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Reinventing Discovery by Michael Nielsen

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CHAPTER 7

Democratizing Science

On August 7, 2007, a 25-year-old Dutch schoolteacher named Hanny van Arkel was surfing the web when she came across the Galaxy Zoo website. As you may recall from the opening chapter, Galaxy Zoo recruits volunteers to help classify galaxy images. The volunteers are shown photographs of galaxies—often, galaxies no human has ever before seen—and asked to answer questions such as “Is this a spiral or an elliptical galaxy?” or “If this is a spiral, do the arms rotate clockwise or anticlockwise?” It’s a kind of cosmological census, the largest ever undertaken, with more than 200,000 volunteers so far classifying more than 150 million galaxy images. When she came across Galaxy Zoo, van Arkel was immediately hooked, and ...

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