BEACON TRANSCRIPT – During a special project which aimed to bring science to schools, students received data from the International Space Station for analysis. However, one of the students spotted an error in the calculations and informed NASA about it.
The boy spotted a problem in NASA’s spreadsheets
Miles Soloman is a 17-year-old secondary student from Sheffield. During his physics class, he and his colleagues were shown data on radiation levels aboard the International Space Station. He knew that something was wrong when he saw a negative number, when there should have been no radiation. Thus, he decided to send an email to NASA and report about the error.
Soloman’s teacher, James O’Neill, said that they were discussing the data in class, when the boy suddenly jerked up and asked how negative energy could appear on the radiation spreadsheet. Soloman is proud that he could spot the error and email NASA.
“The first thing I thought there was, well, you can’t have negative energy. And then we realized this was an error. So we emailed NASA. Even now that sounds quite cool. I emailed NASA.”
Larry Pinsky, physics professor at the University of Houston, said that NASA was aware that such phenomena might happen. However, they thought such recordings only came out once or twice a year. Therefore, Soloman’s email informed them that the problem was more recurrent that they thought.
NASA appreciated the boy’s effort and invited him to plunge further in the issue. Soloman was excited even that he could look at data from ISS in the first place.
“What we got given was a lot of spreadsheets, which is a lot more interesting than it sounds. I went straight to the bottom of the list and I went for the lowest bits of energy there were.”
Students can start a career in science early
NASA’s project TimPix and the Institute for Research in School (IRIS) gives children in UK schools the chance to look closely at scientific data. This analysis allows them to spot possible anomalies and to get used to scientific patterns in general. This might help them start early in pursuing a career in science.
Also, the researchers think that such an approach of science would make more children interested in the field. The purpose of the project is to make science more enjoyable for both students and their teachers.
Image Source: Public Domain Pictures