My advice to Newt: use the crowdFebruary 9th, 2012 by Ville Miettinen
Ever since he exploded onto our screens as the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters, it was clear (at least to 8 year olds like me) that Newt Gingrich would one day go places.
True to my (utterly fictitious) predictions, if you read the news at the moment there is no escaping him and his good friend Mitt Romney. This is important for us, because if Newt is successful, crowdsourcing may soon be a matter of National Security: the new President’s life may just depend on it.
The reason for this is that the White House is not the only place Newt has his eye on. In January Mr. Gingrich said that he would, if elected, create a base on the moon by 2020. Now, I don’t know if Newt has seen the trailers for Apollo 18, but if he has he will know that before he goes anywhere near the moon, he should make sure there are no aliens up there, lurking in the shadows of a crater, waiting to attack him.
Newtralizing alien threats
Fortunately for Newt, a plan has been developed by a couple of scientists over at Arizona State University. Paul Davies and Robert Wagner put forward a paper last year suggesting the Search for Extra Terrestrial Life (SETI) program should be supplemented by scanning the surface of the moon for signs of visitors from another planet. The idea is that any traces left by aliens making a pit stop on the lunar surface would be preserved by the moon’s minimal atmosphere.
The pair proposed that images taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) could be categorized by image scanning algorithms then distributed over the internet for a crowd of enthusiasts to look at. Any suspicious objects found this way could then be sent on to experts for further analysis.
The LRO has already mapped about 5.7 million km². Unfortunately the images have a rather distant maximum resolution of half a meter per pixel, so finding anything smaller than a campaign bus is going to be quite tough.
This got me thinking about another comment Newt has recently made, about how he would like to mine the moon after the base is established. You see, while the photos may not be detailed enough to make out any spaceship keys or baseball caps that aliens accidentally dropped, what they might reveal is lucrative looking mineral deposits.
Not only might such mineral discoveries fund Davies’ and Wagner’s crowdsourcing idea and the eventual cost of the moon base, it may even help Newt boost his campaign fund, which could make all the difference when up against the deep pockets of Mitt Romney.