During February, Horizon looks at the vast digital libraries which are changing the world around us.
Big data is having an impact across every aspect of our lives, from healthcare, as scientists close in on patterns in our DNA that can predict disease, to social media, where Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter posts are helping detect false rumours online.
We also hear from Professor Dirk Helbing, who imagines an open data Wikipedia for Europe where data about our world will be collected in a central repository which will be open to all.
Social media is increasingly being used as a source of news, but the problem is that you can’t always trust what you read online. Now, EU researchers are tackling this issue head-on by creating software to help people decide whether they can rely on information found on Facebook or Twitter.
The falling cost of gene sequencing and the prevalence of healthcare monitoring gadgets means our bodies will become data clouds that give us an early warning for diseases like cancer and neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s, according to researchers in a growing field known as computational medicine.
Almost 50 000 Google searches per second, 3 billion internet users, 500 million tweets per day – the data centres that underpin our information age now use 2 % of Europe's energy, researchers say. That’s the same as the energy used globally by the aviation industry.
Europe needs to pursue a different strategy from Silicon Valley if it is going to reap the social and economic benefits of big data, according to Dirk Helbing, Professor of Computational Social Science at ETH Zurich, who aims to create an open, real-time data stream from the Internet of Things.
The world looks very different from this time last year. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the centrality of science, research and innovation, accelerated some changes already in the works, but also exposed our weaknesses. In September, Horizon looks at how the pandemic is reshaping Europe in areas including health research, work, tech, transport and food – and how research can contribute to Europe’s recovery over the coming years. We will also be covering the European Research & Innovation Days at the end of the month, which will bring together scientists, policymakers, entrepreneurs and citizens to debate how research and innovation can ensure that the transition to a post-coronavirus society is sustainable, inclusive and resilient.
In August, Horizon looks at one of the features that makes Earth unique and habitable: plate tectonics. We explore what we know – and still don’t know – about how the shifting plates beneath our feet shape our planet. We speak to researcher Dr Kate Rychert, who wants to understand what makes a plate plate-like, and delve into one of the outstanding mysteries in the subject – how and why plate tectonics began. We find out about the link between mountain formation, erosion and climate change, and we look at what moonquakes and marsquakes can reveal about tectonic activity elsewhere.
The ability of certain fish to heal damage to their hearts could lead to new treatments for patients who have suffered heart attacks and may also help to unravel how the lifestyle of our parents and grandparents can affect our own heart health.
A strange species of cavefish is helping to reveal why heart attacks cause permanent damage.
‘Industrial symbiosis’ is encouraging industry byproducts to be used for new purposes.
Dr Kate Rychert studies ocean plate structures.