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’s oceans are overfished, polluted and – for something that makes up 70% of the Earth’s surface – still little understood. This month, Horizon looks at some of the science that could help us take better care of our oceans, from robots trash collectors out at sea to finding ways to track the plastic that enters our waters. Plus, we look at how climate change is affecting plans for sustainable aquaculture, tech that can help divers reduce the cost of their dives by more than 50%, and the challenges facing research in the Black Sea.
To mark the European year of cultural heritage, Horizon explores how science is helping to uncover more about our past and to preserve our art, landscapes, buildings and ways of life for the future. We discover why prehistoric humans chose to paint rock art where they did, and how farming techniques from hundreds of years ago could help fight climate change today. Plus, we learn how cultural heritage feeds into European identities and what can be done to prevent the destruction of historical sites during wartime.
The world’s largest radio telescope, known as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and situated over two continents, will be able to detect the first stars and galaxies emerging from the ‘murk’ at the beginning of the universe and much more besides, according to Professor Phil Diamond, Director General of SKA. He spoke to Horizon at the opening of the Shared Sky art exhibition in Brussels, Belgium on 16 April, where indigenous artists from SKA host nations South Africa and Australia use traditional painting and folk art to explore the themes of astronomy, spirituality and a borderless sky.
Electric ferries and digital communication between ships could help in the quest to decarbonise maritime transport, a sector which is often perceived as being the green option but could still do much to lower its environmental footprint.
Astronomers could use giant radio telescope from 2025.
New tech could help shrink shipping emissions.
The EU’s research chief on his new role.