History has shown that teasing truth from propaganda during times of war is a tricky business indeed. So it is with some caution that as I write this column I chose to mention that the Syrian government is reported to have attacked opposition activists with chemical weapons.
Light – such a peculiar and, at times, elusive beast. Both a wave and a particle – it has befuddled some of the greatest scientific minds in history. Yet as it dances through space-time at the universal speed limit, it carries with it information – information that we have, in various forms, collected and used for centuries.
“Big data” has well and truly entered into the lexicon of science. Large data sets are vital – defining even – for many disciplines in which it is often the honing of this raw data into information that is the very key to breakthroughs. A growing list of biological ‘omics (gen, proteo, kino, glyco etc), meteorology, particle physics, neuroscience…all more and more dependent on large data sets.
Cosmologists – you’ll no doubt be unsurprised to learn – are quite a hard bunch to please. The questions they ask push the boundaries of what it is currently possible to answer – and often surpass them. Consequently the satisfaction craved by these curious minds is hard, very hard, to come by.