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Looking Toward the Sky, Trojans Trace UFO Sightings


Roswell, NM, is well-known to UFO hunters.

University of Southern California researchers analyzed thousands of documented UFO sightings to determine the degree to which factors such as movie releases and weather events shaped sighting patterns.

Credit: Luke Sharrett/The New York Times

Sixty University of Southern California (USC) researchers in an advanced content and data analysis class analyzed thousands of documented UFO sightings to determine the degree to which factors such as movie releases and weather events shaped sighting patterns.

Student teams sifted through a public database of more than 60,000 sightings, annotated with data from other sources. They then applied data visualization methods to assess the analysis tools and articulate their insights, using machine learning software to process images of UFO sightings and automatically group similar images together.

USC alumnus Matheos Asfaw noted that increased UFO sightings correlate strongly with both sci-fi film releases and thunderstorms.

The research was designed to help the researchers learn important lessons about using data to paint a clearer picture of a complex problem.

From USC News
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