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The EU will fund research into the development of a unified European open science cloud

(August 15,2015) 

The do-it-yourself (DIY) and open source movements are transforming science and technology around the world. In a bold move, Europe is side-stepping the massive academic publishing industry by developing an “open science cloud.” Researchers in Europe already have access to fast data networks, common data storage, and shared computing. The Open Science Cloud will link them all together. Helix Nebula and the European Science cloud are existing early prototypes which can help lay groundwork.

It is most fitting that CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) is leading the open science charge. A scientist at CERN (Tim Berners-Lee) submitted a proposal for creation of the internet in 1989 which would allow a free-flow of information amongst scientists probing the secrets of the universe around the world.  The World Wide Web was launched in the public domain in 1993. Berners-Lee is still active in the future of the internet with the Web We Want campaign.

This presentation by CERN project leader Bob Jones at the 3rd Digital ERA Forum (Brussels, 23 April 2015) provides a detailed project overview of the new Open Science Cloud.


Photo: CERN’s LHC Tunnel via Wikimedia Commons

According to CERN (http://home.web.cern.ch/topics/birth-web): “Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist at CERN, invented the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989. The web was originally conceived and developed to meet the demand for automatic information-sharing between scientists in universities and institutes around the world.

The first website at CERN – and in the world – was dedicated to the World Wide Web project itself and was hosted on Berners-Lee’s NeXT computer. The website described the basic features of the web; how to access other people’s documents and how to set up your own server. The NeXT machine – the original web server – is still at CERN. As part of the project to restore the first website, in 2013 CERN reinstated the world’s first website to its original address.

On 30 April 1993 CERN put the World Wide Web software in the public domain. CERN made the next release available with an open license, as a more sure way to maximize its dissemination. Through these actions, making the software required to run a web server freely available, along with a basic browser and a library of code, the web was allowed to flourish.”


Photo: Wikimedia (Jack Andraka @ Wikimania 2014)

Teenager Jack Andraka is an inspirational example of what can be accomplished with open source science. Andraka famously developed a novel and inexpensive method for the early detection of pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancers utilizing free online journal articles.

According to the Right to Research Coalition: “Only 16 years old, Jack discovered a breakthrough pancreatic cancer diagnostic using carbon nanotubes. Jack’s test costs $0.03 and takes 5 minutes to run with nearly 100% accuracy so far, making it 26,667 times cheaper, 168 times faster, and 400 times more sensitive than the current test commonly used for pancreatic cancer. Jack went on to win the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. His story would not be possible without Open Access.”

Andraka’s story was also featured in the conclusion to Brian Knappenberger’s film Internet’s Own Boy, which chronicles the life of open internet activist Aaron Schwartz.


Photo: Cloud,Wikimedia

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