Just a mini post here. If you have ever had high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE,
also known as altitude sickness which they refer to as “a devastating form of altitude sickness”) or know someone how has please check out: Altitude.org | Join the International HAPE Database. A group of researchers are seeking people to register in their HAPE database for future scientific studies of HAPE.
And so as to not have a post with just text I am putting in some pics of me in semi-high places (never gotten HAPE myself)
|Atop Pico Bolivar in Venezuela
|On top of Gothic Mountain in CO
Just a mini post here about Bioweathermap. I had posted a mini post about this project in July: Desperate to know what microbes are on your money? This project is for you (with some cool side science benefits). I got reminded about this by this PLoS Blog: DIY Science at #SciBarSpace 2 | The Official PLoS Blog. The PLoS blog discusses a talk by Jason Bobe about Bioweathermap.
Bioweathermap is not the most accurately named project but it is pretty cool. From their site:
The BioWeatherMap initiative is a global, grassroots, distributed environmental sensing effort aimed at answering some very basic questions about the geographic and temporal distribution patterns of microbial life. Utilizing the power of high-throughput, low cost DNA sequencing and harnessing the drive of an enlightened public we propose a new collaborative research approach aimed at generating a steady stream of environmental samples from many geographic locations to produce high quality data for ongoing discovery and surveillance. Our approach will provide a unique opportunity to engage the public in the scientific research process while we address fundamental questions such as “How diverse is the microbial life around us?” and “How do microbial communities in different habitats change over time?” and “How can advanced sequencing technologies best be utilized to address issues in biodiversity, public health, and biosurveillance?”
In other words, it is about microbes (suggestion to them – it might be good to have something about microbes in the title of the project – maybe “microbioweathermap” or something like that). Anyway, to do the project they have been collecting dollar bills from various people:
And then characterizing the microbes on those bills. I note – Jason collected the bill from me when we met at the book launch party for Thomas Goetz’s “The Decision Tree“. Anyway – in essence this is a citizen microbiology project and it is worth checking out. For more on it see:
Seems to me there are more and more Citizen Microbiology projects out there. For some other posts of mine about CM projects (got to give them an abbreviation) see:
Go microbes. Go citizens. Go citizen microbiology.
I just love the continued coverage of the story of the students from Trinity School in New York (a high school) who do investigative DNA barcoding projects. (There is a good new story about this on the LA Times blogs at:Think that sheep’s mik cheese comes from a sheep? DNA doesn’t lie | Booster Shots | Los Angeles Times)
In the most recent example, two students, Brenda Tan and Matt Cost, did some home barcoding in collaboration with people from the AMNH and Rockefeller University.
Among their findings:
- “an invasive species of insect in a box of grapefruit from Texas”
- “what could be a new species or subspecies of New York cockroach”
- multiple mislabelled food products including (quoted from the press release, I note)
- An expensive specialty “sheep’s milk” cheese made in fact from cow’s milk;
- “Venison” dog treats made of beef;
- “Sturgeon caviar” that was really Mississippi paddlefish;
- A delicacy called “dried shark,” which proved to be freshwater Nile perch from Africa;
- A label of “frozen yellow catfish” on walking catfish, an invasive species;
- “Dried olidus” (smelt) that proved to be Japanese anchovy, an unrelated fish;
- “Caribbean red snapper” that turned out to be Malabar blood snapper, a fish from Southeast Asia.
And what I find most interesting, is this built upon work of other students from Trinity Kate Stoeckle and Louisa Strauss who had done a restaurant based barcoding study last year.
This type of work is cool in so many ways. It gets students into science. It is an applied us of taxonomy (though I note, barcoding is not without controversy in the taxonomy community). It is a useful form of citizen science — and may eventually provide a way to keep dishonest sellers on their toes … Kudos to all involved in this
More on this story can be found at