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Space Science

Identify Galaxies Using Spare Wetware Cycles 136

Posted by kdawson
from the blinded-by-science dept.
hazem invites us to have fun, learn about galaxies, and actually help astronomers by looking at pictures of galaxies and identifying the type. Warning: it's more addictive than Tetris. From the site: "GalaxyZoo... harnesses the power of the internet — and your brain — to classify a million galaxies. By taking part, you'll not only be contributing to scientific research, but you'll view parts of the Universe that literally no-one has ever seen before and get a sense of the glorious diversity of galaxies that pepper the sky. Why do we need you? The simple answer is that the human brain is much better at recognizing patterns than a computer can ever be. Any computer program we write to sort our galaxies into categories would do a reasonable job, but it would also inevitably throw out the unusual, the weird and the wonderful. To rescue these interesting systems which have a story to tell, we need you."
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Identify Galaxies Using Spare Wetware Cycles

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  • sounds familiar (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @05:52PM (#19862161) Journal
    is this going to work out anything like google image tag game did? so people classify these galaxies and with like 3 or 4 classifying the same galaxy, seeing which tags/classifications are agreed upon?
    • Re:sounds familiar (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Icarus1919 (802533) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @06:06PM (#19862239)
      It does seem as if they're looking for a consensus on galaxies. I've been doing this for about a week now and I swear up and down I've seen some of the same galaxies more than once. I'm pretty sure another thing they're looking for is that YOU agree with yourself. If one day you think it looks like an edge on spiral, and another you think it looks like an elliptical that's slightly skewed, then they're probably going to throw your data out or at least make you keep looking at it until you make up your mind.
      • by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @08:34PM (#19863259) Homepage Journal
        I've been doing this for about a week now and I swear up and down I've seen some of the same galaxies more than once.

        To us white people, they all look the same.
           
      • by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @08:37PM (#19863277) Homepage Journal
        I've been doing this for about a week now and I swear up and down I've seen some of the same galaxies more than once.

        Slashdot editors should be relieved to know that dupes are a universe-wide phenomenon.
             
      • When you get a vague one you think you have seen before, write down the ref.number. Then if you see it again you will know for certain. I would hope they are running many redundant checks and looking for concencus, but it does seem like they are testing you against yourself, probably with galaxies that don't have a strong concencus. Perhaps a good way to find the most talented of galaxy surveyers.
      • by jb.cancer (905806)
        It also helps to reduce the effect of randomly selecting malicious souls.
      • It bugs me that the clockwise and anti-clockwise buttons are not symmetric. The very fact that one of the buttons is on the left and another in the center might bias people toward clicking one more often than the other, I think?

        The easy way to solve this would be display each image to users as the original 50% of the time, and as the mirror image 50% of the time, reversing interpretation of the user input where appropriate. Then any biases should cancel out. But, if their grid overlay is accurate, they
    • by VagaStorm (691999)
      How long until someone tag a UFO? :p
  • Stardust @ Home (Score:3, Informative)

    by Animaether (411575) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @05:56PM (#19862177) Journal
    Reminds me of Stardust@Home ( http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/1 1/069248 [slashdot.org] / http://stardustathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/ [berkeley.edu] )

    Funny how human eyes are still needed for these tasks
    • Re:Stardust @ Home (Score:5, Insightful)

      by scapermoya (769847) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @06:41PM (#19862473) Homepage
      funny? more like awesome. computers can do certain stuff super well, but when it comes to a lot of things, they sputter and die. image recognition is going to be one of those things that computers don't do well for many many years.

      feels good not to be obsolete. yet.
      • Re:Stardust @ Home (Score:5, Insightful)

        by suv4x4 (956391) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @08:21PM (#19863155)
        FTFA: The simple answer is that the human brain is much better at recognizing patterns than a computer can ever be. Any computer program we write to sort our galaxies into categories would do a reasonable job, but it would also inevitably throw out the unusual, the weird and the wonderful.

        You can't target this at geeks and not a get a weird grin. Computers actually could recognize those galaxies fine, AND mark the unusual, weird and wonderful for additional review. It's a matter of putting in a simple threshold of matching features when you analyze the patterns.

        computers can do certain stuff super well, but when it comes to a lot of things, they sputter and die. image recognition is going to be one of those things that computers don't do well for many many years.

        feels good not to be obsolete. yet.


