Gamers Help Scientists Discover New Planets

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Gamers Help Scientists Discover New Planets

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Players of browser-based star stalking game Planet Hunters may have helped scientists to identify two new exoplanets.

The Kepler Space Telescope is a busy piece of space-machinery. Tasked with finding habitable planets outwith our solar system, it spends its time monitoring 200,000 stars and taking photos of them every thirty seconds. To help scientists deal with the massive amounts of data that Kepler sends home, researchers from several universities teamed up to build Planet Hunters, a browser-based game which tasks you with finding evidence of exoplanets in Kepler's data. Now, after their first month of searching, the game's users have found their first two possible exoplanets.

The Kepler mission creates its data by compiling the light fluctuations of a particular star over a 30 day period. If that light signal dips at any point, it could mean that a planet is passing between Kepler and the star; this is known as a transit pattern. Planet Hunters, seen in the accompanying screenshot, asks you to look through light data from several stars and decide whether or not you can see any transit patterns. If you think you see a transit, simply pull a small box over the time when the dip occurred and send your discovery off to the Kepler team. It can be a little difficult to tell what exactly you're meant to be looking for at first, but the site is littered with tutorials and guides to help you on your search.

The Kepler team announced the discovery in this research paper, noting how pleased they were that regular users were able to accurately identify transit patterns. Earlier this month it was revealed that PC gamers helped to crack an AIDS-related protein problem which had eluded scientists for 15 years; now, they've helped to uncover two new exoplanets in deep space. Right now, the future of "citizen science" looks like a bright one.

Source: i09

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Congrats gamers, you've done Gordon Freeman proud.

they help cure AIDS, not to mention the other parts of FoldIt and Phylo, now they're finding planets.

why arent these bastards getting me metal-coated bone claws and the healing factor?

and i hope Fox News doesnt make a whole 'this is teh evilz' thing like they did with the eco-power sim game.

And people say that playing video games dosen't help...

So... gaming is bad, eh FoxNews?

"and the science gets done"

I wonder if these newly discover planets will be name after something game related? It better not be the planets "Leet" or "Noob" etc.

Great they have found potentially planets that are a few million years old depending on the distance and the time the light took to get here. Impossible to say if their even still their let alone their state.

If my thinking is wrong here im sure someone will correct me.

"This was a triumph."

Substitute Troll:
"This was a triumph."

"I'm making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS."

Scarim Coral:
I wonder if these newly discover planets will be name after something game related? It better not be the planets "Leet" or "Noob" etc.

I vote we name it Bob. Or Lol. I think we can all enjoy those names.

Substitute Troll:
"This was a triumph."

My sentiments exactly :)

Now all we need is a game where we create vaccines to combate viruses and diseases, and cancer will become a thing of the past.

Let's also not forget that a huge chunk of the top 1000 or so Folding at Home teams are gaming communities.

Raiyan 1.0:
Congrats gamers, you've done Gordon Freeman proud.

They plugged something in? HEYO!

OT: I dunno it doesn't sound so much like "gamers doing amazing things" as "gamers using incredibly important, well thought out technology as directed which can result in amazing things".

Oh my god! Thanks a lot for this news, I love these kind of stuff. I wanted to go to sleep because it's very late but I guess I'll be planet hunting for the next few hours, even though I have to go to uni tomorrow.

This and the AIDS one aren't anywhere near as interesting as they sound.

These people aren't so much "gamers" as they are "in serious need of something to dick around with for a few minutes".

While this might technically be a video game it doesn't really seem like much at all.

Sorry to burst the cheery bubble. Peggle is more advanced than this.

Not to say that it isn't great that these things were discovered, mind you - it is, especially the AIDS story - but attaching the word "gamers" to this when it's so far removed from anything resembling a game that can be played for more than two minutes seems kind of misdirected to me.

Whatever. More knowledge and power to us, and if this leads to a massive burst of scientific discoveries, especially ones that could lead to cures of diseases, then great! They just don't look all that much like games to me.

That is just awesome, and amazing.

I commend the scientist for being creative enough for using people's boredom to their advantage.

As long as we don't have to scan them for resources.

Quaxar:
So... gaming is bad, eh FoxNews?

But haven't you heard?
Science is also evil: it can HELP people!

so another +1 to gamers for doing good

I don't think it has anything to do with gamers. All this is doing is appealing to the nerd within us, and then convincing us to do minimum wage menial tasks for them. Sure its for a good cause. But these discoveries could have just as easily happened by paying a Chinese gold farming sweatshop $100 and have them go over a month or 2 of data.

TrilbyWill:
they help cure AIDS, not to mention the other parts of FoldIt and Phylo, now they're finding planets.

why arent these bastards getting me metal-coated bone claws and the healing factor?

and i hope Fox News doesnt make a whole 'this is teh evilz' thing like they did with the eco-power sim game.

