Nature is nearby.  Be it your balcony planter, the city park, your desktop aquarium or a landscaped backyard.

And scientists want you to capture images of it — using gigapixel panoramas that can be explored in amazing detail.

It's all part of the first Nearby Nature GigaBlitz happening now. 

The weeklong event (June 18–24) is the brainchild of three biologists and their partners at Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Lab.

It's a global effort revealing the extraordinary biodiversity in ordinary settings where people live, learn and work.

Taking a cue from a 'BioBlitz' — where scientists and citizen volunteers attempt to identify every living species within an area — the GigaBlitz allows a global experience where others can easily get involved, no matter where they are.

For example, a photographer in Costa Rica captures a shot of a luscious rain forest and uploads it to the GigaPan website. A teen in Detroit zooms in on the panorama, spotting a sloth high in the branches.

As part of the blitz goal to identify as many organisms as possible, the student can then take a "snapshot" of the sloth.

GigaPan is a technology developed by CMU and NASA. It combines hundreds of digital photos into a large panorama that can be interactively explored via computer.

More than 5,000 GigaPan camera systems, which can be used with virtually any digital camera, are in use worldwide and available commercially through GigaPan Systems Inc.
The best panoramas submitted via the blitz, will be published in the online GigaPan magazine.

The biologists behind the event — M. Alex Smith, Ken Tamminga and Dennis vanEngelsdorp — are fellows of the Fine Outreach for Science, a project funded by the Fine Foundation of Pittsburgh to foster scientific use of gigapixel imagery.
"No scientist or group of scientists is able to routinely mount such a massive effort," noted Illah Nourbakhsh, a professor in Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute and head of the CREATE Lab.

"GigaBlitz follows that tradition. GigaPan technology is making possible a new type of biological survey that we expect to stimulate new understanding and appreciation for organisms and their habitats."

Related Links: CREATE Lab | | GigaPan Magazine | Fine Outreach for Science | Great Backyard Bird Count | Robotics Institute

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