The new open geophysics tools

The hackathon in Denver was more than 6 weeks ago. I kept thinking, "Oh, I must post a review of what went down" (beyond the quick wrap-up I did at the time), but while I'm a firm believer in procrastination six weeks seems unreasonable... Maybe it's taken this long to scrub down to the lasting lessons. Before those, I want to tell you who the teams were, what they did, and where you can find their (100% open source!) stuff. Enjoy!

Geophys Wiz

Andrew Pethick, Josh Poirier, Colton Kohnke, Katerina Gonzales, and Elijah Thomas — GitHub repo

This team had no trouble coming up with ideas — perhaps a reflection of their composition, which was more heterogeneous than the other teams. Josh is at NEOS, the consulting and software firm, and Andrew is a postdoc at Curtin in Perth, Australia, while the other 3 are students at Mines. The team eventually settled on building MT Black Box, a magnetotellurics modeling web application. 

Last thing: Don't miss Andrew Pethick's write-up of the event. 

Seemingly Concerned Neighbours

Elias Arias, Brent Putman, Thomas Rapstine, and Gabriel Martinez — Github repo

These four young geophysicists from the Colorado School of Mines impressed everyone with their work ethic. Their tight-knit team came in with a plan, and proceeded to scribble up the coolest-looking whiteboard of the weekend. After learning some Android development skills 'earlier this week', they pulled together a great little app for forward modeling magnetotelluric responses. 


Well tie guys

Michaël Montouchet, Graham Dawes, Mark Roberts

It was terrific to have pro coders Graham and Michaël with us — they flew from the UK to be with us, thanks to their employer and generous sponsor ffA GeoTeric. They hooked up with Mark, a Denver geophysicist and developer, and hacked on a well-tie web application, rightly identifying a gap in the open source market, so to speak (there is precious little out there for well-based workflows). They may have bitten off more than they could chew in just 2 days, so I hope we can get together with them again to finish it off. Who's up for a European hackathon? 

These two characters from UBC didn't get going till Sunday morning, but in just five hours they built a sweet web app for forward modeling the DC resistivity response of a buried disk. They weren't starting from scratch, because Rowan and others have spent months honing SimPEG, a rich open-source geophysical library, but minds were nonetheless blown.

Key takeaway: interactivity beyond sliders for the win.

Pick This!

Ben Bougher, Jacob Foshee, Evan Bianco, and an immiscible mixture of Chris Chalcraft and me — GitHub repo

Wouldn't you sometimes like to know how other people would interpret the section you're working on? This team, a reprise of the dream team from Houston in 2013, built a simple way to share images and invite others to interpret them. When someone has completed their interpretation, only then do they get to see the ensemble — everyone else's interpretations — in a heatmap. Not only did this team demo live software at, but the audience provided the first crowdsourced picks in real time. 

We'll be blogging more about Pick This soon. We're actively seeking ideas, images, interpreters, and financial support. Keep an eye out.

What I learned at this hackathon

  • Potential fields are an actual thing! OK, kidding, but three out of five teams built potential field modeling tools. I wasn't expecting that, and I think the judges were impressed at the breadth. 
  • 30 hours is easily enough time to build something pretty cool. Heck, 5 hours is enough if you're made of the right stuff. 
  • Students can happily build prototypes alongside professional developers, and even teach them a thing or two. And vice versa. Are hackathons a leveller of playing fields?
  • We need to remove the road blocks to more people enjoying this event. To help with this, next time there will be a 1-day bootcamp before the hackathon.
  • After virtually doubling in size from 2013 to 2014, it's clear that the 2015 Hackathon in New Orleans is going to be awesome! Mark your calendar: 17 and 18 October 2015.

Thank you!

Thank you to the creative, energetic geophysicists that came. It was a privilege to meet and hack with you!

Thank you to the judges who gave up their Sunday teatime to watch the demos and give precious feedback to the teams: Steve Adcock, Jamie Allison, Maitri Erwin, Dennis Cooke, Chris Krohn, Shannon Bjarnason, David Holmes, and Tracy Stark. Amazing people, one and all.

A final Thank You to our sponsors — dGB Earth Sciences, ffA GeoTeric, and OpenGeoSolutions. You guys are totally awesome! Seriously.