I would love to see how they argue "curing aids is bad."

Ok. While planet hunting, Play the track "Uncharted Worlds" from the Mass Effect 1 soundtrack.

Crowdsourcing, gotta love it.

Shame they're out of data already. Come on Keppler, the big human science machine needs moar dataz!

Peter Chordash:
Ok. While planet hunting, Play the track "Uncharted Worlds" from the Mass Effect 1 soundtrack.

That's so awesome.

I went and signed up...and had no idea what the hell I was supposed to do...

Sorry to rain on the parade, but after having a go on this, I think it is more a victory for crowd sourcing than gaming skill. All they are doing is asking 100's of people to look at the same plot of data to see if they can see anything. Only plot that get a lot of votes are looked at by the researchers further.

This is not gameification....

ph0b0s123:
Sorry to rain on the parade, but after having a go on this, I think it is more a victory for crowd sourcing than gaming skill. All they are doing is asking 100's of people to look at the same plot of data to see if they can see anything. Only plot that get a lot of votes are looked at by the researchers further.

This is not gameification....

BUT, it DOESN'T make us gamers bad guys, unlike soooooooo much other news and such, so I'm not against the credit it gives us, even if it isn't deserved.

DoomyMcDoom:

ph0b0s123:
Sorry to rain on the parade, but after having a go on this, I think it is more a victory for crowd sourcing than gaming skill. All they are doing is asking 100's of people to look at the same plot of data to see if they can see anything. Only plot that get a lot of votes are looked at by the researchers further.

This is not gameification....

BUT, it DOESN'T make us gamers bad guys, unlike soooooooo much other news and such, so I'm not against the credit it gives us, even if it isn't deserved.

I am saying that lets not start claiming credit for everything just to trying and counter points these stupid detractors. It devalues the message.

In this case I would not be jumping up and down about gaming saving the day here as the system is using crowd sourcing rather than gaming skills. The web site is more like taking part in a 0n-line survey rather than playing a game.

ph0b0s123:

DoomyMcDoom:

ph0b0s123:
Sorry to rain on the parade, but after having a go on this, I think it is more a victory for crowd sourcing than gaming skill. All they are doing is asking 100's of people to look at the same plot of data to see if they can see anything. Only plot that get a lot of votes are looked at by the researchers further.

This is not gameification....

BUT, it DOESN'T make us gamers bad guys, unlike soooooooo much other news and such, so I'm not against the credit it gives us, even if it isn't deserved.

I am saying that lets not start claiming credit for everything just to trying and counter points these stupid detractors. It devalues the message.

In this case I would not be jumping up and down about gaming saving the day here as the system is using crowd sourcing rather than gaming skills. The web site is more like taking part in a 0n-line survey rather than playing a game.

I'm not suggesting we claim credit ANYWHERE, just saying it's better than the "LOOOK MURDER SIMULATIONS ARE KILLING US ALL!" crap that happens to be everywhere whenever a gamer so much as farts in the same neighbourhood as someone who goes on a rampage and kills people.
Cuz we don't claim credit there either, it's just... better to see something we aren't doing that's good being spotlighted and miscredited in our favour as opposed to something that's bad... as is usually the case... :D so I agree with you, and also am a little happy about this article, if even just a little happy.

Although, calling Planet Hunters a game is reaally stretching it. There isn't any gameplay, just science.

Are we really that desperate for positive news related to gaming in the general media?

Hey, Jack Thompson! Gamers have cured AIDS (ok, not really) and discovered two new planets! What have you done with your life?

V8 Ninja:

Substitute Troll:
"This was a triumph."

"I'm making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS."

"It's hard to overstate my satisfaction."

So, in theory, my playing Unreal Tournament with a weaponlord mod could mean advances in the field of advanced dairy projectiles (Cheese gun). I'm all for gaming then!

Gamifying research knows what's up. So good for the industry/culture of it all IMO. It started with slactivism in the form of folding and now people are actually wasting their time on something worthwhile. Is this stuff good enough to count as volunteer work? I think it should be.

News Flash: Brain beats computer at processing complicated patterns, more after the break.

Seriously, why haven't we started doing this kind of thing 10 years ago. We'd have invented Warp Travel by now if it was the case.

Well its not so much that its gamers really. Just, if you put a big program like that out to a large crowd of people, your going to get thousands of people with a fresh perspective looking at your work and your going to get much better results.

They should use it for military work :).

So why do we keep sending money to scientists if gamers are willing to do it for free? Do the gamers who make these discoveries even get anything back?

I mean, it isn't our fault we're good at looking at fine details because we're always trying to glitch games or being really good at solving puzzles. Society built us that way.

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