For the past week I have found a brilliant excuse not to get on with the novel, I have been classifying galaxies, and before you think that I have gone totally gaga let me explain. On the news the other morning I heard a chap explaining how Oxford University wanted 'ordinary' people to look at images of distant galaxies and classify them using a relatively simple set of criteria.
Apparently this only the second time that this sort of thing has been done on such a large scale - the last project which was called just Galaxy Zoo, had 150,000 volunteer classifiers and the Oxford team were so impressed by the results that they have just launched the sequel, Galaxy Zoo 2.
Now I'm not particularly scientifically inclined (just ask my son!) nor am I a techie whizz (again ask said son) but when Dr Chris Lintott ( a Postdoctoral Researcher in Astrophysics) said that while Astrophysicists seem to have problems following the instructions for new classifiers on the website, the average 6 year old didn't, so it looked like I might be OK. In fact the only problem I have had so far (apart from spending far too much time on the site and not enough time writing the novel) is that I made a right fool of myself yesterday when I tried to post a message onto one of the forums and couldn't attach an image to it. (You use the forums to show something odd/strange in a Galaxy you have been classifying)
Now rather than bore you all to death with pictures of my favourite Galaxies and yes I am building quite a little portfolio of favourites, I will just say that while there has been much discussion on the forums about 'muffins' I feel that I might be the first to report a 'chili'.
You might need to squint to see it in the top right hand corner of the picture - I have taken to squinting at all the images - note to self; I really must get better lighting around the computer!
I will let you know if anyone comes back to me on my ground breaking discovery - so far the only messages I've had on the forum are those trying to explain to me how to attach an image - duhh, I don't think that I'm impressing them with my limited grasp of technology...