Thoughts on science, scores, and naming

This forum is for discussing space science topics related to Stardust@home.

Moderator: DustMods

Post Reply
speck
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Aug 09, 2006 6:14 am
Location: Seattle, Wahington, USA, Earth

Thoughts on science, scores, and naming

Post by speck »

First, let me say how honored I am to be participating in this endeavour and how impressed I am with the community's overall investment in doing a good job. The Berkley folks are putting a terrific amount of thought and energy into this and I'd like to send my kudos for that too.

But I do have a couple of remarks/concerns.

Science, on a day to day level, is mostly a boring slog. Collecting data is hours and hours of careful effort with minimal immediate reward. It is only after collecting enough data to start doing some analysis, and getting a glimmer of the "big picture" that the reward starts to come into focus.

Let's keep perspective folks; we have just barely started collecting data. There is a long slog ahead of us but we are going to be part of something important to the future of humankind.

Please keep in mind that it is just as important to identify the slides that do NOT need further examination as identifying those that do; resources are limited, everthing that helps spend them wisely is an equal contribution to the cause.

In regard to the scoring and naming issues. I can see why the project was set up with these rewards but I wonder if they might be counterproductive.

Motivation is a good thing and people can be motivated by the opportunity to be "first" and to have something named after them. At the same time, they can be very discouraged by the fact that, even with diligent effort, these may be out of reach.

We want folks to stay interested and to feel good about sticking with it; as people get more experience and develop their skills, their efforts will be more and more valuable. And, as to wise use of resources, we want bandwith used to generate useful data not just sheer volume.

I propose that the project consider some changes. I'd like to see a more "even" playing field and rewards that don't focus on individual achievement, but on group achievement.

I think it would be more beneficial to provide overall stats. Something like "total number of slides reviewed" or "percent of project done" or "possible 'hits' identified". Yes, the numbers would move slowly, but I think the more realistic picture would keep our community, as a group, motivated.

As to the naming. This does worry me because it promotes folks just racing thru slides and marking lots of them as positives so that, if it turns out something is there, they will have been "first". This could produce some pretty funky results and it discourages those who do fewer slides from just hanging in there. Everyone's efforts are equally important and everyone should have an equal "chance". I think it would be more useful to take the pool of people who identified a "hit" slide as a positive and draw randomly from that pool for the naming honor. Yes, this requires more administrative messing around, but I think the impact on the quality of the data, the recruiting of new participants, and the retention of participants, would be worth the effort.

Thanks to all, again,

I'll be quiet now :-)

speck
- Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonite - I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonite. - Anonymous

icebike

Re: Thoughts on science, scores, and naming

Post by icebike »

speck wrote:
Please keep in mind that it is just as important to identify the slides that do NOT need further examination as identifying those that do;
speck
Truer words were never spoken.

That's why I wish we could get some CLEAR guidance on these faint tracks or "inclusions". I spend a lot of time on these, especially when they are visable thru a significant number of layers in a movie.

My scan time could be cut in half If we knew for sure these were manufacturing inclusions, and not potential tracks.


As to nameing.... Anybody who names a dust spec after me immediatly becomes a member of my S**t-List. :evil:

Cass
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Aug 09, 2006 8:26 pm
Location: Lloydminster, Alberta Canada

Re: Thoughts on science, scores, and naming

Post by Cass »

speck wrote:
Science, on a day to day level, is mostly a boring slog. Collecting data is hours and hours of careful effort with minimal immediate reward. It is only after collecting enough data to start doing some analysis, and getting a glimmer of the "big picture" that the reward starts to come into focus.
Yep, day to day research IS a slog. What keeps you going as a researcher is genuine interest in your topic especially when doing cutting edge science. This team waited years to find out if they were even going to have any data. They are lucky to have us and we are lucky to be able to participate at our own pace.
speck wrote:
We want folks to stay interested and to feel good about sticking with it; as people get more experience and develop their skills, their efforts will be more and more valuable. And, as to wise use of resources, we want bandwith used to generate useful data not just sheer volume.
I think once more certificates get implemented, people will feel more individual achievement. A main complaint seems to be lack of immediate feedback. Perhaps a chat session would give those people more of a team feeling .... or they could find out how boring meetings can be even when you are interested in the topic at hand :D

Everything takes time and I think these guys have been amazingly responsive to the community of volunteers.

Happy dusting
Last edited by Cass on Thu Aug 10, 2006 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Nikita
DustMod
Posts: 994
Joined: Wed May 17, 2006 8:33 pm
Location: Indiana, USA

Post by Nikita »

Speck,

Hi and welcome to Stardust! Thanks for your opinions and ideas. I hope you had a chance to read the FAQ's, announcements and updates as there is a lot of information there! (I know, A LOT, but it really is helpful!)

