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 model of our universe as expanding at an accelerated rate has given rise to theoretical constructs such as dark energy and dark matter, which scientists believe could make up 95% of the universe. In September, Horizon takes a deeper look at what we really know about the expanding universe. We speak to Prof. Subir Sarkar, who believes that the Nobel-winning discovery that universe expansion acceleration could be a fluke, and the scientists who are trying to answer the question by allowing us to better measure the expansion rate. We also look at the significance of accurately measuring gravity in deep space, and what dark matter haloes can tell us about the existence of dark energy.
This month, Horizon takes an in-depth look at a shared human trait – our emotions. We find out how science is seeking to better understand and regulate human emotions across a range of applications, from mental health to politics. We uncover the implications of a neuroscientist’s efforts to determine how the brain controls fear and anxiety, with possible implications for treating mental health disorders and autism. We explore how emotions shape our politics and ask whether this can help provide a different perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And we look at research examining how apps and online games can help people manage their emotional sides.
A sister and brother who created shock-activated protective gear featuring a starch liquid for people who in-line skate, motorcycle and do other risky sports, won one of the three first prizes at this year’s European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS).
Winners from Germany and Canada take home top prizes.
New observations may provide alternative explanations for dark energy.
We need to double-check the evidence on dark energy, as it may not exist at all, says Prof. Subir Sarkar.