Citizens help to discover 2 new Class M planets!

It’s actually pretty amazing when you think about it… The folks at NASA provided data from the Kepler Space Telescope and transformed it into an interface that’s not overly evil to use for the general public.  What they did was ask the global community to help sift through the data (visually) and point out patterns that indicate the existence of planets around stars.  (Long story short, they look for blips in the reading of stars caused by, you guessed it, planets!)  This has led to the discovery of 2 new planets that are “similar” to Earth (in what I assume are distance from the star and size of the planet).

All I can say is that this strategy is absolutely remarkable!  Taking regular data and presenting it in a way that’s appetizing to the user is a great idea in “gamifying” ordinarily mundane, tedious, and expensive operations. And, in theory, you could do this with just about anything!  Heck, they even did one where you fold proteins to help scientists understand how to combat AIDS-like viruses!  I mean, it’s incredible!  Using the ingenuity and power of the collective Human mind!  It’s a lot like stringing a bunch of computers together to do network processing (or whatever its called).  I can see a lot more of this in the years to come (if done right) where you might think you’re playing a harmless game of BeJeweled and it turns out you’ve just sequenced the cure for cancer.

Check out the Planet Hunters site to join the cause!  Or help battle disease at Foldit and fold you some proteins!

Source: iO9, The Escapist

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