Tag archives: planetary science
By James Dacey
“On 27 August…Mars will look as large as the full Moon.”
This was a sentence from a widely circulated e-mail in 2005, in the lead up to one of the closest encounters between Earth and Mars in recorded history.
That our neighbouring planet could appear as prominent as the Moon is, of course, complete claptrap. Since the “Mars hoax” first appeared in 2003, it has re-emerged several times over the past decade.
The Mars hoax is an example of a “meme”, a piece of content or an idea that is spread virally across Internet networks. These days, memes such as this can spread with increasing speed and reach, thanks to the ever-growing expansion of social-media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Now, however, researchers at MODUL University Vienna are setting out on the ambitious task of assessing the truthfulness of information that goes viral on social-media sites. The folks behind the project, called PHEME, say that one of their major aims is to acquire an improved understanding of the types of dubious information that are most likely to spread across networks.