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What we learned in Seoul with AlphaGo

Category: Google | Mar 16, 2016

Go isn’t just a game—it’s a living, breathing culture of players, analysts, fans, and legends. Over the last 10 days in Seoul, South Korea, we’ve been lucky enough to witness some of that incredible excitement firsthand. We’ve also had the chance to see something that’s never happened before: DeepMind‘s AlphaGo took on and defeated legendary Go player, Lee Sedol (9-dan professional with 18 world titles), marking a major milestone for artificial intelligence.

Pedestrians checking in on the AlphaGo vs. Lee Sedol Go match on the streets of Seoul (March 13)

Go may be one of the oldest games in existence, but the attention to our five-game tournament exceeded even our wildest imaginations. Searches for Go rules and Go boards spiked in the U.S. In China, tens of millions watched live streams of the matches, and the “Man vs. Machine Go Showdown” hashtag saw 200 million pageviews on Sina Weibo. Sales of Go boards even surged in Korea.

Our public test of AlphaGo, however, was about more than winning at Go. We founded DeepMind in 2010 to create general-purpose artificial intelligence (AI) that can learn on its own—and, eventually, be used as a tool to help society solve some of its biggest and most pressing problems, from climate change to disease diagnosis.

Like many researchers before us, we’ve been developing and testing our algorithms through games. We first revealed AlphaGo in January—the first AI program that could beat a professional player at the most complex board game mankind has devised, using deep learning and reinforcement learning. The ultimate challenge was for AlphaGo to take on the best Go player of the past decade—Lee Sedol.

To everyone’s surprise, including ours, AlphaGo won four of the five games. Commentators noted that AlphaGo played many unprecedented, creative, and even “beautiful” moves. Based on our data, AlphaGo’s bold move 37 in Game 2 had a 1 in 10,000 chance of being played by a human. Lee countered with innovative moves of his own, such as his move 78 against AlphaGo in Game 4—again, a 1 in 10,000 chance of being played—which ultimately resulted in a win.

The final score was 4-1. We’re contributing the $1 million in prize money to organizations that support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and Go, as well as UNICEF.

We’ve learned two important things from this experience. First, this test bodes well for AI’s potential in solving other problems. AlphaGo has the ability to look “globally” across a board—and find solutions that humans either have been trained not to play or would not consider. This has huge potential for using AlphaGo-like technology to find solutions that humans don’t necessarily see in other areas. Second, while the match has been widely billed as “man vs. machine,” AlphaGo is really a human achievement. Lee Sedol and the AlphaGo team both pushed each other toward new ideas, opportunities and solutions—and in the long run that’s something we all stand to benefit from.

But as they say about Go in Korean: “Don’t be arrogant when you win or you’ll lose your luck.” This is just one small, albeit significant, step along the way to making machines smart. We’ve demonstrated that our cutting edge deep reinforcement learning techniques can be used to make strong Go and Atari players. Deep neural networks are already used at Google for specific tasks—like image recognition, speech recognition, and Search ranking. However, we’re still a long way from a machine that can learn to flexibly perform the full range of intellectual tasks a human can—the hallmark of true artificial general intelligence.

Demis and Lee Sedol hold up the signed Go board from the Google DeepMind Challenge Match

With this tournament, we wanted to test the limits of AlphaGo. The genius of Lee Sedol did that brilliantly—and we’ll spend the next few weeks studying the games he and AlphaGo played in detail. And because the machine learning methods we’ve used in AlphaGo are general purpose, we hope to apply some of these techniques to other challenges in the future. Game on!

Posted by Demis Hassabis, CEO and Co-Founder of DeepMind Demis Hassabis CEO and Co-Founder DeepMind


New ways to plan your vacation while on the go

Category: Google | Mar 9, 2016

With spring around the corner, it’s time to look forward to sunnier skies—and summer getaways. These days, mobile phones make it easier than ever for you to sneak in vacation dreaming and planning here and there—in line at the coffee shop, waiting at the doctor’s office, or on your way to meet a friend.

