Publications by Chris Lintott


Crowd-Sourced Assessment of Technical Skills: a novel method to evaluate surgical performance

Journal of Surgical Research (2013)

C Chen, D Holst, L White, T Kowalewski, R Aggarwal, C Lintott, B Comstock, K Kuksenok, C Aragon, T Lendvay

Background: Validated methods of objective assessments of surgical skills are resource intensive. We sought to test a web-based grading tool using crowdsourcing called Crowd-Sourced Assessment of Technical Skill. Materials and methods: Institutional Review Board approval was granted to test the accuracy of Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk and Facebook crowdworkers compared with experienced surgical faculty grading a recorded dry-laboratory robotic surgical suturing performance using three performance domains from a validated assessment tool. Assessor free-text comments describing their rating rationale were used to explore a relationship between the language used by the crowd and grading accuracy. Results: Of a total possible global performance score of 3-15, 10 experienced surgeons graded the suturing video at a mean score of 12.11 (95% confidence interval [CI], 11.11-13.11). Mechanical Turk and Facebook graders rated the video at mean scores of 12.21 (95% CI, 11.98-12.43) and 12.06 (95% CI, 11.57-12.55), respectively. It took 24 h to obtain responses from 501 Mechanical Turk subjects, whereas it took 24 d for 10 faculty surgeons to complete the 3-min survey. Facebook subjects (110) responded within 25 d. Language analysis indicated that crowdworkers who used negation words (i.e., "but," "although," and so forth) scored the performance more equivalently to experienced surgeons than crowdworkers who did not (P < 0.00001). Conclusions: For a robotic suturing performance, we have shown that surgery-naive crowdworkers can rapidly assess skill equivalent to experienced faculty surgeons using Crowd-Sourced Assessment of Technical Skill. It remains to be seen whether crowds can discriminate different levels of skill and can accurately assess human surgery performances. © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Galaxy Zoo: Observing Secular Evolution Through Bars

STRUCTURE AND DYNAMICS OF DISK GALAXIES 480 (2014) 165-169

E Cheung, E Athanassoula, KL Masters, RC Nichol, A Bosma, EF Bell, SM Faber, DC Koo, C Lintott, T Melvin, K Schawinski, RA Skibba, KW Willett


PLANET HUNTERS. VII. DISCOVERY OF A NEW LOW-MASS, LOW-DENSITY PLANET (PH3 C) ORBITING KEPLER-289 WITH MASS MEASUREMENTS OF TWO ADDITIONAL PLANETS (PH3 B AND D)

ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL 795 (2014) ARTN 167

JR Schmitt, E Agol, KM Deck, LA Rogers, JZ Gazak, DA Fischer, J Wang, MJ Holman, KJ Jek, C Margossian, MR Omohundro, T Winarski, JM Brewer, MJ Giguere, C Lintott, S Lynn, M Parrish, K Schawinski, ME Schwamb, R Simpson, AM Smith


The Solar Stormwatch CME catalogue: Results from the first space weather citizen science project

SPACE WEATHER-THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF RESEARCH AND APPLICATIONS 12 (2014) 657-674

L Barnard, C Scott, M Owens, M Lockwood, K Tucker-Hood, S Thomas, S Crothers, JA Davies, R Harrison, C Lintott, R Simpson, J O'Donnell, AM Smith, N Waterson, S Bamford, F Romeo, M Kukula, B Owens, N Savani, J Wilkinson, E Baeten, L Poeffel, B Harder


Crowd-sourced assessment of technical skills: A novel method to evaluate surgical performance

Journal of Surgical Research 187 (2014) 65-71

C Chen, L White, T Kowalewski, R Aggarwal, C Lintott, B Comstock, K Kuksenok, C Aragon, D Holst, T Lendvay

