We as humans like to elevate anything to a science including sports science, social science, rocket science and even food science. But what does science mean? For once I didn’t Google it but I grabbed my copy of the Oxford Reference Dictionary and this is what I read on the page.
So why has data become a science? It’s certainly not a substance nor is it animal or vegetable life. What I remember of science is the explosions in the chemistry lab and dissecting things in biology. Can data ever be that much fun? If we do call it a science it then elevates it from trying to see patterns in data like a fortune teller reading tea leaves to men in white coats in sterilized labs working out the structure of DNA. All of this is true of course because we are talking about the science of data; not only that but the data created by science. Confused yet?
Almost everything we do creates data and top of that list is science. In fact, pretty soon it will be more than our conventional forms of computation can handle and rumor has it Moore’s Law will not be relevant as the rate in which transistor densities continue doubling every 18-24 months. We could hit that threshold in 2020 or 2022. We are looking at more imaginative ways of creating the computational power required as our needs expand at an extraordinary rate. A fascinating article in Nature called “Cellular ‘computers’ gain a hard drive” talks of using DNA as a form of memory storage. In an associated article they talk about the creation of a DNA computer that can play tic-tac-toe. This is using biological processes such as chemical reactions or even the synapses of a brain being triggered to create an output that can be recognized by a computer. In one study they are using the spores from a fungus to simulate logic gates.
Now we have gone full circle (making me dizzy) and the science I remember as a child comes into sharp focus. We are now talking about biology creating the computational power required to carry out the science needed to study data.
There are many things in life that come full circle and we are now looking at nature to provide a way of pushing our technological boundaries which is a little ironic but also quite satisfying. I shall dig out my old chemistry set and make a computer!
I know this blog post contains some pretty high level subjects that may or may not be our future and that is what fascinates me and sparks my creative endorphins (see my previous blog Curiosity Breaks The Silence). If this post has done so in some small way, or even if not, please let me know as feedback really helps and I could use your comments in my next entry, with a name call of course.
Photo credit: Foter / CC BY-SA