ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Andrew Connolly - Astronomer
Andrew Connolly is helping to build the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope -- as well as tools to handle the massive datasets it will send our way.

Why you should listen
Andrew Connolly's research focuses on understanding the evolution of our universe, by studying how structure forms and evolves on small and large scales -- from the search for asteroids to the clustering of distant galaxies. He's a ten-year veteran of the Large Synoptic Sky Survey, and is now prepping for the unprecedented data streams we could expect from the under-construction Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.
 
Set on an 8,800-foot peak in northern Chile, the LSST will have an 8.4-meter primary mirror, a 10-square-degree field of view and a 3.2 gigapixel camera. It will survey half the sky every three nights, creating about 100 terabytes of data every week. Astronomers, Connolly suggests, will need wholly new tools to wrangle this amount of data -- so he has been helping bring together computer scientists, statisticians and astronomers to develop scalable algorithms for processing massive data streams.
 
On sabbatical from the University of Washington, Connolly led the development of Google Sky, and he's now working with Microsoft to develop affordable digital planetariums.
More profile about the speaker
Andrew Connolly | Speaker | TED.com
TED2014

Andrew Connolly: What's the next window into our universe?

Filmed:
1,246,151 views

Big Data is everywhere — even the skies. In an informative talk, astronomer Andrew Connolly shows how large amounts of data are being collected about our universe, recording it in its ever-changing moods. Just how do scientists capture so many images at scale? It starts with a giant telescope ...
- Astronomer
Andrew Connolly is helping to build the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope -- as well as tools to handle the massive datasets it will send our way. Full bio

Double-click the English transcript below to play the video.

