At age 16, Louis Braille invented an alphabet for the blind. When she was 13, Ada Lovelace became fascinated with math and went on to write the first computer program. And at 18, Alexander Graham Bell started experimenting with sound and went on to invent the telephone. Throughout history many great scientists developed their curiosity for science at an early age and went on to make groundbreaking discoveries that changed the way we live.

Today, we’re launching the third annual Google Science Fair in partnership with CERN, the LEGO Group, National Geographic and Scientific American to find the next generation of scientists and engineers. We’re inviting students ages 13-18 to participate in the largest online science competition and submit their ideas to change the world.

For the past two years, thousands of students from more than 90 countries have submitted research projects that address some of the most challenging problems we face today. Previous winners tackled issues such as the early diagnosis of breast cancer, improving the experience of listening to music for people with hearing loss and cataloguing the ecosystem found in water. This year we hope to once again inspire scientific exploration among young people and receive even more entries for our third competition.

Here’s some key information for this year’s Science Fair:
Students can enter the Science Fair in 13 languages.
The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2013 at 11:59 pm PDT.
In June, we’ll recognize 90 regional finalists (30 from the Americas, 30 from Asia Pacific and 30 from Europe/Middle East/Africa).
Judges will then select the top 15 finalists, who will be flown to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. for our live, final event on September 23, 2013.
At the finals, a panel of distinguished international judges consisting of renowned scientists and tech innovators will select top winners in each age category (13-14, 15-16, 17-18). One will be selected as the Grand Prize winner.
Prizes for the 2013 Science Fair include a $50,000 scholarship from Google, a trip to the Galapagos with National Geographic Expeditions, experiences at CERN, Google or the LEGO Group and digital access to the Scientific American archives for the winner’s school for a year. Scientific American will also award a $50,000 Science in Action prize to one project that makes a practical difference by addressing a social, environmental or health issue. We’re also introducing two new prizes for 2013:
In August, the public will have the opportunity to get to know our 15 finalists through a series of Google+ Hangouts on Air and will then vote for the Inspired Idea Award—an award selected by the public for the project with the greatest potential to change the world.
We also recognize that behind every great student there’s often a great teacher and a supportive school, so this year we’ll award a $10,000 cash grant from Google and an exclusive Google+ Hangout with CERN to the Grand Prize winner’s school.
Lastly, we’ll also be hosting a series of Google+ Hangouts on Air. Taking place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, these Hangouts will feature renowned scientists including inventor Dean Kamen and oceanographic explorer Fabien Cousteau, showcase exclusive behind-the-scenes tours of cutting-edge labs and science facilities, and provide access to judges and the Google Science Fair team. We hope these Google+ Hangouts will help inspire, mentor and support students throughout the competition and beyond.

Visit www.googlesciencefair.com to get started now—your idea might just change the world.

Posted by Sam Peter, Google Science Fair Team

A little over a year ago, we helped put online five manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls—ancient documents that include the oldest known biblical manuscripts in existence. Written more than 2,000 years ago on pieces of parchment and papyrus, they were preserved by the hot, dry desert climate and the darkness of the caves in which they were hidden. The Scrolls are possibly the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century.

Today, we’re helping put more of these ancient treasures online. The Israel Antiquities Authority is launching the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, an online collection of some 5,000 images of scroll fragments, at a quality never seen before. The texts include one of the earliest known copies of the Book of Deuteronomy, which includes the Ten Commandments; part of Chapter 1 of the Book of Genesis, which describes the creation of the world; and hundreds more 2,000-year-old texts, shedding light on the time when Jesus lived and preached, and on the history of Judaism.

The Ten Commandments. Photo by Shai Halevi, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority

Part of the Book of Genesis. Photo by Shai Halevi, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority

Millions of users and scholars can discover and decipher details invisible to the naked eye, at 1215 dpi resolution. The site displays infrared and color images that are equal in quality to the Scrolls themselves. There’s a database containing information for about 900 of the manuscripts, as well as interactive content pages. We’re thrilled to have been able to help this project through hosting on Google Storage and App Engine, and use of Maps, YouTube and Google image technology.

