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I usually avoid e words, as there have been so many of them, most destined only for eventual oblivion. But the evidence suggests this one might be a favoured runner in the new words sweepstakes. It’s a largely British term for new developments in information technology that aim to help researchers process the vast amounts of data that come out of many scientific investigations. It’s applied especially to fields such as the human genome project and nuclear physics — for example, a new particle accelerator due to come on line at CERN in 2006 is expected to generate a petabyte of data every second (peta- represents one followed by 15 zeroes). Other parts of the project are designed to help create a super-fast Internet that will give researchers easy access to all this data and to supply new software to process and visualise it. The term seems to have appeared first at the beginning of last year, and was given a stamp of approval through being used in a White Paper (a governmental consultation document) in August.

e-Science is science which is increasingly done through distributed global collaborations enabled by the Internet, possibly using very large data collections, tera-scale computing resources and high performance visualisation to achieve its objectives.

New Scientist, June 2001

Also capturing a large share of new funding are projects that aim to digest once-unfathomable amounts of data, an area the U.K. government calls “e-science.”

Science, Dec. 2000

Page created 7 Jul. 2001

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World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 7 July 2001.