Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The eScience Revolution: Researchers to Create Semantic Web Platforms for Massive Scientific Collaboration

05.10.2009
Web scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will use the World Wide Web to compile and share scientific data on an unprecedented scale. Their goal is to hasten scientific discovery and innovation by enabling rapid and easy collaboration between scientists, educators, students, policy makers, and even “citizen scientists” around the world via the Web.

Funded by $1.1 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the research seeks to break science out of the hallowed halls of the laboratory and place it in the hands of the people.

“We want to provide a toolkit for scientists and educators that allows them to gain access to data from a variety of sources and, importantly, outside of their direct area of expertise,” said Peter Fox, the principal investigator for the project and Senior Constellation Professor in the Tetherless World Constellation at Rensselaer. “Right now there are many scientists, educators, and policy makers who want to use other’s scientific data, but they don’t know how to find it, how is was collected, and even how to read it.” Fox notes that with the increased specialization of most scientific research, even people in closely-related fields currently struggle to interpret the data of their contemporaries. These scientific language barriers, he said, can hinder the pace of new discoveries.

The new toolkit will have a foundation in Semantic Web technology. On the Web, semantic computer code (known as ontologies) provides underlying meaning and links to the information that is presented on a Web page to your computer, smart phone, or other Web-enabled device. Current technology involves flat words on the screen, for example “climate change,” that require a human to interpret the words and then manually move on to another Web site for additional information. Web technologies based on semantics, however, would enable the computer to provide its own underlying meaning to the words, and provide links to related Web sites, nonprofit organizations, upcoming Senate bills, or even related photos stored on your computer. In the case of semantic data, the computer can configure, coalesce, and interpret data from millions of different sources instantly without the need for human intervention.

“Semantic technologies lower the barrier of entry to do science,” said co-principal investigator on the project and Senior Constellation Professor Deborah McGuinness. “With semantics, we can bridge the gap between the question that someone wants to ask in their limited scientific vocabulary and the extreme complexity of the underlying data.” An individual’s vocabulary and scientific understanding will no longer have to correspond to the level of their scientific discovery, according to Fox and McGuinness.

Fox, McGuinness, and their counterpart on the project, Senior Constellation Professor James Hendler, will use semantic ontologies to build customizable Web sites. Each Web site will be familiar, understandable, and navigable to its end user depending on the level and type of expertise. Behind the simple façade of the Web site will rest billions of pages of data all semantically tagged and ready to be accessed and interpreted by the computer. The user needs only to type a question, and it will be answered using data input by other users around world. The researchers also plan to create plug-in applications for commonly used data software such as Excel that adds access to the data in a format that is familiar to the end user.

All of their semantic coding will be open source, making it available to others on the Web seeking new ways to share data.

“We want to accelerate the growth of community knowledge,” McGuinness said. “We want to encourage others to look at the data, interpret the data in their own ways, reuse the data, and even verify the data.”

Fox, McGuinness, and Hendler see the technology helping to lead a revolution in the citation and, possibly, review of scientific data. Much like Wikipedia, the data on their Web sites and technologies will be viewed and used by users from leading scientific experts to elementary school teachers and all those reviewers will be able to comment and cite the data.

“There will be extensive new opportunities to review the data,” Fox said. “It may not be a traditional peer review as is the custom in scientific publication because many people will not be experts, but each user will bring a very legitimate point of view to the data, particularly when they use it in new and different ways.” Thus, a school teacher could make a discovery on sea level change that an oceanographer may never have found.

The ease of access to the data will also allow other scientists to quickly reproduce and verify a data set. Often in a scientific paper, there will be a scientific figure or image that represents a data set. Raw data is rarely presented, making it extremely difficult for another scientist to pick up where another left off or even reproduce the results, according to Fox. The new semantic technology will mediate access to the raw data and in a vocabulary that the end user can understand.

In addition to ease sharing data, the semantic technologies will also allow for ease of citation when using data created by someone else. Access to certain data sets can be controlled and with semantic tags attached to the data of their source, and users can easily give credit to the original creator of the data that they are utilizing, while data creators can track exactly who is looking at their data. “For the first time, we could see scientists citing online services in peer review journals,” McGuinness said.

Semantic e-science is an area of unique specialization within the Tetherless World Research Constellation, which is comprised of “star” faculty who mentor up-and-coming faculty, graduate and undergraduate students in fields ranging from computer science to informatics. Their collective research and teaching efforts center on the emerging field of Web Science and seeks new ways to understand and harness the inner workings of one of the most powerful research, social, and commerce technologies of our time.

Funding from the NSF was awarded as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). To date, Rensselaer has received nearly $7.3 million in funding through the ARRA. For a full list of the awards visit: http://www.rpi.edu/news/arra/index.html.

Gabrielle DeMarco | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.rpi.edu
http://www.rpi.edu/news/arra/index.html

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans
16.01.2017 | University of Southern California

nachricht Fraunhofer FIT announces CloudTeams collaborative software development platform – join it for free
10.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>