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How a Guy Found 4 New Planets Without a Telescope

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the he's-just-this-guy,-you-know? dept.

Space 133

An anonymous reader writes "Peter Jalowiczor is a gas worker from South Yorkshire, England. He's also the discoverer of four giant exoplanets, according to the University of California's Lick-Carnegie Planet Search Team. But he's not an astronomer and he doesn't even have a telescope. '...in 2005, astronomers at the university released millions of space measurements collected over several decades and asked enthusiasts to make of them what they would. ... From March 2007 Peter, 45, spent entire nights reading the data, working the figures, creating graphs. ... He then sent discrepancies he discovered back to the scientists in California where they were further analyzed to see if the quirks were caused by the existence of an exoplanet.'"

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On a side note... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748484)

On a side note, this man was unfortunately unable to locate CmdrTaco's micropenis even with the strongest of microscopes

Re:On a side note... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34751558)

Since he's a polack gasworker he probably couldn't find the oven he's supposed to be repairing either.

And he'd probably want "hendrid pundz" just for turning up too.

Re:On a side note... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34752100)

He has done quite an achievement, while you are a troll. Sure, be proud of your british arse.

Bravo (5, Insightful)

martinux (1742570) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748526)

As an amateur astronomer I think the general mindset is that one cannot make a discovery of any significance without owning cutting edge hardware. Telescopes produce such mind-bending quantities of data that there is much opportunity for someone with some patience and an inquiring mind to add to the knowledge-base.

Surely also a brilliant argument of the power of publicly available data.

Re:Bravo (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748606)

As an amateur astronomer I think the general mindset is that one cannot make a discovery of any significance without owning cutting edge hardware.

Or using data generated by someone with that hardware as in this case.

Re:Bravo (4, Informative)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748878)

Well, yes, that's why you don't own it: it's theirs.

Point is, a lot of the bigger telescopes provide far more data than can be handled by dedicated computing. This has been the case since CCDs were invented decades ago, there's just too much to analyse everything within the budget, so they go for the obvious/important/cheap signals (delete as applicable).

SETI started distributed computing in a big way, and this is a similar (if far more individually clever) application. It's very muck akin to the way volunteers sometimes sift through spoil on an archaeological dig just in case anything interesting has been missed by the JCBs and WHSs. Good on the guy, it's a fair old achievement and a hobby I aspire to matching.

Re:Bravo (1)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749146)

And there are numerous other projects similar to this requiring a human brain rather than distributed computing - or at least where a human brain is still effectively helpful. Galaxy zoo is the past time of thousands and they recently branched out into digitizing old British navy war records for the purpose of long term climate research.

Re:Bravo (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34751824)

As an amateur astronomer I think the general mindset is that one cannot make a discovery of any significance without owning cutting edge hardware.

Which is completely stupid. How many professional Astronomers own cutting edge hardware? None, that's how many. The hardware is so expensive that it is owned by Universities, governments, research institutes, etc. and there's only a handful of people on the planet with enough money to buy one and fund its operation. It's not like the observations were made using a $50 telescope from the Kid's section at Wal-Mart.

The Title, as well as the title of the Gizmodo article, are completely wrong. They claim he discovered these planets without use of a telescope, which is complete BULLSHIT. ALL the data he used came from telescopes, just because he's not the one who pressed the button to operate the 'scope doesn't mean one wasn't used. There really isn't any difference between looking at the output screen at the observatory and looking at a spreadsheet of that same data, you're still using the telescope.

From March 2007 Peter, 45, spent entire nights reading the data, working the figures, creating graphs.

Well that sounds an awful lot like Astronomy to me. Just because he doesn't hold a formal degree does not mean he's not an Astronomer, he is at the very least an Amateur or 'enthusiast'.

I dunno about you but.. (1, Offtopic)

dragonxtc (1344101) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748530)

I just look up and point myself

Look down, not up (4, Funny)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748928)

Actually if you want to see a planet you should really be looking down, not up.

Re:Look down, not up (1)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749318)

True, but I'd rather we see a planet with an intelligent lifeform that I might not look down on quite so often.