Background Validated methods of objective assessments of surgical skills are resource intensive. We sought to test a web-based grading tool using crowdsourcing called Crowd-Sourced Assessment of Technical Skill. Materials and methods Institutional Review Board approval was granted to test the accuracy of Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk and Facebook crowdworkers compared with experienced surgical faculty grading a recorded dry-laboratory robotic surgical suturing performance using three performance domains from a validated assessment tool. Assessor free-text comments describing their rating rationale were used to explore a relationship between the language used by the crowd and grading accuracy. Results Of a total possible global performance score of 3-15, 10 experienced surgeons graded the suturing video at a mean score of 12.11 (95% confidence interval [CI], 11.11-13.11). Mechanical Turk and Facebook graders rated the video at mean scores of 12.21 (95% CI, 11.98-12.43) and 12.06 (95% CI, 11.57-12.55), respectively. It took 24 h to obtain responses from 501 Mechanical Turk subjects, whereas it took 24 d for 10 faculty surgeons to complete the 3-min survey. Facebook subjects (110) responded within 25 d. Language analysis indicated that crowdworkers who used negation words (i.e., "but," "although," and so forth) scored the performance more equivalently to experienced surgeons than crowdworkers who did not (P < 0.00001). Conclusions For a robotic suturing performance, we have shown that surgery-naive crowdworkers can rapidly assess skill equivalent to experienced faculty surgeons using Crowd-Sourced Assessment of Technical Skill. It remains to be seen whether crowds can discriminate different levels of skill and can accurately assess human surgery performances. © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Playing with science: Gamised aspects of gamification found on the online citizen science project - Zooniverse

15th International Conference on Intelligent Games and Simulation, GAME-ON 2014 (2014) 15-22

A Greennhill, K Holmes, C Lintott, B Simmons, K Masters, J Cox, G Graham

© 2014 EUROSIS-ETI. This paper examines incidents of play, socialisation, fun and amusement to consider how these forms of social interaction relate to the serious gaming elements of the citizen science platform. Through an ethnographic study we reveal how participants of citizen science projects demonstrate aspccts of 'Gamiscd' behaviour. 'Gamised' behaviour is defined as user generated play in a digital platform and contrasts to incidents of 'gamification∗ where a platform designer purposely embeds games into a computer platform. The paper therefore examines incidents of play, socialisation, fun and amusement and compares them with the serious gaming elements of the citizen science platform.


The ultraviolet attenuation law in backlit spiral galaxies Based in part on observations made with the NASA Galaxy Evolution Explorer. GALEX is operated for NASA by the California Institute of Technology under NASA contract NAS5-98034.

Astronomical Journal 147 (2014)

WC Keel, AM Manning, BW Holwerda, CJ Lintott, K Schawinski

The effective extinction law (attenuation behavior) in galaxies in the emitted ultraviolet (UV) regime is well known only for actively star-forming objects and combines effects of the grain properties, fine structure in the dust distribution, and relative distributions of stars and dust. We use Galaxy Evolution Explorer, XMM Optical Monitor, and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) data to explore the UV attenuation in the outer parts of spiral disks which are backlit by other UV-bright galaxies, starting with the candidate list of pairs provided by Galaxy Zoo participants. New optical images help to constrain the geometry and structure of the target galaxies. Our analysis incorporates galaxy symmetry, using non-overlapping regions of each galaxy to derive error estimates on the attenuation measurements. The entire sample has an attenuation law across the optical and UV that is close to the Calzetti et al. form; the UV slope for the overall sample is substantially shallower than found by Wild et al., which is a reasonable match to the more distant galaxies in our sample but not to the weighted combination including NGC 2207. The nearby, bright spiral NGC 2207 alone gives an accuracy almost equal to the rest of our sample, and its outer arms have a very low level of foreground starlight. Thus, this widespread, fairly "gray" law can be produced from the distribution of dust alone, without a necessary contribution from differential escape of stars from dense clouds. Our results indicate that the extrapolation needed to compare attenuation between backlit galaxies at moderate redshifts from HST data, and local systems from Sloan Digital Sky Survey and similar data, is mild enough to allow the use of galaxy overlaps to trace the cosmic history of dust in galaxies. For NGC 2207, HST data in the near-UV F336W band show that the covering factor of clouds with small optical attenuation becomes a dominant factor farther into the UV, which opens the possibility that widespread diffuse dust dominates over dust in star-forming regions deep into the UV. Comparison with published radiative-transfer models indicates that the role of dust clumping dominates over differences in grain populations at this coarse spatial resolution. © 2014. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


Participating in online citizen science: Motivations as the basis for user types and trajectories

in Handbook of Human Computation, (2013) 695-702

JT Reed, R Cook, MJ Raddick, K Carney, C Lintott


Human computation in citizen science

in Handbook of Human Computation, (2013) 153-162

C Lintott, J Reed


Sir Patrick Moore, 'The Sky at Night' and modern astronomy in the UK

ASTRONOMY & GEOPHYSICS 54 (2013) 37-38

P Abel, C Lintott, M Barstow


Erratum: Planet hunters. V. A confirmed jupiter-size planet in the habitable zone and 42 planet candidates from the kepler archive data (ApJ (2013) 776 (10))

