Category Archives: Fun

Sunspotter Citizen Science Challenge Update: Zooniverse Volunteers Are Overachievers

An apology is owed to all Zooniverse volunteers; We incredibly underestimated the Zooniverse Community’s ability to mobilize for the Sunspotter Citizen Science Challenge. You blew our goal of 250,000 new classifications on Sunspotter in a week out of the water!  It took 16 hours to reach 250,000 classifications.  I’ll say that again, 16 hours!

By 20 hours you hit 350,000 classifications. That’s an 11,000% increase over the previous day. By the end of the weekend, the total count stood at over 640,000.

Let’s up the ante, shall we? Our new goal is a cool 1,000,000 classifications by Saturday September 5th.  That would increase the total number of classifications since Sunspotter launched in February 2014 by 50%!

Thank you all for contributing!

P.S. Check out the Basics of a Solar Flare Forecast on the Sunspotter blog from science team member Dr. Sophie Murray.

Sunspotter Citizen Science Challenge: 29th August – 6th September

Calling all Zooniverse volunteers!  As we transition from the dog days of summer to the pumpkin spice latte days of fall (well, in the Northern hemisphere at least) it’s time to mobilize and do science!

Sunspotter Citizen Science Challenge

Our Zooniverse community of over 1.3 million volunteers has the ability to focus efforts and get stuff done. Join us for the Sunspotter Citizen Science Challenge! From August 29th to September 5th, it’s a mad sprint to complete 250,000 classifications on Sunspotter.

Sunspotter needs your help so that we can better understand and predict how the Sun’s magnetic activity affects us on Earth. The Sunspotter science team has three primary goals:

  1. Hone a more accurate measure of sunspot group complexity
  2. Improve how well we are able to forecast solar activity
  3. Create a machine-learning algorithm based on your classifications to automate the ranking of sunspot group complexity
Classifying on Sunspotter
Classifying on Sunspotter

In order to achieve these goals, volunteers like you compare two sunspot group images taken by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory and choose the one you think is more complex.  Sunspotter is what we refer to as a “popcorn project”.  This means you can jump right in to the project and that each classification is quick, about 1-3 seconds.

Let’s all roll up our sleeves and advance our knowledge of heliophysics!

Happy Halloween! Going Batty for Citizen Science

Sadly there don’t seem to be any scientifically valid citizen science projects about ghosts, poltergeists, hobgoblins, or werewolves.   There are, however plenty about that Halloween staple – the bat.

Bats get a bum wrap as blood sucking pests.  Nothing could further from the truth!   Bats are incredibly helpful to us humans because they are natural pollinators and pest controllers, but they are also an indicator species.  Indicator species are plants and animals that can be studied to give a snapshot of an ecosystem’s environmental health.

Here are a few ways that you as a citizen scientist can get involved with learning more about these amazing animals.

Bat Detective  – Zooniverse’s own bat project.  Bat calls are recorded by data collection citizen scientists and then uploaded on to the Bat Detective website.  Zooniverse volunteers classify the calls to give scientists a better idea about the distribution of these animals in Europe.

Alaska Bat Monitoring Program – Did you know that Alaska is home to five species of bats?   If you live in Alaska you can help the Alaska Department of Fish and Game collect learn more by making and sending in your observations of bats!

iBats (Indicator Bats Program) – This international effort recruits volunteers to record bat calls all around the world.  iBats is collaboration between the Zoological Society of London and the Bat Conservation Trust.

 

Know of other bat-related citizen science projects?  Please share them as a comment below!

 

We Need Us: Online Art, Powered by the Zooniverse

Screenshot 2014-10-09 12.08.31

The Zooniverse is the subject of a new artwork co-commissioned by the Open Data Institute (ODI) and The Space (a website for artists and audiences around the world to create and explore digital art). We Need Us is a ‘living’ dynamic artwork, powered by your activity on the Zooniverse, driven by the thriving mass of participation across various Zooniverse sites. You can learn more about it at www.thespace.org/weneedus

We Need Us has been created by artist Julie Freeman. She takes anonymised information from your clicks, counting the number of volunteers active on various Zooniverse projects, and classifications that you all create, every minute. She stores this in a new database as sets of values, while also recording the frequency of activity over an hour, a day, and a month. These sets of values create rhythms that are translated into moving shapes, and play different sounds.

