Author Topic: Is there a need to set up a network of "dedicated amateurs"?  (Read 4922 times)

JeanTate

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Is there a need to set up a network of "dedicated amateurs"?
« on: November 20, 2012, 11:34:32 pm »
Several non-professional (astronomer) zooites have kicked off their own, independent projects. Based on one aspect or other of Galaxy Zoo (in its various iterations and progeny).

However, with perhaps just one notable exception (Hi Aida!  :-*) these have all been pretty much solo activities*. To be clear, I'm talking about independent research, not things like outreach or education; also, I mean research whose direction, goals, methods, etc are determined basically by a conversation in one person's head. Also, I don't mean that professionals haven't been forthcoming with advice, suggestions, etc when asked (they have, big time).

Galaxy Zoo - in its broadest form - has been dramatically successful. So successful, in fact, that zookeeperKevin was able, recently, to write a blog entitled Want to work with the Galaxy Zoo Team?  :o 8)  So successful that one of the children - Lens Zoo - actively recruited a number of the dedicated amateurs, who have (I gather) since joined the formal team (see the Lens Zoo blog post, Postcard from Zurich). :o 8)  :o 8)

Sadly, however, paid employment of this kind is dependent upon having a PhD in astronomy (or at least a Masters' degree in "physics, astronomy, or related field").

Why sadly?

Because my impression* is that, with the outstanding exception of Alice, there are no zooites in between.  :'(

I mean, no (non-professional) zooite actively involved (past, or present) in independent, GZ-based research has the qualifications to apply for one of those positions. Nor are they likely to have, any time in the next dozen years or so.

Yet many - perhaps even most, or all - of those non-professional amateurs are passionate about their projects, about galaxies, about astronomy. Without a doubt they devote vast numbers of hours of their own time, and not inconsiderable amounts of their own money, pursuing their passion, their independent projects.

Alone.

Is it time to set up a network of dedicated Galaxy Zoo amateurs? A network to work together and help each other?

* if you think I'm wrong, please, chapter and verse; I'd love to be shown to be wrong.

JohnF

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Re: Is there a need to set up a network of "dedicated amateurs"?
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2012, 05:26:18 pm »
Thanks for your blog Jean.

Very briefly, I think in the cold light of day, a lot of research has to be peer-reviewed, which is where having a MSc or Phd comes in. 

Incidentally, where do these other solo projects lie - if you go to Zooniverse, you don't see the Lens Zoo, for example? - though I know it exists. (Have you heard of BOINC?)
John C. Fairweather - http://www.jcfwebsite.co.uk

JeanTate

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Re: Is there a need to set up a network of "dedicated amateurs"?
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2012, 07:32:24 pm »
Thanks JohnF.

Yes, the (Green) Peas Project (to take a very pertinent example) showed that an astronomy PhD is necessary ... yet that began as a very loose collaboration of zooite amateurs, with a key tool developed and deployed by waveney (i.e. his independent 'zooite classification website/facility'). And zooite amateurs got organized and kicked off the research well before any professional became involved (it helped them that the zookeepers were furiously busy dealing with the considerably greater response to Galaxy Zoo than they'd anticipated, even in their wildest dreams). But the papers which ended up being published were not written by any amateur zooites [1]

But does it have to be like that?

ZookeeperKevin - and other zookeepers no doubt - clearly think [2] otherwise:

Dear Peas Corps,

We're beta testing a new Zooniverse feature called Letters which will let the Zooites write up their projects like a science paper. We're calling it Letters and we hope it's going to be essentially the journal for citizen scientists. We're beta testing it at the moment, and we're also hoping to put in some content so that people can get a sense of what Letters can be like.

I was wondering if you'd be interested in turning what you've done with the peas into a Letter or two. If so, have a look at XYZ[check your PM]. Don't share the link too widely yet though...

Hope you're interested!  :)

Kevin

The other model is that amateur zooites engaged in independent projects, acting on their own, get approached by a professional astronomer, and invited to become a formal part of the team of a new Zooniverse project - see A Postcard from Zurich in the Lens Zoo blog (I think that also answers your question about the Lens Zoo).

There are a lot - and I mean a LOT - of projects being done by amateur zooites (though some may be past tense, and not all are formally called 'projects'), acting independently (i.e. not under the leadership of a professional astronomer). Some examples: all the catalogues, and the Messier catalogue LIST and NGC catalogue LIST in particular; Hyper-Velocity Stars Project; c_cld's stuff on comets (this post, to take just one example); LynnSeguin (and others) on spectroscopic binaries (example); ...