Re:Look down, not up (1)

jftitan (736933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749524)

I laughed, but as Bemopolis said... Looking down, won't bring any insightful rewards when down doesn't show any level of intelligence at all.

  Last I looked, (down) all I saw was, Lindsey Lohan, and Britney Spears in the limelight.

Re:Look down, not up (1)

kmoser (1469707) | more than 3 years ago | (#34750980)

That's no moon...

Re:Look down, not up (-1)

Liquid Len (739188) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751908)

Actually if you want to see a planet you should really be looking down, not up.

Or behind: Uranus is not very far.

OMG! He used math! (-1, Troll)

mschaffer (97223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748534)

Yo! astronomers. Sure it's sexy to have a telescope that is bigger than everyone else. Sure, it looks cool to be perched under the eyepiece. But when a gas company worker puts you to shame by (gasp!) reviewing data that was relegated to the "uncool" pile as you eagerly pen the next grant application, I have to wonder:
Maybe we are spending too much money on some of these astronomers! Maybe scientists need to be a little more frugal and review the data already collected. After all, when Albert Einstein came to Princeton all he asked for was some pencils, paper, and a waste paper basket.

Re:OMG! He used math! (0)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748692)

That's boring.

Now if you don't mind, take out your wallet. We're collecting taxes so we can build a giant thing that smashes atoms together.

Re:OMG! He used math! (4, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749324)

I don't know if you know this, but pretty much all discoveries in the last hundred years have been made with math. Astronomy especially so.

It is pretty clear that you don't understand the fact that there are only so many scientists in the world, and these discoveries require people pouring over data for extended periods of time. Science is not a glorious profession, and it doesn't pay well. That means there aren't that many scientists doing all the works of science. It's not like there are millions of professional astronomers out there - at best there are a few thousand. Any time you can enlist the help the public to go through the tedious analysis tasks you are better off, especially if you happen to snag a guy who has two science degrees under his belt. Just because he doesn't do science for a living doesn't mean he wasn't trained as a scientist.

I'm honestly quite flabbergasted by your attitude. If Einstein were an astronomer instead of a theoretical physicist, how exactly would you expect him to discover new planets with just pencils, paper, and a waste basket?

Re:OMG! He used math! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34749820)

I would disagree very strongly with your statement. Whilst many discoveries can be described with maths very few apart from in the realms of physics emerge purely from the exploration of math. Now granted math is a tool used to expose data in some way but very few discoveries emerge from the math itself.

For example: A biologist notes that certain frog populations are responding to variations in the chemical makeup of the water in which they live. Statistics may be used to validate and explore the observation but in no way could the discovery of the frogs response to chaging environmental conditions have "emerged" from the math.

In fact I would go further - discoveries emergeing purely as a consequence of math are very very few indeed.

Re:OMG! He used math! (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749986)

And how did the biologist count the frogs? I've never seen a frog fill out a census form.

Re:OMG! He used math! (1)

iinlane (948356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751168)

He just noted that the frogs were everywhere - you only need to count them for statistics.

Re:OMG! He used math! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34750016)

Whats the waste basket for?

Einstein and other stuff. (1, Insightful)

mschaffer (97223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34750400)

Well, that's ok. I am flabbergasted by *your* attitude that a theoretical physics is not part of astronomy. After all, Einstein had nothing to do with astronomy. (roll eyes for sarcastic effect) Einstein's theories on relativity, alone, have altered astronomy and cosmology profoundly.

By the way, I am a scientist/engineer who is very aware is "only so many scientists in the world". I am also acutely aware of how broken the research system is and how myopic researchers can be when looking for new things. Careful evaluation and trying to put the pieces together just doesn't get the grant money.

Sure, science is not a glorious profession, but within the science realm certain activities are more glorious than others. It's hard to piece things together and it's far too easy to simply look at new things all of the time---especially if it makes a pretty grant application.

There are so many things to discuss about this. I just want to extend kudos to Peter Jalowiczor for his discoveries. I also want to extend contempt for the researchers for sitting on their data for years on end.

