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BBC Show Stargazing Live Leads To Exoplanet Discovery

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the comfort-of-your-own-home dept.

Space 66

arnodf writes "Tonight BBC's show stargazing live ended after three days of live astronomy with comedian Dara Ó Briain and professor Brian Cox. Throughout the show they were trying to make the viewers help in finding an exoplanet via Zooniverse. Thanks to the program they managed to get 1,084,760 classifications in 48 hours and two volunteers discovered an exoplanet which now bears their name. From the planethunters website: 'Thanks to your help and BBC Stargazing, we managed 1,084,760 classifications in 48 hours. There's still more to do, and more discoveries to be made, so keep clicking!'"

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Organized trolling campaign by GreatBunzinni (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38745260)

GreatBunzinni [slashdot.org] has been posting anonymous accusations [slashdot.org] listing a whole bunch of Slashdot accounts as being part of a marketing campaign for Microsoft, without any evidence. GreatBunzinni has accidentally outed himself [slashdot.org] as this anonymous poster. Half the accounts he attacks don't even post pro-Microsoft rhetoric. The one thing they appear to have in common is that they have been critical of Google in the past. GreatBunzinni has been using multiple accounts to post these "shill" accusations, such as Galestar [slashdot.org] , NicknameOne [slashdot.org] , and flurp [slashdot.org] .

That's not the problem. The problem is that moderators gave him +5 Informative and are now modding down the accused, even for legitimate posts. Metamoderation is supposed to address this by filtering out the bad moderators, but clearly it's not working.

This "shill" crap that has been flying around lately has to stop. It's restricting a variety of viewpoints from participating on the site and creating an echo chamber.

I didn't know you could name them... (2, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38745334)

I thought that the names had to be approved by the IAU or something. (The summary says the planet found "now bears their name". Unless the IAU decided to name it after them I suspect they got to name it). Is the summary wrong?

On the other hand, if the summary is correct, the chance for OFFICIALLY naming an entire world would be worth something! Who knows, maybe the exo-planet you named after yourself (or your firstborn, or your pet dog) could one day be determined to have life, maybe intelligent life! (Or maybe it'll just have cool double-sun sunsets or pretty rings).

Couldn't NASA get a bit of funding from people who wanted to bid on the rights to name a world? (Unlike copyrights, aren't celestial bodies named FOREVER?).

Re:I didn't know you could name them... (5, Insightful)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38745428)

Couldn't NASA get a bit of funding from people who wanted to bid on the rights to name a world? (Unlike copyrights, aren't celestial bodies named FOREVER?).

No, it couldn't. NASA has nothing to do with naming planets. NASA is a US government agency. The US is one among many countries in the world. Funding such an agency of such a country through such a mechanism would come close to the "sell me a star" or "sell me an acre of moonscape" con trick.

Re:I didn't know you could name them... (1)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747864)

Would that really be the worst thing the government has ever sold to the people?

Re:I didn't know you could name them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38774006)

"...The US is one among many countries in the world..."

Are you sure about that? I thought that Earth and USA were synonymous.

Re:I didn't know you could name them... (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38745432)

Well, this one has several times the radius of Earth, and circles its host star in 90 days. If there is life, it might look like Pacman being played in a plate of boiling soup. Which is what we looked like some billion years ago.

Re:I didn't know you could name them... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38745442)

On the other hand, if the summary is correct, the chance for OFFICIALLY naming an entire world would be worth something! Who knows, maybe the exo-planet you named after yourself (or your firstborn, or your pet dog) could one day be determined to have life, maybe intelligent life!

Which opens some interesting prospects, such as tourists from Earth visiting said planet and the natives welcoming them cheerfully in the <insert-your-dog's-name-here> Visitor Center, with <insert-your-dog's-name-here> being present on most bilingual place signs all over the planet.

Re:I didn't know you could name them... (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38745518)

Oh great. "Welcome to Planet Slashdot. In Planet Slashdot your order takes you."

