This weekend, I had the pleasure in taking part in the first ever Hack the Universe hackathon at the American Museum of Natural History, basically the coolest location for a hackathon EVAR. The hackathon kicks off the museum’s new BridgeUp STEM initiative. The whole thing lasted exactly 24 hours, starting at 6pm on Friday night and ending with presentations of all the work at 6pm on Saturday. That’s right, we spent the night in the Hall of the Universe. I had an amazing time, met some great people, and learned a ton about stars. My one complaint was how cold it was at night. Note to future participants, the museum is basically not heated at night; it feels like being outside so DRESS WARMLY. Big thanks to the organizers and everyone involved especially my awesome team, Will, Charlye and Jen!
You can check out our hack, alternately called Histarry or StarDate depending on who you ask, here. It attempts to put the distance of the closest 100 stars to Earth in a context humans can understand. The distance of each star from the sun is measured in light years which we obtained from AMNH’s Digital Universe Software. By calculating the distance in time, we have correlated events in history with the 100 closest stars to the sun using the New York Times Article API. It’s like being in outerspace and receiving the latest edition of the New York Times and looking at history in the present. The visualization was done in D3. (Did I mention I’m trying to learn D3?)
EDIT: There’s an article about our project in the Atlantic!