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#rp13 speaker: Carolina Ödman. To infinity and back again.

2013-03-20 17:00

Carolina Ödman, astrophysicist and hacker, will report on the worldwide networked astronomy community. She is interested in science apps with API, Open Science as well as statistical data or, as a reflection of reality, in pixel form on photographs. Through collaborative research, one day she hopes to answer some of the fundamental questions about the universe.

What could help to fulfil her aims is the world-wide unique SKA-project, which she is involved in. To help us get in the mood, today she will tell us about how she sees the relationship between astronomy and web-community and what the #rp13 audience can expect to see in May.

Ms Ödman, over the past few years, how far has the internet influenced your work as an astronomer? Can a community of laymen and women really support you and your scientific projects in astronomy?

Very much so. Astronomy is entering an era of unprecedented scales. The telescopes are getting bigger and more powerful, which means that the amount of data and what we can do with it has increased exponentially. It also means that there are not enough astronomers for the data out there.

Already endless PhD projects can be carried out on archived data only. Citizen science is another way of dealing with that much data and it has grown very much in recent years. Astronomy has always benefitted from the input and careful observations of amateurs - think just of the number of comets discovered not by professionals - but the internet has changed that and made it possible for people to contribute to the science of astronomy with a computer and an internet connection.

Collaborative tools have also bubbled, whether custom made for science or astronomy, or even generic, like GitHub. This makes the work of the astronomer very different today to what it was an academic generation ago. The opening up of APIs and the coding skills found in the world means that even creating the tools for astronomy research, communication and education is now possible outside the specialist circles of astronomy sub-specialities.

So could your re:publica talk be regarded as an invitation to the audience to join you in reaching for the stars?

I would like to share how amazing it is to take astronomy to the people and to share the skills we have learnt as astronomers, and to see first hand how it can change the world! I would like to share stories and experiences like that.