Spiral Galaxies and the Future of Citizen Science: a Live Chat

Last week Karen Masters suggested that we start doing Galaxy Zoo live chats a little more often. I thought that sounded like a great idea, and we figured we’d just have an informal chat about whatever galaxy/Zooniverse topic we felt like discussing that day.

We were joined by Kyle Willett and Kevin Schawinski, and the four of us started talking about this paper, which presents an automated system for classifying and measuring spiral arms. It compares to Galaxy Zoo 2 data within the text, and we talked about what the fact that the computers did pretty well means for the future of Galaxy Zoo. We didn’t prepare anything in advance, and I didn’t even start reading the paper until about 20 minutes before we got going. So my favorite part of the chat is where I put forward a few definitions of pitch angle and get them all wrong. Science in action!

We also introduced the jargon gong, which we used on each other whenever one of us said something in insider-speak. I think this is a feature worth keeping, and we also plan to invite viewers to gong us themselves via Google+ or Twitter for the next chat.

When will the next chat be? We’re not sure yet, but hopefully soon — I promise I’ll even try to make a blog post before we start next time!

Update: We’ve now extracted the audio into an mp3 file and started a podcast:

Download MP3 file

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7 responses to “Spiral Galaxies and the Future of Citizen Science: a Live Chat”

  1. karenlmasters says :

    Nice blog post Brooke. 🙂 Should we put a description of what the video is in the YouTube bit?

    My favourite bit was when I realised mid sentence I had no idea what the actual definition of pitch angle was! 😉

  2. Steven Herman says :

    Finally, I see that there are other people that talk about things I would! Do let me know, for the conversation doth seem worthy of discussion.

  3. Daniel Cornwall says :

    I vote for the jargon gong.

  4. Jean Tate says :

    “S” vs “Z”, “human psychology effect”, etc (about 7mins in): the GZ1 result is perhaps better summarized as “the less clearly – less easily classified as either S or Z – defined the spiral shape is, the more likely it is that there will be a “human psychology effect” (an S vs Z bias) … but the effect also fades out as the spiral shape becomes close to impossible to detect/see”. At least that’s my view.

  5. Jean Tate says :

    Yes, a blog post BEFORE the chat would be nice, especially if it’s at least a day beforehand (and please, do remember to check the comments for questions … not everyone has – or wants to have – a twitter account).

    And a suggestion re inviting a zooite to participate: why not ask them? Via a new thread in the forum, say (yes, Alice would be a great choice for the first time!)

  6. Margarita McElroy says :

    This was such fun – thank you so much! I’ve only just joined Galaxy Zoo and I was SO PLEASED that I actually understood a fair bit of this. I am now going over to Google ‘pitch angle’!

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