Demos begin!Demos begin at Science Hack Day SF 2014!

I’m still in the afterglow of Science Hack Day. This year was our 5th Science Hack Day in San Francisco – and the 40th worldwide! It has been heartwarming to see the community grow with each event. Two of my favorite things to see (as an organizer) each year are: 1) watching people reconnect with friends and collaborators they’ve made at the event – the hugs and excitement are really sweet, and, 2) seeing a large group of hands go up when we ask the audience if it’s their first time at the event. I’m really proud to run an ongoing event that has an amazing group of “regulars” as well as bright-eyed “newbies” collaborating with one another.

The Science Hackers
We had just short of 200 people attend over the course of the weekend. We also welcomed eight Science Hack Day ambassadors to the event this year – not from foreign countries (though, one hailed from Canada), but from varying disciplines in science: a planetary scientist, two particle physicists, a jellyfish scientist, a glaciologist, a geophysicist, a computational neuroscientist and a paleontologist. These were just a few of the science disciplines represented at Science Hack Day this year. The biohackers, oceanographers and medical surgeons were in full force. Notably, we also had a good turnout of cosmologists and astrophysicists. 36% of our turnout were women (down from the 40% last year, up from the 33% in previous years).

Photos + Videos
As always, Matt Biddulph created a great set of photos on Flickr for your browsing pleasure, released under a Creative Commons license. You can also search for #sciencehackday on Twitter, Instagram or Flickr to find many more taken by some of the attendees. Drew Woods also put together a great video of all the demoed hacks from the event. Here’s just a small sampling of some of the photos that I love from Matt’s collection:

Saturday breakfast with the Science Hack Day community!
Breakfast at Science Hack Day

Stargazing on GitHub's roofStargazing on the roof

3D Print the Universe prototypeInspecting a 3D print of the universe

The Science Hack Day girls!The ladies of Science Hack Day: organizers Ariel Waldman, Rose Broome and Jun Axup

The BlindinatorThe Blindinator team who won the Don’t Try This At Home award

Kaitlyn Hova's synesthesia light show
Synesthetic electronic violin performance by Kaitlyn Hova

Dinosaurs and Robots!
The Dinosaurs & Lasers team who won the People’s Choice Award

The Event
A huge thank you to GitHub for not only providing a really nice, chill space for all of us to hack, but also for providing amazing catering! I still can’t get over the fact that we had an omelette bar on Sunday morning. Saturday evening we watched the latest Doctor Who episode on the big screen and science hacker Kaitlyn Hova treated us all to an amazing electronic violin performance. Later in the evening, we opened up the roof for stargazing with a pretty powerful telescope and the many astrophysicists/cosmologists at the event pointing out different features in the sky. I didn’t get a chance to see how many people stayed overnight – as usual, I physically was unable to keep my eyes open past 10pm. Sunday morning, in addition to starting the day with an omelette, we watched Gravity. We thought this would be a calm way to start the day, but it turns out that Sandra Bullock’s on-again-off-again gasping was not the calmest thing to wake up to. We’ll try for a better morning movie next year.

The Hacks
You can browse through all 36 hacks that were created over the weekend on the wiki (it also notes who received the coveted SCIENCE medals!). We’ve also have a video of all the hack demos for your viewing pleasure. The Best In Show went to the Interactive October Evening Sky Chart, a full-body, Kinect-powered planetarium of sorts where you can navigate the stars with your hands. The People’s Choice award went to Dinosaurs and Lasers, a LIDAR and accelerometer-based robot-dinosaur dance party (you had to be there).

Thank You
Thank you to all the sponsors (listed on the right side of this site)! We absolutely would not be able to have events like this exist without their support. They help make awesome things happen in the world and you should take a minute to click on their names to see what they’re up to.

Hugs and many thanks to the Science Hack Day SF team: Jun AxupMatt BiddulphRose BroomeIan Fung, Tantek Çelik, Arfon Smith and Nic Weidinger, along with special help from Kelsey and Drew from GitHub (both really put a cherry on top of the event this year with all the help they offered!). Creating this event is a huge team effort and many of us are balancing it while running startups and other large endeavors, so in my eyes, the team is nothing short of heroic. Our team of on-the-day volunteers are truly wonderful – giving up some of their personal time to help make the event run smoothly – thanks to David Harris, Jeremy Keith, Karen Nguyen, Chris Martin, Paul Mison, and Simon Batistoni this year for your donations of time to support SCIENCE!

Thanks also to all who gave lightning talks, donated cool hardware, offered inspiration and provided amazing activities for everyone to enjoy!

Importantly, geeky high-fives and thank you’s to all of you who attended the event! It was truly wonderful to see the same passion, excitement and curiosities that started the first event were alive and well with the fifth one. Every year, I’m sad that I didn’t get to spend more time with each of you, but I get over it when I reflect back on how much pure joy I witnessed in everyone coming together to make weird, whimsical, serious, silly and useful things with science.

I hope to see many of you again next year.

– Ariel Waldman, lead organizer of Science Hack Day SF

Categories: 2014


Franck Marchis · October 10, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Thanks Ariel and the great team for organizing this wonderful & inspirational event. It gave me a smile for the rest of the week and I truly appreciate the opportunity of having met this new and diverse crowd.
Franck M.

Vanessa Blaylock · October 11, 2014 at 2:39 am

Congratulations to all! What a fantastic event! Sorry I wasn’t in your neighborhood to attend, but thanks so much for sharing some of the great experience in this post!

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