Dear Planet Hunters,
The Planet Hunters project has found a gold mine! I am so impressed at the planet candidates rolling out of Planet Hunters. This project shows the human ability at pattern recognition can compete with modern, parallel-processing computers. The human eyeball (and brain) can still give a massive computer a run for its money.
How can PH humans compete head-to-head against NASA computers? I really don’t know. I imagine that the subtle, unpredictable quirks and complexities in the photometry of 156,000 stars presents challenges native to our ancient brains. Perhaps our hominid ancestors, so vulnerable to predators, had to survey the African savannah quickly and accurately, to detect the barely discernible signs of trouble. Every sunset two million years ago, our ancestors would routinely venture out to forage. If you missed a distant saber tooth silhouetted as it transited the setting sun, you might become that evening’s appetizer. If so, Planet Hunters is reaching back to our roots, to our native strengths. And in so doing, future destinations in humanity’s exploration of the cosmic savannah are being discovered.
Congratulations, Best Wishes, and Keep going! Geoff Marcy