This partnership with the Israel Antiquities Authority is part of our ongoing work to bring important cultural and historical materials online, to make them accessible and help preserve them for future generations. Other examples include the Yad Vashem Holocaust photo collection, Google Art Project, World Wonders and the Google Cultural Institute.

We hope you enjoy visiting the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, or any of these other projects, and interacting with history.

Posted by Eyal Miller, New Business Development, and Yossi Matias, Head of Israel Research and Development Center

Winter cleaning

Last January, we renewed our resolution to focus on creating beautiful, useful products that improve millions of people’s lives every day. To make the most impact, we need to make some difficult decisions. So as 2012 comes to an end, here are some additional products, features and services we’re closing:

On January 4, 2013, we’ll be shutting down several less popular Google Calendar features. You’ll be unable to create new reservable times on your Calendar through Appointment slots*, but existing Appointment slots will continue working for one year. In addition, we’ll discontinue two Calendar Labs—Smart Rescheduler (we recommend Find a time view or Suggested times as alternatives) and Add gadget by URL. Finally, Check your calendar via sms and Create event via sms (GVENT)—U.S.-only features for creating and checking meetings by texting information to Google—will be discontinued today, as most users prefer mobile Calendar apps.
Google Sync was designed to allow access to Google Mail, Calendar and Contacts via the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync® protocol. With the recent launch of CardDAV, Google now offers similar access via IMAP, CalDAV and CardDAV, making it possible to build a seamless sync experience using open protocols. Starting January 30, 2013, consumers won't be able to set up new devices using Google Sync; however, existing Google Sync connections will continue to function. Google Sync will continue to be fully supported for Google Apps for Business, Government and Education. Users of those products are unaffected by this announcement.
In addition to Google Sync, we’re discontinuing Google Calendar Sync on December 14, 2012 and Google Sync for Nokia S60 on January 30, 2013. We’re also ending service for SyncML, a contacts sync service used by a small number of older mobile devices on January 30, 2013.
The Issue Tracker Data API allows client applications to view and update issues on Project Hosting on Google Code in the form of Google Data API feeds. We’ll shut down the Issue Tracker API on June 14, 2013.
Punchd is an app that keeps loyalty punch cards on your smartphone. On June 7, 2013, we will discontinue the Punchd Android and iOS apps, and merchants will no longer honor Punchd loyalty cards. Users can continue to earn punches and redeem rewards at participating businesses until June 7, 2013. We remained focused on developing products that help merchants and shoppers connect in new and useful ways.

Technology offers us a way to make a big impact on the world. In 2013, we’ll keep working hard to build a seamless, amazing Google experience for you.

*Update January 17, 2013: We'll continue to support appointment slots in Calendar for all Google Apps for Business, Education and Government customers.

Posted by Venkat Panchapakesan, VP, Engineering

We love using our computer science (CS) and engineering skills to solve some of world’s most interesting and important problems. We also know that not enough students are pursuing careers in CS and that the U.S. currently has a 3-to-1 gap for computer and mathematical sciences jobs (that’s three job openings for every job seeker). So this year, for National Engineers Week, Google engineers across the country visited local middle schools and high schools to talk to more than 5,000 students about their own careers in computer science.

Instead of hosting students at Google for National Engineers Week as we’ve done in the past, this year we traveled to local communities to talk to the students on their own turf. Engineers Week fell during spring break in many areas, so we spread our school visits throughout the month of March.

As part of this event, I visited Odle Middle School in Bellevue, Washington with four other engineers from our Kirkland office. We split up into 16 different classrooms during the day, and talked about the importance of basic programming skills for all the sciences (it’s not just for CS majors!) before moving on to activities related to programming and algorithmic thinking (searching and sorting). It was a lot of fun to interact with the students—and we all left with a greater appreciation for the work that the teachers perform every day.