Astrophysical Journal 778 (2013)

J Wang, DA Fischer, T Barclay, TS Boyajian, JR Crepp, ME Schwamb, C Lintott, KJ Jek, AM Smith, M Parrish, K Schawinski, JR Schmitt, MJ Giguere, JM Brewer, S Lynn, R Simpson, AJ Hoekstra, TL Jacobs, D Lacourse, HM Schwengeler, M Chopin, R Herszkowicz


Measuring the conceptual understandings of citizen scientists participating in zooniverse projects: A first approach

Astronomy Education Review 12 (2013)

EE Prather, S Cormier, CS Wallace, C Lintott, M Jordan Raddick, A Smith

The Zooniverse projects turn everyday people into "citizen scientists" who work online with real data to assist scientists in conducting research on a variety of topics related to galaxies, exoplanets, lunar craters, and solar flares, among others. This paper describes our initial study to assess the conceptual knowledge and reasoning abilities of citizen scientists participating in two Zooniverse projects: Galaxy Zoo and Moon Zoo. In order to measure their knowledge and abilities, we developed two new assessment instruments, the Zooniverse Astronomical Concept Survey (ZACS) and the Lunar Cratering Concept Inventory (LCCI). We found that citizen scientists with the highest level of participation in the Galaxy Zoo and Moon Zoo projects also have the highest average correct scores on the items of the ZACS and LCCI. However, the limited nature of the data provided by Zooniverse participants prevents us from being able to evaluate the statistical significance of this finding, and we make no claim about whether there is a causal relationship between one's participation in Galaxy Zoo or Moon Zoo and one's level of conceptual understanding or reasoning ability on the astrophysical topics assessed by the ZACS or the LCCI. Overall, both the ZACS and the LCCI provide Zooniverse's citizen scientists with items that offer a wide range of difficulties. Using the data from the small subset of participants who responded to all items of the ZACS, we found evidence suggesting the ZACS is a reliable instrument (α=0.78), although twenty-one of its forty items appear to have point biserials less than 0.3. The work reported here provides significant insight into the strengths and limitations of various methods for administering assessments to citizen scientists. Researchers who wish to study the knowledge and abilities of citizen scientists in the future should be sure to design their research methods to avoid the pitfalls identified by our initial findings. © 2013 The American Astronomical Society.


An introduction to the Zooniverse

AAAI Workshop - Technical Report WS-13-18 (2013) 103-

AM Smith, S Lynn, CJ Lintott

The Zooniverse (zooniverse.org) began in 2007 with the launch of Galaxy Zoo, a project in which more than 175,000 people provided shape analyses of more than 1 million galaxy images sourced from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. These galaxy 'classifications', some 60 million in total, have subsequently been used to produce more than 50 peer-reviewed publications based not only on the original research goals of the project but also because of serendipitous discoveries made by the volunteer community. Based upon the success of Galaxy Zoo the team have gone on to develop more than 25 web-based citizen science projects, all with a strong research focus in a range of subjects from astronomy to zoology where human-based analysis still exceeds that of machine intelligence. Over the past 6 years Zooniverse projects have collected more than 300 million data analyses from over 1 million volunteers providing fantastically rich datasets for not only the individuals working to produce research from their projects but also the machine learning and computer vision research communities. The Zooniverse platform has always been developed to be the 'simplest thing that works', implementing only the most rudimentary algorithms for functionality such as task allocation and user-performance metrics. These simplifications have been necessary to scale the Zooniverse so that the core team of developers and data scientists can remain small and the cost of running the computing infrastructure relatively modest. To date these simplifications have been acceptable for the data volumes and analysis tasks being addressed. This situation however is changing: next generation telescopes such as the Large Synoptic Sky Telescope (LSST) will produce data volumes dwarfing those previously analyzed. If citizen science is to have a part to play in analyzing these next-generation datasets then the Zooniverse will need to evolve into a smarter system capable for example of modeling the abilities of users and the complexities of the data being classified in real time. In this session we will outline the current architecture of the Zooniverse platform and introduce new functionality being developed that should be of interest to the HCOMP community. Our platform is evolving into a system capable of integrating human and machine intelligence in a live environment. Data APIs providing realtime access to 'event streams' from the Zooniverse infrastructure are currently being tested as well as API endpoints for making decisions about for example what piece of data to show next to a volunteer as well as when to retire a piece of data from the live system because a consensus has been reached.


