Chickscope Database:

Help: How to Use the Database

The Chickscope Database is a relatively simple way of searching through the 2000+ images of the developing chick embryo taken by members of the first Chickscope project in the spring of 1996. The database can be searched on any of the categories, and responds fairly quickly for a non-relational, home-grown database.

The database contains roughly thirteen days of images from the developing egg. The days available correspond to days 0-4, 7-11, and 14-16. Days 5, 6, 12, and 13 correspond to weekends during the first experiment when the MRI system was unavailable. Days 17 through 21 were not imaged due to time constraints, but by day 17, the chick moves around inside the egg so much, it is hard to get a clean image. Many images taken on day 16 display motion artifacts. To see some of the worst examples, search for images on that day rated either "1" or "2".

The database will respond to your queries even without changing any of the fields. This is the one crucial piece of information you need to remember when operating the database: an empty field defaults to all possible values for the given field. That way, you do not have to know anything about the contents of the database.

Do not be surprised if your browser takes some time to load the matches during larger searches, especially if you have thumbnails turned on. Certain browsers - like Communicator - render large tables and many images very slooooooowwwwwwly.

The fields behave in the following manner:


Enter the day of development to search for. A value of "0" would correspond to an unincubated or freshly laid egg. Correspondingly, a value of "16" would be for eggs incubated for 16 days - the "official" last day of the imaging program in 1996.

You can search for multiple days at once by using the following syntax:

0 7, 14; 15; 16 Days numbers separated by spaces, commas, or semi-colons. This example searches days 0, 7, 14, 15, and 16.
0 - 3 14...16 Ranges of days, separated by a hyphen or by three ellipses ("..."). This example searches days 0, 1, 2, 3, 14, 15, and 16.
0-3; 5, 8, 10-13 Any combination of the above. This examples searches days 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, and 13.

Default behavior: An empty date field corresponds to all of the days in the database, and would be equivalent to the search string "0-21". All white space is ignored - you can put spaces between numbers and symbols without problems, though the three ellipses must be contiguous ("...")


Currently disabled. Would search for keywords that describe the content of the images. The database does not contain keywords at this time.


The Chickscope staff have rated each of the images according to quality and based upon the features visible in the image. The best images are rated "5", while the worst are rated "1". Multiple ratings may be specified.

Default behavior: Search for all images regardless of the rating. This is equivalent to checking all of the boxes.


The orientation of the image: either front, side, or top. The diagram below should clarify which orientation corresponds to which slice:

Viewpoint Diagram

Multiple orientations may be specified. The results will be sorted by image orientation: front slices first, followed by side views, then top views.

Default behavior: By default, none of the orientations are selected. This is equivalent to checking all of the orientation boxes with one exception: the images are grouped in one category only. Select all three views if you want the images categorized by view.


The method by which the results are displayed. Thumbnails returns 64x64 pixel thumbnails of the images that match the other search criteria. List returns a list of each match.

The quickest way to crash your browser is to search for a large number of matches (such as every day, every view, all ratings) with thumbnails turned on. This results in 2000+ thumbnails in a massive table. Restricted searches are less of a problem.

Default behavior: Because of the risk of overloading your browser, the database by default returns each match without a thumbnail.

Sort Order:

Matches can be sorted in either ascending or descending chronological order.

Default behavior: Matches are sorted in descending order since more obvious features are seen in later images.

Reset, Clear, Search:

Controls the resetting, clearing, and searching. Reset restores the field values to the original values displayed. Clear erases all field information and restores the form to an empty, pristine state. Search starts the searching process.

Default behavior: After each successive search, the search parameters are considered the default values. Reset therefore restores the values to what was used during the previous search.

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