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.
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!
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!
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!
Yesterday we pushed Zooniverse Live to be… er… live. Zooniverse Live is a constantly updated screen, showing live updates from most of our projects. You’ll see a map displaying the location of recent Zooniverse volunteer’s classifications and a fast-moving list of recently classified images. Zooniverse Live is on display in our Chicago and Oxford offices, but we thought it would be cool to share it with everyone.
The secret sauce is figuring out where users are classifying from. Zooniverse Live does that using IP Addresses. Everyone connected to the internet is assigned an IP Address by their Internet Service Provider (ISP). While the IP address assigned may change each time a computer connects to the internet, each address is unique and can be tied to a rough geographical area. When Zooniverse projects send their classifications to Zooniverse Live, they include the IP Address the user was classifying from, letting Zooniverse Live do a lookup for the user’s location to plot on the map. The locations obtained in this way are approximate, and in most cases represent your local Internet exchange.
Hopefully you’ll enjoy having a look at Zooniverse Live, and we’d love to hear ideas for other Zooniverse data visualizations you’d like to see.
A small team of scientists and developers from across the Zooniverse are gathered at Adler Planetarium in Chicago this week to pitch and work on ideas for advanced tools for some of your favorite Zooniverse projects. Our goal is to come up with some tools and experiences that will help the Zooniverse volunteers further explore, beyond the scope of the main classification interfaces, the rich datasets behind the projects in new and different ways. As part of the three days of hacking, there will be a live chat with representatives from Galaxy Zoo, Planet Hunters, Snapshot Serengeti, and Planet Four (as well as a special guest or two) tomorrow Thursday July 11th at 2pm CDT ( 3 pm EDT, 8 pm BST). We’ll also give you an inside peek into the US Zooniverse Headquarters on the floor of the Adler Planetarium where much of the coding and development behind the Zooniverse happens.
You can find the video feed here on the blog. If you can’t watch live, the video is recorded and will be available to view later. If you have questions for the science teams you can post them in the comments or tweet @the_zooniverse.
At ZooCon last week I spoke about the scale of human attention that the Zooniverse receives. One of my favourite stats in this realm (from Clay Shirky’s book ‘Cognitive Surplus’) is that in the USA, adults cumulatively spend about 200 billion hours watching TV every year. By contrast it took 100 million hours of combined effort for Wikipedia to reach its status as the world’s encyclopaedia.
In the previous year people collectively spent just shy of half a million hours working on Zooniverse projects. Better put, the community invested about 52 years worth of effort. That’s to say that if an individual sat down and did nothing but classify on Zooniverse sites for 52 years they’d only just have done the same amount of work as our community did between June 2012 and June 2013. The number is always rising too. Citizen science is amazing!
Another way of thinking about it is to convert this time into Full Time Equivalents (FTEs). One person working 40 hours per week, for 50 weeks a year works for 2000 hours a year – that’s 1 FTE. So our 460,000 hours of Zooniverse effort are equivalent to 230 FTEs. It’s as if we had a building with 230 people in who only came in every day to click on Zooniverse projects.
This amazing investment by the community is not broken down evenly of course, as the above ‘snail’ chart shows. In fact Planet Hunters alone would occupy 62 of the people in our fictional building: the project took up 27% of the effort in the last year. Galaxy Zoo took 17%, which means it had almost 9 years of your effort all to itself. Planet Four had a meteoric launch on the BBC’s Stargazing Live less than six months ago and since that time it has gobbled up just over 5 years of human attention – 10% of the whole for the past year.
What’s wonderful is that our 230 metaphorical workers, and the 52 years they represent, are not confined to one building or one crazed click-worker. Our community is made of hundreds of thousands of individuals across the world – 850,000 of whom have signed up through zooniverse.org. Some of them have contributed a single classification, others have given our researchers far, far more of their time and attention. Through clicking on our sites, discussing ideas on Talk, or just spreading the word: Zooniverse volunteers are making a significant contribution to research in areas from astronomy to zoology.
Congratulations to everyone who’s taken part and let’s hope this number increases again by next year!
 In my ZooCon talk I incorrectly gave the figure of 35 years. This was wrong for two reasons; firstly, I had neglected Andromeda Project, Planet Four and Snapshot Serengeti for technical reasons. Secondly I had calculated the numbers incorrectly, in my rush to get my slides ready, and I underestimated them all by about 20%.
To end our 2012 advent calendar, we have the second of our 740,000 posters. We’d like to wish everyone a happy holiday – whatever you do at this time of year! We’ll be back in 2013 with more news, new projects and more science based on your work. The Universe is too big to explore without you.
The Zooniverse community keeps growing. This time last year, we passed 500,000 volunteers – and now there’s nearly 740,000 people out there, clicking, classifying and contributing to science via their web browser. To celebrate we’ve produced a great poster showing how the Zooniverse has grown from 2007 to the present. Down the PDF here.
Today’s advent calendar entry is a special episode of the Recycled Electrons podcast. Recycled Electrons began just over a year ago and features the voices of Chris Lintott (Zooniverse PI) and Robert Simpson (Milky Way Project PI and Zooniverse developer). Although they both work full-time on the Zooniverse they have never yet spent an entire episode talking about it. This week the whole show is just about the Zooniverse! Conversation is focussed of the backstory of the past ten days, which includes the launch of the Andromeda Project and Snapshot Serengeti.
Recycled Electrons is a (mostly) weekly podcast about astronomy, space and science. It is a light-hearted and often peculiar take on the week that is recorded in the heart of Oxford University, not too far from Oxford’s Zooniverse HQ.
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.