Morphology in the era of large surveys

ASTRONOMY & GEOPHYSICS 54 (2013) 16-19

C Lintott, K Masters, B Simmons, S Bamford, S Kaviraj


Galaxy Zoo: Dust and molecular gas in early-type galaxies with prominent dust lanes

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 423 (2012) 49-58

S Kaviraj, YS Ting, M Bureau, SS Shabala, RM Crockett, J Silk, C Lintott, A Smith, WC Keel, KL Masters, K Schawinski, SP Bamford

We explore the properties of dust and associated molecular gas in 352 nearby (0.01 < z < 0.07) early-type galaxies (ETGs) with prominent dust lanes, drawn from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Two-thirds of these 'dusty ETGs' (D-ETGs) are morphologically disturbed, which suggests a merger origin, making these galaxies ideal test beds for studying the merger process at low redshift. The D-ETGs preferentially reside in lower density environments, compared to a control sample drawn from the general ETG population. Around 80per cent of D-ETGs inhabit the field (compared to 60per cent of the control ETGs) and less than 2per cent inhabit clusters (compared to 10per cent of the control ETGs). Compared to their control-sample counterparts, D-ETGs exhibit bluer ultraviolet-optical colours (indicating enhanced levels of star formation) and an active galactic nucleus fraction that is more than an order of magnitude greater (indicating a strikingly higher incidence of nuclear activity). The mass of clumpy dust residing in large-scale dust features is estimated, using the SDSS r-band images, to be in the range 10 4.5-10 6.5M ⊙. A comparison to the total (clumpy + diffuse) dust masses - calculated using the far-infrared fluxes of 15per cent of the D-ETGs that are detected by the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) - indicates that only 20per cent of the dust is typically contained in these large-scale dust features. The dust masses are several times larger than the maximum value expected from stellar mass loss, ruling out an internal origin. The dust content shows no correlation with the blue luminosity, indicating that it is not related to a galactic scale cooling flow. Furthermore, no correlation is found with the age of the recent starburst, suggesting that the dust is accreted directly in the merger rather than being produced in situ by the triggered star formation. Using molecular gas-to-dust ratios of ETGs in the literature, we estimate that the median current molecular gas fraction in the IRAS-detected ETGs is ∼1.3per cent. Adopting reasonable values for gas depletion time-scales and starburst ages, the median initial gas fraction in these D-ETGs is ∼4per cent. Recent work has suggested that the merger © 2012 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2012 RAS.


Galaxy Zoo: The environmental dependence of bars and bulges in disc galaxies

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 423 (2012) 1485-1502

RA Skibba, KL Masters, RC Nichol, I Zehavi, B Hoyle, EM Edmondson, SP Bamford, CN Cardamone, WC Keel, C Lintott, K Schawinski

We present an analysis of the environmental dependence of bars and bulges in disc galaxies, using a volume-limited catalogue of 15810 galaxies at z < 0.06 from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey with visual morphologies from the Galaxy Zoo 2 project. We find that the likelihood of having a bar, or bulge, in disc galaxies increases when the galaxies have redder (optical) colours and larger stellar masses, and observe a transition in the bar and bulge likelihoods at M *= 2 × 10 10M ⊙, such that massive disc galaxies are more likely to host bars and bulges. In addition, while some barred and most bulge-dominated galaxies are on the 'red sequence' of the colour-magnitude diagram, we see a wider variety of colours for galaxies that host bars. We use galaxy clustering methods to demonstrate statistically significant environmental correlations of barred, and bulge-dominated, galaxies, from projected separations of 150kpch -1 to 3Mpch -1. These environmental correlations appear to be independent of each other: i.e. bulge-dominated disc galaxies exhibit a significant bar-environment correlation, and barred disc galaxies show a bulge-environment correlation. As a result of sparse sampling tests - our sample is nearly 20 times larger than those used previously - we argue that previous studies that did not detect a bar-environment correlation were likely inhibited by small number statistics. We demonstrate that approximately half of the bar-environment correlation can be explained by the fact that more massive dark matter haloes host redder disc galaxies, which are then more likely to have bars; this fraction is estimated to be 50 ± 10per cent from a mock catalogue analysis and 60 ± 5per cent from the data. Likewise, we show that the environmental dependence of stellar mass can only explain a smaller fraction (25 ± 10per cent) of the bar-environment correlation. Therefore, a significant fraction of our observed environmental dependence of barred galaxies is not due to colour or stellar mass dependences, and hence must be due to another galaxy property, such as gas content, or to environmental influences. Finally, by analysing the projected clustering of barred and unbarred disc galaxies with halo occupation models, we argue that barred galaxies are in slightly higher mass haloes than unbarred ones, and some of them (approximately 25per cent) are satellite galaxies in groups. We discuss the implications of our results on the effects of minor mergers and interactions on bar formation in disc galaxies. © 2012 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2012 RAS.