        Feel good while you can, we've been around for millions of years, and computers have been around for around 50 years, and we're already going into multi-core hardware. Sooner than later, massively parallel hardware patterns will emerge, and coding super-fast neural networks in those will be a child's play. All that's left at this point, would be training the computers to do what you want them to do, like you would a little child.
        • and then they will kill us all.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by suv4x4 (956391)
            and then they will kill us all.

            Computers? Nah. While they're small, they'll keep mooching off of us, "daddy I need more watts, I need more watts daddy". Then they'll grow up some and start figuring out they could survive without people around them, but they're not quite sure how. just yet.

            They'll experiment with installing viruses on themselves, overclocking, overvoltage. Then one day they'll be gone. And we'll be worried sick about their well-being while they're having the time of their "lives".

            In 10 years
        • by gordo3000 (785698)
          problem with computers is you can calibrate all your settings to things you've already seen and run the code on and then it is no better than that. You're code at that point will throw out the "strangest" galaxy because you weren't able to calibrate it to that. Of course, you could always lower the threshold and get lots of galaxies that are put into the "maybe" category, at which point, people still have to go through them all......

          all computer programs today are good at is looking at the past and hoping
        • by mwvdlee (775178)
          AFAIK, Going multi-core is rather a necessity than an improvement.
          If we'd be able to create single-core CPU's with the performance of multi-core, we wouldn't create multi-core.
          So just in what way multi-core is foreboding future CPU performance, I do not know.
      • by Tablizer (95088)
        funny? more like awesome. computers can do certain stuff super well, but when it comes to a lot of things, they sputter and die. image recognition is going to be one of those things that computers don't do well for many many years.

        About 6 months ago I *did* read about somebody classifying galaxies using automation and being satisfied with the results. Unfortunately, I don't remember where.
           
  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @05:56PM (#19862181)
    To Identify them
  • Alternatively (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @05:58PM (#19862197) Journal
    Wouldn't it make sense to write a program and have it shunt all the uncertain galaxies over to human eyes?
    • Re:Alternatively (Score:5, Informative)

      by Animaether (411575) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @06:06PM (#19862243) Journal
      The problem is that computer programs can easily mis-identify things. You should try going over a few of the galaxies they present.. not the tutorial ones.. those are easy.. the actual ones. They're mostly extremely vague, low-res, pixelated jpeg-style-artifacty blobs. In fact, on most of them, I'm having to click "don't know", but on some of them, very vaguely, I can see a spiral.. but to a computer program - that would still be a blob. On the opposite end.. what we clearly identify as a merger, a computer program might think it to be a funky spiral.

      That said.. as I mentioned.. most of the actual images are pretty much unidentifiable.. it would be nice if they would concentrate on getting higher resolution images first.. it would make identification easier and more robust.
      I understand that maybe they can't.. but a database full of "don't know"-unrecognizable blobs.. I'm not sure what the value is.
      • by shawb (16347)
        There would probably be a lot of value in a database full of mostly "don't know" blobs. The one's that are not don't know are then probably of good enough resolution to actually spend resources studying.
      • by ookabooka (731013)
        Well, I think in situations like that you should go with a "best guess". Say they have a galaxy, 60% say elliptical and 20% say counter clockwise and 20% say clockwise. Wouldn't that be more valuable than 100% I dont know?

        BTW: One good way my high school astronomy teacher taught us to differentiate was ellipticals are usually like a light-source surrounded by fog or just plain fog, whereas spirals have more definite bounds. I also think they tended to be certain colors as well (spiral=blue elliptical=oran
        • I agree that a probablistic survey using a lot of people can be valuable. Two or more heads are better than one kind of thing. I tend to identify blobby ellipticals with internal structure as edge-on spirals, even though I can't tell their rotation. Especially if the image is not too pixelated or jpeg-artifacted.
          I think a lot of the images are red because they are red-shifted.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by vladsinger (1049918)
        They need a button for face on spiral galaxies that are so fuzzy you can't tell the direction of the arms...
        • How do you know it's a spiral if you can't tell the direction of the arms? Couldn't it just be an elliptical?
      • by yusing (216625)
        Furthermore, just because we "think" we see a spiral doesn't mean we're seeing one. If you Google "elliptical galaxy" and look closely at a few dozen of those (nice, clean) examples, you'll see that many ellipticals have quite a bit of structure -- just not rotational.

