Scientists at CERN are turning to one of the most powerful tools in the world to analyse the data from an antimatter experiment: the public. Crowdsourcing science is a new and powerful way to crunch big data with the help of the internet and now you can play with some of the weirdest stuff in the universe from your own home.
Antimatter used to be confined to science fiction, but no more, and now scientists want to know whether it behaves the same as normal matter in a gravitational field - does it fall? If it acts in the opposite direction then it would be the first real world example of another science fiction concept: antigravity!
Some theories predict that antimatter will fall the same as normal matter, while others predict that it will fall faster than normal all the while the theory that it might fall up is not quite ruled out. Not yet. In order to answer this question researchers at the AEGIS experiment at CERN are asking the public through their crowdsourcing software to watch short animations of real particle annihilations and to pick out the particle paths. While the computer software can pick out most of them, there is a good deal of refining needed, this is where you come in! It is hoped that a human eye will help in spotting the tracks missed by the software and in picking out the false-positives, thus making the software much more reliable.
The first version of the software is live HERE and you can check it out! At current it is very basic and they are looking for a team of volunteer programmers to help improve it. Also at current the particle collisions are single antiprotons instead of whole antihydrogens which is due to occur in 2015, this means that at current we are unable to measure the effects of gravity but will be able to greatly refine the algorithm nonetheless.