Posted by: sgb on Jan 16, 2012
Tagged in: Untagged
Andy Warhol started it with his statement "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." We can see some of the truth of it in the reality shows 'Idols', 'America's got talent' (huh??), etc.
However there is another way to get your name in lights, in the stars. Astronomers have released another 150,000 time lapsed photographs from the Kepler telescope onto the Planethunters website, with the request for volunteers to review these and identify potential planets. The reward if you find one - to be recognised in all astronomical science as one of the discoverers of that planet (BBC - 16 January 2012).
The human eye and brain has a remarkable ability to 'identify' patterns, linkages, associations in vast expanse of data. A quick look at disordered data can often be revealing - we may not understand what it means but we do know that something, a pattern, is there. In many cases a computer cannot quickly or easily identify the same patterns - it has to statistically analyse everything according to whatever criteria or sequences the programmers specified.
This effect is all to evident in grandmaster chess where man still beats a computer. The computer analyses every possibility, but is limited in time. The person all too often sees a 'position', a 'sequence', a possibility without all that analysis. This is not to say the computer will always rely on brute force analysis - as neural networking improves, as pattern identification improves, as computer speeds increase again, we are likely to see more of these analysis problems being solved by a computers 'unlimited' power.
But for the present volunteers are required to look for these links and to identify stars that 'may' have a planet. So forget about the 15 minutes of fame - go for the future - it is written in the stars.