this wiki? Read the wiki FAQ for help.)

 

Got an idea for a science hack? Got a brainwave for a mashup? Add it below. If you see an idea you'd like to hack/collaborate on, add your name to it! Need ideas? Browse some of the ideas from previous Science Hack Days or check out the ongoing list of science-related APIs, datasets and useful programming tools/frameworks.

 

Hack Ideas:

  1. Redesign NASA's Extragalactic Database
  2. LHC data sonification/tastification
  3. Voyager 1 Cosmic Ray Buzzer
  4. PCR primers for testing consumer goods (DNA barcoding)
  5. Build a sterile flow hood
  6. Data-mining scientific papers
  7. Particle physics libations: Combinatoric cocktailology
  8. Robot Community Hack
  9. Crochet the Protein Data Bank
  10. Particle physics dance game
  11. Edible Gel Electrophoresis
  12. This is your brain on music 
  13. Build your own adventure 
  14. Visible Planets Display 
  15. Automatic Choreography Machine
  16. Let's build a virtual lab disguised as a browser game
  17. Ocean glider data hack

 


 

Example Title

 

Example idea description goes here. Keep it to just a few short & sweet sentences.

 

Hackers:

 

  • Your Name, Email, Twitter Username

 

Comments:

 

  • Commenter Name, Email, Twitter Username 

 


 

Redesign NASA's Extragalactic Database

 

This is the current state of NASA's Extragalactic Database: http://ned.ipac.caltech.edu/ . It's a database of all extragalactic objects (galaxies, quasars, etc.). It currently has over 170 million astronomical objects in the database! It's an incredibly awesome resource, but is clearly in need of a redesign, strategic thinking in how to display data and a proper API. This might be too much of an undertaking for a 24-hour hack day, but I thought I'd throw the idea out there.

Hackers:

Comments:

  • ...add a comment here

LHC data sonification/tastification (?)

I'm a particle physicist and I will bringing some fresh data from the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiment at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), one of two experiments that contributed to the discovery of a Higgs-like boson. This data is publicly available, but not always understandable to everyone who wants to do cool mashups with it. So I have a few ideas.

1) LHC party mix. I've been playing around with sonification of data for a while and I'd like to continue this at this hack day. I'd like to work with other scientists, musicians, and artists to turn this data into a song that represents the data and the underlying physics. Bring your music software of choice. Ideas for mind-blowing visualizations of the data is also encouraged! Web designers who can help hack a site to host the art creations are most welcome.

2) Inspired by last year's DNAquiri, does anyone want to make some foodstuffs/drinkstuffs inspired by these data? Are there fun cookie or cupcake designs that reflect the decay modes of the Higgs that would work for elementary-school aged kids? Are there tasty beverages that are inspired by supersymmetry and teach as well as they slake the thirst of the drinker? I know *nothing* about cooking, so I'm more than happy to explain the data....but it's up to you to find creative and tasty ways of representing it.

3) This next one is more ``real" science. Particle physics datasets now regularly are on the order of petabytes and there's a lot of good work being done in the physics community to develop tools to easily access the data and deliver it to the analysts scattered all over the world. I would like to find anyone at the event that is familiar with the file systems/DB's used by the broader computing community (Hadoop, MongoDB, etc.) and see if they could help me set up a test case with LHC data. My colleagues and I want to know if we're missing something....is there some tool out there that would make our lives that much easier? Or are they two different problems? Learning the answer either way would be very valuable. So if there's anyone with this kind of experience at SHD, come find me and teach me!

