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, Edu Story : David – pt.1, Astronomy Altar

Edu Story : David – pt.1

Citizen Scientist

Its early, its so damn early. Snow was covering the window, and the window never shuts all the way so the room was always cold. The only thing that made it worth while was the smell, a mix of stale wood and wet leaves and the smell of pine needles and wet dirt , like some sort of strange, wet cave.

Well its time to get up, another day, so much to do. David got up, shaken his head and went to drink some morning coffee. As always his little furry friend was following him to the kitchen. As the water was starting to boil David stopped their morning stretch routine and went to sit at his computer to check out some news, mostly tech news and some meme sites he liked, the world was not that interesting to him.

Sometimes he did check out world headlines to see what was happening from time to time, if there is another war or some unstoppable pandemic or a zombie apocalypse.

The time was to get to work. He was a cashier at the local McDrive, and mornings were always busy, people needed to get some breakfast and they need it now. David liked his job, he had something to do to keep him busy and not distracted by the social scene in the office.

The Job paid the bills and his monthly World of Warcraft subscription. After the morning rush he had time for himself, and a computer. He used this time well, one of his loves was Astronomy and he loved to look at the stars and day dream about planets and moons and all the things that came from the depths of space. He used this time to learn about it. Everything he read about it was interesting.

He knew he will never be a famous Astronomer but he had other talents that he acquired at his former job as a Software Engineer at Google. UC Berkeley, his former home, had developed an app to use data collected from satellites and other sources to scan for anomalies and find other stars, planets , asteroids etc… The project was meant for anyone with a computer to use, when your computer was idle the app started up and went to work on the data, if you wanted to aid science this was one of the best ways, bitcoin and cryptos did not interest him, they were too boring. David used his time to spread the app on computers all over the McDonald’s network. Because of David McDonald’s was top 2 contributor to NASA projects and other Science Centres, and they did not even know it. Top 1 was Starbucks, they had a David also.

When his shift was over it was time head back home. He got on his bike and started to pedal. It was snowing and the road was dangerous, just the way he liked it. He got fat tires and there were not many people around, snow is scary i guess. Radiohead was playing in his ears, and the snow was soft, like velvet , just like the moon on a clear night.

When he got home, the furry creature was waiting for him. Kitty was not hungry because he build a machine to feed it, and a machine to play with it with a sophisticated AI that was almost immune to bugs and software issues, but cat hair was its worst enemy. If humanity ever goes to war with machines all it has to use to fight them is cat hair, T-800 is not a match for cat hair.

When he got around to do all his house work, and play with kitty, it was time to chill for a bit. For this he went to a website called Zooniverse. There he volunteered as a Citizen Scientist on a lot of projects, his favorite were space projects. Scientists need help from people like David because projects need human eyes to make good decisions. The human brain is the best pattern recognition tool there is, no AI can come close, yet. His project that he was working on at the time was a project called Planet X. It was a project from NASA, there was a gravitational anomaly beyond Pluto and they did not know what it was. They had satellites pointed at the location but there was nothing there. It could be an unknown planet, or maybe a small black hole with an enormous gravitational influence , or something else that they just didn’t know about.

He scrolled trough the pictures and marked his observations to make it easier for the next person that is going to look at the same picture to see points of interest. One thing that surprised him was that there were many people posting about similar images and observations. He did not know so many ordinary people were interested in helping complex science projects. They had to learn about a project and make test observations and read about the science behind the project to help them make better observations. He was very observant and systematic about the way he worked and that helped him make very good discovery that were later confirmed by respected institutions.

As he was looking at the picture of a thing that looked like a comet, kitty jumped on his table and knocked a glass of wine that was just next to the keyboard. Wine spilled all over the keyboard and he sat there trying to clean it. He had to wait for the keyboard to get dry. Kitty was licking his paw and didn’t not care about his mess and wine that was spilled, it was a good vintage damn kitty. The picture was still on the screen, a giant screen. He had time to take a good look at the maybe comet beyond Pluto. Then he saw it, it was a glimmer of light just behind the comet. A strange shape, he never saw anything like it before, and he saw thousands of pictures. David was intrigued, not many things made him feel this way, but this was one of the things that made his heart beat. He took the mouse and zoomed on the picture. There it was, the anomaly, the thing that made NASA ask help for from the community because the billion dollar instruments where not enough. He had to confirm it was what he believed it really was. He posted it on the site forum and asked for opinion from other people. Other people confirmed it. Soon it reached NASA scientists and the discovery spread very fast. First articles appeared on the scientific news than on the mainstream media. They read “NASA discovered a new planet orbiting the Sun”. NASA wanted to give David the credit for it, he could give it a name if he wanted. But he chose to stay anonymous. He did not care about the credit, he did not care about fame. All he cared about was the next thing that could peek his interest, the next problem. Its finally time to make cat hair cleaning machine, his Magnum Opus.

by Nova


This was a story about David and his quest.

If you want to help out science projects like David i suggest you go and visit the sites mentioned in the story.

Here is a cool picture i found on Zooniverse:

, Edu Story : David – pt.1, Astronomy Altar
Subject-20927792

And here is a certificate i got for a project using UC Berkeleys app SETI@home on a NASA SETI Project:

, Edu Story : David – pt.1, Astronomy Altar