In fact, last year, according to our internal data for, we saw a whopping 50 percent increase in travel-related questions on mobile phones. But even as that number grows, it can be hard to get all the right information in one place on a small screen. There are a dizzying number of questions to answer when planning a trip: What are the best places to visit? What time of year is good to go? What kind of prices can I expect?

Today we’re introducing something to make all this easier: Destinations on Google, which helps you discover and plan your next vacation, right from Google Search on your phone.

Here’s how it works:

Search with Google on your mobile phone for the continent, country, or state you’d like to travel to and add the word “destination” to see an easy-to-browse collection of options. Destinations integrates a deep understanding of all the places in the world with Google Flights and Hotel search, so you can see available flight and hotel prices instantly. So instead of jumping between a dozen links or tabs to get the information you need, you can sit back and scroll—and leave the heavy lifting to us.

To find a vacation that’s just your style, search for a destination and something you’d like to do there, like “spain surfing,” “new zealand hiking,” or “colorado skiing.” We’ll suggest spots that fit with your hobbies and interests.

Say you’re planning to take some time off in June or July, but you haven’t decided exactly when to go. The “Flexible Dates” filter lets you refine your results by month, so you can see when fares and rates are lowest within the time range you want, across multiple destinations.

Want to avoid crowds or bad weather? Select any destination and tap the “Explore” tab to see what the weather is like year-round and when your destination is most popular, based on historic visits from other travelers.

Once you’ve selected a destination, tap “Plan a trip” to see rates for hotels and flights. We show you highs and lows for the next six months, so you can find the right price tag for you. And as you slide left or right, the results instantly update with real-time fares and rates, pulling from the trillions of flight itineraries and hotels we price every day on Google Flights and Hotel search. You can also tap the pencil icon to customize results further with flight and hotel preferences, including number of stops, hotel class, and number of travelers.

Whether you’ve got five days or 12, don’t fret about figuring out where to go first or which spots you can’t miss. Simply search for “Spain travel,” and click the blue arrow icon to browse the most frequently traveled itineraries. The suggested itineraries are based on historic visits by other travelers to those places, so you can use the wisdom of the crowd and save time researching.

Let Destinations on Google make it smooth sailing to your next vacation. Bon voyage!

Posted by Radhika Malpani, Engineering Director, Travel IMAGE URL Radhika Malpani Engineering Director Travel


#OneDayIWill: On International Women’s Day, share your dream with the world

Category: Google | Mar 8, 2016

Over the years, Doodles have commemorated the achievements of women in science, civil rights, journalism, sports, arts, technology and beyond. It’s always an honor to pay tribute to women who have changed the course of history, sometimes in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. But for this year’s International Women’s Day, we wanted to celebrate the Doodle-worthy women of the future. So we gathered our cameras and pencils and visited 13 countries where we asked 337 women and girls to complete the sentence, “One day I will…” This is what they told us:

Our video Doodle was created by three women on the Doodle team (Liat Ben-Rafael, Lydia Nichols, and Helene Leroux) and features original music by Merrill Garbus (tUnE-yArDs).

From toddlers to grandmothers, the women in San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Lagos, Moscow, Cairo, Berlin, London, Paris, Jakarta, Bangkok, New Delhi and Tokyo all sparkled with personality. Each new city brought more “One day I will”s, more signature dance moves, more hugs, more high-fives. The aspirations we heard were as varied as the women and girls who shared them, from the very personal—swim with pigs in the Bahamas—to the very global—give a voice to those who can’t speak—and everything in between. When it was done, we found that our own “One day I will…”s had grown bigger and richer, inspired by the women we’d met.

Even women who are already accomplished aren’t done dreaming. Jane Goodall shared her hope to one day discuss the environment with the Pope, while Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai and activist Muzoon Almellehan continue to work fearlessly toward a future where every girl can go to school.

In most filming locations we worked with a female-only crew to help create a celebratory and encouraging environment. To see more from all our locations, see the 12 city videos on

It’s not always easy to put into words what you want to achieve. When we asked women and girls on the street to articulate their aspirations, they often had to pause and think about it for a few minutes. Whether their responses were detailed or broad strokes, concrete or abstract, funny or heartwarming, it was inspiring to see them take the time to dream.

