Reflections on 6 months of dusting

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Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 6:04 pm
Location: Houston, Texas

Reflections on 6 months of dusting

Post by stargazer »

Since I find that other participants' experiences are very helpful, I decided to make a compendium of my own history of dusting and encourage others to share.

Getting Stated:
My first experience was not discouraging. I discovered the site at my office computer, took the tutorial with great success, and registered. I started participating from home, and my first experiences were frustrating to say the least. I had a 0% hit rate on calibration movies with tracks. So I took the tutorial again, and also had a 0% hit rate – I was a total failure.
After scanning the help forum, I discovered that the problem was not me, but apparently my browser, Internet Explorer, was not returning the correct coordinates. After some web searching on alternative browsers, I installed Firefox, and finally passed the tutorial with flying colors!

Early Learning Curve:

In the early days, still I missed many tracks on the calibration movies. I consulted the help forum, and discovered that the screen resolution really needs to be adjusted so be able to see the smallest events. There was a steep learning curve. I would miss tracks for no apparent reason. Since I could not go back to review what mistakes I had made, I just forged ahead, occasionally reviewing the tutorial, and slowly climbed that learning curve. My scores on the callibration movies gradually improved.

Having fun – phase 1:

I frequently read the stardust news, the early findings, and web pages on the technology. This inspired my enthusiasm and fun in participation.
Aside: aerogel is really an incredible substance, and I wonder when it will have some spin-off in the general market!
I was actually amazed when I broke into the top ranks - 1000, 500, 200 and then into the top 100.

Taking a break:

But then I had a period of demanding work with travel, and so was inactive for nearly 2 months. The published findings from the initial studies on the comet particles inspired return to “active duty”. In hindsight, the break was very refreshing for the overall experience. I expect to take a few extended absences in the future, but still being committed to participate until the project ends.

Taking stock:
So here are my recent stats, and insight on the numbers:
Real Movies viewed: 46835 (this does not include the ones marked bad focus)
Callibration Movies viewed: 15733
Callibration Movies answered incorrectly:
- Without tracks: 8 out of 7753 (99.9%)
- With tracks: 62 out of 7980 (99.2%)
Total: 70 out of 15733

The missed tracks were due to the following causes (in order of likelihood)
1) Learning curve, inexperience
2) Using Internet Explorer, which did not report correct coordinates.
3) Being careless or tired (a missed track tells me when to quit a session)
4) User error (inadvertent clicks on windows)

The tracks clicked in error were due to the following causes:
1) User error (inadvertent clicks on windows)
2) Picking small inclusions as tracks

My Events are really amazing – it shows the program is working!!!
I have 127 Events:
- 63 Indeterminate (I know that a few of these are user error; others with more agreements have not been reviewed)
- 34 Not extraterrestrial (inclusions)
- 30 Passed cut 1 (25 are possible IDPs, one zap pit?, and 4 need to be rescanned)!

What I wish for on this project
1) There would be more frequent news about the project from the research team.
2) Other dusters would share their experiences
3) The ranking top ~1%, instead of the top 100 would be published. The top 5% would be even better as rewards and recognition.

Happy New Year everyone! I am really excited about the potential of our contributions to new discoveries in science for 2007.
"If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?"
--Albert Einstein
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