I can't speak for the team, but I can say that the team is small, very small, about 6. I do know that the posts are checked and ideas and suggestions are not randomly discarded. 6 people can't respond to the forum, check all issues immediately, answer questions and prepare for the next batch of slides, while continuing other projects and have a personal life. Phew, I'm tired writing that!

The short of it is, don't get discouraged if you don't get replies from the Stardust team, and don't stop thinking! (just be sure you check for existing threads before starting a new one) As you said we are just starting and science is a learned and sometimes painful process! One team got us this far and now we are the whole team to carry it through!

Good luck! May the dust be with you!
From dust we come

templar781
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu Aug 03, 2006 9:19 am
Location: St. Petersburg Florida
Contact:

Post by templar781 »

Good topic Nikita and particularly well written. It's good to see that so many people care about the integrity of the project, because a lot of people have raised objections to those who just blast through the movies looking for a good score. But think about it. The same people who have hours and hours to waste seeing a little number on the screen change are those that don't have jobs, don't follow the rules, and in turn aren't very disciplined. I think that those same types of people will not be with us very much longer. They will tire of going through thousands of slides, which let's face it is boring, and return to the ranks of WOW or wherever. Those of us who truly love science and discovery will continue to help the project progress to whatever conclusion it may come to. So don't worry about the high scorers as there are several features built in to the study to weed them out. :lol:

Dust On!
Winning isn't everything, but wanting to win is. - Vince Lombardi

WeBeGood
Posts: 65
Joined: Thu Aug 03, 2006 7:26 am
Location: Texas, USA

Post by WeBeGood »

Science to me, is the human thirst for knowledge and understanding our universe. From an understanding of the smallest component within ourselves, to beyond the furthest known object, and how they relate to one another. An understanding of...

Scores are unimportant in the quest for knowledge, but is important in controlling ourselves and others. It's part of our internal control loop, driving one to achieve individual goals and is very different from one person to the next as are their individual life experiences. And, it's part of our external control loop, how one person or group controls another. Getting some other group to do the things they want. It's a "control" thing.

Naming, is simply the process by which we separate and identify different things. In Science, the naming of something should convey knowledge about that thing. To bring a better understanding of what we observe and how relates to things we already know.

With respect to StarDust@Home and how these three things relate, it's ... well I'm not really interested in getting into that right now. Cosmic Snowflakes are attracting my attention and is really much more interesting right now. To me anyway.

But I will say this about the StarDust@Home project, it is an honor to participate in such an experiment in group collaboration over the world wide web. And as an experiment, I too hope that is successful, fair, educational,... and sparks the imagination of those who are participating.

Craig Fink
Last edited by WeBeGood on Fri Aug 11, 2006 5:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
Courtesy E-Mail Welcome @ WeBeGood@GMail.Com

MahFL
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 3:17 am
Location: Florida, USA.

Post by MahFL »

I too feel honoured to be taking part. I must admit that in the begining I rushed through the slides pretty quickly, though still doing ok at spotting tracks, now having reached the top 100 I am taking more care.

Kalman
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Aug 09, 2006 5:18 am
Location: Budapest, Hungary

Re: Thoughts on science, scores, and naming

Post by Kalman »

icebike wrote: That's why I wish we could get some CLEAR guidance on these faint tracks or "inclusions". I spend a lot of time on these, especially when they are visable thru a significant number of layers in a movie.
...
My scan time could be cut in half If we knew for sure these were manufacturing inclusions, and not potential tracks.
Yeah, you woke up a few thoughts in my brain... about science and our little specs. They are possibly not only a social or administrative issue. We have a built in expectation (thanks for school conditioning) that scientists should have a definitive answer for any question. This project is not of that sort. This is why I am here!!! Thanks for that!

So it is possible that our problem with specs is really a technology issue, something is new even for the team. To give an overall advice and change something underway needs great care. I think we should trust them and use our common sense.
In regard of scan time I feel the same as you. I tend to stop worrying about specs. If I find one, good. I write down movie number in that case. I hope it will save my soul... :roll:
--Kalman

MahFL
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 3:17 am
Location: Florida, USA.

Post by MahFL »

Anyone think we are seeing less calibration movies v real movies than we used to ?

niejell
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2006 1:10 pm
Location: Maryland, USA

Post by niejell »

Yes .... and there aren't that many with the tiny tiny tracks anymore.
Shakin da tree...

Post Reply