What is the role of the general public in collecting scientific data?
More and more scientific data is being collected by the general public rather than professional scientists: families jotting down the birds visiting their garden for Garden BirdWatch; amateur experts searching and preserving rare orchids.
This series enters the world of the amateur scientist and discovers the hidden army of willing helpers to the scientific community.
Sue Nelson accompanies the amateurs and hobbyists in their quest to plot, survey and measure the natural world and asks the experts whether the information they collect is useful.
The second part of this series looking at the way amateurs are getting involved in scientific research.
Sue Nelson logs on to discover how our home computers could be predicting global warming, ridding the world of Malaria, or even searching for Extra-terrestrials, all in their spare time.
Sue Nelson dons her anorak and heads out into the night with amateur astronomers.
From searching for new comets and asteroids to patient monitoring of the slightest variations among the stars, amateurs make a vital contribution and, just occasionally, a famous discovery.