Big Bang obligatory (2)

Sussurros (2457406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38745690)

Welcome to Sheldonopolis, the Capital of Sheldistan, on the beautiful planet Sheldon Prime.

Re:I didn't know you could name them... (1)

nherm (889807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746768)

The IAU would agree that the CowboyNeal option is the best descriptive name for a gas giant.

Re:I didn't know you could name them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38746090)

There's nothing in the article about naming them.

Re:I didn't know you could name them... (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746730)

On the other hand, if the summary is correct, the chance for OFFICIALLY naming an entire world would be worth something! Who knows, maybe the exo-planet you named after yourself (or your firstborn, or your pet dog) could one day be determined to have life, maybe intelligent life!

If there is intelligent life, there is most likely alraedy an official name for that planet.

Re:I didn't know you could name them... (1)

damiangerous (218679) | more than 2 years ago | (#38752850)

I thought that the names had to be approved by the IAU or something.

The IAU gives objects like that designations. They do not name them [iau.org] and have no plans to do so.

Re:I didn't know you could name them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38753026)

Better not to have intelligent life - it'll have a name already.

Great Series of shows (5, Informative)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38745848)

For those outside the UK, BBC2 broadcast them live at 20:00 for three evenings. The first two were fantastic as the skies were clear. LAstnight was pretty cloudy but the experiment where a whole town went 'dark' was amazing. It really showed how much light polltution there is.
Part of the show came from the Uk and another segment came from South Africa. This latter one enabled us to see the milky Way in all its glory.

Real kudos to the Beeb for putting this on at peak times.

Re:Great Series of shows (0, Redundant)

Inda (580031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746178)

Reverse kudos for hiding it on BBC2. And double rant at the BBC for putting it on BBC HD, not BBC1 HD. Most people don't even know there's a second BBC HD channel.

Re:Great Series of shows (4, Insightful)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746232)

You act like BBC 2 is some obscure channel no-one gets.
That joke is old and is more suited to BBC 3 or BBC 4. BBC 3 especially since it's about on par with "Dave" since it's reruns of Top Gear and anything starring the cast of Mock the Week obscure any kind of decent programming they'd care to put on.
Not to mention they advertised it hard on BBC 1 between programmes and it was in alot of the paper TV Guides. I'll admit, the only way I know about the TV Guides is because my gran buys them.

Re:Great Series of shows (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38746278)

BBC2 has been around since the early 1960's. I can remember watching the Test Transmission films round about then. The channel was the first to be broadcast in UHF 625 lines as opposed to VHF 405 lines.

If you don't know about BBC2 then you have missed some really great programmes over the years and I feel kinda sad for your narrow minded existence.
There is a whole world outside of ITV1 and its soaps, gameshows and celeb TV you know.

Re:Great Series of shows (2)

sqldr (838964) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746412)

Wait.. people WATCH BBC1? I've heard they have shows like "eastenders" and "strictly come dancing" on there. If they'd put it on BBC1 I would've missed it.

Re:Great Series of shows (2)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746552)

I watch QI on BBC 1... wait, no, that's BBC 2.
University Challenge then... wait, BBC 2.
Top Gear... ah, no, 2 again.
Mock the Week... BBC 2.
Newsnight... BBC 2...
Have I got News for You... Ah! Yes. BBC 1!

Re:Great Series of shows (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747962)

I watch QI on BBC 1... wait, no, that's BBC 2.

And thank god they moved it back. It was terrible on BBC 1. Went from "let's say something quite interesting" to "lets all shout at the same time!LOL!" and back again.

Re:Great Series of shows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38746748)

God yeah, I won't watch anything with the cast of Mock the Week in it. Wait...

Re:Great Series of shows (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746794)

It's more the fact that BBC 3 is the 'reruns' channel. I think Frankie Howards Good News is pretty much their only original content and that gets repeated ad nauseum between series

Re:Great Series of shows (3, Funny)

MattBecker82 (1686358) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746876)

Do you mean Russell Howard? Just imagine Frankie Howerd doing that show: "And here's my mystery guest this week. Let me guess, were you in the news for boarding the wrong flight and getting tossed off by a stewardess? Now, now, settle down. Ooh, missus!"

