“From SETI@home to Hominid Fossils: Citizens' Cyberscience Reshapes Research Landscape”的版本间的差异

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<big>'''From SETI@home to Hominid Fossils: Citizens' Cyberscience Reshapes Research Landscape'''</big>
#redirect [[从 SETI@home 到原始人类化石:公众虚拟科学打造研究新景观]]
'''从 SETI@home 到原始人类化石:公众虚拟科学打造研究新景观'''
'''SETI@home Update, January 15, 2008'''
'''by [[Amir Alexander]]'''
<资料来源:[http://www.planetary.org/programs/projects/setiathome/setiathome_20080115.html The Planetary Society]>
In the beginning was SETI@home, the first large-scale volunteer computing project, launched in 1999 with seed money from The Planetary Society. Within months the project had millions of volunteers around the world joining to form the most powerful computer network ever assembled. Other projects soon followed, focused on everything from the search for large prime numbers to protein folding.
[[Image:Boinc_logo.gif|right|thumb|164px|'''BOINC logo'''<br>
Spawned by SETI@home, BOINC is now the template for a slew of "Citzens' Cyberscience" ventures.
Credit: The University of California]]
Then, in 2002, David Anderson, SETI@home’s own director, lunched BOINC, the Berkeley Online Infrastructure for Network Computing. Instead of different projects each with  its own platform and  volunteer community there was now a growing family of projects, all sharing the BOINC platform. Volunteers no longer had to subscribe to a single project, but could divide their computer’s time as they saw fit between different BOINC ventures.
之后,在2002年,SETI@home 的主管 David Anderson 推出了BOINC(伯克利开放式网络计算平台)。取代了各个项目使用各自的平台,使不同项目的志愿者可以结合起来,共同分享BOINC平台。志愿者不再麻烦于单一项目,他们可以根据自身的志愿对BOINC下不同的项目分配他们的计算资源。
But just down the hall from SETI@home headquarters at the Space Science Laboratory in Berkeley, a different approach was taking shape. Planetary scientist Andrew Westphal was trying to figure out an effective way of detecting the interstellar dust grains embedded in the collector of the spacecraft Stardust. Computers, he found, could not pinpoint the elusive particles, but a practiced human eye could. The only problem was that no single person could hope to go over the millions of microscopic observations required for scanning the entire collector, and retain his or her sanity. Inspired by what Anderson and SETI@home chief scientist Dan Werthimer were accomplishing a few doors away, Westphal wondered: is it possible to harness the visual capabilities of thousands of volunteers, just as SETI@home harnesses their computer CPUs?
但刚从伯克利空间科学实验室的 SETI@home 总部下来,一个另类的想法正在形成。行星科学家 Andrew Westphal 正在设法找出一个有效检测由星尘号飞船收集回来的星尘颗粒。他发现,电脑并不能精确找到这难以捉摸的星尘粒子。而经过训练的人眼却可以。唯一的问题是,没有一个单一的人希望去观察数以百万计从显微镜扫描出来的所有收集块,并保证他/她的脑袋没坏掉。。Anderson 和 SETI@home 的首席科学家 Dan Werthimer 在通过几扇门后获得灵感,Westphal 惊讶的问道:“是否可以利用成千上万志愿者的眼睛,就像 SETI@home 利用他们的计算机CPUs。
It wasn’t easy to translate the experience gained in volunteer computing to this new model that required the active participation of volunteers. But working in close cooperation with Anderson, and with support from The Planetary Society, Stardust@home was launched in August of 2006. Along with a NASA  Ames project called ClickWorkers, dedicated to cataloguing craters on Mars, Stardust@home represented the first generation of scientific projects, in which members of the public working online contributed not computer time, but brain power.
