The modern era delivers quite a punch, leaving us a bit jaded about the wonder around us. For example, we tend to forget how innovation occurs. It doesn’t usually happen in a vacuum or in explosive, eureka moments. Typically innovation happens as a result of careful research and testing based upon a solid hypothesis. The steps are easy to follow. Reach far back into your memory until you can see the blinding essence of your grizzled science teacher, bursting with age and wisdom, writing upon the board the somber steps. You copied it down dutifully, oblivious to the fact that this unassuming list sits at the center of modern scientific progress. You see, this is the Scientific Method, and it’s kind of a rock star, at least in the places where it hangs out.
And it works nearly every single time. For example:
Formulate a question: Can you send voices over copper the same way you do text with the telegraph?
Hypothesis: Using electricity and copper wires, you may be able to send your voice over long distances.
Prediction: Studied telegraph and mechanical vocal machines and determined using different medium you can induce sound to travel artificially. Should be possible to send over even longer distances.
Test: Created multiple reed-based machines to send vibrations. Through trial and error he ended up with a single reed version that made noises when plucked. His assistant, a man named Watson, assisted him during every painstaking experiment.
Analysis: Hypothesis was true and he was able to file a patent.
Science loves this method because it works. Right now they’re doing testing of more familiar concepts to many of us. They’re putting the Cloud to the test to see if it makes sense to use it.
While a recent study by the government, entitled Assessing Science in the Cloud, determined the cloud was not an optimal place for computationally heavy science, it said the cloud could be used as a supporting system. For example, the one thing science generates a lot of is data. With mountains of figures, the scientific community can become torn on ways to analyze it. Cloud-based analytical systems would provide ways to secure data, tease meaning, and safely offer ubiquitous access to the results. This could be done by contracting online database services and utilizing the tools they provide for reporting and presentation, such as LongJump or AT&T. Platform as a Service providers offer systems tailor-made for this type of support.
Science Cloud Services
Believe it or not there’s not much in the way of science-based cloud products. Certainly there are many online storage companies to house your data, something science excels at producing. Imagine purchasing scores of virtual machines running Linux crunching this data at prices unheard of just a decade ago. This flexibility leads to exciting new initiatives such as a European effort to locate the Higgs Boson particle creating an effort called “Helix Nebula – The Science Cloud”
However government regulation remains a barrier in the U.S. and elsewhere, assuring that many Science Clouds locate outside the US. Worse, many U.S. services will find it difficult to market to the scientific community due to these restrictions.
Hypothesis: Cloud Services are a great fit for science
Cloud services will one day stitch together many different systems to form vast repositories of research data. It’s just a matter of the details that allow sharing, and yes, even the purchase of this information by interested parties.
Imagine being able to research your 12th grade Biology paper from the most current data available. While it may seem somewhat unnerving to think, our Citizen Developers of today will become the Citizen Scientists of tomorrow. A world is coming where large Science Clouds will wield considerable influence via vast tracts of digital resources.
But that’s just my theory. It goes like this:
Formulate a question: Does the Cloud make sense in the scientific community?
Hypothesis: The Cloud can offer data analysis and storage systems today. with more in the future.
Prediction: As systems are put in place for sharing, the Scientific Cloud with form.
Test: Work with governments and universities on transparent sharing of information, including the purchasing of scientific data in small scale deployments. Look for unforeseen complications. Correct and continue.
And if I’m wrong that’s ok. The Scientific Method doesn’t hold it against me.