Now it’s your turn. Share your aspiration with #OneDayIWill and get one step closer to where you’re going. You never know, you could be the subject of a doodle yourself someday…

Posted by Lydia Nichols and Liat Ben-Rafael, Doodle Team IMAGE URL Lydia Nichols and Liat Ben-Rafael Doodle Team


Moon Shot: A space story about life on Earth

Category: Google | Mar 3, 2016

Right now, 16 private teams from around the world are in a race to the moon. They’re in a $30 million competition called the Google Lunar XPRIZE (GLXP), which challenges teams to design and build a rover, land it on the surface of the moon, drive it 500 meters across the lunar landscape, and send HD video and imagery back to Earth by the end of 2017. And soon, you’ll be able to learn their stories in a new digital documentary series from Google, Academy Award®-nominated director Orlando von Einsiedel, Executive Producer J.J. Abrams, Bad Robot, and Epic Digital.

The GLXP competition, which started in 2007, aims to kick off a new era of space exploration by enabling low-cost and efficient access to the moon. Not only is the moon our closest neighbor in space, it’s also the gateway to exploring the rest of the universe—and provides opportunities for discovery in the fields of science, technology, and human habitation.

The teams in the competition come from all walks of life, from Silicon Valley tech experts, to hackers in Germany, to IT specialists in India, to a father and son working out of their their Vancouver apartment. In a series of 9 digital documentaries, Moon Shot goes behind the scenes with each team, bringing to life their challenges, sacrifices, quirks, and most importantly, the reasons why they’re making the 238,900 mile journey to the moon.

The series will be available for free on Google Play on March 15 and on YouTube on March 17. Subscribe to the Google Lunar XPRIZE YouTube Channel to be one of the first to see it, and for more information, visit

Posted by Yasemin Denari Southworth, Marketing Manager, Google Brand Marketing IMAGE URL AUTHOR NAME AUTHOR TITLE AUTHOR TEAM


Providing support to combat Zika in Brazil and beyond

Category: Google | Mar 3, 2016

The recent Zika virus outbreak has caused concern around the world. We’ve seen more than a 3,000 percent increase in global search interest since November, and last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency. The possible correlation with Zika, microcephaly and other birth defects is particularly alarming.

But unlike many other global pandemics, the spread of Zika has been harder to identify, map and contain. It’s believed that 4 in 5 people with the virus don’t show any symptoms, and the primary transmitter for the disease, the Aedes mosquito species, is both widespread and challenging to eliminate. That means that fighting Zika requires raising awareness on how people can protect themselves, as well as supporting organizations who can help drive the development of rapid diagnostics and vaccines. We also have to find better ways to visualize the threat so that public health officials and NGO’s can support communities at risk.

As a company whose mission is helping people find information, with a lot of experience in analyzing large sets of data, we’re in a good position to help—at scale and at speed. So today we have Google engineers working with UNICEF to analyze data to determine how to map and anticipate the virus. We’ve also made some updates to our products to make Zika information more accessible, and we’re providing UNICEF with a $1 million grant to help their efforts on the ground.

Mapping information to help with prevention
A volunteer team of Google engineers, designers, and data scientists is helping UNICEF build a platform to process data from different sources (i.e., weather and travel patterns) in order to visualize potential outbreaks. Ultimately, the goal of this open source platform is to identify the risk of Zika transmission for different regions and help UNICEF, governments and NGO’s decide how and where to focus their time and resources. This set of tools is being prototyped for the Zika response, but will also be applicable to future emergencies.

Google software engineers John Li and Zora Tung with UNICEF research scientist Manuel Garcia Herranz and UX designer Tanya Bhandari working on the open source data platform.

Supporting UNICEF’s efforts to combat Zika
Our $1 million grant will be used by UNICEF to raise widespread awareness, reduce mosquito populations, support the development of diagnostics and vaccines, and work with communities and governments to prevent Zika transmission. The organization expects to reach 200 million affected or vulnerable people in Brazil and throughout Latin America with these efforts.

© UNICEF/Ueslei Marcelino2016. A mother holds her 4-month old baby born with microcephaly in Recife, Brazil. “When I left the hospital, they already had another 7 children with the same situation,” she shared with UNICEF.

