Saturday, 3 July 2010

Is it science?

Sergey Brin, the Google co-founder, is helping to search for a cure to Parkinson's disease ... tests show he has a pre-disposition to the disease.  What's interesting is that he is doing it by turning normal 'scientific method' on its head.

Scientists usually work by creating a hypothesis and then conducting experiments and collecting data to prove or disprove that hypothesis.

Brin's approach is to work with 10,000 sufferers of Parkinson's, gathering data about them, their lifestyles and their condition .. and then looking for patterns that might create a hypothesis.

This is, in effect, a new approach to science made possible by the ability of computers to store and analyse vast amounts of data.  Is it science?  Well, yes. In effect, Brin's hypothesis is that the data collection and analysis project will identify patterns, connections or trends. If he proves this, its good - and very useful - science!

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