Re:Great Series of shows (2)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746882)

I think I just merged Frankie Boyle and Russel Howard.

I scared myself.

Re:Great Series of shows (2)

Zixia (534893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747444)

Um, BBC1 HD is just a mirror of BBC1, but in HD. Auntie couldn't have shown a BBC2 programme in HD except on BBC HD.

Re:Great Series of shows (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746188)

It took over BBC HD which was nice too.

Bah (2, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#38745852)

They were probably planted by the show's producers, to drive up ratings.

Re:Bah (3, Funny)

zebidee (40430) | more than 2 years ago | (#38745896)

Planting a whole planet just for ratings would be a bit excessive wouldn't it? ;)

Re:Bah (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38745916)

Why the cynicism? The PlanetHunters site wasn't set up specifically for the show, it was a "citizen science" project running independently (and still is). Users of the site apparently tripled and worked on over a million images in 24 hours which is a pretty awesome amount of help from a three-night show, although I can't find a mention of what is "normal" traffic for the site.

Besides, the show is over now, it was only on for three nights, so there are no more ratings to drive up.

The Beeb have done this sort of thing before: as far as I remember during a documentary on climate changed they encouraged viewers to get involved with a BOINC weather analysis project. The difference there is that BOINC projects don't involve people actively examining the data themselves and it's very hard to separate out individual contributions.

Re:Bah (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746108)

Uhm, hear that whooshing sound? It's not a flying car passing by.

Dara (5, Informative)

MullerMn (526350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38745952)

While describing Dara O'Briain as a comedian is accurate, it's worth nothing that he has a degree in mathematics and theoretical physics.. He's not just there for fart jokes.

Re:Dara (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746014)

There's the other one too. Him that isn't Rob Brydon. I'd tell you his actual name but ... curse you Wikipedia!

Re:Dara (2)

MattBecker82 (1686358) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746054)

You mean the one that played keyboards for D:Ream? (Wasn't he the first Hannibal Lector too, or am I getting confused?)

Re:Dara (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38746102)

I always wonder if that ever comes up when one of his PhD students is having a rough time.

"Don't worry Mike, I know your last set of results look awful even though you put months of effort into it, but look at it this way: Things! Can only get BETTER! *While doing a little jig*"

Re:Dara (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746104)

No, I mean there's another comedian who's right brainy at science and stuff. He's one of them two that aren't Mitchell & Webb.

No doubt there are plenty of people (mostly Daily Mail readers) harrumping about dumbing down, pop stars, etc etc.

Re:Dara (5, Informative)

MattBecker82 (1686358) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746148)

Ben Miller? Wikipedia says [wikipedia.org] he started a PhD in Quantum Physics and Cambridge (then abandoned that to go showbiz).

See also Brian May [wikipedia.org] , who completed his Astrophysics PhD after a three-decade hiatus playing guitar in some band.

Re:Dara (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38746628)

Queen's Brain May as well.

Re:Dara (3, Funny)

MattBecker82 (1686358) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746886)

Not to mention Brian May, who was lead guitarist with Queen.

Re:Dara (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38750482)

But "Queen's Brain" is also a pretty good name for a band. ;)

Things Can Only Get Better / Universe Heat Death (3, Funny)

evilandi (2800) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746362)

>You mean the one that played keyboards for D:Ream?

The lyrics of which told us that "Things Can Only Get Better" despite Professor Brian Cox spending most of the subsequent decades telling us that the universe will end up in a still, frozen heat death. [wikipedia.org]

The Labour party successfully used the song as their campaign slogan. Their time in office ended in a crippling debt crisis whereby there was no money left to perform any more government work, in a remarkable allusion to Cox's lectures on how maximum entropy will mean that heat differentials will no longer be available to perform any more work in the universe whatsoever.

