A large part of our project is the human practice side. As seen in our previous posts, we’ve been going into schools to inspire and educate students about the project. But trying to make science fun and accessible is something which has been going on for a while now and is only getting better. Museums, Galleries and centres around the world open to the general public have been inspiring children and adults alike for years. I remember being amazed by trips to the Science Museum in London as a child. I know I have my parents to thank a great deal for their patience in taking a day out to treat me. But with the internet, and our phones always at our fingertips, inspiration, and interaction with science on a daily basis is becoming easier for everyone.
A post-doctorate speaker here at York yesterday gave a lecture on the project she is involved in researching Ash dieback disease. As part of the project, her team are trying to find differences in DNA sequences which might explain the resistance found in some Ash trees. But matching sequences of DNA can be a long, time-consuming process. So where do you go to enlist help? Facebook may not seem like the obvious choice for scientific research but with over 1.23 billion users monthly, why not try? Fraxinus is a simple and addictive game on the website which allows players to match patterns coding for actual DNA sequences. And this game is not the first of its kind! Foldit is an online game which allows players to predict the folding of human proteins, providing information about the part they may play in some of the most major human diseases, including cancer and HIV.
So the next time you have a few moments spare, why not try to solve some of the World’s problems? Give it a go.