Crowd-sourced image recognition project makes science
I've written before about Galaxy Zoo, a site where anyone gets to make cutting-edge science by helping scientists classify galaxies. After a short tutorial, you can just keep clicking through images to see if you can find something really interesting. I've spent several... ehm, slow mornings looking at those images, since at least it's something useful you can do while your brain is starting.
And they did make science - turns out there's a whole new class of galaxies which are green, just like small peas in the sky. And it was all thanks to this massive parallel processing: “No one person could have done this on their own,” Cardamone said. “Even if we had managed to look through 10,000 of these images, we would have only come across a few Green Peas and wouldn’t have recognized them as a unique class of galaxies.”
Of course, all sci-fi geeks are immediately reminded by David Brin's Heaven's Reach, and its green galaxies (he said, not daring to say any more lest I spoil something). Unfortunately, these are all way, way in the past of the universe, so no proof of intelligent life it is. But they are pretty.
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