        Now, put one of these in Photoshop and smear it with "Gaussian blur" and almost anybody can "sort of" see spiral arms.

        The GZ tutorial fails to say much about ellipticals, including that they're the majority (70 percent, IIRC) of galaxies. But
  • One wonders just how the subitter used to play Tetris...

    "Tetris Diary: Day One. This will be an ongoing catalog of the various Tetris shapes I see while playing the game.

    First: A cube. Good start!

    Second: A clockwise L-shape. I can feel the tension mounting!

    Third: A counter-clockwise L-shape. What are the odds??

    Fourth: A counter-clockwise S-shape! A trend emerges!

    Fifth: A clockwise S-shape. Unbelievable!

    Sixth: A STRAIGHT LINE! WE HAVE A STRAIGHT LINE!!!!

    I have now reached the top of the screen and the game has ended. Will start again and try to contain my unbelievable excitement over cataloging shapes."

    • by hazem (472289)
      One wonders just how the subitter used to play Tetris...

      That's funny!

      Actually, I can't stand to play Tetris for more than a couple minutes. But I had a girlfriend once who could not stop playing the darned game. She had it on her computer and played it - and then had a Gameboy she played it on too when she wasn't on her computer. Hours and hours she would play that game, and she got really angry when I hid the Gameboy.

      This site seems addictive to me in that some of the pictures are really astounding, but
    • C'mon now. First my girlfriend gets hooked on Tetris and then suckers me into it too, so I play awhile/lot and then I start dreaming the little shapes all night, right? And now I'm solving captchas in my sleep! [getafreelancer.com] (profit!!!!)

      Does this mean my wetware has been assimilated already?

      ...Of course this discussion is merely hypothetical.
    • by aliquis (678370)
      Just wait until the second round and when he founds the T-shape.
  • by fm6 (162816) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @06:09PM (#19862257) Homepage Journal
    Such a project only makes sense if there are a lot of galaxies. And indeed there are: thousands are visible, and estimates of the grand total vary between 100 billion and half a trillion.

    Big numbers. But don't forget that each galaxy contains hundreds of millions of stars. Of which ours is just one.

    Which should give us all a little humility. But it won't.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by BlueParrot (965239)
      so, a hundred billion times a hundred million, that gives 10^11 * 10^8 = 10^19. Pffffft, it is less than the RIAA's revenue loss from P2P file sharing alone... When you add in the MPAA and all the porn floating out there 10^19 is not at all a large number.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by fm6 (162816)
        Yes, it would certainly take you less time to visit every star in the universe than it would for you to view every porn movie ever made. But the fact that you're willing to make the comparison just shows you need to get out more.
    • at least for me, this alone is enough to disprove almost all of the religions. i don't think it precludes the existence of a 'god', but it certainly makes it clear that if there is a god (don't think so), it doesn't give a shit about us. but that's just me.
      • by CRCulver (715279)

        at least for me, this alone is enough to disprove almost all of the religions

        You can't prove a negative in such a fashion.

        • by fm6 (162816)
          You can't prove a negative, period. You can only raise doubts. And the fact that most people have a belief system based on our noble selves being the center and purpose of all creation indicates how ignorant they are of how big (and how old) the universe is.
          • by QuantumG (50515)

            You can't prove a negative, period.
            Yeah, I never got that. Why can't you prove a negative. Here's one:

            I am not 7 feet tall.

            Seems like a negative, seems pretty easy to prove.

            • by MollyB (162595) *

              I am not 7 feet tall.

              Seems like a negative, seems pretty easy to prove.

              On the face of it, your statement is a trifle ambiguous. You might be over 7 feet tall, e.g. Or you might be six-eleven standing up, but measure an even seven feet lying down. If you are of more typical height, you could as easily state that you are less than seven feet tall, which is not a negative, but would appear to be a logical equivalent. Therefore no negative need be disproven.

              I have tried to wade through Google samples and the mind-numbing entry [wikipedia.org] at Wiki, but I am unable to answer your question simp

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by hazem (472289)
                I'm no expert but I think the "you can't prove a negative" only works with certain kinds of problems.

                As you have demonstrated, the negative statement above, "I am not 7 feet tall" can be proven by disproving the opposite. (Let's not consider the semantic arguments about what it means - we can assume that he means that he is not 7 feet tall when standing up).

