“With that hammer in hand, we started looking around for nails,” he said.
“One idea was to look at calibrating data that otherwise wouldn’t make it into the scientific realm.”
On April 1, 2010, Lang and New York University astronomer David Hogg searched online images for photos of Comet 17P/Holmes, which famously exploded in October 2007 and briefly became the brightest object in the sky. Their search returned 2,241 unique images, of which 1,299 actually turned out to be usable photos of Holmes. The others included diagrams, charts or illustrations of the comet’s orbit, as well as the moon, a Greek statue and two pictures of cats.