Hackers:

Comments:

  • ...add a comment here

Voyager 1 Cosmic Ray Buzzer

I originally wanted to create a windsock that would physically change direction based on the direction of solar particles that were hitting Voyager 1. But, Voyager 1 has now left the grasp of our Sun and the solar system. Instead, I'm now thinking about having some sort of buzzer go off each time Voyager 1 is hit with a cosmic ray. Lisa Ballard has created a scraper for pulling off the latest data from Voyager 1's Cosmic Ray Subsystem at https://scraperwiki.com/scrapers/voyager_cosmic_ray_subsystem_data/ . More data can be found at http://voyager.gsfc.nasa.gov/heliopause/heliopause/recenthist.html , ftp://nssdcftp.gsfc.nasa.gov/spacecraft_data/voyager/ , http://voyager.gsfc.nasa.gov/ .

Hackers:

Comments: 

  • ...add a comment here

PCR primers for testing consumer goods (DNA barcoding)

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a basic technique of molecular biology and has a broad range of applications.  Revealing fraudulently labeled food stuffs is one PCR application that has been in the news in the last couple of years for revealing the true identity of tea leaves and raw fish.

 

Goals

  1. Gather and curate any PCR primer sets that have already been published.
  2. Develop new primer sets for specific applications or new areas.
  3. Write a guide that will take a user from the DNA source = to the results.  Written with the first-time biologist in mind.

 

Proposed primer sets

  • Terrestrial animals (Identifying the species content of ground beef and sausages, maybe even human?)
  • Fish (Species identification)
  • Plants (tea, fruits, vegetables)
  • Insects
  • Honey

 

Hackers:

  •  

 

Comments:

  • Depending on the interest I can bring all of the equipment needed to run PCR at the science hackday, but we would need to order PCR primers from a company before the event.  If we do not plan out any testing before the event, this project would probably be computer-centric in scope. (JE)
  • Also, there's no way we'd be able to get any results back by the end of the weekend. This is either a 2-hour project, or a weeklong project. (PD)

 

Build a sterile flow hood

Laminar flow hoods are used for protecting objects and people from each other.  They are used in electronics because they keep dust and other particle out of the equipment and are used in biology for sterile work with microorganisms.  Flow hoods consist on of a HEPA filter (or two) and a strong blower/fan - which together cost less than $400 (actual hoods cost >$10,000).  I think we can buy some large clear plastic Rubber-Maid style storage containers and mount them together and create a sterile work area.

 

Depending on the complexity we could build flow hood that ether:

  1. Keeps products safe - Blows filtered air over the work surface so nothing else can enter(Ex: Sterile media for bacteria work or electronics)
  2. Keeps products and people safe - Works like the previous style but it cleans the filtered air before returning it to the room.

 

Hackers:

  • Joseph Elsbernd, @CodonAUG, elsbernd@gmail.com 

 

Comments: 

  • Could possibly make it out of household filters and fans (see reference links below).  Could assemble it at the hackday and test its cleanliness with petri dishes and incubate them over night at the hack day.  I dont think this will take the whole time to set-up, lots of waiting though.

 


  Data-mining scientific papers

 

Sites like PubMed Central and BioMed have large collections of "open access" journals and papers that can be freely downloaded in XML format. What could we find if we mined them using machine-learning techniques such as Social Network Analysis, LDA Topic Models or Natural Language Processing?

 

Here are some links: BioMed Central, PubMedCentral

 

Hackers:

  • Matt Biddulph, @mattb, matt@hackdiary.com
  • ... and you? 

Comments:

  •  

 


Particle physics libations: combinatoric cocktailology

 

What if the elementary particles of the universe were a set of standard basic cocktail ingredients? Then we would have a universe with ready-built cocktails as particles are all made up of combinations of the elementary particles.

 

The goal of this brief hack (a good side project for people on the weekend) is to start with a mapping of cocktail ingredients on to standard model particles (six quarks, six leptons, the force carriers, and the Higgs), acquire the basic ingredient set we decide on and then mix drinks. An example cocktail: The Lambda_0: equal parts up quark, down quark, bottom quark.

 

The trick to doing this effectively is to have the ingredient choices somehow mirror properties of the particles. For example, should the heavier particle correspond to more alcoholic ingredients, or perhaps darker colors of liquids. I’ll bring a print copy of the bible of particle physics, the Particle Data Guide, which will essentially become our recipe book.

