Today I launch Jungle Rhythms, an online citizen-science project that aims to digitize thousands of pages of detailed observations of the life cycle of trees in Africa.
Belgian scientists were stationed at the Yangambi Research Station in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1938 until 1958 as part of an agriculture-based research project. During that time, the scientists – for reasons unknown– also began collecting detailed observations on the life cycle of trees in the local forest. Those observations were kept in a series of notebooks, and later summarized in large tables, which were discovered, nearly 80 years later, stored in an archive under less-than-ideal conditions.
To avoid losing the data as the pages crumbled, I digitized the tables in the hopes of using computers to automatically capture the data, but quickly realized the marks were simply too faint.
While the project’s ultimate goal is to preserve the data for future study, it also gives the public an up-close-and-personal view on how scientific research is conducted. To do so, I’ll be blogging about the project to keep users up to date on new exciting results, and any discoveries I make about the history of the data itself.