Observational Tracking of the 2D Structure of Coronal Mass Ejections Between the Sun and 1 AU

SOLAR PHYSICS 279 (2012) 517-535

NP Savani, JA Davies, CJ Davis, D Shiota, AP Rouillard, MJ Owens, K Kusano, V Bothmer, SP Bamford, CJ Lintott, A Smith


Galaxy Zoo: Dust lane early-type galaxies are tracers of recent, gas-rich minor mergers

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 423 (2012) 59-67

SS Shabala, YS Ting, S Kaviraj, C Lintott, RM Crockett, J Silk, M Sarzi, K Schawinski, SP Bamford, E Edmondson

We present the second of two papers concerning the origin and evolution of local early-type galaxies exhibiting dust features. We use optical and radio data to examine the nature of active galactic nucleus (AGN) activity in these objects, and compare these with a carefully constructed control sample. We find that dust lane early-type galaxies are much more likely to host emission-line AGN than the control sample galaxies. Moreover, there is a strong correlation between radio and emission-line AGN activity in dust lane early types, but not the control sample. Dust lane early-type galaxies show the same distribution of AGN properties in rich and poor environments, suggesting a similar triggering mechanism. By contrast, this is not the case for early types with no dust features. These findings strongly suggest that dust lane early-type galaxies are starburst systems formed in gas-rich mergers. Further evidence in support of this scenario is provided by enhanced star formation and black hole accretion rates in these objects. Dust lane early types therefore represent an evolutionary stage between starbursting and quiescent galaxies. In these objects, the AGN has already been triggered but has not as yet completely destroyed the gas reservoir required for star formation. © 2012 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2012 RAS.


The Milky Way Project First Data Release: A bubblier Galactic disc

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 424 (2012) 2442-2460

RJ Simpson, MS Povich, S Kendrew, CJ Lintott, E Bressert, K Arvidsson, C Cyganowski, S Maddison, K Schawinski, R Sherman, AM Smith, G Wolf-Chase

We present a new catalogue of 5106 infrared bubbles created through visual classification via the online citizen science website 'The Milky Way Project'. Bubbles in the new catalogue have been independently measured by at least five individuals, producing consensus parameters for their position, radius, thickness, eccentricity and position angle. Citizen scientists - volunteers recruited online and taking part in this research - have independently rediscovered the locations of at least 86 percent of three widely used catalogues of bubbles and Hii regions whilst finding an order of magnitude more objects. 29 percent of the Milky Way Project catalogue bubbles lie on the rim of a larger bubble, or have smaller bubbles located within them, opening up the possibility of better statistical studies of triggered star formation. Also outlined is the creation of a 'heat map' of star formation activity in the Galactic plane. This online resource provides a crowd-sourced map of bubbles and arcs in the Milky Way, and will enable better statistical analysis of Galactic star formation sites. © 2012 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2012 RAS.


Probing quasar shutdown timescales with Hanny's Voorwerp

AIP Conference Proceedings 1427 (2012) 193-200

DA Evans, K Schawinski, S Virani, CM Urry, WC Keel, P Natarajan, CJ Lintott, A Manning, P Coppi, S Kaviraj, SP Bamford, GIG Józsa, M Garrett, H Van Arkel, P Gay, L Fortson

Galaxy formation is significantly modulated by energy output from supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies which grow in highly efficient luminous quasar phases. The timescale on which black holes transition into and out of such phases is, however, unknown. We present the first measurement of the shutdown timescale for an individual quasar using Suzaku and XMM-Newton X-ray observations of the nearby galaxy IC 2497, which hosted a luminous quasar no more than ∼230,000 years ago that is still seen as a light echo in 'Hanny's Voorwerp', but whose presentday radiative output is lower by at least 2 and more likely by over 4 orders of magnitude. This extremely rapid shutdown provides new insights into the physics of accretion in supermassive black holes, and may signal a transition of the accretion disk to a radiatively inefficient state. These results were first presented by [1]. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.

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