Zoo hysteria

Citizen Science is taking over the world. Galaxy Zoo has been a huge popular success, and seems to have done a modicum of science as well. Then it became Zooniverse and split into Galaxy Zoo Hubble, Galaxy Zoo Mergers, and Galaxy Zoo Supernovae. Next up was  Solar Stormwatch, where the citizen can help to keep the world safe from solar storms.

And now – taran tara – we have Moon Zoo.  Therein the citizen scientist will find lotsa pictures by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the opportunity to label all the craters. Well this does look like a fun game, but I was surprised to find this claimed as something humans can do better than computers. Doesn’t sound too tricky. We are not talking about classification. We are talking about plonking down a cross and expanding a circle to fit the size. I expect I am missing something. But anyhoo, it will be interesting to see if this is as popular as classifying galaxies.

What about getting Joe Public to classify organisms ? You know, a kind of Zoo Zoo ? Or maybe the contents of dessicated faeces from neolitihic villages ? Poo Zoo ?

5 Responses to Zoo hysteria

  1. Chris says:

    Hi Andy

    It’s actually rather like classifying galaxies, in that computers can get it right most of the time – about 70 or 80% of the time in fact according to the papers I’ve read – but that’s not good enough to properly constrain the age of some parts of the lunar surface. Like all the Zoos, what we need are machine learning tools that tell us when human intervention is required…but we’re still working on that.

    Thanks for the links


  2. andyxl says:

    Howdy. By the way, the various Zoo sites are very nicely designed I think. Not too busy, not too spare, and the flow is clear.

  3. I think it is brilliant Andy. As well as producing real scientific advances, it is boosting public outreach too. Astonishing to think that new classes of galaxy have been discovered by people power. Is Zoo-keeping the new amateur astronomy?

  4. Ross Collins says:

    I think Moon Zoo will be popular amongst those trying to find aliens and conspiracies…

  5. Martin E. says:

    Getting people to work for free is only the beginning.
    Check out this National Geographic site where people PAY to provide data (DNA samples) to a research project:


    I know someone who did it and it sounds like fun. All those Viking ancestors. Maybe I’ll pony up the greenbacks…

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