Zooniverse by Numbers: 2013 Edition

Each year around this time we like to take stock of the size of the awesome Zooniverse population of volunteers. Last year we celebrated the fact that there were 740,000 of you. That number has swelled to 890,000 now – despite us making it easier and easier for anyone to take part without signing up for a Zooniverse account! At the exact time of writing zooniverse.org reported 891,493 of you – which is actually a prime number . It’s also the colour code for a lovely shade of purple.

You’re based all over the world, in fact our web stats show that you literally come from every country in the world! However you are mostly located in the USA, UK, Canada, Poland and other Western nations. That means that you likely have quite a large combined carbon footprint. If you’re all typical North Americans then you produce about 20 tons of CO2 each every year. From some other nations if might be only about 5 tons. So collectively you’re producing somewhere between 4 and 18 million tons of CO2 each year. Crikey.

Never mind your carbon footprint – what about your actual dimensions as a group of people? It’s pretty hard to visualise that many people. If you all stood on each others shoulders you’d reach more than 1,500 km (~970 miles) into the sky. Of course then many of would be crushed under the community’s weight so instead let’s lie you end-to-end. At nearly 1,000 miles it would take light about 5 ms to travel along the line and it’s almost as far as the Proclaimers would be willing to walk to fall down at your door.

Sokol1924

More acrobatically, if we made you all into a human pyramid then you’d tower 1.3 miles above the surface of the Earth. If you we stacked you into an actual pyramid (square-based) then rather spectacularly you’d be about the same size as the Great Pyramid of Giza. In fact the Great Pyramid is a bit squat, so you’d have the same size footprint in the sand, but would be nearly twice as tall.

Kheops-Pyramid

We used to measure you by the number of stadiums that you would fill. At 890,000 you’re now much bigger than the world’s largest stadium, Rungnado May Day Stadium in North Korea, which can hold up to 150,000 people. You’d occupy almost 10 Wembley Stadiums, and more than 21 Wrigley Fields.

World religions is a potential way to measure you – though many are quite massive. There are literally billions of Christians, for example. There are, however, more Zooniverse volunteers in the world than Rastafarians or Unitarian Universalists. Though you can’t stand against the Vatican, there are several countries you measure up to. For example at 890,000 you outnumber the people of Cyprus (865,000), Fiji (858,000), and Montenegro (620,000). You’re miles ahead of some smaller nations, including Luxembourg (537,000), Malta (416,000), and Iceland (325,000).

THE-WORLD-FLAG

Of course, if you compare us to the armies of the world, things look much better for the Zooniverse. In fact there are only 5 armies larger than us – China (2.2 million), USA (1.4 million), India (1.3 million), North Korea (1.1 million), and Russia (1 million). Does all this mean that we need a flag?!

Finally, let’s get gross. 890,000 people is an awful lot. You collectively shed about 6 kg of skin cells every day. That’s 6 kg of material left to bob around in our atmosphere and to be vacuumed up from the world’s household surfaces. Nicely done, everybody.

I wonder what number I’l be calculating these stats for next year. I’m excited to find out!

[This post is part of the 2013 Zooniverse Advent Calendar]

Andromeda Project We Hardly Knew Ye

This time last year we launched the Andromeda Project. The aim was the get everyone’s help in locating the star clusters in the Andromeda Galaxy, our next-door neighbour in intergalactic space. The project went better than we could have imagined, and just over two weeks later we had completed more than 1,000,000 classifications and the project’s science team were busy wrangling data.

Cliff at AAS

In fact, in January Cliff Johnson took a poster to one of the world’s biggest astronomy meetings – the January meeting of the AAS – and presented the results from the Andromeda Project, which had only launched 6 weeks prior. It was an amazing example of the power of citizen science to help researchers accomplish the kind of data analysis that computers cannot do reliably.

We decided to do a second round of the Andromeda Project to complete the job we’d started, using both the data that remained in the archive and also new data that was only just being taken last year when the project launched. So in October 2013 (just two months ago) we once again invited the Zooniverse community to come and find star clusters and galaxies. They once again astounded us by gobbling up the data even faster – ably assisted by a trench of new users brought to the project from Facebook’s popular I F***king Love Science page. In a week the job was done.

The science team have already begun processing the data from this second round and the results are amazing. In fact: they’re right here just for you, just because it’s nearly Christmas and just because we wanted to give you a present. So here they are: the first maps of all the star clusters and galaxies in the data from the PHAT survey of Andromeda. Marked and classified by  the wonderful Andromeda Project community.

AP Map
Clusters are in blue, galaxies in red. The background image is single-band F475W data showing the galaxy itself.

You can see how the background galaxies are best seen at the outer edges (because we are looking through less material), and the clusters are found predominately in the spiral arms (where more star formation is happening). These plots will form part of the publications the science team and currently working on, and which will most likely appear on the Zooniverse Publications page sometime in 2014. Follow along on the blog, Twitter and Facebook for updates from the science team in the coming weeks and months.

Congratulations to everyone who helped out and gave their time to the Andromeda Project: you were amazing!

So as much as I’d like to wish the Andromeda Project a happy birthday, it seems like I should really wish it a happy retirement. Luckily we have more space-based projects coming soon to the Zooniverse – so the community will have plenty to get along with. However, the Andromeda Project will always have a special place in our hearts for its efficient and dedicated volunteers. Who knows, maybe one day it will come out of retirement for one last hurrah? We can only hope.

Andromeda Project, we hardly knew ye.

Our 2013 Advent Calendar Begins

It’s December 1st and that can mean only one thing at The Zooniverse: our advent calendar returns! It’s time for another citizen-science-fuelled, festive charge at the unsuspecting Christmas break for many around the world. 24 digital days of fun from us to you, our lovely, lovely volunteers! It’s a fun way of saying thank you each year. To kick things off, behind door 1 is is a bit of digital wallpaper for you: a pair of galaxies made from galaxies.

Galaxy from Galaxies

This lovely mosaic was created by Galaxy Zoo‘s Kyle Willett who was the lead author of this year’s mammoth Galaxy Zoo 2 paper. Whether it’s galaxies like these or science like this that bring you to the Zooniverse, we hope you enjoy what you find.

Have a fun December, and check back on zooniverse.org/advent to see what we have behind the door each day.