Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow became interested in addressing the global food crisis after learning about the Horn of Africa famine in 2011. When a gardening project went awry, they discovered a naturally occurring bacteria in soil called Diazotroph. The girls determined that the bacteria could be used to speed up the the germination process of certain crops, like barley and oats, by 50 percent, potentially helping fulfill the rising demand for food worldwide. Oh—and they’re 16 years old.

Today, Ciara, Émer and Sophie were named the Grand Prize Winner and the 15-16 age category winners of our fourth annual Google Science Fair. They are some of thousands of students ages 13-18 who dared to ask tough questions like: How can we stop cyberbullying? How can I help my grandfather who has Alzheimer's from wandering out of bed at night? How can we protect the environment? And then they actually went out and answered them.

From thousands of submissions from 90+ countries, our panel of esteemed judges selected 18 finalists representing nine countries—Australia, Canada, France, India, Russia, U.K., Ukraine and the U.S.—who spent today impressing Googlers and local school students at our Mountain View, Calif. headquarters. In addition to our Grand Prize Winners, the winners of the 2014 Google Science Fair are:
  • 13-14 age category: Mihir Garimella (Pennsylvania, USA) for his project FlyBot: Mimicking Fruit Fly Response Patterns for Threat Evasion. Like many boys his age, Mihir is fascinated with robots. But he took it to the next level and actually built a flying robot, much like the ones used in search and rescue missions, that was inspired by the way fruit flies detect and respond to threats. Mihir is also the winner of the very first Computer Science award, sponsored by Google.
  • 17-18 age category: Hayley Todesco (Alberta, Canada) for her project Waste to Water: Biodegrading Naphthenic Acids using Novel Sand Bioreactors. Hayley became deeply interested in the environment after watching Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” Her project uses a sustainable and efficient method to break down pollutant substances and toxins found in tailing ponds water in her hometown, a hub of the oil sands industry.
  • The Scientific American Science in Action award: Kenneth Shinozuka (Brooklyn, New York) for his wearable sensors project. Kenneth was inspired by his grandfather and hopes to help others around the world dealing with Alzheimer's. The Scientific American award is given to a project that addresses a health, resource or environmental challenge.
  • Voter’s Choice award: Arsh Dilbagi (India) for his project Talk, which enables people with speech difficulties to communicate by simply exhaling.
As the Grand Prize winners, Ciara, Émer and Sophie receive a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands provided by National Geographic, a $50,000 scholarship from Google, a personalized LEGO prize provided by LEGO Education and the chance to participate in astronaut training at the Virgin Galactic Spaceport in the Mojave desert.

Thanks to all of our young finalists and to everyone who participated in this year’s Google Science Fair. We started the Science Fair to inspire scientific exploration among young people and celebrate the next generation of scientist and engineers. And every year we end up amazed by how much you inspire us. So, keep dreaming, creating and asking questions. We look forward to hearing the answers.

At Google, we like to experiment. Today we are experimenting with a guest blogpost from the UK innovation charity Nesta. Although we had no involvement in this study of how companies best can benefit from the information age, we think it offers a valuable contribution on Europe’s skills debate and wanted to share the conclusions.

We are living in the middle of a data explosion – a rich opportunity, but also a much
misunderstood one. In previous research, we showed that businesses which analyse their data intensively become 10% more productive than their average competitor. By contrast, collecting data on its own has little impact on performance.

Our newly published research, ModelWorkers, the first report in a project in collaboration with Creative Skillset and The Royal Statistical Society, looks at the data skills that businesses need to produce these impacts.

Model Workers
Interviews with 45 experts in UK data-driven companies reveal that all types of companies are converging into the ‘big data’ space. from pharmaceutical giants to small retailers and manufacturers. All are all experimenting with bigger, messier and faster data, and catching up with leading players in software, advertising, games and finance.

As a result, everyone is looking for the same ‘perfect data analyst’, or ‘data scientist’: a creative worker with analytical, coding and business skills, team working and charisma. These people are hard to find. Four out of five of the companies we interviewed say they struggle to find data scientists.