利用志愿者的电脑计算转换成这种新模式并不容易,它需要志愿者的积极参与。但在 Anderson 的密切合作还有行星协会的支持下,Stardust@home 于2006年8月启动。伴随着 NASA 的 Ames 项目 ClickWorkers(这个项目致力于编目火星上的火山口)Stardust@home 作为以通过网络让公众成员捐献大脑能力而并非计算机时间的第一代科学项目为代表,意义重大。
The remarkably creative feedback loop at Berkeley's Space Science Laboratory did not end there. Westphal, who was originally inspired by the success of SETI@home to launch Stardust@home, now returned the favor.  Just as SETI@home spawned BOINC, Anderson  wondered, could Stardust@home beget its own universal platform? Only in this case, instead of facilitating projects where personal computers do all the work, the new platform would make it possible for volunteers to use their minds and skills in support of scientific projects.
在伯克利空间科学实验室,该显创意得到的反馈并未结束。Westphal 起初有感于 SETI@home 的成功而开展了 Stardust@home,并且得到青睐。正如 SETI@home 催生了 BOINC,Anderson 考虑是否为 Stardust@home 带来自己的通用平台?只有在这种情况下,新的平台将有可能使得志愿者利用自己的头脑和技术来支持科学项目,代替现时的全由计算机工作的协助项目。
Anderson and his team swung into action and within months developed a prototype for a platform to facilitate Stardust@home-like projects. They called it "Bossa," which stands for the "Berkeley Open System for Skill Aggregation." In many ways Bossa is similar to BOINC, and it makes use of all of BOINC's community features, including the credits, the competition, the teams, and the message boards. Where it differs is in the type of projects that it facilitates – volunteer computing for BOINC, "skill aggregation" for Bossa . There are many scientific projects, Anderson reasons, that could potentially benefit from the combined intelligence and skills of members of the lay public, but only the tiniest fraction actually make use of this approach.  Bossa  seeks to change this, by making it easy for scientists to launch public participation projects, and also provide a ready-made pool of dedicated volunteers. The new platfom, according to Anderson, is the natural next step  in what he calls "Citizen Cyberscience."
Anderson 和他的研究小组随即采取行动,并在数月内开发一个提供给类似于 Stardust@home 的协助项目的平台原型。他们称之为:“Bossa”,“ 伯克利开放式技能汇聚系统”(伯克利开放式技能协助系统,这样好像易懂一些。。)。Bossa 在许多方面类似于 BOINC,它利用了所有 BOINC 的社会功能,包括积分、竞赛、小组、以及留言板。它不同于 BOINC 的志愿者计算机协助项目,Bossa 是“志愿者技能协助”。Anderson 的理由是,有许多重大科学项目,有可能受益于非专业公众的智力与技能的协作。但现在实际上能利用这种方法的却是很微小。Bossa 将改变这一状况,使它很容易的为科学家开展公众参与的项目,还提供一个现成的热忱志愿者聚合地。根据 Anderson 所述,新平台的下一步他称之为 "Citizen Cyberscience"(公众虚拟科学?)
[[Image:Africa_esa.jpg|right|thumb|220px|'''Africa from space.'''<br>
The image is a mosaic of observations taken by ESA's Envisat satellite in May, 2004. Credit: ESA]]
Bossa is still in the developmental stage, but its first project is already preparing to launch. AfricaMap is a joint venture of the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana, and the University of Geneva designed to review satellite images of the African continent. Volunteers who join AfricaMap will be scanning high-resolution images of remote regions in Africa where maps either do not exist or are sadly out of date. Their job will be to mark the precise locations of roads, rivers, villages, etc., thereby assisting efforts to aid impoverished regions and documenting the effects of global warming on the continent's landscape. According to Anderson, AfricaMap will go online within a few months.