00:13
So in 1781, an English composer,
0
1119
3471
00:16
technologist and astronomer called William Herschel
1
4590
3139
00:19
noticed an object on the sky that
2
7729
1743
00:21
didn't quite move the way the rest of the stars did.
3
9472
2868
00:24
And Herschel's recognition
that something was different,
4
12340
3094
00:27
that something wasn't quite right,
5
15434
1867
00:29
was the discovery of a planet,
6
17301
1822
00:31
the planet Uranus,
7
19123
2077
00:33
a name that has entertained
8
21200
1355
00:34
countless generations of children,
9
22555
3160
00:37
but a planet that overnight
10
25715
2335
00:40
doubled the size of our known solar system.
11
28050
2616
00:42
Just last month, NASA announced the discovery
12
30666
1855
00:44
of 517 new planets
13
32521
2329
00:46
in orbit around nearby stars,
14
34850
2126
00:48
almost doubling overnight the number of planets
15
36976
2251
00:51
we know about within our galaxy.
16
39227
2598
00:53
So astronomy is constantly being transformed by this
17
41825
2632
00:56
capacity to collect data,
18
44457
2138
00:58
and with data almost doubling every year,
19
46595
2545
01:01
within the next two decades, me may even
20
49140
1808
01:02
reach the point for the first time in history
21
50948
2318
01:05
where we've discovered the majority of the galaxies
22
53266
2854
01:08
within the universe.
23
56120
1724
01:09
But as we enter this era of big data,
24
57844
2284
01:12
what we're beginning to find is there's a difference
25
60128
1980
01:14
between more data being just better
26
62108
3161
01:17
and more data being different,
27
65269
1980
01:19
capable of changing the questions we want to ask,
28
67249
2891
01:22
and this difference is not about
how much data we collect,
29
70140
3320
01:25
it's whether those data open new windows
30
73460
1689
01:27
into our universe,
31
75149
1378
01:28
whether they change the way we view the sky.
32
76527
2885
01:31
So what is the next window into our universe?
33
79412
3439
01:34
What is the next chapter for astronomy?
34
82851
2791
01:37
Well, I'm going to show you some
of the tools and the technologies
35
85642
2655
01:40
that we're going to develop over the next decade,
36
88297
2564
01:42
and how these technologies,
37
90861
1473
01:44
together with the smart use of data,
38
92334
1868
01:46
may once again transform astronomy
39
94202
2970
01:49
by opening up a window into our universe,
40
97172
2047
01:51
the window of time.
41
99219
1781
01:53
Why time? Well, time is about origins,
42
101000
2584
01:55
and it's about evolution.
43
103584
1890
01:57
The origins of our solar system,
44
105474
1496
01:58
how our solar system came into being,
45
106970
2204
02:01
is it unusual or special in any way?
46
109174
3409
02:04
About the evolution of our universe.
47
112583
1991
02:06
Why our universe is continuing to expand,
48
114574
3006
02:09
and what is this mysterious dark energy
49
117580
1933
02:11
that drives that expansion?
50
119513
2615
02:14
But first, I want to show you how technology
51
122128
2764
02:16
is going to change the way we view the sky.
52
124892
2771
02:19
So imagine if you were sitting
53
127663
1507
02:21
in the mountains of northern Chile
54
129170
2092
02:23
looking out to the west
55
131262
1407
02:24
towards the Pacific Ocean
56
132669
2048
02:26
a few hours before sunrise.
57
134717
2564
02:29
This is the view of the night sky that you would see,
58
137281
3237
02:32
and it's a beautiful view,
59
140518
1671
02:34
with the Milky Way just peeking out over the horizon.
60
142189
2913
02:37
but it's also a static view,
61
145102
2160
02:39
and in many ways, this is the
way we think of our universe:
62
147262
2758
02:42
eternal and unchanging.
63
150020
2394
02:44
But the universe is anything but static.
64
152414
1991
02:46
It constantly changes on timescales of seconds
65
154405
2531
02:48
to billions of years.
66
156936
1845
02:50
Galaxies merge, they collide
67
158781
1744
02:52
at hundreds of thousands of miles per hour.
68
160525
2655
02:55
Stars are born, they die,
69
163180
2070
02:57
they explode in these extravagant displays.
70
165250
3150
03:00
In fact, if we could go back
71
168400
1270
03:01
to our tranquil skies above Chile,
72
169670
2599
03:04
and we allow time to move forward
73
172269
2465
03:06
to see how the sky might change over the next year,
74
174734
4393
03:11
the pulsations that you see
75
179127
2290
03:13
are supernovae, the final remnants of a dying star
76
181417
4409
03:17
exploding, brightening and then fading from view,
77
185826
3747
03:21
each one of these supernovae
78
189573
1890
03:23
five billion times the brightness of our sun,
79
191463
3003
03:26
so we can see them to great distances
80
194466
2340
03:28
but only for a short amount of time.
81
196806
2496
03:31
Ten supernova per second explode somewhere
82
199302
2577
03:33
in our universe.
83
201879
1417
03:35
If we could hear it,
84
203296
1420
03:36
it would be popping like a bag of popcorn.
85
204716
3699
03:40
Now, if we fade out the supernovae,
86
208415
3127