As an aside...
I really believe that all government funded research should require that the data be published in a timely fashion (i.e. they are put in a repository that automatically gives everyone access xx weeks after it is collected).

Re:OMG! He used math! (3, Funny)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34750954)

"and these discoveries require people pouring over data for extended periods of time."

Well, only if the data is from the Big Dipper.

Re:OMG! He used math! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34749414)

Uh, the astronomers can't work on everything. This guy worked on the data they did not have time to look at.

So.... (4, Insightful)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748538)

... there was a telescope, just not one he owned....

Re:So.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748774)

Now that we got that out of the way (seriously guys...), let's not ignore how awesome it is that this hobbyist found planets in a sea of data. What have you done lately that was as cool?

Re:So.... (3, Funny)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749052)

I just discovered 4 new plants just by reading slashdot. I'm pretty pleased with myself.

Re:So.... (1)

ygtai (1330807) | more than 3 years ago | (#34750316)

I just discovered 4 new plants just by reading slashdot. I'm pretty pleased with myself.

You stared at your monitor for so long that plants grew out of it?

Re:So.... (4, Interesting)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749066)

What have you done lately that was as cool?

Collided protons at over 99.999999% the speed of light to recreate the conditions about 100 femto-seconds after the Big Bang to see if they produce Dark Matter particles which make up about 23% of the Universe. Still that's my job so I still think it is really amazing that an amateur can make such valuable contributions to science...and of course being a Yorkshireman myself its always nice to see another do well!

However I am somewhat surprised that astronomers have not devised automatic algorithms to scan the data and look for signals like this. That's what we do with all our peta-bytes of particle physics data.

Hey, uh...while I have your ear... (2)

P. Legba (172072) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749310)

...please don't annihilate the fucking world.

Thanks.

Re:Hey, uh...while I have your ear... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34749984)

http://hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com/

You may find this link useful.

Re:So.... (0)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34750272)

Collided protons at over 99.999999% the speed of light to recreate the conditions about 100 femto-seconds after the Big Bang to see if they produce Dark Matter particles which make up about 23% of the Universe.

How do you know?!

Personally I hit the light switch a couple of hours ago, recreating the first day of the creation of the world. Later I'll hang a bucket of water from the ceiling.

Re:So.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34750420)

Go back to Kansas.

Re:So.... (1, Interesting)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34750676)

How do you know?!

The same way I know that you exist: by making reasonable inferences from the available data. In your case the only evidence I have of your existence is one Slashdot post. For the Big Bang there are multiple, independent data sources so currently I'd say that I'd be more inclined to believe in the existence of the Big Bang than you!

Re:So.... (0)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751426)

How do you know?!

The same way I know that you exist: by making reasonable inferences from the available data. In your case the only evidence I have of your existence is one Slashdot post. For the Big Bang there are multiple, independent data sources so currently I'd say that I'd be more inclined to believe in the existence of the Big Bang than you!

lol, someone has to say it... oooh, snap!

Re:So.... (2)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34750978)

However I am somewhat surprised that astronomers have not devised automatic algorithms to scan the data and look for signals like this. That's what we do with all our peta-bytes of particle physics data.

There are certainly automated searches and instruments online or coming online. Best examples I am aware of (I finished my masters in 2004 and never intended to work in the field, so I'm a bit out of the loop)...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_Gravitational_Lensing_Experiment [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan-STARRS [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Synoptic_Survey_Telescope [wikipedia.org]

It's hard to correlate existing data from various sources though because he instruments are so different in terms of data capture format, require calibration etc. That's not to say that it can't be done better, but I think you need to actually educate yourself about fields other than your own before you comment on them.

Re:So.... (1)

Kashgarinn (1036758) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752092)

Try and make them post the data online like nasa does, if someone picks something up like this man did, it will be for the better, and might even make for better algorithms.

Re:So.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34749178)

People aren't discounting what he did, just saying that it's a lousy summary.