Bossa 仍处于开发阶段,不过其第一个项目已经准备启动了。AfricaMap 是由一家在 Kumasi,Ghana 的合资科技大学和日内瓦大学共同设计的项目,目的是审查非洲大陆的卫星图像。志愿者加入 Africamap 后将获得非洲偏远区域的高分辨率图像,通过仔细查看找出哪些地图不存在或者已经过时。他们的任务是将道路、河流、村庄等的精确位置标记出来。通过协助努力,以帮助贫困地区和记录全球暖化对非洲大陆的影响。据 Anderson 说,Africamap 项目将在线持续数月。
While AfricaMap will be  Bossa's first big test, Anderson already has other projects lined up to join the  Bossa family. He is particularly excited about a project, not yet named, that for the first time will join Citizens' Cyberscience with the search for human origins. The Awash valley in Ethiopia harbors one of the richest deposits of hominid fossils in the world, dating back as much as 4 million years. It was there in 1974 that paleontologists found the most complete hominid skeleton ever unearthed, and named her "Lucy." Every year during the wet season the rains wash away the top layer of the soil in the valley, exposing new fossils that were hidden just beneath the surface. That is when paleontologists scour the rich fossil beds of the Awash basin, looking for the remains of our ancient hominid ancestors. But time is short: soil erosion from the next rain or dust storms will soon cover up the fossils once more. As a result, even the most diligent fossil hunters can search only a small fraction of the exposed fossil beds before they are covered by earth and dust, and lost to researchers forever.
而 AfricaMap 将是 Bossa 的首次重大考验,同时 Anderson 已经安排好了其它项目排队等候进入 Bossa 的大家庭。另外,他特地告诉我们他非常兴奋的一个尚未命名的项目,任务是寻找人类起源,这类科学研究将第一次让公众参与。在埃塞俄比亚港口的 Awash 流域,是世界上原始人类化石最丰富的地方之一,时间可追溯到400多万年前。在1974年,古生物学家正是在这里发掘出最完整的原始人骨骸。并命名她为 “Lucy”。在那里每年雨季,雨水都会冲走流域顶部表层的土壤,使被掩埋在下方的新化石展露出来。古生物学家在 Awash 盘地寻找着冲刷后残留的远古人类祖先的化石。但是提供寻找时间很短:在下次大雨或者沙尘暴的土壤冲蚀后,化石就会被掩盖。因此,即使最勤快的化石猎人在暴露的化石盘地被泥土和尘灰覆盖前也只能搜索一小部分,而之后就永远失去了进一步的调查机会。
Found in the Awash Valley, Lucy remains the most complete hominid fossil recovered from Africa. She is approximately 3.2 million years old. Credit: The Houston Museum of Natural Science]]
But when the new  Bossa project launches, this could all change. According to plans, researchers will use a low-flying unmanned drone to take high resolution images of the fossil beds immediately after they are exposed by rain. Using Bossa , these images will be immediately sent out to volunteers around the world who will scan them on their computers. Just as Stardust@home volunteers are trained to detect the tracks of interstellar dust particles, the new project's participants will be trained to recognize hominid fossils in the images, mark their location, and return their results to project headquarters. With these results in hand, paleontologists will be able to cut the time it takes them to locate fossils to a fraction of what it is today. With a complete overview of the fossil beds in hand, paleontologists will head directly to the locations of the most promising fossils, and extract them for further study before they are once more swallowed by the Earth. By substituting the thousands of eyes of  Bossa volunteers around the world for the exhausting labor of a small team on site in Ethiopia, the new project could revolutionize the gathering of hominid fossils. There is no telling how many precious fossils will be saved and collected in this way, and what they could tell us about our origins and distant ancestors.