Re:Things Can Only Get Better / Universe Heat Deat (2)

MattBecker82 (1686358) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746572)

I think you've just paved the way for a new academic discipline: Comparative Thermodynamic Econo-politics. Wanna organise a conference? We could get News Corp or someone to sponsor it.

Re:Dara (3, Informative)

David at Eeyore (20627) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746078)

Ben Miller (he was on QI with Rob Brydon on ABC1 on Wednesday Night)

Re:Dara (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747954)

There's also Bill Nye.

Re:Dara (1)

arnodf (1310501) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747120)

I admit I wasn't very accurate when writing the summary because in fact no exoplanet was discovered but major signs for one were. They still need to double check with the guys at Hawaii I think to confirm it.
It was mentioned on the show that Dara has a degree in maths and physics but that's not what we know and love him for is it? :-)

What? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38746226)

Alien 1 - What do they call it again?
Alien 2 - Earth!

Alien 1 - Why would they call it that? Its blue!
Alien 2 - Our name for it - Krup - is so much meaningful and relevant.

Alien 1 - Must be a bunch of nitwits living there.
Alien 2 - Yup!

Re:What? (1)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | more than 2 years ago | (#38750080)

Formerly "Aliens", they are now beings from the planet [pause for suspense...] "Colin Smith"

Only the BBC could so progs like this (4, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746752)

You'd never get a commercial channel doing live astronomy for 3 nights. In fact they barely tough science at all these days except for the occasional Discovery channel funded sensationalist drivel on channel 5 ("OMG , tidal waves, asteroids, earthquakes, we're all gonna die!! - but find out how after the break" type stuff)

This sort of program alone - almost - makes the license fee worth the money.

Re:Only the BBC could so progs like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38746778)

BBC is like a PBS with funding.

I was going to knock TV here in the states, but then realized comparing BBC to a commercial channel is apples to oranges.

Re:Only the BBC could so progs like this (4, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 2 years ago | (#38746940)

A few weeks ago they aired an hour long show on a Sunday evening in which Prof Brian Cox gave a lecture on atomic structure, quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle and wave-particle duality to a bunch of celebrities. It was very edutaining, but can you imagine pitching that show to a commercial network?

Re:Only the BBC could so progs like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38748260)

I watched that.

He said that Pauli's exclusion principle means that knowledge at a distance can happen. (He said that warming up a rock in his hand means that every particle in the universe has to change instantly(his word) due to PEP

I lost off respect for Brian Cox.

I wish that programme didn't get funding. It produced more "WooWoo" science than it dismissed, and a lot of my friends who watched it misunderstood what he had said.

Re:Only the BBC could so progs like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38748600)

He was a little cute given his audience but if you think that's what he was saying about PEP then I suggest you have a read of this: http://www.hep.manchester.ac.uk/u/forshaw/BoseFermi/Double%20Well.html

Re:Only the BBC could so progs like this (-1, Troll)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747002)

a) It's the licenCe fee
b) You're not qualified to state whether it's worth the money unless you speak for everyone who has to pay it legally, because they're often being forced to pay it against their will. Unles everyone thinks so, it isn't worth it.

Re:Only the BBC could so progs like this (4, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747110)

Unles everyone thinks so, it isn't worth it.

By that reasoning, nothing is ever worth it.

Re:Only the BBC could so progs like this (2)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747216)

a) Picking someone up on a typo ceased to be an impressive counter argument sometime in the early 80s.

b) No one is being forced to pay FFS. Don't want to pay? Sell your TV. We're not talking food and medicine here, wer're talking a non essential piece of entertainment equipment. And what planet do you live on where you expect 100% consensus on anything before you think its worth a damn?

Re:Only the BBC could so progs like this (1)

Maritz (1829006) | more than 2 years ago | (#38751966)

Unles everyone thinks so, it isn't worth it.

Either you didn't quite think this through or you're effectively saying that nothing is ever, ever worth it. Good luck getting 100% of people to agree ;)

Re:Only the BBC could so progs like this (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747786)

This sort of program alone - almost - makes the license fee worth the money.