 

LOOKING FOR: Graphic designer to help make a nice presentation of our recipes/mapping from particles to ingredients

 

Hackers:

Comments:

  • Commenter Name, Email, Twitter Username

 


 

ROBOT Community Hack (just for fun side-hack)

 

Do you have a break in your main SHD project and keen to pick up a drill or soldering iron?   I have a (fairly crude) home-built ROBOT I've been working on with my kids, built on the chassis of a 1960's oscilloscope, and another built on an electric wheelchair that does about 8mph and has a range of a few miles.  R#1 has It has an integrated iPhone, sony 'sound system' (her head is a sony speaker);  several breadboards, led face, 12v, 9v and 5v power bus; heaps of servos and microswitches from PC's printers, etc..  http://picturepush.com/public/11131557

 

UPDATE: Found a nice score on CraigsLIst - we now have a http://picturepush.com/public/11282908 fully motorized drive train for Robot #2 (Photo) - one of those $6k electric wheelchairs.   Runs well - smells a bit like old dog.   It's a four-wire interface from controller, so I think with a little bit of efforts, we could drive it off Arduino, which in turn could be driven of net, audio, logic, etc..

 

Some ideas might include

  •  PORSCHE-BOT ? > EASY (European Auto Salvage Yard) in Emeryville generously donated some 12v Porsche motors and servos (wiper motors, mirror motors, etc) to provide some top-side robotics options
  • hacking WiFI Arduino (or audio controlled) into control system;  tapping Presidential election trend indicators from Topsy/Twitter to gauge her political 'mood' (e.g. red or blue lights);
  • Use microphones or geophone 'tail' to react based on the audio/acoustic ambiance or  seismic thumps and shudders in the area;   (I have some geophones and FFT algos from last year i'll bring along);   
  • hack a blender into her head and mix quarky-drinks - or shout "Danger Danger" and zoom around every time the cosmic rays hit Voyager (hack above).  :) 
  • 'HACK ME' sign around the neck, and let the wider group get creative.   

 

 

Any interest or ideas?  (please add to comments if you might be interested - no commit needed, but it's pretty heavy, so I want to make sure there are a few folks interested before I haul it all the way in)

 

Equipment request:

- does anyone have any 5V or 12V relays they could bring?  (I.e. something we could drive from arduino, but then latch higher current motor drives/lights)

Arduino Wifi Shield (s)  - just to borrow for the day - I have a few UNO's but a Wifi shield could be helpful

- Old Automotive relays and switches (e.g. turn signal blinkers, wiper switches)

 

Hackers:

  • Ryan Anderson  rustyoldrake@gmail.com 
  • David McKeown @dj_mckeown 
  • ... and you?

Comments:

  • Commenter Name, Email, Twitter Username

 

 


Crochet the Protein Data Bank

 

Crochet is an amazing medium for quickly and easily making squishy 3D models of very complex shapes (see my Maker Faire talk on how to make anything with sculptural crochet). It’s fun, inexpensive, and reproducible (with a pattern), and the finished objects are soft, approachable, and somewhat silly. These disarming qualities make crochet perfectly suited for depicting complex and esoteric shapes, like protein crystal structures (for example, here’s an early attempt at kinesin).

 

I think it would be fun to develop a method to turn a protein data bank file into a crochet pattern, and then fabricate those shapes by hand to make plush sculptures. We can do this in various ways, with the most manual being measuring the basic diameter, length, and branching pattern of the shape with a pdb viewer, and selecting the number of stitches needed to generate those dimensions from simple formulas. Ideally, though, it would be awesome to have a computational tool to model the outcome of a particular crochet pattern, so that we could iterate over different patterns before actually fabricating something. (If anyone is interested in this, I’d love to talk more, and I’d be happy to give more details about what features would be necessary!)

