Thursday, March 26, 2009

This morning at the breakfast table Charles and I were discussing the amazing things we had read about the Hologram Theory, and, in passing, how it affects the structure of the breakfast table. Or is that an oxymoron considering the possibility that what appears to be the breakfast table is only an illusory perception.

The very same son who alerted me to the Hologram Paradigm also introduced me to The Galaxy Zoo. I was immediately drawn to its amazingly beautiful images of far away galaxies and as soon as I was recruited as a citizen scientist, (one of about 150,000 people who do duty by observing and classifying the various types of galaxies, stars and other phenomenon)I was busy classifying too, with awe and wonderment. Are these stupendous galaxies really all part of the Hologram???

The Galaxy Zoo files contain almost a quarter of a million galaxies which have been imaged with a camera attached to a robotic telescope (the Sloan Digital Sky Survey). In order to understand how these galaxies — and our own — are formed they need help to classify these images according to their shapes — a task at which the brain is better than even the fastest computer.

The galaxies can be elliptical, spiral, cigar shaped, disks - some close together and merging. All of them most wonderfully beautiful and glowing with unbelievably gorgeous colours.

There is a short tutorial and then you are off on your magic carpet on a fascinating inspection tour of space.

And you never know when you might find something unusual and out of the ordinary.

From Galaxy Zoo....

"One of the most exciting discoveries from the original Galaxy Zoo was something we never expected. Hanny Van Arkel, a Dutch schoolteacher and Galaxy Zoo volunteer, posted an image to the Galaxy Zoo forum and asked "What's the blue stuff below?" No one knew. The object became known as the "Voorwerp" — Dutch for "object". The original images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey couldn't tell us what it was, so we took follow-up telescope observations, in optical and ultra-violet light, as well as measurements from the Swift satellite.

The Voorwerp is shown above but you can read more about it and see additional examples on the Galaxy Zoo blog article: The Mystery of the Voorwerp Deepens!.

The Voorwerp is only one of the many interesting and wonderful objects that users found in Galaxy Zoo 1. Teams of astronomers — and of Zooites — are working hard to follow up on these. It's something that is unique to a project like the Zoo. Computers will slowly get better at classifying galaxies, but looking at an image and asking "what's that odd thing?" remains uniquely human".

So if you haven't come across The Galaxy Zoo, why don't you arrange to take the tour?

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