03:43
it's not just brightness that changes.
87
211542
3229
03:46
Our sky is in constant motion.
88
214771
2339
03:49
This swarm of objects you
see streaming across the sky
89
217110
3170
03:52
are asteroids as they orbit our sun,
90
220280
2658
03:54
and it's these changes and the motion
91
222938
1972
03:56
and it's the dynamics of the system
92
224910
2324
03:59
that allow us to build our models for our universe,
93
227234
2373
04:01
to predict its future and to explain its past.
94
229607
4073
04:05
But the telescopes we've used over the last decade
95
233680
3094
04:08
are not designed to capture the data at this scale.
96
236774
4015
04:12
The Hubble Space Telescope:
97
240789
1620
04:14
for the last 25 years it's been producing
98
242409
2261
04:16
some of the most detailed views
99
244670
1961
04:18
of our distant universe,
100
246631
1991
04:20
but if you tried to use the Hubble to create an image
101
248622
2070
04:22
of the sky, it would take 13 million individual images,
102
250692
4578
04:27
about 120 years to do this just once.
103
255270
3712
04:30
So this is driving us to new technologies
104
258982
2261
04:33
and new telescopes,
105
261243
1847
04:35
telescopes that can go faint
106
263090
1742
04:36
to look at the distant universe
107
264832
1553
04:38
but also telescopes that can go wide
108
266385
2681
04:41
to capture the sky as rapidly as possible,
109
269066
2819
04:43
telescopes like the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope,
110
271885
3561
04:47
or the LSST,
111
275446
1879
04:49
possibly the most boring name ever
112
277325
2340
04:51
for one of the most fascinating experiments
113
279665
1979
04:53
in the history of astronomy,
114
281644
1992
04:55
in fact proof, if you should need it,
115
283636
2214
04:57
that you should never allow
a scientist or an engineer
116
285850
2668
05:00
to name anything, not even your children.
(Laughter)
117
288518
5831
05:06
We're building the LSST.
118
294349
1465
05:07
We expect it to start taking data
by the end of this decade.
119
295814
3381
05:11
I'm going to show you how we think
120
299195
1699
05:12
it's going to transform
our views of the universe,
121
300894
3577
05:16
because one image from the LSST
122
304471
2374
05:18
is equivalent to 3,000 images
123
306845
2385
05:21
from the Hubble Space Telescope,
124
309230
2126
05:23
each image three and a half degrees on the sky,
125
311356
3138
05:26
seven times the width of the full moon.
126
314494
2776
05:29
Well, how do you capture an image at this scale?
127
317270
2309
05:31
Well, you build the largest digital camera in history,
128
319579
4151
05:35
using the same technology you find
in the cameras in your cell phone
129
323730
3161
05:38
or in the digital cameras you
can buy in the High Street,
130
326891
3791
05:42
but now at a scale that is five and a half feet across,
131
330682
3120
05:45
about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle,
132
333802
2408
05:48
where one image is three billion pixels.
133
336210
2958
05:51
So if you wanted to look at an image
134
339168
1338
05:52
in its full resolution, just a single LSST image,
135
340506
3229
05:55
it would take about 1,500
high-definition TV screens.
136
343735
4725
06:00
And this camera will image the sky,
137
348460
2778
06:03
taking a new picture every 20 seconds,
138
351238
3038
06:06
constantly scanning the sky
139
354276
2188
06:08
so every three nights, we'll get a completely new view
140
356464
2825
06:11
of the skies above Chile.
141
359289
2383
06:13
Over the mission lifetime of this telescope,
142
361672
2835
06:16
it will detect 40 billion stars and galaxies,
143
364507
3352
06:19
and that will be for the first time
144
367859
1500
06:21
we'll have detected more objects in our universe
145
369359
2775
06:24
than people on the Earth.
146
372134
2689
06:26
Now, we can talk about this
147
374823
1215
06:28
in terms of terabytes and petabytes
148
376038
2362
06:30
and billions of objects,
149
378400
1519
06:31
but a way to get a sense of the amount of data
150
379919
1748
06:33
that will come off this camera
151
381667
1899
06:35
is that it's like playing every TED Talk ever recorded
152
383566
4731
06:40
simultaneously, 24 hours a day,
153
388297
3073
06:43
seven days a week, for 10 years.
154
391370
2858
06:46
And to process this data means
155
394228
2261
06:48
searching through all of those talks
156
396489
1924
06:50
for every new idea and every new concept,
157
398413
2249
06:52
looking at each part of the video
158
400662
1856
06:54
to see how one frame may have changed
159
402518
2025
06:56
from the next.
160
404543
1845
06:58
And this is changing the way that we do science,
161
406388
2351
07:00
changing the way that we do astronomy,
162
408739
2255
07:02
to a place where software and algorithms
163
410994
2256
07:05
have to mine through this data,
164
413250
1868
07:07
where the software is as critical to the science
165
415118
3206
07:10
as the telescopes and the
cameras that we've built.
166
418324
4027
07:14
Now, thousands of discoveries
