Astronomers have sought the aid of enthusiastic amateurs to help them take on the Herculean task of studying the cosmos. Cutting-edge instruments allow us to peer deep into time and space. But back on Earth, there are still just 24 hours in a day. That’s the conundrum researchers have increasingly faced in recent years, as the quantity of images returned by telescopes has outpaced attempts at organizing them. Now, an international group of scientists is tackling that problem by harnessing people power, plus the Internet, to help them take on the enormity of the universe. The result is “Galaxy Zoo,” a project determined to catalog the skies. It has just completed its second groundbreaking phase. “Galaxies tend to come in two main morphologies, or shapes: ellipticals or spirals,” Lucy Fortson, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Minnesota and one of the project’s leaders, told RFE/RL. “The complexity of those shapes makes it very difficult for machine algorithms or computers to be able to tell the difference. The best machine algorithm that we have to tell the difference between these shapes is actually the human brain. There was a graduate student from Oxford [who was working on […]
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