 

I’ll bring hooks, yarn, and stuffing - and I can teach anyone who wants to learn to crochet. 

 

Hackers:

 

Comments:

  •  

 

Particle physics dance game

 

Let's play a game with particle physics. In this modified version of Dance Dance Revolution, we'll need to step on the dance mat arrows as we identify key parts of particle collisions played in slow motion instead of the arbitrary arrows of DDR. We'll hack a dance mat to an Arduino to a computer and write a basic game. We have a particle physicist to help us understand the data (which will come from the Large Hadron Collider), and a hardware guy to do the dance mat and arduino connections, but we need some programmers interested in developing this game with us. We're platform agnostic but would probably use Processing if we do it ourselves as it has easy graphics and arduino interfacing. We can probably hack the software ourselves but we know you can do a better job of it so join in! (Warning: Game not to be combined with particle physics drinkification hack!)

 

Hackers:

 

Comments:

  •  

 

Edible Gel Electrophoresis

 

We did a drinkable DNA extraction hack last year - how about an edible Gel Electrophoresis hack this year? What exactly *does* happen when you add some food coloring to a jello shot, and zap it with electricity?

 

This person already seems to have done some of the work for us: apparently, food coloring dyes separate very nicely, and she was using a DIY electrophoresis chamber. But she was still using lab grade chemicals such as glycerol and Tris-Borate-EDTA (TBE) buffer - not exactly something I'd want to eat.

 

We'll definitely need some salts in the mix, to make sure we get enough conductivity. So maybe we should aim for something like a dirty martini jello shot? How much alcohol can you dissolve in an agarose gel, and how does it affect electrophoresis? Can we use gelatin instead of agar(ose)? Could we actually do electrophoresis on something the size and shape of a shot glass, or would that create too much heat?

 

This may be useful to read up on:

Brody, J.R., Kern, S.E. (2004) History and principles of conductive media for standard DNA electrophoresis. Anal Biochem. 333(1):1-13. doi:10.1016/j.ab.2004.05.054 PMID 15351274 PDF

 

Hackers:

  • Patrik D'haeseleer, patrikd@gmail.com
  • Joseph Elsbernd, elsbernd@gmail.com 
  • ... and you? 

 

Comments:

  •  

 


 

Your Brain on Music

 

You don't need a state of the art lab or an fMRI machine to get a peak at what goes on inside your brain anymore.  With EEG monitors making their way into the consumer market, we can design all sorts of experiments for people to try at home.  One area this could be very interesting is music.  I'm curious to see if we can measure brain activity when listening to certain types of music or key progressions.  

 

Why do we enjoy certain chord progressions when others make us cringe?   

What creates resolution when moving through a key?

Can you measure brain activity in real time and adjust the tune in order to get the response you want?

Is there a difference in brain activity while playing vs listening to music?

And what does it all mean?

 

I have a zeo sleep monitor that I hope we can hack, and there might be another attendee who's bringing some other EEG monitors so we might be able to collaborate.

 

UPDATE 101/1/2012: Zeo actually has provided opensource resources for people who want to hack the device and get raw data!

 

http://blog.myzeo.com/zeo-raw-data-library-free-your-mind/

 

 

 

Hackers:

  • Yoav, yoav.benhaim@gmail.com

 

Comments:

  • Experiment idea.  Record brainwaves for certain frequencies.  Then attempt to have the user "think" of those frequencies and recreate the sound.  (e.g. can they have a speaker play twinkle twinkle little star just by thinking it?) 

 

 


 

Build your own adventure

 

With electronics taking over the world, people are losing an appreciation for hands on physical objects.  This is especially true of kids growing up in this environment where everyone has an iphone and ipad.  There needs to be something that shows kids (and adults for that matter) that there is more to playing games and finger swipes.  One way to do this is with stories.  Can we create an some sort of application that tells a story, but also includes the user in that story and actually requires them to build something physical as the story progresses (and to hit certain milestones of their project to be able to advance)?  This platform can be applied to anything from electronics, mechanical puzzles, art, sewing, whatever.