Re:So.... (4, Funny)

owlstead (636356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748816)

The summary is right, the planets probably don't have any telescopes on them. I wonder how he found out even with a telescope though.

Re:So.... (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748986)

Yeah, it would be quite hard putting a telescope on the surface of a gas giant....
As for the question, I'd assume by looking for gravitational wobbles of stars (since I'd assume other techniques would not be available without the correct instruments?)

Re:So.... (1)

heypete (60671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749150)

Maybe by looking for planetary transits?

My research group looks at already-known transits and gets more detailed information than the original discovery paper, but the HATnet project -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HATNet_Project [wikipedia.org] -- (who discovered most of the planets we look at), uses completely automated methods. Even so, they can't look at every star, and so there's always some data that goes un-analyzed.

Very cool that this guy made this discoveries with public data.

Re:So.... (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749350)

If you read the article, it tells you what they are looking for.

Re:So.... (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749340)

Hey, I think I just found over 500 more... *holds up list of exoplanets*

Ah ambiguity... (1)

flipperdo (1172057) | more than 3 years ago | (#34750246)

I saw the man looking at the planet with a telescope.

FP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748542)

After months of going over hard data, I've discovered a first post!

Re:FP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748596)

If you hadn't spent quite so many months you might have actually been first... :)

Way to go! (1)

omi5cron (1455851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748544)

nicely done! that is some dedication... i usually spend my spare time on nothing of scientific interest.

Not "without a telescope". (4, Informative)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748548)

He's been using "other people's telescopes" so to speak.

This is nothing new -- in fact, most astronomers work just like him - they use observations made by their colleagues.

The astronomers who actually do observations are fewer than the people who do astronomy, mostly because observing requires a whole lot of skills on top of astronomy knowledge.

Re:Not "without a telescope". (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748874)

Um no. Typically the guys up in the middle of the night taking a series of long exposures are NOT the multiple PHD astronomers. It's college kids working on their Masters or Phd. Running a telescope is actually quite easy, you do what the Researcher asks, and then deliver the data. It's been this way for a while now. you dont have the old guy spending all night looking through an eyepiece with the guide motor controller in hand. In fact a friend of mine that works at UofM astronomy was making observations during the daytime by using a scope in Australia and had the data and images sent to him, he then did the processing.

The only telescope that requires rocket scientists to operate it is Hubble.

Re:Not "without a telescope". (2)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749258)

You should visit a modern observatory.

Re:Not "without a telescope". (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 3 years ago | (#34750360)

no joke. Large modern observatories come equipped with a staff of at least dozens, just to maintain the thing, much less actually look through the scope. I live near McDonald Observatory in texas, and to say that the actual scans are done by grad students is a joke.

Re:Not "without a telescope". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34751990)

no joke. Large modern observatories come equipped with a staff of at least dozens, just to maintain the thing, much less actually look through the scope. I live near McDonald Observatory in texas, and to say that the actual scans are done by grad students is a joke.

Modern observatories don't have a "scope" which you can look through. The data is electronically gathered and output on a computer terminal, then the data is archived, formatted, and shipped off for analysis. And yes, grad students do get to be hands-on for a lot of that work, especially since there's not much they can really do to break anything. Most of the risk of damage comes from the maintenance activity, which is what most of the people who work there actually do.

There's generally a senior professor who supervises the grad students, just like with pretty much every other scientific lab environment. Most of the time the people AT the observatory simply open up the schedule, and punch in the coordinates and time frames, and the computer pretty much does the rest on its own.

Re:Not "without a telescope". (2)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34750450)

Visit just about any laboratory in the world and you'll see Ph.D. students operating equipment that costs millions of dollars under the direction of senior faculty. Without some pretty specific citations I find it hard to believe that astronomy is any different.

Re:Not "without a telescope". (3, Funny)

Exclamation mark! (1961328) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748898)

I bet they all have the "keen eye for detail" on their CV

Re:Not "without a telescope". (2)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749074)

Yes, we get it, a telescope was needed. But this kind of news is good and heart-warming because it shows that science isn't a private club, that it isn't the treasure that a few monks keep in their ivory towers after decades of arcane education. It is something that anyone can and is encouraged to participate it. These big tools exists, but they are everyone's property. The only thing I would change in the title would be to add "and without a PhD". Come on, science is the biggest game, anyone can join.

