Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Distributed research...(again)

Imagine if we have two things:
1. public research labs such as the BioCurious in many cities
2. free software system for uploading pictures, data, etc. from experiments

Then, a situation such as this can be possible:
- person A starts an experiment on day 1
- person B comes to the same lab, looks up what remains to be done for the experiment and performs the remaining steps on day 2
- person A comes back and uploads pictures of the results, e.g. gels, plates
- person C, located across the world, sees the pictures, analyzes them, and uploads the analyzed data
- person D, watching the experiment from some other location, makes some insightful observations
- and for the sake of practical benefits, persons A-D, having demonstrated their caliber, get recruited to an excellent university/company.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Environmental sensing by the collective

Imagine if everyone who scoops up a cup of sand, lake, or ocean and submits it to a local repository gets some money in return. Why? Well, the local repository would process the microbial population and make it available to the public. Companies can analyze this data and predict changes in climate, spreading of potential parasites, etc.

Further, rather than analyzing microbes, it might be even more informative to analyze bacteriophages. First, they are more diverse than bacteria. Second, phages generally switch between dormant and virulent states based on environmental factors, hence providing an additional source of information.