Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sixty Symbols

I stumbled upon this website, which is looking absolutely fantastic as a reference for stories about symbols and astronomy.


Ever been confused by all the letters and squiggles used by scientists? Hopefully this site will unravel some of those mysteries. Sixty Symbols is a collection of videos about physics and astronomy presented by experts from The University of Nottingham. The films are just fun chats with men and women who love their subject and know a lot about it!

For example, this symbol:

It's called Hanny's Voorwerp. Hanny's Voorwerp was discovered by a Dutch schoolteacher who was looking through random high res images of galaxies. Hanny wasn't (and isn't) a professional astronomer, but Galaxy Zoo gave her the chance to look through a quarter of a million photos of distant galaxies, classifying and looking for patterns in them for later observation and study. There are many computer programs out there for identifying and classifying these potential galaxies and patterns, but none seem to be as good as the human mind.

Anyway, after bringing this to the attention of the astronomic community, it has been named after her.

What is Galaxy Zoo? Well, it's a website set up by, among others, the University of Nottingham, to help sort through tens of thousands of distant galaxy images. And yes, you can join in the fun of looking these galaxies for pattern identification! Label them as blue, as spirals, and question something that you can't identify. Go to Galazy Zoo (2.0), sign up, and start looking at random starry images! Report what you see to help! Apparently the website is available in Polish as well!

Learn more about Hanny's Voorwerp and Galaxy Zoo here:

And don't forget to check out http://www.sixtysymbols.com.

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