Re:Not "without a telescope". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34749676)

This isn't a new development, this is the way things have been done for a long while.

I was participating in variable stars research (even submitting requests for observations, and getting observations done) when I was in high school 20 years ago.

Astronomy has always been very "open", compared to other sciences because there is very little business interest in it.

Only people who are really nuts about the subject, or really rich and bored end up doing it.

Re:Not "without a telescope". (1)

iinlane (948356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751220)

Unfortunately most of the results in science are hidden behind paywall and the data from most apparatus is not publicly available. I don't even have access to my own publications not to mention others - how would I know if anyone else has already made discovered what I am researching?

Re:Not "without a telescope". (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749512)

Yes, very stupid headline. I doubt many astronomers own the huge telescopes they use anyway; some university or research organization does.

Re:Not "without a telescope". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34750468)

Like how to clean a lens, an aptitude for doing things in a precise way when the bugs are eating you alive, or when the temperature makes your coffee frozen. Also, how to not breath onto the lens. Sitting in an office, letting the computer suck in data from the CCD (and remote control tracking) all make the job more tolerable. Better yet, a net connection to your ipod, so that you can click on 'scan sky' followed by uttering the words 'I see your call, and I raise by 150, pass the chips please'. Of course NO star luvin astronomer would play games of chance in the long nights while the scope is tracking the sky. It makes them sound like some kid in his parents basement, reading slah... oh wait!

So really... (-1, Troll)

aztektum (170569) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748558)

The university "found it". He just pointed it out in their data.

Re:So really... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748616)

No, if you lose your key, then take pictures of all the places where you might have lost it and someone else looks through the pictures and sees the key, then you did not find the key. That other person did. He couldn't have done it without the provided data, but don't diminish his work like that.

Re:So really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748634)

You're not allowed to talk anymore.

Re:So really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748848)

By this logic *I* found it that other day when I looked up in the sky to see what phase the moon was in. "Find" should properly mean "identify" which the guy certainly did to a degree, although arguably the folks he sent his data back to might deserve some credit as well for their input.

Good for him. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748560)

Unusual slashdot posting, in that there seems little to ridicule in anything or anyone about the event. Good for him, I'm glad his efforts paid off in these discoveries. I think he distinguished himself in his persistence and ability to keep at it when many others might have seen the effort as futile for so many reasons.

Re:Good for him. (4, Funny)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748620)

Unusual slashdot posting, in that there seems little to ridicule in anything or anyone about the event.

You're just not trying hard enough! I say he's a pinko, commie, socialist, hippy for expecting other scientists to gather the data for him first! As our overlord Sarah Palin would say, he wasn't man enough to gather it himself. Now fuck off you peace-loving, sweet talking, idealist progressive. This is just one more reason why America is better than socialist England!

For the record, I do not work for Fox News, I'm just an overachiever when it comes to misplaced criticism sometimes. ;)

You MIGHT be right (in a way)... apk (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748782)

"I say he's a pinko, commie, socialist" - by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Monday January 03, @05:54PM (#34748620) Homepage

With a last name like "Jalowiczor"? He very well MAY have hailed from the "communist block"!

I state that, because of MY being of slavic descent, myself (polish in descent here).

I.E.-> I can USUALLY spot a slavic surname a MILE away...

In any event:

I found it amazing he did this, & HOW HE DID IT!

(It proves that even the "mightiest minds" cannot handle large deluges of data, & that the "common man", by way of comparison, can @ times (IF they're "dedicated enough")).

APK

P.S.=> Again, on his surname though: PURE SPECULATION HERE, but... I'd almost WAGER he's polish in fact, because of that last name!

I say that, because I was in Poland (Spain, England, France, The Czech Republic, & the USSR/SovietUnion/Russian (whatever) for MOST of this past summer (June - Sept.) travelling, & there?

