Exoplanet Discovery By An Amateur Astronomer

To find new worlds around distant stars, you don’t have to be an expert astronomer. Andrew Grey, a Darwin mechanic and amateur Astronomer, helped to find a new exoplanet-system with at least four planets orbiting it. Andrew received professional support and help. This discovery was the highlight of ABC Stargazing Live’s three-evening special ABC Stargazing Live. It featured Brian Cox, a British physicist, and Julia Zemiro, as well as other presenters.

Exoplanet Explorers invited viewers to join the search for distant planets. Following a brief tutorial, they were ask to search through data from thousands of stars that had been recently view by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. Grey scanned more than 1000 stars before he discovered the distinctive dips in brightness that indicate an exoplanet.

Grey will be list with the other co-discoverers on a scientific paper that reports the significant discovery of a star with 4 planets. They orbit closer to the star then Mercury orbits to our Sun.

Grey Spoke To Stargazing Live Astronomer

This is incredible. This is my first scientific publication. I’m just glad I could contribute. It feels great. Cox was obviously impress by this new discovery. This is the most important scientific discovery I’ve made in the seven years Stargazing Live has been running.

Citizen Science Is A Breakthrough Astronomer

What does this discovery mean? Let’s be honest: This is not a publicity stunt or fake news. This is a scientific discovery that should be publish in scientific literature, just like other discoveries by astronomers. It will allow us to understand how our Earth formed. It will also help us determine if we are the only ones in the universe or if there are other planets populate with other civilisations.

However, this discovery adds to the more than 2,300 exoplanets that Kepler has discovered so far. There are many more potential planets that need to be explore. Grey and his co workers would not have discovered the new planetary system if they hadn’t. This can said for all discoveries. Grey and his fellow citizen scientists made this discovery.

Professionals And Amateurs Working Together

The greatest significance of this discovery, I believe, is the fact that it will change the way science is done. Grey was not the only one to make this discovery, as I mentioned earlier. Grey used data from Kepler’s spacecraft at a cost of US$600 millions. We can create stunning telescopes capable of producing large amounts of valuable data but we are still unable to develop an algorithm capable of analysing that data with the same precision and speed as the human brain.

The human brain is able to detect patterns in data much better than any machine-learning algorithm. Due to the huge amount of data generated through Kepler and other scientific instruments we require large teams of human brains, larger than any research laboratory.

The brains do not need to be trained in astrophysicists. They just need to possess the incredible cognitive abilities of the human mind. This partnership allows big science to produce data and citizen scientists to inspect it in order make discoveries. This allows anyone to participate in cutting-edge science and accelerates the growth of knowledge.

Gathering Brainpower Astronomer

This is happening in science and the arts as well, from butterfly hunting to transcribing Shakespeare’s handwriting. The largest known cluster of galaxies was discovered by citizen scientists last year as part of the Australian-led Radio Galaxy Zoo Project. Without widespread internet access and the readily-available tools for building citizen science projects such as Zoo universe, none of these projects could be realized.

Are machines going to make citizen scientists obsolete? I’ve argued that algorithms, called machine scientists, are need to discover new things from the huge amounts of data generated. These algorithms still require human training. Our machine scientists will be more successful if we have a larger human-generated training collection.

Instead of making citizen scientists redundant, machine scientists multiply citizen scientists power, so that a discovery made in the future Andrew Grey could lead to hundreds of discoveries by machines that are train with his discovery.

I can see citizen scientists’ power growing. This is just the beginning, I think. We can do much more. You can make citizen science more fun by including gaming elements in citizen science programs or using new technologies like immersive virtual reality and augmented reality. We might be able to tap into our human creativity and imagination to accomplish goals that frustrate machines.

I look forward every day that a Nobel prize will be won by someone from a developing nation without access to traditional university education but who uses their mind, the wealth information on the internet and citizen science tools to surpass the dreams of traditional science.

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