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Your Neighbor May Be a ... Scientist

CNN on the burgeoning citizen-scientist movement, in which laypeople make observations from home and use the Internet to log them with expert-run databases:

Project BudBurst, out of Boulder, Colorado, aims to collect so much amateur data about plant species that scientists will be able to tell how climate change is altering the seasons in North America.

The venture, managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, gathers "data that would not otherwise be collected," said Sandra Henderson, the project's director. "We have these additional sentinel eyes on the landscape, if you will. There aren't enough ecologists to be making all of these different plant observations."

National Science Foundation funding for citizen science dropped off significantly in 2002 but generally has been on the rise since, according to budget numbers compiled for CNN. Since that year, funding in the United States has increased more than 240 percent, to more than $3 million for 2008.