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Space NASA

Spacecraft Returns Seven Particles From Birth of the Solar System 48

sciencehabit writes "After a massive, years-long search, researchers have recovered seven interstellar dust particles returned to Earth by the Stardust spacecraft. The whole sample weighs just a few trillionths of a gram, but it's the first time scientists have laid their hands on primordial material unaltered by the violent birth of the solar system. Once the sample panel was back on Earth, the problem quickly became finding any collected particles embedded in the aerogel. Out of desperation, Stardust team members called on 30,714 members of the general public. The 'dusters' of the Stardust@home project volunteered to examine microscopic images taken down through the aerogel. They used the world's best pattern-recognition system — the human eye and brain — to pick out the telltale tracks left by speeding particles."
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Spacecraft Returns Seven Particles From Birth of the Solar System

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  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @05:25PM (#46546861)

    Unfortunately the eye and brain are not the best pattern-recognition system. Humans tend to categorise random patterns as non-random patterns that match things they are familiar with or want to see.

    Which means they are the best at seeing patterns.

    No-one ever said anything about ACCURATE patterns... :-)

    I would argue for this kind of search that just seeing any kind of pattern has value in narrowing things down, even if it's false.

The absent ones are always at fault.