In Model Workers we identify interventions to remove these shortages. They include up-skilling established professionals such as statisticians, programmers and social scientists, developing vocational training in universities and encouraging more crossover between computer science, statistics and business disciplines. We also need to build up communities of data practice, and develop training and professional standards. Policymakers should make it easier for foreign students to work in Europe after completing data analysis courses.

In the longer term we need to improve the teaching of maths at schools, and change false perceptions of data work as boring and dull. Some of the most exciting and creative jobs across the economy today – from developing new games to discovering new drugs – are based on data, and we need to make sure everyone is aware of this crucial trend.

On 25th September, the Advisory Council to Google on the Right to be Forgotten visits Paris for its public consultation with French experts and the general public. On 30th September, the Council will visit Warsaw.

A limited number of seats are available for members of the public at each Council meeting, and we’re opening up the online registration process today. Registration will remain open until five days before the event. There is no charge to attend.

  • Register to attend the Paris meeting public session here. Members of the press can register here.
  • Register to attend the Warsaw meeting public session here. Members of the press should register here.

After Paris and Warsaw, the Council heads to Berlin (14th October), London (16th October) and Brussels (4th November). Registration for these meetings will start approximately ten days before each event, and we’ll post details on this blog and on the Advisory Council website in due course.

At each meeting, the Council will listen to statements from invited experts, ask questions of the experts and discuss matters of law, technology, and ethics. The public portion of each Advisory Council meeting will last around three hours, with a short intermission. The whole meeting will also be live-streamed on the Advisory Council’s website.

During the event, members of the audience can submit questions to the Council and invited experts. The Council also invites members of the public to share their thoughts on the Right to be Forgotten via the form at - all contributions will be read and discussed. Individuals or organizations with subject matter expertise can submit attachments such as research papers at on an ongoing basis.

We look forward to seeing you at one of the meetings.

Fewer than one in ten computer science graduates in Europe are female. In order to improve on this dismal rate, we are sponsoring the 2014 European Ada Awards.

The Awards, affectionately known as the “Adas,” are named in honor of Ada Lovelace, a 19th-century English mathematician, considered by many to be the world’s first computer programmer and the first to envisage computing’s true potential.

It’s the second edition of the awards. The European Commission launched the Ada Awards in June, 2013 as part of its pledge to improve Digital Skills and Jobs in Europe. Three awards are given out - the Digital Girl of the Year, the Digital Woman of the Year , and the Digital Impact Organisation of the Year. Nominations are valid from across the European Union and reflect a broad spectrum of digital fields – academia, research, industry, enterprise and creative.

“Tomorrow's world will be driven by digital technology, and having digital skills will
open a goldmine of opportunities. I want women to be in the goldmine,” Neelie Kroes European Commission Vice President responsible for the Digital Agenda, said at last year’s award ceremonies.

Please note the award agenda:

Deadline for Nominations: September 16, 2014
Finalist Announcement: October 6, 2014
Rome Award Ceremony: October 30, 2014

Additional information and nomination forms are available at

At a time when racism and hate speech is rising, it is urgent to unite and act to preserve it as a space of tolerance.

This week, we joined with leading French anti-racism organizations SOS Racisme, UEJF, LICRA and MRAP to launch “Pousse Ton Cri”, an online platform allowing people to voice their opposition to discriminations by recording a short “shout” via video.

The campaign aims to raise awareness amongst young internet users by mobilising them around a symbolic and collective act against the voices of intolerance on the web. Users will also learn more about how to report hate speech online.

Over the next six weeks, we will help organize three Hangouts on Air to debate racism in various fields. On September 17, we will look at racism in sports. The following week, on September 24, will investigate racism in music and the final one, on October 3, will focus on hate speech on the Net.

Each Hangouts will give young people the opportunity to ask their questions to famous figures in these different fields. Among others, French YouTuber “Jigmé”, who now has more than half a million subscribers, will share his story of how he uses humor to highlight prejudices.