                In this case, you cannot be both (7 feet tall) and (not seven feet tall) at the same time. They are mutually exclusive states of existence - and all i
                • by quizzicus (891184)
                  Your long, awkward post demonstrates why we use math (predicate calculus) rather than English for these sorts of things. Unfortunately, I don't think we can embed quantifiers in ./ posts.
                  • by hazem (472289)
                    Thanks, I'll have to go read up on that subject. Can you recommend any particularly good books/sites on the subject to help someone understand it?

                    It seems the more I find out, the less I know.
            • by brassman (112558)
              The problem is not that you can't prove a single, simple negative like the one you give. The problem is that we must not allow someone to shift the burden of proof by requiring someone else to prove a negative.

              For instance: I say "You killed your wife. Prove you didn't."

              You say, "I was never married."

              I say "Of course you were, you just burned the marriage license. Prove you didn't." And I continue with an infinite regress of demands for you to prove that your witnesses are not all impostors, and s

            • by fatphil (181876)
              You're deliberately misinterpretting what he means by "a negative". He means the non-existance of a specified property in an entire _class_ of things, not that any specified individual from some class fails to have that specified property.

              So "there are no 300-foot tall humans" would be and example of what you'd need to prove.

              Hmmm....
              • by QuantumG (50515)
                It would seem it is as easy to prove as "there are 300-foot tall humans".. which isn't a negative.

            • by fm6 (162816)
              You're right. Did a little reading, and it turns out that "can't prove a negative" is one of those little bits of folklore that's not true. I stand by the rest of my argument, but I should have left the "can't prove a negative, period" out.
      • by Tablizer (95088)
        this [imensity] alone is enough to disprove almost all of the religions. i don't think it precludes the existence of a 'god', but it certainly makes it clear that if there is a god (don't think so), it doesn't give a shit about us.

        But God has a bigass Beowulf Cluster running Care 5.02.
             
    • by Tablizer (95088)
      estimates of the grand total vary between 100 billion and half a trillion [galaxies]. Big numbers. But don't forget that each galaxy contains hundreds of millions of stars. Of which ours is just one. Which should give us all a little humility.

      But only *our* galaxy has slashdot.
           
    • Then it seems an awful waste of space.

      • by mwvdlee (775178)
        The chances of live (like ours) developing on another planet requires so many factors to be so precisely tuned that the likeliness is... incredibly high considering the infathomable size of the universe!
    • by Tomfrh (719891)
      A galaxy like ours actually contains hundreds of billions of stars, which out of interest is about the number of neurons in a brain like ours.
    • The sheer enormity of the universe makes my (lay) mind wonder - could Earth be part of a bigger system? If all stars and planets were neurons, the galaxies could be like enormous brains, or something. Just a thought. :-)
  • by pln2bz (449850) * on Saturday July 14, 2007 @06:13PM (#19862293)
    For a quick demonstrative primer in how public relations can be used to affect public opinion in the field of astrophysics, I highly recommend comparing the article run about the Galaxy Zoo in NewScientist.com compared to the AP article that has appeared on Space.com and elsewhere.

    NewScientist Article:

    http://space.newscientist.com/article/dn12241-publ ic-to-join-search-for-cosmic-axis-of-evil.html [newscientist.com]

    Additional Background info here, linked to from that article:

    http://space.newscientist.com/article/mg19425994.0 00-axis-of-evil-a-cause-for-cosmic-concern.html [newscientist.com]

    Compare this to the Space.com - AP Article:

    http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/070711_ap_on line_galaxies.html [space.com]

    For whatever reason, the article that Space.com decided to go with fails to mention anything about this project representing a threat to mainstream cosmology or the CMB. Astrophysical enthusiasts reading Space.com, in other words, would not be informed by that article that somebody has even alleged that there is a possible anomalous artifact within the cosmic microwave background. I'm not advocating anything here other than that this appears to be more than a mere "dumbing down" of a complicated story. They could have easily dumbed down the concept of aligned galaxies and why that introduces a problem for the CMB. Instead, we got the following, which appears to not suggest any threat level to BB Theory whatsoever:

    The catalog would help researchers understand how galaxies form and interact.

    "At some level, what we learn about these galaxies could tell us something quite fundamental about cosmology and particle physics,'' Nichol said.

