February, 2009

Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

eScience & Technical Computing - Web Services and Scientific Research

February, 2009

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Using Flickr for Astronomy – and viewing in WWT


    The use of online services such as Flickr to help scientists is in its infancy and applications utilizing commodity based solutions will continue to pick up momentum.  I especially like the integration and the ease of use – science should be about discovery and exploration – not about the technology.   Of course the ability to view those analyzed images in WorldWide Telescope completes the circle and allows you to view the image in context. 

    Check out the Orion Nebula.  
    After it opens up – click on the thumbnail at the top.

    web_corona_rot_6A767906[1]You can also add your own – check out Dinoj’s post on the WWT Data Blog - Sticking images on the sky with WWT.  For fun you can see the crown for the Corona Borealis overlaid on the sky

    See the article written by Frederic Lardinois on ReadWriteWeb.

    The Great Gig in the Sky: Using Flickr for Astronomy

    flickr_astronomy_logo.jpgFlickr hosts a wide range of beautiful images, but a new project built on top of Flickr's API only focuses on photos of the night sky from amateur astronomers. The Astrometry.net project constantly scans the Astrometry Flickr group for new images to catalog and to add to its open-source sky survey. At the same time, this project also provides a more direct service to the amateur astronomers, as it also analyzes each image and returns a high-quality description of the photo's contents.

    The Astrometry group currently has over 400 members, and as Christoper Stumm, a member of the Astrometry.net team, told the Flickr Code blog, the back-end software uses geometric hashing to exactly pinpoint and describe the objects in the images. When you submit an image to the Flickr pool, the robot will not just respond with a comment that contains an exact description of what you see in the image, but it will also annotate the image automatically.

    astrometry_flickr_feb09.pngWhile a lot of members of the Astrometry group use high-end telescopes and cameras, the Astrometry.net solver can also analyze images from consumer-level digital cameras.

    While just being able to automatically analyze and catalog these images is pretty cool already, every description also contains a link that displays the image in Microsoft's WordWide Telescope.

    Astronomy is one of those few scientific disciplines where dedicated amateurs can still make major discoveries and this is definitely one of the cooler applications of Flickr's API that we have seen in a long time.

    The Great Gig in the Sky: Using Flickr for Astronomy - ReadWriteWeb

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Microsoft Research TechFest 2009


    Today is the first day of the MSR TechFest 2009 – a showcase of MSR technologies – you can see pictures from TechFest.  One of the demos I’m loosely tied to is Interactions with an Omni-Directional Projector – which utilizes WorldWide Telescope projected on a dome with gesture interaction.  The neat part about it is that it brings together the great interaction (hands) work from Andy Wilson and Hrvoje Benko from the Adaptive Systems and Interaction and Jonathan Fay (no relation)

    TechFest is much like a Science Fair – booths to demonstrate new algorithms, discoveries, etc.  Great place to wander and dream what the magic of software can do….

    TechFest 2009

    TechFest is an annual event that brings researchers from Microsoft Research’s labs around the world to Redmond to share their latest work with Microsoft product teams. Attendees experience some of the freshest, most innovative technologies emerging from Microsoft’s research efforts. The event provides a forum in which product teams and researchers can discuss the novel work occurring in the labs, thereby encouraging effective technology transfer into Microsoft products.

    Virtual TechFest: Everything You Need to Know About This Year’s Tech Showcase

    TechFest 2009 - Microsoft Research

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    New Tools Mobilize Local Data to Study Global Environmental Issues from Berkeley Lab


    Here’s a really good article from the folks at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on the collaboration MSR has ongoing between LBL and the Berkeley Water Center.  It highlights the use of databases for scientific information as Catharine mentions…

    “One of the greatest challenges of the next century will be developing cyber-architectures that allow scientists to easily navigate their digital assets. Today, the internet has given environmental researchers instant access to a wealth of field data. Now, they need a scientific ‘safety deposit box’ system that will not only store this information, but also organize it so it is searchable and ready for analysis,” says van Ingen.

    New Tools Mobilize Local Data to Study Global Environmental Issues

    Guarding water supplies, protecting endangered species and curbing greenhouse gases is going high-tech. Environmental scientists are turning to innovative cyber-infrastructures and data-mining tools.

    As they strive to develop effective strategies for guarding water supplies, protecting endangered species and curbing greenhouse gases, environmental scientists are turning to innovative cyber-infrastructures and data-mining tools developed by an ongoing collaboration between researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Microsoft Research, and the University of California, Berkeley.

    The Microsoft eScience program is the primary funder of this project, which is one of numerous ventures cultivated by the Berkeley Water Center (BWC). Launched approximately three years ago by researchers from the Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley’s Colleges of Engineering and Natural Resources, the BWC marshals expertise from public institutions and the private sector in support of projects that enable science and public policy researchers to more easily access and work with water and environmental datasets.

    “The most cost-efficient way to impact issues like global climate change and water management is to develop cyber-architectures that organize data and foster scientific collaboration,” says Susan Hubbard, staff scientist in the Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division and associate director of the BWC.

    Environmental scientists typically collect data on a project-by-project basis, in campaigns targeted at very specific topics. One study may use NASA satellites to track annual rainfall of deserts around the globe, while another project sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) might measure the annual water tables of the Sahara desert with commercial sensors. The data are then typically stored in local archive systems and accessed by researchers associated with that particular project. These sites are scattered across the country, tend to be aligned with specific campaigns, and are funded by a variety of organizations.

    Rest of the article at: New Tools Mobilize Local Data to Study Global Environmental Issues « Berkeley Lab News Center

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    eclipse4SL: Eclipse Tools for Microsoft Silverlight


    Just saw a posting that eclipse4SL - the Eclipse tools for Silverlight project is available. It is an eclipse plug-in that enables Eclipse developers to use the Eclipse IDE to create applications that run on the Microsoft Silverlight runtime platform.

    The purpose of this project is the creation of open source tools integrated with the Eclipse development platform that enable Java developers to use the Eclipse platform to create applications that run on the Microsoft Silverlight runtime platform. Specifically, the project will be an Eclipse plug-in that works with the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP) to provide both a Silverlight development environment and greater interoperability between Silverlight and Java, to facilitate the integration of Silverlight-based applications into Java-based web sites and services. The project has been submitted to the Eclipse Foundation and released as an open Eclipse project.

    Eclipse Tools for Microsoft Silverlight

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