Galaxy Zoo: the poster
The reason that Chris and I were at the meeting last week was to present results from Galaxy Zoo. On Thursday, I gave a scientific poster session about the public outreach results from Galaxy Zoo – how thousands of people have helped us classify galaxies, and how we hope we have helped you understand the process of science. On Friday, Chris gave a talk about Galaxy Zoo’s science results.
Today, I’ll write about the public outreach poster, and on Thursday, Chris or I will write about the science talk. At this point, two questions might be occurring to you:
1) What the heck is a “poster”?
2) What do we mean by “public outreach”?
There are two main ways of presenting scientific results at meetings. One is to give a talk. At AAS, these talks are 10 minutes, including time for questions – and it goes by quickly! The other way is to present a “poster” at a scientific “poster session.” In a poster session, authors write about their research and tack it up on a bulletin board 4 feet (120 cm) square. They leave the poster up all day, and stand in front of it at designated times, answering questions. Thus, posters are a good way to present “work in progress,” and get feedback from colleagues.
Here is a copy of our poster (it’s the entire poster as a 5 MB JPG image):
[Note: there is a section on how we are planning a social science study of Galaxy Zoo volunteers. Some of you may be worried about being a part of this experiment. The short answer is, don’t worry. We will not use any classifications in the study unless you explicitly give us permission to include yours, and no classification will be identifiable as coming from a specific person. For a more detailed answer, read the poster or the Galaxy Zoo Meets Social Science topic in the forum. You’re welcome to ask questions as (anonymous) comments here or by private message in the forum to zookeeperJordan.]
Here are three photos of Chris and I standing in front of the Galaxy Zoo poster (I’m the one in the hat).
Chris and I proudly posing in front of the poster:
A long shot of the poster hall, with us in front of our poster. You can see several other posters as well:
Chris and I answer questions from an unidentified astronomer:
The content of the poster was about how Galaxy Zoo has supported public outreach in science. Public outreach means many things to many people – it’s everything from creating formal lesson plans for use in schools (what I do with SDSS data) to developing museum exhibits to giving public talks to writings blogs (like Chris’s) and podcasts.
What we are doing with Galaxy Zoo is a new and innovative way of working with the public. Our inspiration was Stardust@Home, where volunteers searched through aerogels to find interstellar dust grains. That took some training and careful examination; Galaxy Zoo requires only a quick glance to classify a galaxy as spiral or elliptical. We’ve also tried to use the forum and this blog to give you some insight into the day-to-day process by which scientists work – an insight that scientists often aren’t able to give because of schedule constraints.
We were just one of maybe 100 posters presented on Thursday, but we got excellent response from the people that stopped by. The astronomy community is excited about what all of us are doing here at Galaxy Zoo. On Thursday, we’ll let you know what we told them about the new science that we are discovering.