A Clerihew is a whimsical, four-line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley. We had fun hearing your Haiku last week, so about some science- and Zooniverse-based Clerihews?

One of the best known examples is:

Sir Christopher Wren
Said, “I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls
Say I am designing St. Paul’s.”

…but we can also find some fun science Clerihews online:

Sir James Dewar
Is smarter than you are
None of you asses
Can liquify gases.

To rhyme Carlos Frenck
I’ve drawn a complete blenk
But I found in the lexicon
A good one for Mexican

That last one is from blogger (and apparently cosmologist) Peter Coles. If you need more inspiration, he has plenty more topical Clerihews (from 2009) on his blog, Telescoper.

Here at the Zooniverse, we’ve been coming up with own Clerihews. Chris created one for Stuart Lynn (lead developer of Planet Hunters):

Old Stuart Lynn
may drink gallons of gin,
but his Planet Hunters site
turned out quite alright.

In turn, I’ve made one for Chris:

Dr. Chris Lintott
likes astrophysics a lot.
He came up with Galaxy Zoo
while having a drink or two.

We’d love to hear your science Clerihews either here in the comments or on twitter @the_zooniverse. I’m sure the subject can be one of the projects as well as a person…

Zooniverse Cocktail Hour

Our advent calendar gets really festive today with the publication of Zooniverse Cocktails. If you make any of these, please do take a picture or two so we can share them around.

Tequila Solar Stormwatch

Pour 2 shots of tequila in a highball glass with ice, and top with orange juice. Stir. Slowly add a couple of dashes of grenadine by pouring onto the back of a spoon and letting it lie on the surface of the ice. The grenadine will slowly drop down into the drink as a sort of alcoholic mass ejection (AME).

Galaxy Zoo Spiral Cider

Pour two glasses of mulled cider into two identical glasses. Stir one anticlockwise, and the other clockwise. Once the drinks are spinning nicely drink them blindfolded and see if you can taste the difference.

Moon Zoo (on the) Rocks

Pour out a generous portion of Baileys into a tumblr and cut a Malteser in half. Drop the half-Malteser into your drink as your Apollo lander. You should try and film yourself making the drink on an anonymous sound stage in the remote United States.

The Milky Way Cocktail Project

Take a glass of chilled Prosecco, accompanied by a shot of Midori and a glacier cherry. See how many bubbles you can drink/find – watch out for red fuzzies.

Storm in a Teapcup (Old Weather)

2 shots of gin and one of chilled Earl Grey tea. Add 20 ml of lemon juice (to prevent scurvy) and a dash of sugar syrup. Serve in an English teacup with a twist of lemon peel.

Whale FM Cocktail

Place 2 cups of prawns, 4 tbsp mayonnaise, 1 tbsp creamed horseradish and 1 tbsp tomato ketchup into a mixing bowl. Stir to combine all the ingredients; make sure all the prawns are coated in sauce. Divide 2 cups of shredded lettuce between 4 large wine glasses and top with the prawns and sauce.
Decorate with a wedge of lime and a large prawn on the edge of the glass and serve with small slices of buttered brown bread.

The Ice Hunter

Straight-up vodka martini served with a twist (the twist is that there is no ice).

Planet Hunter’s Eclipse

Shake and strain 1.5 oz sloe gin and 0.5 oz gin into a cordial glass containing a cherry. Sink 0.5 oz of grenadine until just covering the cherry. Garnish with half a slice of orange, and serve.


During our last advent calendar we celebrated that our community had reached a total of 350,000 people. It’s been an incredible year. Several new projects, lots of fun and many scientific papers later – we expect to reach half a million Zooniverse users in the next day or so. Regardless of exactly when it happens, we want to say thank you to all of you ‘zooites’ out there for continuing to make our projects a big success.

Your feedback, dedication and clicks have really been paying off this year. We’ve seen multiple projects publish their first science results and there are many more on the way in 2012. Next year we expect to launch even more great projects that will allow citizen scientists to assist researchers in even more fields of work, across the world. Watch this space!

In the meantime – what exactly do 500,000 people look like? Wolfram Alpha reports that it’s the number of people who attended Woodstock in 1969. It also says that our community weigh roughly 35,000 metric tons, which is two-thirds the mass of the Titanic. The Zooniverse community generate 35 MW of power when considered as human batteries: that’s enough to supply 10,000 homes! Laid end-to-end 500,000 people stretch roughly 500 miles (~800 km) – which is of course how far the Proclaimers wold have walked.

500,000 people could fill Wembley Stadium 5 times over. Standing side-by-side they could fill the vatican, and there are only 9 armies in the world larger than the Zooniverse (China, USA, India, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey). We overtake turkey at 510,000 people – it won’t be long.


We You did it – our 500,000th citizen scientist was ‘OHMfighter’! Here’s to the next half million! We also wanted to point everyone to their ‘My Project’ pages on the Zooniverse home page, where you can see your classification counts for all our projects. Visit to see your stats.

New Galaxy Zoo Project: Does AGN Type Relate to Host Galaxy Inclination?

We’re beginning on a new project utiltizing Galaxy Zoo data.

Some background: Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) are accreting supermassive black holes at the centers of some galaxies. In some of these systems, we observe broad and narrow emission lines in the optical spectra whereas other systems only have narrow emission lines. (In the spectra of normal galaxies that don’t have an active nucleus, we generally don’t see these prominent emission lines. In AGN, photons from the accretion disk photoionize the surrounding gas, causing the emission lines we observe.)

The unified model for AGN explains these observational differences by invoking an obscuring torus (or doughnut) of dust and gas that surrounds the accretion disk feeding the black hole. For a helpful visualization, look here. (Keep in mind that this picture is “zoomed-in” to the center of the galaxy.) If this configuration is aligned so that we’re looking through the opening of the torus, we can see the emission from the accretion disk and gas that’s moving rapidly due to its proximity to the black hole (which causes the broad emission lines in the optical spectra, and the gas from this region is subsequently referred to as the “Broad Line Region”). These sources are classified as Type 1 AGN. If, however, the system is aligned such that the torus is edge-on, that accretion disk and fast moving gas is blocked from our view. We will therefore see emission from gas that is further away from the black hole but close enough to be photionized by accretion disk photons, producing narrow emission lines (and no surprise, this region is called the “Narrow Line Region”). These AGN are Type 2 AGN, sometimes referred to as “obscured AGN” since the central region is hidden from our view.

The hypothesis: These AGN live in galaxies. Are our optical classifications of Type1/Type2 related to the orientation of the host galaxy? Do Type 1 (face-on) AGN preferentially live in face-on galaxies? Do Type 2 (edge-on) AGN tend to inhabit edge-on galaxies? The issue of the alignment of the torus with host galaxy inclination has been studied quite a bit in the past. In local AGN (called Seyfert galaxies), there is a lack of Type 1 systems in edge-on galaxies, but Type 2 AGN seem live in galaxies with any orientation (Keel 1980, Schmitt et al. 1997, Simco et al. 1997, Kinney et al. 2000).

The project: These past studies have been limited to relatively small sample sizes (under 100 galaxies). The Sloan Digital Sky Survey has spectra for hundreds of thousands of objects and Galaxy Zoo has classified thousands of galaxies. Combining these two rich data sets, we can test the above hypothesis with a sample size of several thousand galaxies.

I will blog updates as the project proceeds, so stay tuned to see where this journey takes us!