不过,当 Bossa 项目启动后,这将可能改变。根据计划,研究人员将使用低空飞行的无人驾驶飞机对被大雨冲洗后暴露化石盘床立刻进行扫描,获得高分辨率图像。通过 Bossa,这些图像将立刻发送给全球的志愿者让他们在自己的电脑上进行仔细查找。正如 Stardust@home 的志愿者受过训练后查找星际尘埃颗粒,新项目的参加者将得到培训以在图像中发现原始人类化石,标记其位置,并向项目总部返回结果。通过这些结果,古生物学家将能削减现在只能寻找一小部分化石区域的时间。通过掌握完整的化石盘床概貌,古生物学家将直向最有希望的化石地区,并在它们被泥土掩埋之前得到进一步的研究。通过 Bossa 志愿者数以千计的眼睛为埃塞俄比亚的一个小团队网站提供协作,新项目将从根本上改变了原始人类化石的收集。项目没办法告知能有多少珍贵的化石将被保存,但他们可以告诉我们,通过这种方式,将对我们的起源和祖先有更深的了解。
Projects such as AfricaMap and the hominid fossil venture  are closely modeled on Stardust@home in making use of volunteers' proven ability to recognize the finest features of high-resolution images. But while planning to implement these on the experimental  Bossa platform, Anderson is also thinking ahead to more complex uses of the skills and intelligence of citizen volunteers. His focus in on "Rosetta," a well-established BOINC project, run from the University of Washington, that investigates the folding of proteins on volunteer's computers. Proteins are long strings of amino acids, which are the building blocks of life as we know it. In order to carry out their functions, however, proteins must spontaneously and almost instantaneously fold themselves in very precise ways. This process, which takes place repeatedly and reliably in biological systems, is an essential but little understood feature of life. Rosetta scientists are studying it by using volunteer's computers to model the "lowest energy" folding configurations of various proteins.
如 Africamap 和原始人类化石收集项目,正在密切仿照 Stardust@home,利用志愿者辨认高解析度图片细节特征的能力。但是,尽管计划在 Bossa 实验平台运行这些项目,Anderson 更进一步的想更综合的利用志愿者的技能和智力。他的重点将对于由华盛顿大学开办的利用志愿者计算机分析蛋白质折叠的已经在 BOINC 下运作良好的项目“Rosetta”。我们知道蛋白质是长串的氨基酸,它不同的组合构筑形成了生命体。然而,蛋白质为了能达到它们的功能,必须自发的几乎瞬间非常精确的折叠自己。这个过程在生物系统内可靠地不断重复着,而这必要的过程仅仅是我们所了解生命的一小小部分。Rosetta 的科学家正利用志愿者提供的计算机资源模拟不同蛋白质“最低能力状态”的折叠形态,从而更深的了解它们。
It turns out, however, that computers are not the only ones capable of determining ideal folding configurations. Some humans are good at it too, so good in fact that the very best can do it better than any computer. Can such unique and sophisticated human capabilities be harnessed for scientific research through volunteer computing? Anderson and his partners at Rosetta believe that they can. Together they are designing what amounts to an online video game, in which payers compete with each other in finding the lowest-energy folding pattern of specific proteins. If the game proves popular, they hope it will attract those unique individuals with a special "knack" for this complex task.All this work on  Bossa and its different applications "has gotten me very excited" said Anderson. "It's just like in the early days of BOINC," he said, "trying to find a single common platform for a range of different applications."
然而从结果看来,并非唯有电脑才能确定理想折叠状态。有些人更善于并且比电脑做得更好。这些独特而老练的技能能否通过电脑让志愿者进行协作?Anderson 和他的伙伴相信在 Rosetta 上是可行的。他们正在共同设计一个在线视频游戏,不同的参与者彼此为寻找最低能量折叠形态而进行竞赛。如果游戏受到欢迎,他们希望以此吸引那些拥有熟练技术的独特的人来进行这复杂的任务。Anderson 说道:“Bossa 的所有工作和不同的应用‘使我非常兴奋’,‘这就像 BOINC 成立当初一样’。试图寻找一个单一通用平台来进行不同的应用。”
[[Image:Alfa_raising1.jpg|right|thumb|220px|thumb|'''Installing the 7-Beam Receiver at Arecibo, April 2004.'''<br>
With the new receiver SETI@home is collecting 500 times as much data as previously. Credit: NAIC - Arecibo Observatory, an NSF facility.]]