There I heard that a lot of poles headed to England to get work/money (usually labor work, like this fellow's up to to make ends meet etc., it seems), because "times are unusually tough" in Poland now (I saw that much myself, first hand)... apk

Re:Good for him. (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34750086)

I say he's a pinko, commie, socialist, hippy for expecting other scientists to gather the data for him first! As our overlord Sarah Palin would say, he wasn't man enough to gather it himself. Now fuck off you peace-loving, sweet talking, idealist progressive. This is just one more reason why America is better than socialist England!

Classic retort. Unfortunately it does point out a potential future for this country (very scary one at that) but I had to laugh.

Re:Good for him. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34752072)

Unusual slashdot posting, in that there seems little to ridicule in anything or anyone about the event.

Start with the headline, which claims the discovery was made without use of a telescope. That's not accurate- telescopes WERE used, he just wasn't the one operating it.

So while a Kudos to the amatuer for his data analysis, this isn't nearly as exciting as hearing that some guy was able to figure out a way to find exoplanets without the use of a telescope. I was thinking "Wow, someone actually invented a decent Gravity detector, or came up with some new approach to astronomy which doesn't rely on passive observation of radiation." but no such luck.

There ya go.

Gas giant (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748572)

This guy is clearly a gas giant rather than everyday normal gas worker.

Re:Gas giant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748856)

This guy is clearly a gas giant rather than everyday normal gas worker.

LOL i like that ;-)

Re:Gas giant (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34750106)

This guy is clearly a gas giant among gas workers thus it's no surprise that he excelled at finding four of his own kind. Fixed that for ya. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Automation? (3, Insightful)

Tibia1 (1615959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748598)

It says that he 'read data' and 'created graphs'. Couldn't whatever he was doing be automated? I'm sure that astronomers are already automating a whole lot of data analyzation, but for a random guy to find 4 irregularities, seems strange. Maybe high level pattern recognition is vital to the process he used? Get this guy, or somebody to start writing code.

Re:Automation? (1)

korgitser (1809018) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748664)

It was outsourced, which is basically the same as automation.

Re:Automation? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748752)

...only cheaper.

Re:Automation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748788)

but cheaper

Re:Automation? (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749188)

Hi Mechanical Turk, I'll pay 10c for every new planet you signal to me and me only.

Re:Automation? (1)

vlueboy (1799360) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749418)

Sure! Oh hi, I'm low on cash but can't find anything yet...
I'll submit Pluto [wikipedia.org] and call it a night ;)

Re:Automation? (1)

andydread (758754) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751060)

According to this post [slashdot.org] This guy has 2 science degrees. Not sure how much of a "random guy" this guy is.

BOINC (1)

skrimp (790524) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748622)

They should put the data up on [[http://boinc.berkeley.edu|BOINC]].

Bravo to the guy for doing it long-hand.

Clippy (4, Funny)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748802)

Hi, it looks like you've been spending a lot of time on a wiki. Might I suggest some Jimbo [fanpop.com] .

Re:BOINC (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749380)

He used two computers dude. He isn't stupid.

Lick-Carnegie? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748766)

Surely you most be joking Dr. Feynman. Thanks, I'll pass, but think about working for our Bite-Me academy . . .

Could have been me! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748948)

Except, I'm too lame.

Whenever I read stories like this, I think, damn, that could have been me; me, the "discoverer of planents". I always think that the layman can't make discoveries anymore now that making discoveries requires multi-million-dollars worth of gear or an intellect that's way over my head.

But it just isn't true.

This could, in fact, have been me ... DAMMIT, again.

Kudos to original discoverer.

process captured? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748998)

so.... did they ask him the exact steps he used, automate the process, and are they looking for ways to improve on it? Probably not. He wasn't an academic or a child, so his findings will be written off as a fluke. His process couldn't possibly be innovative and his thoughts on astronomy and data-mining couldn't be of any value. After all, he doesn't have the proper credentials.

