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As anyone who’s been sucked in by Facebook knows, one of the most powerful things in the online world is the opportunity to make new connections. If you’ve got a good way to search through any big collection, you’ll turn up useful things you may not have found otherwise. Now scientists are using new search technologies to make sense of huge collections of information.

You can now sift through the instructions that make up every human, for example. Reading a person’s genome is becoming easier and cheaper – DNA discoverer James Watson has just been given a look at his own genes – and now the team behind ensembl.org have put a searchable human genome sequence on the web, available to everyone. Scientists can use it to search for a particular string of DNA, browse closer views of each chromosome, and even compare parts of our genome with those of other animals, from chimps to cows.

Scientists often face information overload. There’s so much out there to read, most researchers just keep up with their own specialty. Now prestigious journals such as Nature have been experimenting with enabling more powerful searches through their articles, and helping scientists share web links and potential new leads with each other. Hunting for patterns in the papers scientists write could help point up new directions for discovery.

Photo collections are also getting help from the science of searching. If you’ve ever done a Google image search you’ll know it is not always brilliant – that’s because the search engine is not searching the images themselves, it’s looking at the words around them. Now a team at the University of Southampton is giving computers a better eye for what’s actually in an image, so not only can you find what you’re after more easily, the computer can learn how to sort new photos itself.

Join us at the Apple Store on Regent Street for this free event on the science of searching, and the search for new science.

Official Website: http://www.rigb.org/rimain/calendar/detail.jsp?&id=349

Added by favouritejumper on August 29, 2007