And what of SETI@home, the granddaddy of all of today's citizens' cyberscience projects? It too is still going strong, forever expanding its capabilities for searching out intelligent life in the universe. Over the past few years SETI@home has begun collecting data using the new multi-beam receiver at Arecibo, instead of the old single beam it had used since its launch in 1999. This means that the project can now scan the skies much faster and more efficiently than before, because it is looking at seven different points simultaneously. Furthermore, the new hardware put in place makes possible a far more sensitive search over a frequency band 40 times greater than before. The end result is that the new SETI@home is generating 500 times as much data as before, about 300 gigabytes a day, or 100 terabytes (100,000 gigabytes) per year. According to project scientist Erik Korpela, this is about the amount of data stored in the U.S. Library of Congress…
那么对于今天所有公众虚拟科学(citizens' cyberscience)项目的鼻祖 SETI@home 是怎样的呢?它依然强大,并不断为寻找地外文明而扩大其能力。在过去几年,SETI@home 已经使用了在阿雷西博射电望远镜上新的多波束接收器来收集数据,代替了1999年所启用的旧的单波束接收器。这意味着项目可以更快更有效率的扫描天空,因为它可以同时对7个不同的目标进行扫描。此外,新的硬件设备也投入到位,更为灵敏的接收器将可以比以前大40倍的频段进行搜索。如此,新的 SETI@home 将比以往获得500倍的数据,大约每天300GB,每年100TB。根据项目科学家 Erik Korpela 所说,有关数据存储于美国国会图书馆…
SETI@home is still the largest scientific public participation in history, with 170,000 active volunteers around the world running 320,000 computers. But with such massive amounts of data to process, the project is looking for even more volunteers to join the search. "The next generation SETI@home is 500 times more powerful than anything anyone has done before" said Werthimer. "That means we are 500 times more likely to find E.T. than with the original SETI@home."
回顾历史,SETI@home 仍然是最大的公众参与科学的项目。全球有170,000名活跃志愿者运行着320,000台电脑。但面对如此大量的数据等待处理,项目方正寻找更多的志愿者参与这项搜索行动。Werthimer 说道:“新一代 SETI@home 将比以前所有工作的强大500倍,这意味着比起上一代 SETI@home,我们将有500倍的可能寻找到外星人!”
With projects in the works ranging from SETI@home's volunteer computing to Rosetta's cutting-edge computer game, Anderson is hopeful about the future prospects of Citizens' Cyberscience. "The larger question for the long-term," he said, "is how far can this idea be pushed?" Traditionally, he explained, the lead scientists would conduct the highly skilled portion of an experiment, requiring knowledge and sophisticated thinking, while their assistants were charged with the more mundane tasks. But with Citizens' Cybersciene members of the lay public are undertaking increasingly sophisticated and complex tasks. "How far up the chain of scientific research can public participation go," Anderson wonders. The answer, at this point, is anyone's guess. But with new generations of volunteers pushing the frontiers of Citizens' Science ever further, it is clear that the limit has yet to be reached.
从 SETI@home 的计算机协助到 Rosetta 的尖端电脑游戏,Anderson 对于公众虚拟科学(Citizens' Cyberscience)的未来前景很有希望。他说:“而长远的问题是如何把想法推广。”他解析道:传统上,前沿科学家在实验中指导着技术要求非常高的部分,需要丰富的知识和先进的想法,而他们的助手却从事于简单而平凡的任务。但随着公众虚拟科学(Citizens' Cybersciene)开展,公众将逐渐承担先进和复杂的任务。Anderson 惊讶的说:“公众能参与到多前沿科学研究去?”而答案,大家都在猜测。但随着新一辈的志愿者把公众不断推向前沿科学,可以清楚的看到,这还没有受到限制。
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2010年8月3日 (二) 20:24的最新版本