I guess you forgot the smiley-face.

The "licence fee" (in reality a tax: collected under force of law and threat of punishment for non-payment if you own a TV) is £145 per year (about 220USD) and gifts the BBC about £3Bn annually. This pays for a series of 9 TV advertisement free channels and a whole slew of radio stations: both national and local.
For £3 Bil, I'd expect a dam' sight more than 3 hours of astronomy every year - hell, I'd expect a direct feed from a dedicated space telescope.

As for commercial channels not going anywhere near this sort of (non-soap, non-reality, non gameshow) programming. it's not hard to see why. They are trying to complete against a corporation that gives away its product for free. A corp. that has its income guaranteed irrespective of downturns and recessions - or even competition. Since BBC TV channels don't have ad-breaks, they don't run the risk of losing a proportion of their audience every 10 minutes and don't have to limit themselves to programmes that the advertisers want to sponsor or buy space around.

It would be interesting to see if a more fair and commercially balanced TV-scape would give rise to some healthy competition (instead of a scramble to stay alive) that would raise the quality, and maybe even the breadth, of programming across the board if all the broadcasters got a share of the licence fee and they all had to put up with the same commercial realities.

Re:Only the BBC could so progs like this (3, Insightful)

Soruk (225361) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747940)

It would be interesting to see if a more fair and commercially balanced TV-scape would give rise to some healthy competition (instead of a scramble to stay alive) that would raise the quality, and maybe even the breadth, of programming across the board if all the broadcasters got a share of the licence fee and they all had to put up with the same commercial realities.

Have you ever tried to watch American television?

Re:Only the BBC could so progs like this (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748070)

Have you ever tried to watch American television?

Frequently - whenever I'm in the country. Have you ever wondered why so many of the successful/high-quality dramas on British TV are american imports?

Re:Only the BBC could so progs like this (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748652)

And have you ever wondered how many are produced by pay TV companies such as HBO? I wonder why that is...

Re:Only the BBC could so progs like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38751544)

Yes, series like Touching Evil, Life on Mars, The Office, Antiques Roadshow, Cracker.

Re:Only the BBC could so progs like this (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 2 years ago | (#38747958)

You only have to look at cable TV in the UK or the entire television setup in the US to see that the one thing you would definitely not get by defunding the BBC is a rise in quality.

Re:Only the BBC could so progs like this (1)

Jaruzel (804522) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748662)

For accuracy, I think it's worth pointing out that Channel 4 get a teeny-weeny slice of the licence fee also.

Re:Only the BBC could so progs like this (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 2 years ago | (#38759578)

There is a lot more than 3 hours of astronomy per year - you are forgetting the slew of Horizons, Sky at Nights, and all the rest. Also the BBC is mandated to produce a certain amount of factual, educational TV, which commercial stations (bar Channel 4) are exempt from, letting them chase after the easy buck. But I digress.

Re:Only the BBC could so progs like this (1)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 2 years ago | (#38751264)

Absolutely agree.

I watched all 6 programmes (including the follow-up Star Gazing Live: Down To Earth) and was thankful that the BBC hasn't yet been destroyed by the Tories and their cronyism with the Murdoch Empire.

Genuine public service broadcasting.

From Wikipedia:

[...] the mission of the Corporation is to "inform, educate and entertain". It states that the Corporation exists to serve the public interest and to promote its public purposes: sustaining citizenship and civil society, promoting education and learning, stimulating creativity and cultural excellence, representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities, bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK, helping to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services [...]

Unlike Murdoch et al. whose sole purpose is to create profit.

UFO real stargazing make announcing !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38751836)

I heard rumour government make announcement UFO's are for real will be later in this year. Stargazing is to get us friendly and trustworthing and these persons will be used to make us feel happy, trusting and informed and not panicking in the streets etc. Does you someone know this also? I am very exciting of this news and think it be very soon.

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