In 5 or 6 years, someone in an academic program will write a paper about their "discovery" of a "new" way to find exo-planets buried in the existing data, and we'll all be expected to hold their "work" in awe. meh.

Re:process captured? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34749292)

did you read the article it said he sent through a number of irregularities, they looked at them and went oh this could be a planet. it looks like he sent through a lot more than 4 but they only found 4 planets from his analysis of the data. don't under estimate the train spotters.

Recent Development (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34749194)

In a recent development the CERN board of Directors have decided to lend Peter a 15 PB (1 petabyte = 1 million GB) RAID array that he can hook up to his home computer. This will allow him to work with the first year's worth of LHC (Large Hadeon Collider) data. They have high hopes that he will find evidence for the Higgs particle which they belive is buried in the data. If he find the Higgs within 24 months he will get to keep the RAID array and they will keep the Nobel Prize that will surely be awarded for this great discovery. After all it is their data, isn't it?

Without reading the article... (2)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749234)

I'm guessing "Gas worker" is short for "Chemical Engineer.".

Re:Without reading the article... (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749308)

I'm guessing "Gas worker" is short for "Chemical Engineer.".

Some might suggest you have that backwards...

Re:Without reading the article... (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34750126)

Or he could be the equivalent of the meter reader that comes out every month to check how much gas I've used. Considering his acomplishment I'd guess the former not the latter but just sayin yknow.

Pretty cool, though... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34749302)

Pretty cool, though I found more than 4 planets by going through wormholes with my shinny spaceship. By playing EVE-Online, that is.

A Mediocre Summary... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749362)

If you read the article you'll find that he couldn't have found those planets with a telescope even if he had one. Even the best optics available on earth would be useless for finding those planets.

That said, he did good work in finding the data for those planets in the sets he analyzed. And indeed he didn't use a telescope; but he couldn't have found them with a conventional (optical) telescope anyways.

Missing resources (1)

vlueboy (1799360) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749384)

The man's work is impresive, but what sorely stuck out is a lack of programmers who could have saved that man time, figuring out how to digitize and analyze their telescopes' raw data.
How about they get the SETI clusters crunching it? Or at the very least the scientists can recruit Anonymous (who's been bored & out of "black-faxing work" since the holidays) in exchange for a some hot science-lady pics.

So what - I made a spreadsheet without a computer (1)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749606)

...and it even has a pivot table (I just turn it sideways).

Something tells me (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 3 years ago | (#34749850)

That he's single and doesn't get out much ;)

Where can I get the same data he studied? (1)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 3 years ago | (#34750060)

and what kind of data is it? Is it images or position coordinates for stars?

Re:Where can I get the same data he studied? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34750596)

Raw data is always images. Or, as you can say, photon data in a grid-like pattern. They tend to be distributed as TIFF files

Meanwhile, a 10 year old girl finds a SuperNova .. (4, Interesting)

gordguide (307383) | more than 3 years ago | (#34750696)

Kathryn Gray, a 10 year old girl from New Brunswick, Canada, discovered a previously unknown SuperNova over the Christmas holidays. Neither Kathryn nor her dad own a telescope. They used images downloaded to her dad's computer, an astronomy buff. The images were taken via a backyard telescope owned by another amateur, David Lane of Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada).

You can do this yourself too (5, Interesting)

Spinalcold (955025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34750800)

Zooniverse has recently launched a new project using data from Kepler. You can create a profile at Planet Hunters [planethunters.org] and look for planet transits. IMO it's the most exciting project they've launched. Sure you're not naming the planets, but you are aiding the search.

No offense if otherwise but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34751020)

This sounds like yet another one of those light on details, feel good story the news media feel compel to push out from time to time.
"Working the figures"...didn't they invented some kind of computers to do that?

You see, Frank... (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751202)

You see, Frankie Jr., THIS is why you learns your maths. So that when you're just some guy working to put a roof over your family's heads, yous can look at some numbers, do some additions, and be immortalized in the fucking cosmos for just being curious little shit.

Now go do your math homework.

--- Really though... this is why you learn math even if you're not going to be a rocket scientist.

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