Data and Data Access


Prompted by an exchange between myself and Brian over Twitter – always remember these are not private conversations and that the world is listening – Kevin Jardine has written an interesting post about access to scientific data over here:

I’ve commented there about some of the realities in large astronomy projects. Do take a look at the discussion!


5 Responses to “Data and Data Access”

  1. Kevin Jardine Says:

    Dave, thanks for taking the time out to write a very thoughtful response to my blog post!

    I think that the points you make are very reasonable. I hope in the end that Herschel surveys like Hi-GAL and ATLAS achieve the same level of public attention and accessibility as US projects like SDSS and GLIMPSE.

    These sorts of surveys are not only crucially important scientifically but can (as in the use of SDSS for Galaxy Zoo) create major opportunities for public outreach and understanding.

    We’re in the midst of an incredible new age of exploration and amateurs like myself hope that the public will understand that astronomy is about a lot more than generating pretty pictures and plot lines for Doctor Who!

    • Dave Says:

      You’re most welcome!

      I do hope that H-ATLAS and the rest have similar impact to SDSS – they certainly deserve to. We’re already working with some of the Galaxy Zoo team in fact, though at this stage it’s more to use GZ classifications to help us understand H-ATLAS galaxies better.

      One thing that is always worth noting in this context is the reason why US projects, and especially NASA ones, have a large impact on the public – they put in more money and effort into the public outreach side of things than we usually do in Europe. Things are changing, and my own small efforts with this blog, and the tweeting, are part of that, but it doesn’t come for free. We have a Herschel Outreach Officer, Dr Chris North at Cardiff University, half of whose time is for outreach, but this is very unusual in the UK, and is not cheap. With past and impending funding cuts for physics and astrophysics research in the UK such posts, along with those of the many students and postdocs working just on the science, are under threat. Until we have a government that appreciates the importance and need for long term fundamental research that’s just going to continue.

  2. Kevin Jardine Says:

    Sounds like a “chicken and egg” problem. I doubt you’ll have “a government that appreciates the importance and need for long term fundamental research” without more public outreach to explain why that matters!

    • Dave Says:

      Indeed, and you’re right. This is one reason why I and others are prepared to give up time we might be using for science to talk to people and to run blogs like this.

      After all, the public pay for this stuff so we should be telling them what they’re paying for!

  3. 2010 in review « The Herschel Space Observatory Says:

    […] The busiest day of the year was May 6th with over 2000 views. The most popular post that day was Data and Data Access. […]

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