Galaxy Zoo

July 13, 2007

Now, this is really cool. Galaxy Zoo is a collaborative project run by 3 universities that is aiming to tap into the “mass mind” to classify a huge number of galaxies. On signing up for an account, you are given a tutorial on classifying galaxies (elliptical, spiral with direction of movement, merging or other/ weird), then are given a test. On passing this test (I got 13 out of 15!) you are then set free to classify galaxies, many of which will have never been viewed by another human being before.

I assume that there must be some system of authority at work to verify classifications- perhaps a certain number of classifications of a galaxy are required, with controversial photographs being referred to an arbiter. Its also interesting to note that, as the site says, “It turns out that the human brain is far better than a computer at recognising the patterns that divide ellipticals from spirals”, meaning that a technological solution is not possible.

This seems like a brilliant example of the internet’s ability to harness the “wisdom of crowds” that some commentators are so keen to decry, and is interesting, fun and for a good cause.


3 Responses to “Galaxy Zoo”

  1. Joe Says:

    This concept is called human computation.

    You might find the ESP game interesting:

    It uses human computation in the form of a game to label images on the internet. It’s a fascinating subject.

  2. Tom P Says:

    i got 15/15. so ner!

  3. neilstewart Says:

    Thanks Joe, no thanks to you Tom!

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