167
422351
2587
07:16
will come from this project,
168
424938
1935
07:18
but I'm just going to tell you about two
169
426873
1451
07:20
of the ideas about origins and evolution
170
428324
2363
07:22
that may be transformed by our access
171
430687
2253
07:24
to data at this scale.
172
432940
2561
07:27
In the last five years, NASA has discovered
173
435501
2385
07:29
over 1,000 planetary systems
174
437886
2261
07:32
around nearby stars,
175
440147
2093
07:34
but the systems we're finding
176
442240
1930
07:36
aren't much like our own solar system,
177
444170
2490
07:38
and one of the questions we face is
178
446660
1575
07:40
is it just that we haven't been looking hard enough
179
448235
2318
07:42
or is there something special or unusual
180
450553
1766
07:44
about how our solar system formed?
181
452319
2418
07:46
And if we want to answer that question,
182
454737
2262
07:48
we have to know and understand
183
456999
1439
07:50
the history of our solar system in detail,
184
458438
2836
07:53
and it's the details that are crucial.
185
461274
2137
07:55
So now, if we look back at the sky,
186
463411
3666
07:59
at our asteroids that were streaming across the sky,
187
467077
3551
08:02
these asteroids are like the
debris of our solar system.
188
470628
4222
08:06
The positions of the asteroids
189
474850
2008
08:08
are like a fingerprint of an earlier time
190
476858
2137
08:10
when the orbits of Neptune and Jupiter
191
478995
1980
08:12
were much closer to the sun,
192
480975
1895
08:14
and as these giant planets migrated
through our solar system,
193
482870
3453
08:18
they were scattering the asteroids in their wake.
194
486323
3330
08:21
So studying the asteroids
195
489653
1306
08:22
is like performing forensics,
196
490959
2121
08:25
performing forensics on our solar system,
197
493080
2558
08:27
but to do this, we need distance,
198
495638
2702
08:30
and we get the distance from the motion,
199
498340
2079
08:32
and we get the motion because of our access to time.
200
500419
4547
08:36
So what does this tell us?
201
504966
1702
08:38
Well, if you look at the little yellow asteroids
202
506668
2227
08:40
flitting across the screen,
203
508895
2273
08:43
these are the asteroids that are moving fastest,
204
511168
2430
08:45
because they're closest to us, closest to Earth.
205
513598
3341
08:48
These are the asteroids we may one day
206
516939
1507
08:50
send spacecraft to, to mine them for minerals,
207
518446
3398
08:53
but they're also the asteroids that may one day
208
521844
2002
08:55
impact the Earth,
209
523846
1665
08:57
like happened 60 million years ago
210
525511
1291
08:58
with the extinction of the dinosaurs,
211
526802
2635
09:01
or just at the beginning of the last century,
212
529437
1822
09:03
when an asteroid wiped out
213
531259
1332
09:04
almost 1,000 square miles of Siberian forest,
214
532591
3589
09:08
or even just last year, as one burnt up over Russia,
215
536180
3088
09:11
releasing the energy of a small nuclear bomb.
216
539268
3612
09:14
So studying the forensics of our solar system
217
542880
3622
09:18
doesn't just tell us about the past,
218
546502
2058
09:20
it can also predict the future,
including our future.
219
548560
3811
09:26
Now when we get distance,
220
554771
1968
09:28
we get to see the asteroids
in their natural habitat,
221
556739
3589
09:32
in orbit around the sun.
222
560328
1322
09:33
So every point in this visualization that you can see
223
561650
2907
09:36
is a real asteroid.
224
564557
2763
09:39
Its orbit has been calculated
from its motion across the sky.
225
567320
4010
09:43
The colors reflect the composition of these asteroids,
226
571330
3341
09:46
dry and stony in the center,
227
574671
2137
09:48
water-rich and primitive towards the edge,
228
576808
2587
09:51
water-rich asteroids which may have seeded
229
579395
2284
09:53
the oceans and the seas that we find on our planet
230
581679
3451
09:57
when they bombarded the
Earth at an earlier time.
231
585130
3206
10:02
Because the LSST will be able to go faint
232
590127
2832
10:04
and not just wide,
233
592959
1698
10:06
we will be able to see these asteroids
234
594657
1808
10:08
far beyond the inner part of our solar system,
235
596465
3187
10:11
to asteroids beyond the
orbits of Neptune and Mars,
236
599652
3813
10:15
to comets and asteroids that may exist
237
603465
2261
10:17
almost a light year from our sun.
238
605726
3230
10:20
And as we increase the detail of this picture,
239
608956
2609
10:23
increasing the detail by factors of 10 to 100,
240
611565
3127
10:26
we will be able to answer questions such as,
241
614692
2430
10:29
is there evidence for planets
outside the orbit of Neptune,
242
617122
3589
10:32
to find Earth-impacting asteroids
243
620711
2507
10:35
long before they're a danger,
244
623218
2535
10:37
and to find out whether, maybe,
245
625753
1757
10:39
our sun formed on its own or in a cluster of stars,
246
627510
3180
10:42
and maybe it's this sun's stellar siblings
247
630690
3082
10:45
that influenced the formation of our solar system,
