In June, remote sensing analyst Raj Bhagat noticed a strange signal on India’s weather radar. It looked like a small band of rain near Delhi, moving southwest, but Bhagat was convinced it was a locust swarm.
“People began to report it,” he says, referring to sightings on the ground. Giant locust swarms had spread to northern India earlier in the year, ravaging crops and destroying people’s livelihoods. “The timelines were perfectly matching.”
When you navigate to an article in a browser like Google Chrome, that browser automatically sends the site a string of text that looks something like this: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 10_3 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/602.1.50 (KHTML, like Gecko) CriOS/56.0.2924.75 Mobile/14E5239e Safari/602.1.
That gibberish tells the owner of the website a lot about your computer:
In 2017, a group of Stanford researchers found that wearable devices for tracking exercise could also tell when you’re getting sick based on abnormal measures of heart rate, skin temperature, and other biometrics.
The results intrigued Jennifer Radin, an epidemiologist and digital medicine expert at the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California. She wondered whether it was possible to pull together data from many wearable users to predict cases of flu. …