Other than by clicking through the links in GStark's excellent A Classifier's Guide To The Objects Topics (Or Where To Post That Great Galaxy), there's no systematic way of finding what independent research amateur zooites are doing (or have done). And for someone with an idea (and time, and energy  ;)) about a project, an amateur zooite has no way of getting help, bouncing ideas around, etc (i.e. one of the essential parts of doing research) than writing posts or PMs (and hoping someone will respond in the right sort of way). It could be far, far worse of course; if we didn't have this forum - if all we had was Talk, for example - we wouldn't have even that!

Yes, I let Einstein@Home use many spare cycles on my PCs, so I know - vaguely - about BOINC. If I had a project idea, one that (potentially) involved intensive computation, could I utilize BOINC? Myself, no; I don't know enough to know even what sort of questions to ask! But if I did have such an idea, and had access to the sort of network my post is about, I'd at least have a chance that my idea could go somewhere (other than the Round File/File 13  :D).

[1] as far as I know; I'd love to learn that I'm wrong
[2] thought? there's been no development, no announcement here in the forum, since May (that I know of)

zutopian

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Re: Is there a need to set up a network of "dedicated amateurs"?
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2012, 08:00:35 pm »
And there is the HuDS Project.:

(...)
Most of you know that I have caught a bug, from my close association with Galaxy Zoo; it's a strange affliction known only to some doctors zooites, and goes by the thoroughly unscientific name Huds mania.  ???  You're thinking, "you have got to be kidding me!", perhaps, "seeing is believing" ... well, just click on those two links, and you'll see for yourself that Huds mania involves desperately maniacally seeking Susan Huge distant spirals.  :-*
(...)

In case you'd like to become infected, by Huds mania, please send me a PM; the project team has lots of work to do and too few people to do it ...

JohnF

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Re: Is there a need to set up a network of "dedicated amateurs"?
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2012, 11:52:39 pm »
Thanks for your reply & research Jean & Zutoplan,

Unfortunately, not many zooites have had the training to write scientific papers - I know the first part of Alice's course was to write and analyse a scientific paper.  (Years ago, I wrote a small article on how to analayse Van Allen Belt satellite data, for a Amateur Radio magazine, I was told by the editor, it was too complicated.)  When the first GZ article came out, a lot of people found it too complicated to understand and a promise was made to rewrite it, for a zooite-friendly audience - I never did see a revised version.

As regards all those seperate Projects, most of them I've haven't seen before, perhaps there ought to be a GZ (forum) folder started called 'Independent Projects', which could draw them in, as things are getting a bit messy, yes I know all about Talk.  Yes, I did see GStark's thread - a lot of work was done to get it started - but it hasn't been updated for some time, as you say it needs time & energy to get it updated, a full time moderator - I built and maintain three public websites, though most of the time, they run themselves.  We have a mini-meetup at the RAS (Royal Astronomical Society) in a few weeks time, I will try & make some suggestions there.

(I'm not sure if you have heard of the British Astronomical Society - primarily an observing society - years ago they set a seperate conputing section, then it was dissolved, now they are doing some citizen science work with the Variable Stars database - similiar work to GZ's Exoplanets.)

No, I never did see the HVS thread and Kevin's Letter offer - I wonder, if anybody attemped a Letter?

I run my PC's 24/7 on BOINC, on various astro projects - I am a software Engineer by profession, having started life, reading astrophysics.  I don't know if you have seen the new beta Andromeda project, I found bugs in the tutorial.  Perhaps, the GZ Forum needs to be tidied up, with an entire new forum started up and the old one closed down - not sure about Talk.  (If I had the time, that would be something I would take on - I occasionally see Chrs & Kevin at RAS meetings.)
John C. Fairweather - http://www.jcfwebsite.co.uk

StephanieC

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Re: Is there a need to set up a network of "dedicated amateurs"?
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2012, 01:28:39 am »
A few comments, an invitation and a request:
First, the comments. It seems to me that the dedicated group already exists, but is very disorganized. As far as writing papers goes, well, if it is going to be peer reviewed by people with PhD after their names then I guess your peer group is a little different than you thought it might be! I had the interesting experience of watching a man (I don't remember the name, unfortunately) a couple of years ago who had sent a computer program to some professors and received the answer that it would be sent on to, I think, Stanford. He was giving a talk as he began his graduate career at the university where I work. His amazement at the unexpected turn in his life was evident in the presentation and made me smile. You just never know where your path will lead.

