21 September 2005

Armchair Science and Amateurs

There are few science fields where amateurs can make a contribution. One such field used to be in discovering new comets and asteroids, but now automated telescopes do the vast majority of the discovering. Amateurs still make a good contribution when they follow them with their own telescopes for a week after, but it's a bit less glamorous. Another case where they make a difference is tracking common birds at birdfeeders in Project Feederwatch.

However, amateur archaeology is a bit less common, and more so armchair archaeology, partly because of the training usually required, and I've never before heard of amateur satellite archaeology, but now some guy's done it, using Google Earth nonetheless. I wonder how many crackpot calls each museum gets compared to how many eventually pan out like this?

1 comment:

doris said...

LOL I thought you were saying about the archaeology of satellites and I rather thought that "archaeology" of all that space junk would suit a train spotter (do you get those sort of nerdy people in the States?)!

Anyway, I too saw that article and thought it was great! Reminds me that I was once talking to an amateur whatnot and he debunked some very famous archaeologist regarding one site in the UK. The amateur's further "armchair" study and thinking outside the box revealed what this site was really about and even its actual dimensions. Trouble was, the archaeologist (from the 1920s) had been well-published and so the incorrect data and views had been cited time and again by subsequent archaeologist but this person looked at it differently and revisted the data.

Now was that offtopic or what?! :-)