Gamers have once more come through for science, helping to spot what may be two previously unidentified planets outside the solar system.
The game shows players actual recorded data of star light from the Kepler archive, and asks them to hunt for particular patterns which suggest the existence of planets and other objects.
Records flagged by gamers are then reviewed by a small group of scientists, who would otherwise have no hope of ploughing through the 150,000 records on file this side of next century – crowdsourcing, in other words. The Royal Astronomical Society then credits every user whose participation contributed to the identity of new objects of interest.
The two new planets were discovered just one month after the game launched. Following the announcement of the discoveries, Interest in the game has spiked, resulting in server overload, so you may want to save the URL and come back later.
The news comes hot on the heels of last week’s revelation that gamers had assisted in unraveling the protein structure of the AIDS virus, research with important implications for future treatments and the search for a cure.