semantic image retrieval

this may already be old news for regular readers of, but incase you missed it, here’s another search engine.

Pixolu is a semantic image search, which allows to refine a search by allowing users to select images that best represent their query. I tried it for some queries and it seems to do a good job, factoring in color, object shapes, size and density in images. 

The two-step search-and-refine process is very interesting and represents a more natural way of information gathering. Pixolu, a more 202’ish search pays attention to recent (and older) research in information gathering and foraging.

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Cosmic Ghosts and Galaxy Zoo

The Galaxy Zoo project, brainchild of astrophysicist Kevin Schawinski and Chris Lintott, is a web-based tool that allows “armchair astronomers” (otherwise known as normal people like us) to help catalogue archived photographs of galaxies.  Through a brief online tutorial, amateur astronomers could start classifying galaxies as spiral, elliptical or something else.  The idea is, if an overwhelming amount of people classify a certain photograph as, for instance, elliptical, chances are they are right.

A 25-year old teacher from the Netherlands who had been using Galaxy Zoo found a strange and new object while looking over photographs.  After posting it on the site, it quickly attracted the curiosity of astronomers all over the world, including the people who run the Hubble Space Telescope.  A bright, gaseous mass with a huge hole in the center, observers are currently calling it “cosmic ghost”.  It might very well be a new class of astronomical objects.

The discovery of cosmic ghosts would probably not have happened during the present time if not for the opportunity given by projects like Galaxy Zoo for a multitude of people to participate in retrieving and organizing information.  In the past year alone, 150,000 armchair astronomers have participated in 50 million classification activities on the site.

For more information on Galaxy Zoo, visit

From the article “Armchair astronomer discovers unique ‘cosmic ghost'”.

Relevant Lectures:  5.  Concepts and Categories (9/15), 7.  Controlled Names and Vocabularies (9/22),  8.  Classification (9/24),  27.  Multimedia IR (12/1)

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