You can register to participate to one of these debates via this link.

This weekend some of Europe’s biggest publishers are running a newspaper ad arguing that Google is too dominant and that we favour our own products - like Maps, YouTube and Google Shopping - in our search results. Given the serious nature of these allegations, I wanted to ensure that people have the facts so they can judge the merits of the case themselves.

While we’re fortunate to have been very successful in Europe, it’s not the case that Google is “the gateway to the Internet” as the publishers suggest. Think about how people use the web today:
  • To get news, you’ll probably go direct to your favorite news site. It’s why newspapers like Bild, Le Monde and the Financial Times get most of their online traffic directly (less than 15% comes from Google). Or you might follow what other people are reading on Twitter.
  • To book a flight or buy a camera for your next holiday, you’re as likely go to a site like Expedia or Amazon as you are Google.
  • If you’re after reviews for restaurants or local services, chances are you’ll check out Yelp or TripAdvisor
  • And if you are on a mobile phone -- which most people increasingly are -- you’ll go straight to a dedicated app to check the sports scores, share your photos or look for recommendations. The most downloaded app in Europe is not Google, it is Facebook Messenger.

Nor is it true to say that we are promoting our own products at the expense of the competition. We show the results at the top that answer the user’s queries directly (after all we built Google for users, not websites). Let me give you some real-life examples.
  • Ask for the weather and we give you the local weather right at the top. This means weather sites rank lower, and get less traffic. But because it’s good for users, we think that’s OK.
  • It’s the same if you want to buy something (whether it’s shoes or insurance). We try to show you different offers and websites where you can actually purchase stuff -- not links to specialized search engines (which rank lower) where you have to repeat your query.
  • If you’re after directions to the nearest pharmacy, you get a Google Map with the closest stores and information to get you there. Again we think that’s a great result for users.

In each case we’re trying to get you direct answers to your queries because it’s quicker and less hassle than the ten blue links Google used to show. This is especially important on mobile where screens are smaller and typing is harder. Many specialized search services don't like these improvements because they mean less traffic for them. But as European Commissioner Almunia has said: “Imposing strict equal treatment … could mean returning to the old world of Google displaying only ten undifferentiated search results - the so-called ten blue links. This would deprive European users of the search innovations that Google has introduced.”

We agree. In fact, the allegations now being made by publishers have been extensively investigated by regulators in Europe and America over more than seven years. To date, no regulator has objected to Google giving people direct answers to their questions for the simple reason that it is better for users.

Finally, it is said that Google’s success reduces our rivals’ incentives to innovate and invest, which is bad for consumers. But as the Financial Times recently reported, European media companies – including some of those behind today’s ads -- are investing heavily in specialized search engines. As Axel Springer explained in a press release announcing their most recent investments: “there’s a lot of innovation on the search market”. Economists will tell you that innovation is typically the sign of a healthy, competitive marketplace.

Posted by Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google

As a bishop in his native Buenos Aires, Pope Francis founded "Escuela de Vecinos" (Neighbor Schools) and "Escuelas Hermanas" (Sister Schools) to allow students in richer and poorer neighborhoods to share their concerns. Today, at the Vatican, a new project was announced, using the Internet and Google tools, allowing students from around the world to communicate. The Pope himself tomorrow will publicly present the new platform.

The initiative, Scholas, seeks to connect schools all over the globe, so that they may learn from one another, share projects and find volunteers to make these projects a reality. Scholas Occurrentes integrates Google Apps for Education.

“Technology and Education are key in tackling the roots of violence”, said Jose María del Corral, Scholas's CoFounder at the press conference held this morning. We are helping "take down the physical barriers and prejudices that stand in the way of peace." Google's Managing Director for Spanish-speaking Latin America Adriana Noreña and representatives of Globant and Line64, responsible for the site´s design and programming, joined him at the Vatican launch.

The initiative comes after a Vatican-sponsored education congress and a soccer match for World Peace held earlier this week, for which Pope Francis I personally invited some of the best soccer players.