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A collaborative adventure in space

December 04, 2013
tags:#open source technology, #space
At we tend to focus on our own planet, Earth. But one collaborative open-source project has brought earthlings from all over the world together to bring humankind closer to the place where not many people have gone before: space.

Take, for example, the Galaxy Zoo project. While the Hubble Telescope has taken millions of images of galaxies that experts could never possibly manage to process, someone on their daily commute could be online, identifying shapes and characteristics in the images in order to classify them. Almost like playing a smart phone game to pass the time, except much more rewarding - you are contributing to science. And unlike your average smart phone game, where the prize is largely superficial, the project allows the possibility of being the first person to clap eyes on a new galaxy.

Other projects include distributed computing, where you lend free space on your laptop to helping form a kind of super-computer from all over the world, in order to process large-scale space simulations. MilkyWay@Home is using space on volunteer computers to create a complete and highly-accurate image of the Milky Way.

Almost as if out of a science fiction film, one project asks users to search for rare warps in space-time, and if other life forms are what interests you about space, the SETI@Home project (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) has volunteers listening in to live radio signals, with the aim of detecting evidence of intelligent life outside Earth.

Humankind faces many challenges on our own planet, but surely being able to collaborate with people from all corners of the Earth on a shared adventure, to stare, collectively, up at something much bigger, reminds us what is fundamental about being human.

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