248
633772
3442
10:49
and maybe that's one of the reasons why
solar systems like ours seem to be so rare.
249
637214
5753
10:54
Now, distance and changes in our universe —
250
642974
4562
10:59
distance equates to time,
251
647536
3859
11:03
as well as changes on the sky.
252
651395
2059
11:05
Every foot of distance you look away,
253
653454
2790
11:08
or every foot of distance an object is away,
254
656244
2485
11:10
you're looking back about a
billionth of a second in time,
255
658729
3589
11:14
and this idea or this notion of looking back in time
256
662318
2613
11:16
has revolutionized our ideas about the universe,
257
664931
2631
11:19
not once but multiple times.
258
667562
2280
11:21
The first time was in 1929,
259
669842
2812
11:24
when an astronomer called Edwin Hubble
260
672654
2092
11:26
showed that the universe was expanding,
261
674746
2249
11:28
leading to the ideas of the Big Bang.
262
676995
2713
11:31
And the observations were simple:
263
679708
2582
11:34
just 24 galaxies
264
682290
2154
11:36
and a hand-drawn picture.
265
684444
3050
11:41
But just the idea that the more distant a galaxy,
266
689124
4660
11:45
the faster it was receding,
267
693784
2070
11:47
was enough to give rise to modern cosmology.
268
695854
3419
11:51
A second revolution happened 70 years later,
269
699273
2425
11:53
when two groups of astronomers showed
270
701698
2072
11:55
that the universe wasn't just expanding,
271
703770
2433
11:58
it was accelerating,
272
706203
1325
11:59
a surprise like throwing up a ball into the sky
273
707528
3343
12:02
and finding out the higher that it gets,
274
710871
2812
12:05
the faster it moves away.
275
713683
1778
12:07
And they showed this
276
715461
1509
12:08
by measuring the brightness of supernovae,
277
716970
2405
12:11
and how the brightness of the supernovae
278
719375
1834
12:13
got fainter with distance.
279
721209
2171
12:15
And these observations were more complex.
280
723380
2453
12:17
They required new technologies and new telescopes,
281
725833
3014
12:20
because the supernovae were in galaxies
282
728847
4050
12:24
that were 2,000 times more distant
283
732897
1958
12:26
than the ones used by Hubble.
284
734855
2688
12:29
And it took three years to find just 42 supernovae,
285
737543
5311
12:34
because a supernova only explodes
286
742854
1754
12:36
once every hundred years within a galaxy.
287
744608
3082
12:39
Three years to find 42 supernovae
288
747690
2284
12:41
by searching through tens of thousands of galaxies.
289
749974
4019
12:45
And once they'd collected their data,
290
753993
1851
12:47
this is what they found.
291
755844
3748
12:51
Now, this may not look impressive,
292
759592
2711
12:54
but this is what a revolution in physics looks like:
293
762303
4115
12:58
a line predicting the brightness of a supernova
294
766418
2430
13:00
11 billion light years away,
295
768848
2046
13:02
and a handful of points that don't quite fit that line.
296
770894
3796
13:06
Small changes give rise to big consequences.
297
774690
4113
13:10
Small changes allow us to make discoveries,
298
778803
2948
13:13
like the planet found by Herschel.
299
781751
2823
13:16
Small changes turn our understanding
300
784574
2272
13:18
of the universe on its head.
301
786846
2401
13:21
So 42 supernovae, slightly too faint,
302
789247
3464
13:24
meaning slightly further away,
303
792711
2009
13:26
requiring that a universe must not just be expanding,
304
794720
3160
13:29
but this expansion must be accelerating,
305
797880
3330
13:33
revealing a component of our universe
306
801210
1946
13:35
which we now call dark energy,
307
803156
2486
13:37
a component that drives this expansion
308
805642
2509
13:40
and makes up 68 percent of the energy budget
309
808151
3027
13:43
of our universe today.
310
811178
2035
13:46
So what is the next revolution likely to be?
311
814751
3824
13:50
Well, what is dark energy and why does it exist?
312
818575
2719
13:53
Each of these lines shows a different model
313
821294
2328
13:55
for what dark energy might be,
314
823622
2843
13:58
showing the properties of dark energy.
315
826465
2481
14:00
They all are consistent with the 42 points,
316
828946
3623
14:04
but the ideas behind these lines
317
832569
2227
14:06
are dramatically different.
318
834796
2103
14:08
Some people think about a dark energy
319
836899
2543
14:11
that changes with time,
320
839442
1458
14:12
or whether the properties of the dark energy
321
840900
2288
14:15
are different depending on where you look on the sky.
322
843188
2756
14:17
Others make differences and changes
323
845944
1823
14:19
to the physics at the sub-atomic level.
324
847767
3048
14:22
Or, they look at large scales
325
850815
2790
14:25
and change how gravity and general relativity work,
326
853605
3565
14:29
or they say our universe is just one of many,
327
857170
2791
14:31
part of this mysterious multiverse,
328
859961
2598
14:34
but all of these ideas, all of these theories,
329
862559
3161
14:37
amazing and admittedly some of them a little crazy,
330
865720
