CCP Games announced that EVE Online players can now join the search for exoplanets, as the company collaborates with Massively Multiplayer Online Science (MMOS), University of Reykjavik, and the University of Geneva together with its honorary professor Michel Mayor, winner of the prestigious 2017 Wolf Prize for Physics and discoverer of the first exoplanet.
Citizen Science is not new, prior to the 20th century, science was not funded nor dominated by researchers employed by universities or done in expensive laboratories. Researchers of the likes of Sir Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, and Descartes were regular folks, amateurs, and/or self-funded.
Fourteen years ago, with the popularity of the Internet, the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing or BOINC for short, became available. It allows ordinary folks, like you and me, to lend our computer’s resources to process scientific data and return the results to the experts for interpretation and further study. It is still very active today, and many discoveries for the past decade were due to the countless volunteers using BOINC.
Enter EVE Online, the longest-running and most massive space virtual world. In a coming update this year, EVE players will be able to interact with real-world astronomical data as they play the game through Project Discovery. Once enough players reach comparative consensus on classification of the data, it will be sent back to the University of Geneva for use in refining the search for exoplanets.
This was not the first time EVE Online players were able to contribute in Citizen Science. The first Project Discovery yielded incredible results in a short amount of time, with players submitting over 25 million classifications of human cells back to the Human Protein Atlas. “We were thrilled to see the successes of our first foray into citizen science, in which EVE players have been voracious contributors to the database of the Human Protein Atlas,” said Andie Nordgren, EVE’s Executive Producer.
In searching for the next dataset for our massive player community to tackle, the stars aligned for players to have the opportunity to directly contribute to the search for new planets with a world-renowned scientific team. Real people around the world collaborating in a virtual universe to explore the real universe is the stuff science fiction, and soon science fact, is made of.
A full presentation by Michel Mayor is scheduled on April 6 to 8 at EVE Fanfest 2017 in Reykjavik, Iceland. If you want to join and be a Citizen Scientist, start playing EVE Online today.
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