Big data

Over this year we’ll be engaging people across the UK and Ireland in discussion about the ways in which big data, through the lens of physics, affects us all.

What is big data?

Big data is a term describing the storage and analysis of large amounts of data which is frequently updated and comes in various formats, such as numeric, text, images or video.

Big data and physics

Physicists working in astrophysics, particle physics, and medical imaging are at the forefront of understanding how we can interrogate, analyse and store big data.

Big data and the IOP

Over 2019 we will be engaging people across the UK and Ireland with the ways in which physics and big data touch our lives.

We are leading this initiative through our national public engagement programme, involving our member run nations and branches and partner organisations across the UK and Ireland.

This theme is also being explored through other avenues of IOP work, notably our work in education and through engagement with our membership.

Focus areas for 2019

  • Big data debates
    This will focus on the debate and dialogue of issues that affect us all. Will computer algorithms replace doctors in diagnosing and treating medical conditions? What is the future of telecommunications when the radio frequency over which we transmit information is full?
  • Small stories about our big universe
    Big data and large physics experiments are often intertwined. How can we make big science more personal? How are physicists using big data to glean insights about our universe? From satellite data to radio telescopes, how are big physics experiments benefiting our society through real world applications?
  • Physics, big data and ourselves
    Big data is changing the way we collect, store and analyse information. What does this mean for the future of our cultural memory? What new jobs are being created? How might AI and machine learning change the way we do physics? How are physics skills being employed through data science in innovative and unexpected ways?

Alongside our public engagement programme, we’ll be getting schoolchildren talking about big data and meeting physicists working in data science, through the schools outreach project I’m a Scientist Get Me Out of Here.