 

Some ideas:

  • You're a race car driver that needs to fix (or build) his car before race day.  Guidance on how to do this is intertwined in the story and you need to complete the construction in stages.  This can be a simple RC car and by the end of the story the reader has a fully functional RC car that he/she build themselves.
  • Da vinci code style adventure story where you need solve puzzles by building things (e.g. a circuit that blinks at just the right frequency) to move onto the next stage.  
  • Any other ideas????? 

 

 

 

Hackers:

  • Yoav, yoav.benhaim@gmail.com

 

Comments: 

  • I love this idea!   Got me thinking about physical and real world objects that were (a) widely available; (b) universally equivalent; and (c) flexible enough to be interesting - a few ideas below that might stimulate thought.
    • Wine Glass Resonance:  The Game Could have "locked doors" that could only be unlocked/opened using certain frequencies or harmonics.  The player might be given clues (e.g. musical chords or mathematical clues) and then would need to construct a physical world.   Two methods could be use here - the first would be the 'singing' wine glass (with just the  right amount of water in it hitting the right ) and the second could be a sequence (e.g. ding out prime and non-prime numbers up to 10 - low high high low high low high low low low)
    • As above, audio "keys" but using a reed structure (e.g. blade of grass in the hands) or string (rubber bands)
    • Coins and Cash: Game could use coins and standard weights and measures as 'keys' - e.g. build a balance or find a scale to find out the number of dimes that just exceeds the weight of four quarters; or how many pennies displace an ounce of water; how may nickels are there to just exceed the perimeter distance of a dollar bill; what is the leverage ratio (rounded) for 1 dime to balance 8 quarters?
    • Other ubiquitous things with global attributes:  Water, water everywhere; dental floss; paper, toilet paper roles; sunlight, CF light, incandescent light (prism slicing); fire; boiling point of water at X altitude; kitchen chemistry chemical reactions; 1.5 volt batteries and conductivity of coins and aluminum foil;   a large-reservoir-bamboo (or PVC pipe) oscillating water-clock that has to run for 1000 slow cycles? - the winners of each round of games could get a chance to develop new puzzles for the next round (perpetual motion ;)  - hope this helps - cheers, Ryan
  • Awesome ideas Ryan, I like the fact that you thought of some cool games that utilize things that people have lying around the house, thanks for the great input and see you saturday. 

 


Visible Planets Display

 

An ambient physical display or wearable that shows where to find planets that are visible in the night sky at your location. 

 

As a matter of routine I have sadly become unaware of what visible planets are up in the night sky at any given time. It would be cool if there were some sort of ambient/wearable display that could indicate at a glance what planets are visible at the moment and where to look for them. Just knowing which planets to look for and their rise/set time alone can make the bright planets easy to find. I'm thinking something attractive that might be easily mistaken for an art/craft piece, something that could be left out on a shelf or hung on a wall/ceiling in a home or office, or some cool wearable, or...

 

To find a planet in the night sky you need to know 2 things: its altitude (angle above the horizon) at your location, and whether the planet is rising or setting. You can also find these 2 things by knowing the planet's rise time for your current location. 

 

This display could be quite literal but could also be very playful or abstract. Some random ideas: a lamp/mobile/clock. Something with lights, or relected light on rice paper/fabric/wall, or fabric/paper objects that rise and fall, or a set of wheels or levers that turn or rise+set for each planet, or some wearable configuration of LEDs.. the possibilites for craftyness here are pretty wide.

 

Hackers:

 

Comments:

  •  

 


 

Automatic Choreography Machine

 

1. Make a suit with vibrators in it that can send tactile information to the body of a dancer - the vibrations tell the dancer where to move.