I think the forum probably needs some sort of reorganization, but compared to "Talk" this is vibrant, a nursery for ideas of all sorts. I think there is just so much information here in so many places that it is hard to track whatever it is that you are looking for.

Now the invitation. I am one of those working with JeanTate on the HUDS project. I am pulling together questions to ask in a survey similar to Waveney's irregulars survey. I am inviting anyone who is interested in helping with the project to contact Jean. We have work to do, and being a genius is not a requirement - if it were I couldn't be writing this.

Finally, the request. We are discussing morphology, possible ways to interface with users, measurement systems, and whether we can do anything with color in the survey. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, we'd love to hear them.

Blackprojects

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Re: Is there a need to set up a network of "dedicated amateurs"?
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2012, 02:27:22 am »
Hyper Velocity Stars

Comes and goes in Fitts and Starts

So it could suddenly come back to Life or Stay Dormant for Months!

Geoff

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Re: Is there a need to set up a network of "dedicated amateurs"?
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2012, 03:22:02 pm »

I think the forum probably needs some sort of reorganization, but compared to "Talk" this is vibrant, a nursery for ideas of all sorts. I think there is just so much information here in so many places that it is hard to track whatever it is that you are looking for.


I wonder if it's worthwhile resurrecting the "Test" forum that Waveney created. This uses the same software as this forum but is much smaller and easier to "comprehend". You could then restrict access to those people working on specific projects.
You'd need to PM Waveney as it looks like the Test forum has moved since last I logged on.
  Sometimes I think we're alone. Sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the prospect is staggering!- Arthur C. Clarke

StephanieC

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Re: Is there a need to set up a network of "dedicated amateurs"?
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2012, 05:23:49 pm »
Thanks. I'll be contacting him.

egalaxy

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Re: Is there a need to set up a network of "dedicated amateurs"?
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2012, 03:33:54 am »
i would love to work with galaxy zoo! think you can wait till i get a PhD in.... anything? :P
as for the LIST "projects" they're (new?) purpose was to organize the out-of-numerical-order NGC catalogue, expanded into messier and will eventually expand to other catalogues as well.... only a matter of participants. :) ;)

zutopian

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Re: Is there a need to set up a network of "dedicated amateurs"?
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2012, 02:28:35 pm »
Jean wrote:
Quote
It could be far, far worse of course; if we didn't have this forum - if all we had was Talk, for example - we wouldn't have even that!

Well, there is also a "project" in the science board of Talk.: A discussion was started about "bow tie galaxies".: http://talk.galaxyzoo.org/discussions/DGZ10068xt
EDIT:
Nonetheless, I think, that the forum is a better place to do science and to discuss about it.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2012, 02:50:59 pm by zutopian »

zutopian

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Re: Is there a need to set up a network of "dedicated amateurs"?
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2012, 04:52:23 pm »
The one, who started perhaps the 1st real science project on the forum is GZ astronomer Bill Keel.:
In his new GZ blog about the overlap topic he says following.:
Quote
This was the project that first drew me in to Galaxy Zoo, way back in August of 2007. Zooite’s contributions to this, perhaps the first science project organized on the Forum, exceeded my wildest hopes.
http://blog.galaxyzoo.org/2012/11/29/overlaps-and-backlights-and-silhouettes-oh-my/
Besides he is the author of the Voorwerpje and "Sought AGN" topics, where he also asked for posts by zooities.



« Last Edit: November 30, 2012, 10:38:59 pm by zutopian »

zutopian

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Re: Is there a need to set up a network of "dedicated amateurs"?
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2012, 05:07:17 pm »
Maybe those students, who will be chosen for the GZ research, could support zooities in doing their own citizen science projects. They should become forum members. I think, that we need more GZ astronomers on the forum. A fulltime zookeeper would be great.: He/she should work fulltime on the forum/in Talk and also support the science projects by zooities.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2012, 10:40:03 pm by zutopian »

zutopian

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Re: Is there a need to set up a network of "dedicated amateurs"?
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2012, 08:05:42 am »
Maybe there should be a new forum board for the science projects.:
e.g. Overlap, Voorwerpje, "Sought AGN"
e.g. NGC catalog list, Blue Caterpillars, 'Green_Peas_DR7_to_DR8_Update_Research_Paper'

JeanTate

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Re: Is there a need to set up a network of "dedicated amateurs"?
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2013, 08:50:56 pm »
Would it be fair to conclude that "No" is a reasonably accurate, one word answer to the question?