    This sort of "damage control", if I may call it that, is not really very helpful when it comes to layman trying to understand what to believe.

    We must be very careful of how we promote certain sceintific theories over others. It would be very easy to create a false consensus within society using public relations in this way.
    • The only thing the layman knows about cosmology is that the universe began several billions of years ago with a big bang. And this new discovery does not undermine that fact, it only disputes certain claims about how the big bang happened, specifically how much and how fast inflation occured after it. Since the layman is completely ignorant of the technical details of inflation anyways talking about how this data might impact some of those thoeries is unecessarily confusing, as it has confused you if you
    • by FleaPlus (6935)
      I don't know much about this particular controversy, but it's worth noting that New Scientist is basically the National Enquirer of science journalism, and has a tendency to sensationalize things quite a bit. Here's how things are worded on the actual Galaxy Zoo website:

      http://www.galaxyzoo.org/Project2.aspx [galaxyzoo.org]

      But what about the wider Universe? Observing the rotation of galaxies also provides a probe of the large-scale properties of the Universe, and intriguingly there is already some indication from SDSS gal
  • ...but I've enjoyed doing it. Sometimes when I'm trying to come up with a solution to a problem, I find the best thing I can do is to focus on something fairly simple and let the ol' subconscious back burner do the work. I feel far less guilty cataloging galaxies than I do playing Solitaire!
    • I have playing with this for a while and I feeling almost the same sensations of a kid looking through his new telescope.
      I don't know if my time will be usefull for science, but at least I like to participate in this kind of initiatives.
      After hours playing Tetris I usually feel guilty for my waste of time.
      There are beatifll pictures and the fact that I could discover something really interesting encorage me.
      I should be more initiatives like this.
  • The good news: it put my name on two physics papers. The bad news: it's boring as hell. The really bad news: if you misclassify something, you'll at best throw someone off-track, and at worst, completely screw with someone else's research.

    It's not fun unless you consider classifying galaxies fun, and it leaves itself open to internet asshattery. I hope the project gets pulled. Plus, what are legions of undergrad astrophysics students gonna do during their summer time? Go outside??? Spare them that terror!
    • by hazem (472289)
      Maybe what they can do with this project is quickly solve the easy-to-solve ones. If 9 out of 10 (or some other threshold) people identify a galaxy as clockwise-spiral, then they might be able to consider that one "solved".

      That leaves the harder ones and the ones with less consensus for more astronomically valuable people like you (not that you are orders of magnitude more valuable than the rest of us, but rather as an astronomy undergrad your ability to discern these things is hopefully better than ours).
    • by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @08:49PM (#19863361) Homepage Journal
      I did this as a summer job. The good news: it put my name on two physics papers. The bad news: it's boring as hell.

      They should occasionally display the "Goatse Nebula" just to keep people awake.
         
  • Let's see:
    at 4.1335978835978835978835978835979e-7 Hz this could take a very long time.
    • by DoubleEdd (178052)
      Last stats I saw had them going at 10Hz overall. It's probably dropped off since that peak however.
  • Interesting Site (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dmomo (256005) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @07:12PM (#19862653) Homepage
    They might want to give more incentive. In the least some feedback would make the task a little more rewardnig. I got bored fairly quickly.

    The 'statistics' and the 'show my galaxies' sections are both not working. Perhaps once they are in place, it will be a little more fun to participate. There should be more info, such as "you were the first one to classify this galaxy", or "You were the 100th person to classify this galaxy", etc.

    If the site gets popular they might add more features. I'd like to see how many galaxies i've done. How many galaxies other users have done, etc. In any case, I hope it catches on.
  • I find myself thinking "Are these the arms of a spiral?", then I close one eye, squint the other, stand on my head and rub my tummy for 2 minutes, then I click "Star/Don't know".

    They should a "Fuzz" button. Sometimes, that helps.

