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Issue 51: Big Data

SPECIAL ISSUE: Tracking our digital trails via our smartphones, Internet use and shopping habits reveal a wealth of information about today’s trends and those to come – allowing decision makers to predict our health, wealth and even our tendency to crime. Here’s how you’ll benefit from the new digital future. Plus, Steven Pinker on the end of violence and the new psychology of peace; the unsuspected genius of our best friends, dogs; the quest to eradicate polio and an incredible story of brain cancer survival through revolutionary stem cell treatment. We also look at the massive evolutionary leap in whale size, and don’t miss our 8-page postgraduate survival special.


Inside this issue

Features

The decision makers
Powerful computers are tracking our digital footprints, down to the most mundane activities in our day-to-day lives. Gemma Black looks at how personal information is shared – and whether you’ll benefit from the new data deluge.
In conversation with Jennifer Ouellette
COSMOS talks to science writer Jennifer Ouellette about why she decided to tackle many students’ nemesis, mathematics.
Giants of the deep: the evolution of whales
Since heading back into the ocean, cetaceans have evolved to gargantuan proportions. Sid Perkins investigates why whales became so huge.
A different kind of genius
When it comes to animal intelligence, your best friend may be smarter than you think. Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods explain.
The decision makers
Powerful computers are studying our digital footprints, down to the most mundane activities in our day-to-day lives. They know what we buy and how we vote, and may end up altering society in unrecognisable ways.

Regular sections

Foreword

In 2004 I made a New Year's resolution to stop just talking about it and fufil a long-held desire to launch a science magazine, writes Kylie Ahern.

Feedback

Reader's letters; "Where in the COSMOS?" winners.

Gallery

GALACTIC GHOSTS Floating, seemingly serenely, in the vastness of interstellar space are numerous ethereal clouds of gas and dust, the unearthly remains of dead and dying stars and the raw materials from which a new generation of stars and planets will be born. But don’t be fooled – their apparent beauty and tranquility belies their violent origins.

Fiction

MANDATORY SPEED There’s no police in the Bear Republic. Everyone’s responsible for their own individual safety. I don’t wear my personal shield when I’m with family. Some people say that’s the only time they wear theirs. Original fiction by Thoraiya Dyer.

Reviews

COSMOS talks to science writer Jennifer Ouellette about why she wrote a book about mathematics; physicist Sean Carroll tells us what he's been reading; plus we review the latest science and sci-fi books, and reveal what we've been talking about at COSMOS.

Opinion

A GREATER EQUITY Gender equality must be fervently pursued at the highest echelons of science, including among the elected fellows of the Australian Academy of Science, argues Bob Williamson.

Express

News, views, brain food, facts and trivia.

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