One of the engineers in our group is Japanese (his friends and family are fortunately all safe) and he gave a particularly resonant example of how CS can have a big impact. After the recent earthquake, geologists used computer models to predict where and when tsunamis were likely to hit coastal regions. This information was used to send warnings and direct resources where they were needed most. The speed and accuracy of these warnings is a credit to the scientists who combined their knowledge of geology with their programming expertise to produce these life-saving programs.

We really care about encouraging students to pursue careers in all the sciences (including computer science). By introducing students to interesting people who work in computer science, we hope we can inspire them to develop their own skills in this area.

Posted by Gary Kacmarcik, Software Engineer

(Cross-posted on the Google Docs Blog and the Google Photos Blog)

For many, your wedding day is one of the biggest, most momentous days of your life. The perfect dress, the right tuxedo, the proper shade of blue, the three-tier cake with chocolate fondant, and all of your closest family and friends—these are just a few of the many things you might think about for your special day. Although there’s much to consider and a lot of work to do, the payoff is great: it’s one of the happiest days of your life.

To help you plan this important day we’ve created wedding-specific templates in Google Sites, Google Docs and Picnik, and gathered tips and tricks for using these and other Google products at google.com/weddings. From wedding websites to save-the-date cards, these tools simplify wedding planning, letting you focus your time on the fun things—like tasting cakes!

We teamed up with renowned wedding planner Michelle Rago, who provided her insight and creativity to guide the designs you’ll find on this new site. Michelle also shared her experience to provide tips and advice to keep your guests comfortable and you sane.

We’re also hosting a wedding sweepstakes, so if you’re getting married in the next year you can enter for a chance to win $25,000 towards your dream wedding (see Official Rules). Plus, Michelle Rago and her team will advise the winning couple on location, flowers, food and other design elements to create a day that is uniquely their own.

Visit google.com/weddings to start planning, or share the site with your favorite betrothed couple and help them on their way to wedded bliss.

Posted by Lisa Conquergood, Senior Product Marketing Manager

(Cross-posted on the Mobile Ads Blog)
By the end of 2011, an estimated one billion people around the world will be connected to the mobile web and 50% of all Americans will own a smartphone. Because of the explosion of web-enabled mobile devices, mobile usage is now on a hockey-stick trajectory: searches on smartphones and tablets have increased by 4x in the last year, and the world of mobile apps continues to engage mobile users—125 years’ worth of Angry Birds are played every day!

For people everywhere, the mobile era has begun.

Yet most businesses haven’t adapted their online strategies—advertising, webpage design, commerce—to mobile. The opportunity for these businesses is huge and we want everyone to be able to take part. On February 10, we’re hosting an event at our New York office called “ThinkMobile”: Mary Meeker, Partner at Kleiner Perkins, and our own Dennis Woodside, SVP, Americas Operations and Jason Spero, Head of Mobile, Americas, will explore some of the most significant trends in mobile and explain why it’s “not too late for businesses to still be early” in this space. We invite you to livestream these talks at 1pm ET/10am PT this Thursday on desktop, or—for the first time from a Google event in the U.S.—on both Android and iOS mobile devices as well. In other words, you can Think Mobile....on mobile!

Right now, advertisers engaging on mobile are increasing brand awareness, purchase intent and sales with effective mobile search and display campaigns. Mobile developers and publishers are supporting very profitable businesses with advertising revenue. And consumers are benefiting from relevant and useful ads on their mobile devices.

To help all businesses take advantage of the opportunities that mobile advertising presents, we’re focusing on three core principles with our mobile ads business:
Seamless: We’re bringing the best characteristics of desktop advertising to mobile devices. We want to help marketers and developers extend the benefits of their desktop advertising to people on mobile devices, while effectively managing their campaigns and ad space across many channels.

Inclusive: It’s clear that mobile is about more than just one device, one type of ad format or one style of ad campaign. Our ad solutions span across search, text, display, video, commerce and more, on a wide variety of devices, and enable businesses and consumers to connect in newly relevant and useful ways.

