Archive by Author | profalanbarr

What are you talking about?

While the clicks are gathering, and while various people, including schools working with IRIS, are analysing the resulting data, I’ve been starting a study of what’s being discussed on the Talk forum. A wordcloud of the content of the comments already tells us quite a lot…

WordCloud from HiggsHunter talk

Unsurprisingly #ocv is the top-ranked hashtag as people indicate they’ve found an off-centre vertex.

As we might expect, citizen scientists use descriptors like “blue” or “white” to describe objects in the images, and then there’s also a good deal of further analysis, with words like “branches”, “center” and “detector”. Clearly some images are hard to interpret as they’re #messy, or otherwise generally a #toughie. Fortunately at least some are “interesting”!

It is great that there’s plenty of particle physics technical talk of “muon”, “quark”.  I love even more that the hashtag “#bundle” has developed its own meaning within the HiggsHunters community, even though it’s not one used in the generaly particle physics jargon. Clearly the Zooniverse’s citizen scientists are developing their own technical vocabulary for the images.

So my next job is to go out and understand those new terms…!



Schools start HiggsHunting

Discussions of the HiggsHunters team with Prof Peter Higgs at the schools launch in Edinburgh

Discussions of the Zooniverse team with Prof Peter Higgs at the HiggsHunters schools launch in Edinburgh

As part of the legacy of the HiggsHunters project, school children in the UK and around the world are being given the chance to search in the HiggsHunters data for new particles.

Getting schools doing cutting-edge research is the brainchild of the amazing school teacher Prof Becky Parker, who has set up the Institute for Research in Schools to bring real search from NASA, CERN and elsewhere to schools.
students2.pngPupils at the HiggsHunters schools launch

We launched the project to an audience of Scottish school kids and their teachers at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 16th September. The expert panel answering their questions contained one particularly famous face in the field – Prof Peter Higgs himself.