Exit Facebook – Enter Deep Space

first_imgYour Physicists Need You! An Oxford team of astrophysicists is enlisting the public’s help in classifying newly discovered galaxies at http://www.galaxyzoo.org/ The name is whimsically inspired by the huge (and stunningly beautiful) variety of galaxies – one million never before seen by human eyes – milling against the darkness of the universe, a zoo of the new and unknown. Newly discovered galaxies need to be sorted into types – elliptical and spiral – and since the launch of the website a week ago, 40,000 have already signed up. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is taking these images in an attempt to help scientists understand better how galaxies are born, evolve, and die. Volunteers have been recruited from around the world – Japan, New Zealand, and Russia are just a few – and Dr Lintott, a member of the Oxford team, claims the interest has appeal even further afield: “I’m convinced that somewhere out there there is an alien at a computer spending two seconds looking at an image of the Milky Way, saying that’s just another spiral.”But why people (or aliens, for that matter)? Why not use a computer? Because you, yes you, are better than any super-computer can ever be at recognising patterns, shapes and resemblances (try sticking that on your CV for your next interview). The website explains: “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.”While some unfortunates may argue that facebook too is a collection of the unusual, the weird and the wonderful, if you’re looking for something a little different, the GalaxyZoo awaits. Try your hand at identifying galaxies at http://www.galaxyzoo.org/Tutorial.aspx. Deep space is just a click away. Cherwell24 is not responsible for the contents of external websites.last_img read more