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Every fish species on Earth might soon be downloadable

by • July 20, 2016 • No Comments

A professor at the University of Washington (UW) wants to catch ’em all, but he isn’t content with only collecting hundreds of Pokemon. His ambitions are a little loftier, aiming to collect and scan all 25,000 known species of complete, to turn it into 3D models of their skeletons which can and so be freely downloaded, 3D-printed and studied.

Real complete specimens can be complex and costly to come by, so, much like Massey University’s 3D printable cane toad skeletons, UW professor Adam Summers is attempting to manufacture it simpler for students, scientists and hobbyists to study complete. Choosing a CT scanner, Summers is creating high resolution 3D models of the skeletons, and and so uploading them to the Open Science Framework (an open source, file-sharing network). From there, anyone can view the models digitally, rotating and zooming to their heart’s content, or 3D print them for a additional hands-on examination.

According to Summers, many scientists via the models scanned thus far have done so to study the morphology of sure species, in hopes of determining how groups may have evolved along much like lines.

“It’s been so fun to throw this data up on the web and have folks in fact use it,” Summers says. “These scans are transforming the way we ponder of 3D data and accessibility.”

That transformation isn’t going unnoticed, with museums, universities and scientists around the world offering up their specimens for scanning, which include Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Ohio State University, Western Australian Museum, and the National Academy of Sciences in Philadelphia, one of others.

The science world’s enthusiasm for a bargain-priced, relatively effortless way to scan and study specimens isn’t surprising. Previously, scans may cost between US$500 and $2,000 every, and weren’t as easily accessible. After years of struggling for permission to use expensive equipment in hospitals, Summers set of raising $340,000 to purchase a CT scanner for his lab.

The professor’s system saves costs and time by scanning multiple complete at once, preceding separating them into individual files via the desktop software. And while the models are high adequate resolution for many purposes, they aren’t as high as they may be, to save a few digital real estate and manufacture them simpler on a downloader’s bandwidth.

“The way transformative ideas do, these only automatically changed the way we ponder of scanning specimens,” says Summers. “We went of, ‘Is this possible?’ to scanning whole series of completees quickly.”

There’s yet a long way to go on the journey to all 25,000 species. The current library contains of 515 of those, and Summers estimates the rest of the world’s complete can take of two or three years to collect.

After which, he has an actually additional ambitious project planned: scanning all 50,000 vertebrate species on planet Earth. And he won’t be doing it alone of course, with colleagues already drafting grant proposals to recruit a few additional CT scanners to handle the extra workload.

The 3D models are already on the market to download for free on the Open Science Framework.

Source: University of Washington

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