Made for mobile: Mobile devices have unique characteristics like location awareness and touch screens (and the ability to make phone calls!) that make it easy for people to engage with information conveniently, and create unique opportunities for businesses as well. Our ad solutions are built to help marketers, developers and publishers take advantage of these mobile-specific characteristics.

The power of constant connectivity on mobile is a thrilling new reality, and has already transformed the way people engage with information, businesses and certainly with each other. We’re just now scratching the surface of what’s possible on mobile. This is an exciting time, and there’s much more to come.

Posted by Karim Temsamani, Global Head of Mobile

Celebrating Data Privacy Day

(Cross-posted on the Public Policy Blog)

It’s become a welcome tradition: Today is the fourth annual Data Privacy Day. Dozens of countries have been celebrating with events throughout the week to inform and educate us all about our personal data rights and protections.

This is the first year I’ve marked this day as director of privacy across both engineering and product management at Google. I’ve chosen to spend the day in Washington, D.C., where there’s a been a lot of robust and productive discussion lately. People from Congress, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Commerce, and industry and consumer groups have been contributing to these important conversations about how to best protect people’s data, and we’re happy to be participating too. I’m doing my part by bringing my geek sensibilities into a public discussion that we’re hosting today. In fact, that’s what we’re calling it: “The Technology of Privacy: When Geeks Meet Wonks.” I’ll be joined on the panel by technologists from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Federal Trade Commission and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. If you can’t attend in person, don’t worry—we’ll be uploading a video of the event later in the day on our Public Policy blog and you’ll also be able to see it on the Google Privacy Channel on YouTube.

On this Data Privacy Day, a major focus for Google is on creating ways for people to manage and protect their data. We’ve built tools like the Google Dashboard, the Ads Preferences Manager and encrypted search, and we’re always working on further ideas for providing transparency, control and security to empower our users. For example, earlier this week we launched an extension for Chrome users called Keep My Opt-Outs, which enables you to opt out permanently from ad tracking cookies. And pretty soon we’ll be extending the availability of 2-step verification, an advanced account security solution that is now helping protect more than 1,000 new accounts a day from common problems like phishing and password compromise. Right now it’s available to Google Apps Accounts; we’ll be offering it to all users in the next few weeks.

Data Privacy Day 2011 reminds us that as industry and society are busy moving forward, we face new challenges that together we can tackle through conversation and innovation. We’re eager to be part of the solution.

Posted by Alma Whitten, Director of Privacy, Product and Engineering

Recent statistics have shown a decline in the number of U.S. students taking computer science AP classes, which also leads to a decline in students declaring computer science as their majors—a concerning trend in the U.S. as we try to remain competitive in the global economy. With programs like Computer Science for High School (CS4HS), we hope to increase the number of CS majors —and therefore the number of people entering into careers in CS—by promoting computer science curriculum at the high school level.

For the fourth consecutive year, we’re funding CS4HS to invest in the next generation of computer scientists and engineers. CS4HS is a workshop for high school and middle school computer science teachers that introduces new and emerging concepts in computing and provides tips, tools and guidance on how to teach them. The ultimate goals are to “train the trainer,” develop a thriving community of high school CS teachers and spread the word about the awe and beauty of computing.

In 2011 we’re expanding the program considerably and hope to double the number of schools we funded in 2010. If you’re a university, community college, or technical School in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Middle East or Africa and are interested in hosting a workshop at your institution, please visit www.cs4hs.com to submit an application for grant funding. Applications will be accepted between January 18, 2011 and February 18, 2011.

In addition to submitting your application, on the CS4HS website you’ll find info on how to organize a workshop, as well as websites and agendas from last year’s participants to give you an idea of how the workshops were structured in the past. There’s also a collection of CS4HS curriculum modules that previous participating schools have shared for future organizers to use in their own program.

Previous organizers have told us that teachers have left their workshops excited about the new materials they learned and the innovative ideas they’ve discussed with other teachers. We’re hopeful that they’ll pass on to their students not only the skills that they learned but also that passion.

Posted by Terry Ednacot, Education Program Manager

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