Like peanut butter and jelly

Insight into the Eclipse Science Working Group

Diana Kupfer
science

Dr. Philip Wenig on the power of community convergence, and why open source and science make the perfect pairing.

Diana Kupfer meets Dr. Phillip Wenig, member of the Eclipse
Science Workgroup, to talk about the powerful things that happen
when open source meets science. This interview was originally
published in German in Eclipse Magazin.

JAX: When and how did the idea for the
Eclipse Science WG originate?

Wenig: The idea was around for
a long time. Andy Gotz, Ola Spjuth, Alun Ashton and others had this
idea several years ago. Eventually, Philip Wenig met Ralph
Müller at the CeBIT in Hanover, 2012 and tried to
convince him starting an Eclipse Science WG.

After having a look at all the available RCP
projects with scientific scope, Ralph took it forward within the
Eclipse Foundation. Several projects exist since then in different
areas of scientific research, ranging from physics over biology to
chemistry. We had our first meeting at the University of Hamburg in
the beginning of July, 2012. Then a couple of meetings followed at
diverse EclipseCon’s around the world. Finally, we started writing
a charter at the EclipseCon 2013 in Ludwigsburg,
Germany.

Meanwhile, Andrew Ross was chosen as the
official Science WG representative by the Eclipse Foundation and
the Diamond Light Source took responsibility to push the working
group forward. At the same time, a logo contest was started and a
web page created. After passing the review stage, the Science
Working Group was announced officially at 4th of June 2014. It was
a nice coincidence that the announcement of the working groups
start fell together with the first official working group meeting,
held at Diamond Light Source, UK.

Why do you think there is a need for such an
inititative?

It’s just a justification for us travelling
around the world spending time in indian restaurants and trinking
good old english ale! 
Joking aside, research
institutes and companies who would prefer not to re-invent
scientific libraries require a place to find and share this kind of
software.

Moreover, individuals who are writing their
masters or Ph.D. thesis as well as postdocs with interesting
projects and software skills would benefit from the group. We want
to make tools reusable in the scientific space by defining one or
more areas on which to collaborate. The hope is that serendipitous
discoveries can be made by applying tools created for one technique
in an entirely unexpected way, in another area. One example is the
peak fitting algorithms which different members of the group are
working on.

What is your personal motivation for creating
this group?

Open source and science are a dream team, no
doubt. Scientists need to have the freedom to tinker and the
flexibility to modify things in an unexpected way. Additionally,
software becomes more and more important in scientific research.
That’s why open source is a good fit because it offers the
flexibility scientists need. New ideas happen on the shoulders of
giants and new ideas can be made to work when existing tools are
modified or are recombined.

Who is already involved?

Diamond Light Source, UK

UT-Battelle (Oak Ridge National Laboratory),
USA

University of Uppsala, Sweden

Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, USA

Marintek, Norway

Lablicate UG, Germany

Kichwa Coders, UK

Clemson University, USA

Tech’Advantage, France

What types of companies and individuals (i.e.
from what industries/research areas) do you work with?

Companies, institutes and individuals from
different scientific research areas are welcome.

What are the next steps now that the
WG been formally created. ?

Convincing more companies, institutions and
individuals to join the working group. The participants have just
begun to write and push project proposals to migrate their existing
projects to the Eclipse Foundation.

When are your next meet-ups?

The next meetings will be held at the EclipseCon
France, 2014 Toulouse or the EclipseCon Europe Germany, 2014
Ludwigsburg.

What’s the best way to get in touch with
you?

Join the mailing list, ask questions and get in
contact with its participants:  
https://dev.eclipse.org/mailman/listinfo/science-iwg

Or directly call or mail Andrew
Ross:
andrew.ross@eclipse.org

Author
Diana Kupfer
Working at S&S Media since 2011, Diana Kupfer is an editor at Eclipse Magazine, Java Magazin and JAXenter.de.
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