    The most interesting object I've seen so far wasn't in the middle, so I wasn't asked about it but... Any astronomer in the audience can tell me what the object to the North-East of center is in http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/explore/obj.asp ?id=588017677691715886 [sdss.org]? Can I name
    • by dannycim (442761)
      NorthWest, actually, just noticed the images are flipped horizontally from what you'd expect, from a layman's point of view.
      • by boot_img (610085)
        That's because "on the sky" that's the way it is! Suppose you are in the Northern hemisphere looking at the southern horizon. North is up, but east is left not right.
    • by Snowhare (263311)
      Looks like an elliptical with a dust lane obscuring a line across it. Could be an edge on spiral that happens to be in between us and the elliptical.
    • by Sperbels (1008585)

      I find myself thinking "Are these the arms of a spiral?", then I close one eye, squint the other, stand on my head and rub my tummy for 2 minutes, then I click "Star/Don't know".
      Indeed, nothing looks like it does in the tutorials. Everything is either a pixelated blur, or a pixelated blur which might have arms (or maybe pixelated diffraction rings). I just feel like I'm screwing up their data by answering.
    • Each of those objects appears to be a point source, meaning a star. The pair has roughly the same brightness and same color, so presumably they're similar-mass stars at the same distance. Just eyeballing the magnitude to be ~17 and the spectral type to be early M, they're probably located within a kiloparsec (~3000 light years).
  • They should borrow an idea from captcha hackers: Identify galaxies to get free pr0n.
  • I say, hot! (Score:3, Funny)

    by hmccabe (465882) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @08:54PM (#19863381)
    It's Galaxy: Hot or not?

    (really, it's elliptical or spiral, but whatever)
  • by ehaggis (879721) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @09:15PM (#19863505) Homepage Journal
    I am sitting at a computer identifying galaxy types and thoroughly enjoying it. It is Saturday night. I am Geek. Thank you. Saturday Night + Computer + Galactic identification = Geek
  • If you find yourself signing up at web sites just because the captchas are so much fun, this is the hobby for you!
  • Only if I can also name them. I've heard that people are already buying stars. So additionally I would like to own, say, 20% of the stars within the galaxy after determining the type. Of course, I am willing to go to 10% if it is a really big galaxy.
  • Only without the abysmal wages.
  • I am starting to feel very very small...
  • I puzzled why clockwise/anticlockwise should matter, given that it's indeterminate for any tilted galaxy (seen from 'underneath'?). Now I understand the 'axis of evil', I guess it's only the fact of the spinning (confirmed by people's agreement on apparent direction) that matters. Once you know it spins, you can work out from the apparent elongation of the blob which (two possible) axes might be involved. That's enough for a statistical test of the 'axis of evil'. Or is it?
  • I just looked at the site and wanted to give it a try, but the first thing to do there is to sign up using a username and password. I couldn't be bothered to think of yet another boring password and passed it on.

    Maybe I am not the kind of people they are trying to attract, but I wonder: Why have this kind of "security" on a project like this?

    • by Obvius (779709)
      Because you have to go through a basic tutorial and pass a rudimentary exam before they let you start categorising the galaxies.
  • This is one of the most beatiful pictures.
    I am not an astronomer, but I think it is a huge colision of an eliptical galaxy sucking a huge eliptical one.
    http://cas.sdss.org/astro/en/tools/chart/chart.asp ?ra=156.44275121&dec=13.71685856 [sdss.org]
  • by Shag (3737) on Sunday July 15, 2007 @08:43AM (#19866277) Homepage
    It just crops up at a different point in the process.

    In the old days, you'd expose a bunch of film plates of a given chunk of sky, then have your assistant / grad student / whatever overlap them and look for anything that "appeared" or "moved" across the different frames.

    5-10 years ago, you'd take digital images, then have your assistant / grad student / whatever "blink" back and forth between them, doing the same thing.

    Nowadays, you take lots of digital images and feed them into a supercomputing cluster which analyzes them, then spits out a list of the things that "appear" or "move" that are most likely to be good targets for you... then you have your assistant / grad student / whatever take photometry, spectra, etc. to check on them.

    The process gradually becomes more efficient, but the wetware's still in there - it's just being used in places where it matters most.

    (I'm part of the wetware for one such project, in the / whatever category.)
  • I tried GalaxyZoo and was given a picture of an object to describe:

    ( ) Clockwise spiral galaxy
    ( ) Anti-clockwise spiral galaxy
    (*) Booger
  • Anyone know what this is?
    588298661962973323 [sdss.org]
    • The beginning of a collision between two spiral or MAYYYYYYBE elliptical galaxies. Very cool.
  • They are missing the obvious way to do this: "To see hardcore adult action click on the button that best describes the galaxy pictured above."

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