Black Holes: gotta find ’em all

By: Bria Eldon

Have you ever looked up at the night sky and wondered what is up there? While there still isn’t definite proof of aliens, scientists have found images of  supermassive black holes and Radio Galaxy Zoo is trying to analyze them. Radio Galaxy Zoo is an internet citizen scientist program on the Zooniverse that allows regular people to analyze scientific data. Citizen scientists are regular people who help scientists analyze data. Scientists often have too much data to analyze themselves. So instead of analyzing it all, scientists post it online so citizen scientists can analyze the data. In Radio Galaxy Zoo, citizen scientists can compare radio images, from the Very Large Telescope Array, in New Mexico. The telescope takes images of galaxies and matches them with infrared images from the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The infrared images are of supermassive black holes. The project could explain why some galaxies have supermassive black holes.

The problem with finding black holes is that they are black! Light can’t escape black holes, so you can’t observe them directly. Most black holes end up taking in too much gas and some of it comes back up known as a jet, which is similar to what happens when you eat a little too much and it doesn’t all stay down. Jets, and in turn black holes, can be observed with radio waves, which is important because scientists don’t know a lot about how supermassive black holes form. If scientists can find galaxies and supermassive black holes in different stages of formation, then understand the different stages of formation. Scientists also study the host galaxy for more information that can be used to find context about a black hole, which is typically about the black hole’s size and luminosity as well as potentially how these black holes are formed, which is still a mystery.

This project can be used to find a correlation between galaxies and their supermassive black holes. The project could also elucidate out why some black holes are active and others aren’t. This could be used to understand how galaxies are forming now, as well as being used to understand how the Milky Way formed.


As Shakespeare Liked It

By: Jenny Moore

Romeo and Juliet is a timeless tale of romance, revenge, and family feuds. This tale has been performed on countless stages, taught in English classrooms, and even made for the silver screen. But, how much do you really know about the mastermind behind it all? William Shakespeare is recognized around the world for his literary genius, but not much is known about the daily things he did. Frankly, we don’t know much about what any individuals did.  Early Modern England is a mystery, but now, exactly 400 years after his death, we are finally trying to understand this mysterious time period. Through the Zooniverse project Shakespeare’s World, citizen scientists can help unravel the mysteries of this past world.

The project is simple. You are given a page from either a recipe book or a letter that was written by Shakespeare or one of his peers and a cipher key for the cursive writing. Then you’re asked to transcribe what you can; you can transcribe the whole page, or just a sentence. Then you simply click done and move on to a new page! Multiple people may be given the same page if you decided not to transcribe all of it. The fully transcribe page is sent to the scientist behind the project and they review it.

Now, here’s the interesting part, not only are you helping unravel this mysterious time period, but you’re also helping understand how the English language developed. Shakespeare practically had his own language with hundreds of words that he created and used throughout his writings. You possibly could come across a word or phrase that hasn’t been recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary! How awesome is that! However these words are written in Old English. Discovering them and transcribing them in turn will help historians discern how Modern English developed from these old terms.

This project, while not only helping the Oxford English Dictionary expand its vocabulary, is crucial in helping understand this time period in a way that Historians and textbooks cannot describe. These texts that you will transcribe help us understand what daily life was like in the past. They focus on individuals and their interests, rather than society as a whole. They transport us back in time and immerse us in what life was like then!

Now, the project is still in the initial phases. So, they only have you transcribe letters and recipe books to focus specifically on individuals actions, instead of broad topics in Shakespeare’s community. Phase one of this project is designed to understand the individuals of Early Modern England, not the society as a whole. In the future, however,  the scientists behind it plan on transcribing family papers and even legal documents to begin understanding the entire society.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, what better time to start learning about this creative giant? So get out there and start transcribing!!