The result is a set of living artworks – one for each of 10 Zooniverse projects – and more are on the way! The live data ensures constant change to the visual and sonic composition. The sounds are processed and manipulated just like the data.

Screenshot 2014-10-09 12.08.15

While many researchers have tried to analyse and understand the Zooniverse, We Need Us will be the first time someone has tackled the idea from the perspective of art. The Zooniverse community is an engine of discovery and a force unlike any other. We Need Us highlights its rhythms and patterns, showing how diverse and vibrant Zooniverse citizen scientists really are.

You can run the artwork in your web browser by visiting http://www.weneedus.org

Meet the Team – Kelly Sutphin-Borden

 

Kelly is one of the Zooniverse educators based at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. Today is her birthday, so we decided to get her to do a special edition of ‘Meet the Team’ for the advent calendar. In the video she talks about Zoo Teach, which is an educational tool provided by the Zooniverse. Check it out here http://www.zooteach.org/

Rob and Grant are running out of ideas for the Advent Calendar

Hey everyone, for today’s advent calendar Rob and I made this short video talking about the various ways in which you can take part in the Zooniverse, and the multiple means by which you can keep up-to-date with what we’re doing.

It also serves as an introduction for me, the new Zooniverse community manager. It is a bit silly at points, and we did it in one take with no script, so apologies for the rough feel!

Here are some of the links I mention in the video:

Zooniverse on Facebook

Zooniverse on Twitter

Daily Zooniverse

Merry Christmas one and all!

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]

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.

The Elise Andrew Effect – What a post on IFLS does to your numbers

AP-IFLS

Recenty the Andromeda Project was the feature of one of the posts on the ‘I fucking Love Science’ Facebook page. The page, which was started by Elise Andrew in March 2012, currently has 8 million likes, so some form of noticeable impact was to be expected! Here are some of the interesting numbers the post is responsible for:

I’ll start with the Facebook post itself. As of writing (16 hours after original posting), it has been shard 1,842 times, liked by 6,494 people and has 218 comments. These numbers are actually relatively low for an IFLS post, some of which can reach over 70,000 shares!

AP-IFLS-2
The ‘IFLS spike’ in the Andromeda Project classifications and active users

Let’s now have a look at what it did for the Andromeda Project. The project, which was launched two days previous and was already pretty popular, had settled down to around 100 active users per hour. This number shot up to almost 600 immediately following the post. In the space of 5 minutes the number of visitors on the site went from 13 to 1,300! After a few hours it settled down again, but now the steady rate looks to be about 25% higher than before. The number of classifications per hour follows the same pattern. The amazing figure here is that almost 100,000 classifications were made in the 4 hours following the post. This number corresponds to around 1/6th of the total needed to complete the project!

PH-IFLS-spike
The number of visitors per day to the Planet Hunters site over the last two weeks. Visits increased by a factor of ten on the day of the IFLS post, and three days later the numbers are still greater than before.

Two days after her post about the Andromeda Project, Elise put up a post about the discovery of a seventh planet around the dwarf star KIC 11442793, which was found by citizen scientist on the Planet Hunters project. This post proved even more popular than the previous one with more than 3,000 shares, and led to a similar spike of the same magnitude in the number of visitors to the site (as can be seen in the plot above).

Finally, what did it do for the Zooniverse as a whole? Well there have been over 4,000 new Zooniverse accounts registered within the last four days and the Facebook page, which was linked in the AP article, got a healthy boost of around 1,000 new likes. So all things considered, it seems that an IFLS post can be very useful for promoting your project indeed!

Thanks Elise, the Andromeda Project, Planet Hunters and  Zooniverse teams love you!