This notion of Astronomical Proof-of-Work is just an idea I had off-the-cuff. I thought it might be interesting to explore together. Anton from "What Da Math" put out an interesting challenge:
In a nutshell, there's this old image:
It's from the 90s. Yet, if you try to load the full version, you might crash your computer. That's because it's over 700 MB. I took some precautions and downloaded it using
curl which is a command I can use in my terminal so that my browser won't try to load the image.
After loading it, I launched GIMP and asked it to load the file. GIMP was unhappy with it because of some color settings, so I let it do the conversion, which only took about 10 seconds.
Sure enough, the file loaded.
Then I zoomed into here:
This is just a ringed galaxy at some random location I picked. But this got me thinking. There's a kind of "proof-of-work" going on here. I didn't quite know what to expect when I loaded this data. I knew it was relatively safe. It took me about three minutes to do. But that's because I know my computer. I'm wondering how long it would take for the average person who is unfamiliar with their system.
So if you have the curiosity to do this, why don't you try it? I'd be curious how far you got. And I'd also be curious if you had any roadblocks. I'd be happy to help.
In a sense, being able to look at this image would open up the possibilities. There are plenty of observations that are waiting to be discovered. The ringed galaxy I found (21089x4268) might not actually be a ringed galaxy. Maybe it's some kind of foreground image that just looks like that (doubtful). Or I mischaracterized what I thought I saw.
What do you see?