Turing award winner Jim Gray disappared off the coast of San Francisco last Sunday and has been missing for 5 days.
Attempts by the Coast Guard to locate him so far have been unsuccessful. A large online community of people from different organizations is trying to help. The blog Tenacious Search coordinates one such effort. Another series of independent efforts center around capturing imagery of the area, both satellite and planes, including Microsoft’s Virtual Earth service which Gray contributed to in his career at MSFT Research.
According to news reports, NASA chipped in by having a civilian version of the U2 spy plane alter its route to provide new pictures of the area. There is also satellite imagery provided by Digital Globe service, which has been uploaded to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service. Visitors are asked to examine images and mark those that may indicate the presence of an unusual object on the ocean surface, for further examination. Image resolution is about 1M/pixel and the boat would be 10 by 4 pixels.