From connected telescopes to artificial intelligence

From connected telescopes to artificial intelligence


Photo credits: Elena Parodi

18 Nov. 2016 – First email sent to Marco with the subject ‘An idea for Science Festival in Genoa’.

22 Nov 2017 – After that very first email I have lost count of the number of emails I sent about telescopes, artificial intelligence, the spectrum of light, exoplanets, nebulae, recycled materials, Yubi, rainbows, distributed robotics, a glitter-covered star used as a cupboard, modelling dough, Saturn and Cassini. But let me tell you how this story ends…

From 26th October to 5th November 2017, during the Genoa Science Festival, Konica Minolta presented an exhibition entitled ‘Networks to cloud nine’. In the exhibition, the focus was on the Telescope Connect project within Konica Minolta Laboratory Europe that is creating a computational platform for the management of complex distributed robotic systems and big data management. A platform of distributed intelligence that is one of the first possible applications of the concept that forms the basis of Cognitive Hub, and is described further in the video of the event.

Networks to cloud nine took place in Genoa, in the beautiful historical building ‘Commenda di San Giovanni di Pre’, that today is the municipal museum hosting many kinds of exhibitions and in the past was used as a hospital for Christian pilgrims, allowing them to recover whilst in front of the sea, during their long and perilous journeys towards Rome. In contrast, the exhibition’s visitors were invited to join a much less dangerous journey into science to explore: a few concepts of physics, some elements of computer science, and insights into astronomy together with many fascinating astrophotography images, that were presented to explain how modern networks of terrestrial robotics telescopes work.

A network of distributed minor observatories, small robotic telescopes and amateur astronomers throughout many locations on Earth, can support the monitoring of astronomical phenomena that are have typically been initiated by large terrestrial or orbiting telescopes. Today citizen science, i.e. public participation in scientific research, can play a fundamental role in the successful development of astrophysics.

To complete the journey in our exhibition we have organized an interactive laboratory for school-children. This was enabled through a collaboration with Elena Parodi who is an expert science communicator focusing  in the area of robotics. Within the ‘Saturn in your hands’ activity, the children had the chance to ‘jump’ on the Cassini spacecraft and re-live its grand finale with Saturn.

Using recycled materials, LED lights and modelling dough (kindly supplied by Didò), children have been introduced to the idea of space exploration where they were encouraged to build a spacecraft, a small Saturn and a real electric squishy circuit (made with the modelling dough). It has been an engaging experience to watch children focusing on the activities within this lab to bring their small spacecraft to touch their colourful planets and in so doing activate the lights in the electric circuit.