Friday, July 13

Outsource Your Brain for Science

A new project from the University of Oxford (UK), the University of Portsmouth (UK) and Johns Hopkins University (US) aims to harness the power of the human brain to identify and classify galaxies and stars. On the GalaxyZoo website, users are asked to identify the objects in photographs as spiral or elliptical galaxies, the direction of rotation, or if the photo depicts a star or merger of galaxies. The site launched yesterday and says they have already had an "amazing response."
Wrote Josh Catone at Read/Write Web. describes itself as "the project which 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?

‘It’s not just for fun’ said Kevin Schawinski of Astrophysics at Oxford University where the data will be analysed. ‘The human brain is actually better than a computer at pattern recognition tasks like this. Whether you spend five minutes, fifteen minutes or five hours using the site your contribution will be invaluable.’ Visitors will be able to print out posters of the galaxies they have explored and even compete to see who’s the best virtual astronomer.

For more information visit or contact:

Dr Chris Lintott (+44 (0)1865 273638, mobile: +44 (0)7808 167288)
Kevin Schawinski (+44 (0)1865 273642) or
Professor Bob Nichol (+44 (0)23 9284 3117; mobile +44 (0)7963792049)

Alternatively, contact
the University of Oxford Press Office on +44 (0)1865 283877 or email:

If you fancy outsourcing your time, energy or unused computing power, the least, check out other similar distributed computing project as listed by Catone:
Read/Write Web also published on the same day, a list of "top-5 hottest product launches in 2007" -- in first-half of 2007 that is, and they are all "Web 2.0" as the website focuses on such products:-
  1. Joost (our #1 too!)
  2. Pownce
  3. Mahalo
  4. Tumblr
  5. Babelgum
  6. (BONUS): Tremors
I've personally used only two of these. How about you? Any other good products in 2007 that you'd vote for?

And... if you'd want to come up with more new Web 2.0 ones quickly for 2007 launch, you might want to outsource the project, immediately, from the start!

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