 

2. Get a Kinect to interpret movements of a choreographer (who dances in front of it)

 

3. Send choreography to dancer via vibrations. 

 

This would be an kind of dance-neuro experiment. Lot's of parameters to think about. Can the dancer see the choreographer or not? Do you need to train visually before you can interpret vibrations? How many vibrators do you need to encode information? If multiple dancers are choreographed simultaneously, do they synch up? Will they entrain even if they can't sere one another?

 

Requires a pretty good wireless transmission (might need to compensate for delay by having choregrapher on headphones and then delay for music that dancers hear). Requires good power solutions.

 

 

Hackers:

 

 

Comments:

 

  •  

 

Let's build a virtual laboratory disguised as a browser game

 

 

The awesomely joyful process of exploring the world through experimentation is almost indistinguishable from the drudgery of rote memorization and predictable lab demos that characterizes most traditional science education. This should change!

 

There is ample evidence that even young children are capable of asking their own questions about the world, reasoning about how to make logical conclusions from controlled experiments, and even publishing papers in peer reviewed journals (such as this charming recent article written by 8-10 year olds: Blackawton et al 2010, Biol Letters 10.1098/rsbl.2010.1056) Unfortunately, few are given the opportunity the Blackawton students had since delivering these kinds of real-world experiences is costly and demands many hours of direct scientist involvement. The joy of experimental design and scientific discovery (which the Blackawton students themselves describe as a “game”), however, can be effectively replicated in virtual space at a very low cost, inside or outside of a traditional education system.

 

So, let’s make video games that allow players to discover the inner workings of virtual words, propelled by their curiosity and explicitly rewarded for critical thinking.

 

Certain sandbox-style simulators offer players platforms for this kind of experience, but I only know of only one title that makes hypothesis testing and experimental design its focus. It is the wonderful tabletop Icehouse game Zendo, in which “students” must build constructions of playing pieces and guess whether they conform to a rule which only the “master” knows. The master builds positive and negative examples and tells the students whether the constructions they have built conform to the rule or not. A student can win by guessing what the rule is. (While playing it, you can actually get the same feelings – the high of an attractive new idea, the low of finding out that it doesn't hold water – that come with doing real experiments).

 

Unfortunately, the audience for Zendo is limited by its difficulty, abstract and somewhat sober atmosphere, obligate multiplayer gameplay, and the physical nature of a tabletop game. An electronic implementation of Zendo would be a good start, but the mechanic could be further enhanced by drawing on other genres of games. For example, leaderboards and character progression provide powerful motivation, while a sandbox-like, deformable world with interesting emergent properties encourages creativity. A casual browser game made with HTML5 or Flash would probably reach the broadest audience!  

 

I’ll bring Zendo, so you can experience experimentation as a game mechanic, and I have some rudimentary ActionScript skills. It would be great for people to work on pretty much all aspects of gameplay: designing the interface, mechanics, art, sound, and of course writing code!

 

Hackers:

 

  • Jessica Polka - jessica.polka@gmail.com
  • Lourdes Juarez - uniquechica@yahoo.com 

 

Comments:

 

  • Lourdes Juarez, uniquechica@yahoo.com,  Hi Jessica, would love to work with you on this! I can make graphics/art/interfaces.  Hit me up! 

Ocean Glider Data Hack

 

"Hack up the @liquidrinc #PacX Wave Glider data via http://www.slab.liquidr.com  - It's ready and willing to be hacked..."

 

Hackers:

 

  • Your Name, Email, Twitter Username

 

Comments:

 

  • Commenter Name, Email, Twitter Username 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (1)

David Whitlock said

at 12:04 pm on Oct 12, 2012

On the sterile flow hood, I have actually done this. You want to use a blower, not a fan. You need a few inches of water air pressure. You want to use a HEPA filter, 99.97% less than 0.3 microns or better. These are fiberglass. What I did was use a UV sterile light (un-filtered mercury vapor lamp with quartz tubes (will blind you to look at it)).

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