Lost in Space … and more (An Italian in the zoo)

Today’s guest blogger is Half65 from the forum:

More than a year and a half ago an Italian weekly newspaper announced the selling, along with the magazine, of the complete saga of Star Wars in DVD at a very good price. Due to the fact that I’m a sci-fi addict and that I love that saga I decided to buy it. The weekly newspaper is not one of my favourites and I bought it only for the DVD and put the magazine on a table. One day I decided to make a little order and I rediscovered the magazine and I began rapidly to take a look at the pages. Suddenly something attracted my sense and I discovered that inside there was an article about astronomical matters but also a brief part about a project to classify galaxies. Strange thing, I thought at that moment, and I supposed it was something similar to seti@home, could be useful but boring. But the computer was on, as usual, and near me and, absent-mindedly, I began to type in the weird URL, without WWW, with the zoo word mixed with galaxy. I didn’t know, at that time, that I was a few steps from addiction. I read the home page then I began to surf in the various links and then …. I arrived at the tutorial page. And bang. Those pictures were beautiful. In that period I was regaining my astronomy passion and I had began to watch the lecture of Prof. Alexei V. Filippenko of Berkley University on web-cast. I remained captured. I read it all carefully. I made all of the examples and then I tried the entry test. Incredibly my first attempt was successful. “And now.” I was lost in space. I began to classify and, at classification no. 283, had a terrible doubt. Anticlockwise?


“It’s not important!” was my first thought. “They request we don’t agonize over the picture.” I was just a click away from losing a great opportunity to become addicted to another fundamental part of the project: the Forum. “A Forum! I never participated in a forum before. Why start now?” I don’t know why but I pushed the forum button and bang (again). I believed that the forum was a sort of FAQ and when I discovered that it is not and that the solution to my problems was to enter a question and wait for an answer I was lost. “Nothing so difficult,” you can say. Yes.

But the forum was in English, which is not my language. But I gave it a try and I wrote a message in an unreadable blue. Don’t be afraid, I don’t want to bother you with the all story of what happened after that. But I must mention the first member that “talked” to me and said: “Hi welcome to the zoo! i see an anti-clock too, but could you please not use the blue writing? its making my eyes go funny (nothing to do with being past my bed time honest) happy hunting”. And it was fluffyporcupine. Bang (there is a lot in this story). Probably without that gentle approach I would have been out of business. And thanks to that I can know other incredible members.

Alice the most lovely moderator in the known part of the Universe.
Hanny the famous discoverer of “Hanny’s voorwerp”.
NGC3314 my overlapping guru.
waveney Waveney my Perl guru.
Edd the great Administrator.
weezerd my electronic brother.
ElisabethB the great asteroid hunter.
Elizabeth the voice from the other side of the Ocean.
Infinity the secret agent of the forum.

Sorry I can’t mention all the members but that was my intention. And also I discovered a mad passion for topic=6732.0>overlapping galaxies, the Object of the Day and the Perl language. I’m able to participate to this project due to the patience and kindness of the members, especially with newbies (I’m still one). Learn English. Talk with real astronomers. Learn too much more and discovered that there was too much to learn. I was able to put together an Object of the Day collection and with them made little tour of the universe that could be visible with the last version of Google Earth. OK. STOP. I must finish now. Don’t be afraid if you don’t know English very well, if you have no degree, if you think that you can’t be of use to the project, that you can’t do the right thing, that you can’t do that. Stop thinking and go to the project and discover that even with a single classification you could be part of history.


P.S.: This story was made with the kindness and essential help of Alice really the most lovely moderator in the known part of the Universe.

About The Zooniverse

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21 responses to “Lost in Space … and more (An Italian in the zoo)”

  1. Alice says :

    Thanks so much for writing this, Half!!!

    Half65 has recently completed a piece of genius for all of us here: http://www.galaxyzooforum.org/index.php?topic=274337.0

    which seemed to me like prophecy after this blog post: http://www.galaxyzooblog.org/2008/07/15/google-helps-out-galaxy-zoo/

  2. Infinity says :

    Well I for one are glad you dropped in. May the force stay with you πŸ™‚

  3. Alice says :

    My comment is awaiting moderation, so I just want to say how awesome this entry is. I hope it encourages blog readers to join our discussion forum!

  4. Joseph K. H. Cheng says :

    Good on you, Half65. A good story nicely told. Care to explain the meaning of your name publicly ?


  5. Jules says :

    Good to hear your story Half! I look forward to many new names on the forum as a result of this. πŸ™‚

  6. Mark says :

    Great job Half65.

  7. Hanny says :

    I love this piece Half! Very good! πŸ˜‰

  8. Pat says :

    Well done Half. πŸ˜€ Glad you picked up that magazine and had another look. πŸ˜€

  9. ElisabethB says :

    Great story Half !

  10. weezerd says :

    Well, my half-electronic, half-Italian (no, the other half) half-brother! Should I say to the world that no-one does things by half in this Zoo and on this Forum? Great story of your life. I’m glad to be a part of your team; I look forward to continuing sharing with you. Hopefully we can draw more people to this wonderful “thing”!

  11. calisto/margo says :

    Half – an inspiring story! A great read…
    Thank you.

  12. BillKeel says :

    Nice to get to know more electronic colleagues! And I was just noticing a few minutes ago, while catching up on overlaps from the Forum, what remarkably subtle eyes Half65 has for reddened objects trying to hide behind big galaxies…

  13. Adrianus V says :

    Half65, great story! πŸ™‚ Somehow I missed your post about the Google Earth Tour, but thanx to this blog my attention was drawn to it and so I was able to do the tour. It was super! πŸ˜€ Thanx for making this!

  14. elizabeth says :

    Wonderful story, one of best things about this project is meeting and talking to people from all over the world. Half, you are a inspiration to us all.

  15. Tom says :

    May the force be with you, Half…..always πŸ™‚

  16. carloartemi says :

    Great Story ! But my road towards Galaxyzoo has been similar . I am an Italian in the Zoo too .

  17. Geoff Roynon says :

    Very enjoyable story Half and your Google Earth Tour was out of this world πŸ™‚

  18. Paddy says :

    What a lovely story Half.
    I think a lot of Zooies have somehow stumbled into the Zoo not knowing what to expect.
    I was one of them.
    It would take to long to explain.
    Lets just say this was one stumble I will never regret.
    And again well done Half.

  19. adam primus says :

    Congratulations Half65; that was an excellent relation of your Galaxy Zoo experience, and very inspiring.
    I’m sure your story will resonate with many Zooites whose lives and outlooks have been influenced by this amazing project.

    “per ardua ad astra”! πŸ™‚

  20. zeus2007 says :

    This is amazing, I didn’t know until today how big this project really is and how important it is. The best part is that even if one has no experience in Astronomy whatsoever, doesn’t hold a college degree of any kind, and barely speaks English; discoveries can still be made and awesome input can also be given to help Astronomy and all its branches grow in understanding how the universe works. I’m humbled and glad to be a part of Galaxy Zoo. This is incredible!

  21. DavidinWY says :

    Ha! Ha! That story is almost the same as mine! I was a science graduate from TESC in WA State and actualy fell onto this site by accident. I was as hooked as half65. I do want to warn people not to use small screens (like my laptop) as you may get that burry eyed symptom like I got after the first five hours!

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