3499
14:41
but all of them consistent with our 42 points.
331
869219
4027
14:45
So how can we hope to make sense of this
332
873246
2182
14:47
over the next decade?
333
875428
2272
14:49
Well, imagine if I gave you a pair of dice,
334
877700
3230
14:52
and I said you wanted to see whether those dice
335
880930
1999
14:54
were loaded or fair.
336
882929
1867
14:56
One roll of the dice would tell you very little,
337
884796
2934
14:59
but the more times you rolled them,
338
887730
1992
15:01
the more data you collected,
339
889722
1922
15:03
the more confident you would become,
340
891644
2172
15:05
not just whether they're loaded or fair,
341
893816
2603
15:08
but by how much, and in what way.
342
896419
3898
15:12
It took three years to find just 42 supernovae
343
900317
3802
15:16
because the telescopes that we built
344
904119
3047
15:19
could only survey a small part of the sky.
345
907166
3693
15:22
With the LSST, we get a completely new view
346
910859
2665
15:25
of the skies above Chile every three nights.
347
913524
3622
15:29
In its first night of operation,
348
917146
2463
15:31
it will find 10 times the number of supernovae
349
919609
3150
15:34
used in the discovery of dark energy.
350
922759
3141
15:37
This will increase by 1,000
351
925900
1809
15:39
within the first four months:
352
927709
2493
15:42
1.5 million supernovae by the end of its survey,
353
930202
4784
15:46
each supernova a roll of the dice,
354
934986
3185
15:50
each supernova testing which theories of dark energy
355
938171
3442
15:53
are consistent, and which ones are not.
356
941613
4128
15:57
And so, by combining these supernova data
357
945741
3803
16:01
with other measures of cosmology,
358
949544
2276
16:03
we'll progressively rule out the different ideas
359
951820
2890
16:06
and theories of dark energy
360
954710
1976
16:08
until hopefully at the end of this survey around 2030,
361
956686
7142
16:15
we would expect to hopefully see
362
963828
2614
16:18
a theory for our universe,
363
966442
2142
16:20
a fundamental theory for the physics of our universe,
364
968584
2539
16:23
to gradually emerge.
365
971123
2757
16:26
Now, in many ways, the questions that I posed
366
974950
2392
16:29
are in reality the simplest of questions.
367
977342
4361
16:33
We may not know the answers,
368
981703
1754
16:35
but we at least know how to ask the questions.
369
983457
3852
16:39
But if looking through tens of thousands of galaxies
370
987309
3118
16:42
revealed 42 supernovae that turned
371
990427
2938
16:45
our understanding of the universe on its head,
372
993365
3479
16:48
when we're working with billions of galaxies,
373
996844
2914
16:51
how many more times are we going to find
374
999758
1777
16:53
42 points that don't quite match what we expect?
375
1001535
5648
16:59
Like the planet found by Herschel
376
1007183
2757
17:01
or dark energy
377
1009940
2417
17:04
or quantum mechanics or general relativity,
378
1012357
3843
17:08
all ideas that came because the data
379
1016200
2344
17:10
didn't quite match what we expected.
380
1018544
3455
17:13
What's so exciting about the next decade of data
381
1021999
3261
17:17
in astronomy is,
382
1025260
1670
17:18
we don't even know how many answers
383
1026930
2211
17:21
are out there waiting,
384
1029141
1800
17:22
answers about our origins and our evolution.
385
1030941
3881
17:26
How many answers are out there
386
1034822
1095
17:27
that we don't even know the questions
387
1035917
3294
17:31
that we want to ask?
388
1039211
2011
17:33
Thank you.
389
1041222
1947
17:35
(Applause)
390
1043169
3702

▲Back to top

ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Andrew Connolly - Astronomer
Andrew Connolly is helping to build the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope -- as well as tools to handle the massive datasets it will send our way.

Why you should listen
Andrew Connolly's research focuses on understanding the evolution of our universe, by studying how structure forms and evolves on small and large scales -- from the search for asteroids to the clustering of distant galaxies. He's a ten-year veteran of the Large Synoptic Sky Survey, and is now prepping for the unprecedented data streams we could expect from the under-construction Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.
 
Set on an 8,800-foot peak in northern Chile, the LSST will have an 8.4-meter primary mirror, a 10-square-degree field of view and a 3.2 gigapixel camera. It will survey half the sky every three nights, creating about 100 terabytes of data every week. Astronomers, Connolly suggests, will need wholly new tools to wrangle this amount of data -- so he has been helping bring together computer scientists, statisticians and astronomers to develop scalable algorithms for processing massive data streams.
 
On sabbatical from the University of Washington, Connolly led the development of Google Sky, and he's now working with Microsoft to develop affordable digital planetariums.
More profile about the speaker
Andrew Connolly | Speaker | TED.com