In programming there are many hackathons - intense voluntary one day-week events, where participants collaboratively attack problems. They may be proposed by a company, NGO, participants or a group; for qualification/profit, for fun or for a good cause (eg. http://www.rhok.org/).
The question is - are there any similar events in science?
If not, what can be done or why it cannot work?
(As a comment: as I observe, while scientist are open-minded for a discussion, they are conservative, when it comes to action; at least much more than some of the programmers.)
EDIT (much later):
There are such events, even if extremely rare, e.g.:
- Ariel Waldman, Hacking science: the intersection of web geeks and science geeks, Scientific American (August 29, 2011)
So how can we continue to make science more disruptively accessible across all science disciplines, geographies, industries and skill-sets?
Enter Science Hack Day, a 48-hour-all-night event that brings together designers, developers, scientists and other enthusiastic geeks in the same physical space for a brief but intense period of collaboration, hacking, and building ‘cool stuff’. A hack is a unique modification, an interesting mashup or a quick solution to a problem – maybe not the most elegant solution, but often the cleverest. By having a fresh set of eyes from those who solve different types of problems across a variety of industries inside and outside of science, new concepts often emerge and can go on to influence science and adults’ relationship to science in unexpected ways.
In math we have various programs where a group of people get together to do focused work on a problem, usually at one of the mathematical institutes (I know of the SQuaREs program at AIM and the Research in Pairs program at Oberwolfach, and there are probably others). These are usually for 2-6 people, and the time frame is longer.