Science Hack Day SF 2012
The science hackers gather for launch, photo by Matt Biddulph

It’s been two weeks since the third San Francisco edition of Science Hack Day and visions of particle collisions are still dancing in my head. 150 science hackers came together over the weekend to create brilliant mashups of imagination and mischief. Even more than all the delightful hacks that emerge over the 24 consecutive hours, I absolutely love the people that make up Science Hack Day each year. Now on our third year, the beginning of the event has become such a joyous occasion – veteran science hackers hug each other, many not having had a chance to see one another since the previous year; newcomers quickly strike up conversations with one another over percolating ideas. What excites me the most are the potential serendipitous sparks that may ignite by having such a diverse group of people in the same place. No other event that I know of can bring together U.S. coastguards, fashion designers, environmental lawyers, particle physicists, futurists,  novelists, watercolorists,  molecular biologists, high school students, and roboticists to see what they can prototype, together, in 24 consecutive hours. People flew in from as far as Kenya and Ireland to attend (keep an eye out for Science Hack Day Nairobi & Science Hack Day Dublin in 2013!).

Science Hack Day SF 2012
A particle physicist shows off some dark matter maps, photo by Matt Biddulph

Photos + Videos
Matt Biddulph created a lovely set of photos on Flickr for your browsing pleasure. Mitch Altman also has a fun set of photos to check out. Both are released under a Creative Commons license. You can also search for “sciencehackday” on Flickr to find many more taken by some of the attendees. We also added a timelapse of the event on YouTube.

Science Hack Day SF 2012
Hacking a robot, photo by Matt Biddulph

The Hacks
You can browse through all 19 hacks that were created over the weekend on the wiki.  Eight teams were awarded the coveted Science Hack Day gold medals for Best In Show, People’s Choice, the Design Award, the Hardware Award, the Data Award, the Wacky Award, the Curiosity Award and the Replicability Award.

The Reactions
The stories that are shared with us after Science Hack Day are always fascinating. Here’s just a few of the reactions we’ve heard so far:

“When the teams get together to show off their hacks, they’re all in various stages of incompletion. They’re ideas to build on, exercises in learning and collaboration, and mostly, just a lot of fun.” – Nathan Hurst, Wired

“I went to last year’s event as well and was super impressed with the many awesome projects that came out of the weekend – this year was no let down, either!” – Sean Herron, NASA

“It’s a mix of familiar maker faces along with professional and citizen scientists. The agenda for the two-day event looks to span all areas of science–hacking data, the Large Hadron Collider,  building your own space experiment, DIY bio, and hacking geology.” – David Lang, Make

“The idea quickly became about more than doing cool things with science data, and turned into an exploration of a broader question: Could a hack day bring together scientists, technologists, and designers — three groups that have traditionally been a bit wary of each other — and get them to learn from each other and collaborate?” – Eliza Kern, GigaOm

“Have to say, I can’t wait until next #sciencehackday! That was so much fun.” – C. Alaric Moore

#ScienceHackDay was epic!!! loved our awesome @geomappit team, learned *so many* new things … !” – Lisa Ballard, SETI Institute

Building a fruit electrophoresis gel or a Higgs boson dance game at #ScienceHackDay? I don’t know what to choose…” – Aurelie Coulon, swissnex sf

Does @sciencehackdaycount as entertainment? The demos in SF today were both clever and hilarious.” – Sharon Wong

“This was, honestly, the first time since college that I’ve felt like I was back in school, working together with a bunch of bright people on exciting things. What a wonderful feeling!” – Yevgeny Binder

Science Hack Day SF 2012
Contemplating hacks, photo by Matt Biddulph

Next Year
As we announced at Science Hack Day, we are excited to have our next year’s event already lined up! Science Hack Day SF 2013 will be held at the California Academy of Sciences on September 28-29. Each year, we’ve been fortunate enough to have amazing venues support the event (from Institute For The Future, to Brightworks, to Hot Studio), and 2013 will continue that trend. We’re especially excited about being able to spend the night at California Academy of Sciences – what an amazing place to run around in during all hours of the night!

Science Hack Day SF 2012
Packed house for learning about visualizing science by Cal Academy’s planetarium director, photo by Matt Biddulph

Thank You
Science Hack Day is created by the people, for the people. The event organically self-organizes throughout the weekend thanks to all the attendees who get excited and make things with science! Thanks to everyone who was able to attend and we hope to see you again in 2013!

A huge thank you to the co-organizers (Ariel, Ian, Matt & Nic) and all our friends for volunteering their time throughout the year and during the event: Chris, David, Erin, Jessy, Kishore, Mathias, Paul, Rose, Tantek and many others.

Lastly, thank you to all our sponsors who help keep this a completely free event for everyone to attend. Their contributions help make sure everyone has enough food, shelter, internet and awesomeness to keep going throughout the weekend. Thanks to Hot StudioDefense Threat Reduction AgencyGitHubInstitute For The FutureMendeleyswissnex San FranciscoPLOS, and Carol Mayer Marshall (my own grandmother!).

Ariel Waldman, Science Hack Day SF organizer

Categories: 2012