Month: January 2011

Dynamic Patterns Research Identifies Candidate Exoplanet

Light curve for star SPH10046881 with candidate transiting exoplanet, analyzed by Dynamic Patterns Research on Planet

Recently, Dynamic Patterns Research featured a review of the important citizen science project of Planet Hunters where anyone can sign up to visually analyze light curves obtained from NASA’s Kepler Discovery Mission (read more).

We continued to work through the light curve data, sifting through images that may or may not contain potential signatures for a transiting planet around the observed star.

The Planet Hunters team carefully reviews the identifications, and just announced a new set of potential exoplanets. These newly discovered light curves will still require additional independent observations and measurements before any claim is made about the existence of a planet.

At this time, Dynamic Patterns Research is listed as a co-identifier of a potential exoplanet around a dwarf star about 0.87 times the size of our Sun. It has an apparent visual magnitude of 15.2 and a temperature 5,730 K. More information about this star can be see on the Kepler Target Search Results database (view). This star, labelled SPH10046881, and it’s light curve with the apparent exoplanet transit can be view online on Planet Hunters (view).

More light curve data is pouring into the Planet Hunters system from the ongoing Kepler dataset, so now is a great time to get involved in Planet Hunters. It’s not difficult to participate, but it is so important to help out with this critical process of discovery right now. Someday we may need to learn from the experiences and histories of these other planetary systems to prepare for the future of our own home world. And, we may even need to take the long haul trip to a neighbor planet — hopefully for a joy ride — but possibly for the continuing existence of humanity.

Start hunting now!

A New Model for Citizen Science in the Classroom

The scientific literacy of the American student has been dropping for quite some time now, and we often hear about this serious problem (here and here and, oh, over here). Our national educational system — from both the public and private sectors — are in place to do something about it, and many have great intentions to do so.

One institution of higher education, Bard College, launched a new program before classes started in January 2011 with the goal of instilling a new sense of appreciation for scientific understanding and process (read the press release, April 10, 2010). Citizen Science at Bard College (visit) is required for all incoming Freshman and includes faculty from across the country to engage with students in a new and exciting educational forum. (Read more: Citizen Science at Bard Article.)

The inaugural students’ responses from this largely “right-brained”-leaning school were mixed.  Some were annoyed that they lost time from their break while others approached the academic pursuit as something that could really broaden their outlook. This unsurprising span is certainly common in all classrooms, but with no grades nor credits at stake and only the requirement of guided scientific playing, this effort by Bard College is an outstanding idea to spark renewed excitement in science for the next generation of United States citizens.

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“An Infusion of Science Where the Arts Reign” :: The New York Times :: January 21, 2011 :: [ READ ]

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The Citizen Science course from Bard College should not directly create a new breed of professional scientists — this is the opposite goal of the program. More scientists in this country are always needed, but everyone doesn’t need to play that role. This country more desperately needs a broader base of its citizens to have an increased appreciation of science and technology.

We don’t need to be able to calculate the thermal emission and resulting temperature distribution in our living rooms when we just need to decide if we want to screw in a 60 W or 100 W light bulb in the lamp on the coffee table. However, we do need to be able to think about what we hear from the professionals and the politicians and the pundits. These “Three Ps” are supposed to be out there to help the rest of the world advance into a better future, but sometimes — and maybe more often than some of us would like — they claim ideas that really need to be shut down and sorted into File 13.

Forcing Physics 101 onto first-year college students has been the vehicle to drive science rigor into our daily brain activity. And while this should still be a important component to this effort, Physics 101 alone is proving to be inefficient in its results. Citizen Science is growing into a viable outlet for broad based scientific appreciation in informal education, and developing this approach in the classroom will be a critical advancement in academia’s responsibility to the future of scientific literacy in America.

Dynamic Patterns Research will be looking forward to watching Citizen Science in the Classroom explode through universities and high schools in the next few years. If you are involved in these sorts of efforts or are interested discussing how to make Citizen Science active at your academic institution, please contact Dynamic Patterns Research to see what fires we can start together.

Google Opens Virtual Science Fair

Google always needs to be hiring the next generation of the brightest and best science and technology students from around the world. Google also wants to influence technology-driven youngsters to love using their products and services.

So, what better way to help maintain their critical applicant pool and develop their future customers than to inspire that generation with a science competition that offers big, big rewards.

The 2011 Google Science Fair is an online global science competition now open for anyone age 13 to 18. Applicants — with permission from their parents or guardians — use online Google web services and guidance to develop, implement, and report on a science project. Winners will receive huge monetary awards or internships or amazing experiences at research centers around the world.

Sign up online and help your young Einstein develop their science skills with Google support. Teachers are also directed on how to encourage their students to participate and bring this exciting new opportunity to the classroom. The deadline for final project entry is April 4, 2011. If your family or classroom is participating, please let Dynamic Patterns Research know about your experience!

January 2011 Northern Hemisphere Sky Map

As we begin the second decade of the third millennium, take time to watch the Moon as is appears to visit near Jupiter, Saturn and Venus this month. It will be full on January 19, and maybe on that particular evening you should take a moment to just stare at the Moon. Think about it. There is this enormous rock floating around you and it just keeps rotating about. Time continues forward and that Moon appears to you now the same way it did to the Earth three millenniums previous and it will still look the same three millenniums in the future. You are but a speck in both the expansive dimension of space as well as the immense duration of time, but it is incredible that you exist, and that the Moon exists, and that together you and it are part of an amazing reality.

January 2011 Northern Hemisphere Sky Map

Last updated April 5, 2020