My 3 week mission to explore strange new worlds

When you watch the world of e-Research through the lenses of papers and websites you glimpse a world of new capabilities and changing practice. But how pervasive is this shift? “The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete” shouts Wired! Is that true? What’s it really like…how exactly is scientific practice changing? Understanding this last question is crucial if we are to succeed in creating the tools and techniques so that the new scientific methods can thrive. Our focus is in understanding how researchers will be using data in the future.

A good way to understand both the adoption and the trajectory of data intensive science is to go and ask, and this is the purpose of our “US fact-finding expedition”. On our three week tour, Malcolm Atkinson (UK e-Science Envoy) and I will visit key institutions and projects on a trip that takes us through Cambridge, Chicago, Michigan, Wisconsin, Urbana-Champaign, Albuquerque, Seattle, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, Irvine, San Diego, Boulder, Washington and Baltimore. We’ll be talking to practising researchers ranging from astronomers, biologists and chemists to computational musicologists and social scientists, and experts delivering technology from optical networks, clouds and databases to workflow systems and Web solutions.

I feel a bit like an explorer on a quest to discover new species! In fact there is truth to that, as we will observe and explain the things that we discover as we explore the ecosystem of technology and researchers. I earned by explorer badge on my ad hoc mission two years ago when I came back with “the new e-Science”; now I’ll see what’s changed. But it’s not just a survey, because we’re really after discussion and insight from the experts at the cutting edge(s) – especially about change and future needs, which don’t get captured elsewhere. And at the same time we’re sharing our e-Science experiences and doing the groundwork for future collaborations.

Watch this space!

Destinations on the Expedition

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