We’ve also launched a matching campaign for Google employees, aimed at providing an additional $500,000 to UNICEF and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to support their work on the ground.

Making Zika virus information accessible
We already include robust information for 900+ health conditions directly on Search for people in the U.S. We’ve now also added extensive information about Zika globally in 16 languages, with an overview of the virus, symptom information, and Public Health Alerts from that can be updated with new information as it becomes available.

We’re also working with popular YouTube creators across Latin America, including Sesame Street and Brazilian physician Drauzio Varella, to raise awareness about Zika prevention via their channels.

We hope these efforts are helpful in fighting this new public health emergency, and we will continue to do our part to help combat this outbreak.

And if you’re curious about what that 3,000 percent search increase looks like, take a look:

Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director, IMAGE URL AUTHOR NAME AUTHOR TITLE AUTHOR TEAM


Strengthening our commitment to racial justice

Category: Google | Feb 26, 2016

I started working with Dr. Carl Mack when I took an engineering internship in my hometown of Seattle. But it wasn’t long before my internship took me in a completely different direction. The city was on high alert in the wake of racial discrimination and violence, and Dr. Mack was the VP of the city’s NAACP chapter. At his side, I was soon participating in protests and closed door meetings with city leaders—opening my eyes to non-technical solutions, and setting me off on a path that would eventually lead me to, where today I lead giving projects focused on the Bay Area and on racial justice.

More recently, incidences of racial violence have again dominated our headlines, with the killing of young men like Tamir Rice and Jordan Davis, the deaths of Michael Brown and Sandra Bland, and countless other acts of injustice. And it isn’t just heartbreaking individual stories. The data is troubling: African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites. An estimated 40 percent of all students expelled from U.S. schools are black, and 30 percent are Latino. Of course, Google and our own industry need to do more to promote equality and opportunities for all.

Social innovators can help us move closer to our ideals of equality and justice. That’s why last year, launched a new, dedicated effort to support leaders who are doing critical work to end mass incarceration and combat endemic educational inequality for black and brown students. We announced $2.35 million in grants to support leaders like #BlackLivesMatter co-founder Patrisse CullorsChris Chatmon, who leads Oakland’s African American Male Achievement Initiative; and Raj Jayadev, who founded the criminal justice reform organization Silicon Valley De-Bug.

Patrisse Cullors, Co-Founder of #BlackLivesMatter, at the screening of 3 ½ Minutes and 10 bullets, Castro Theatre in San Francisco, Calif. on November 3, 2015.

Today, I’m excited to continue that momentum with the addition of four more organizations in this space, totalling $3 million in new grants. To help eliminate racial bias within our educational systems, we’re supporting San Francisco’s My Brother and Sister’s Keeper (MBSK) program, Oakland’s Roses in Concrete Community School, and the tech-enabled college success startup, Beyond12. We’re also supporting Bryan Stevenson and the national Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), which is focused on countering deep-seated bias against people of color in our communities and institutions. In addition to the grant, we’re committed to working with EJI to bring its public education work online so that millions more can experience it.

From left to right: David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development, Alphabet; Bryan Stevenson, Founder and CEO, Equal Justice Initiative; Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade, Founder, Roses in Concrete Community School, Oakland; Landon Dickey, Special Assistant for African American Achievement & Leadership, San Francisco Unified School District; Alexandra Bernadotte, Founder and CEO, Beyond 12; Richard Carranza, Superintendent, San Francisco Unified School District; and Justin Steele, Principal, Photo credit: 510Media.

Each of these organizations and their leaders have shown a deep, fundamental understanding of racial injustice and are actively finding ways to rid our systems of social, educational and economic exclusion. We as a company are proud to support them.



Protecting the world’s news from digital attack

Category: Google | Feb 25, 2016

The web is an increasingly critical tool for news organizations, allowing them to communicate faster, research more easily, and disseminate their work to a global audience. Often it’s the primary distribution channel for critical, investigative work that shines a light into the darkest corners of society and the economy—the kind of reporting that exposes wrongdoing, causes upset and brings about change.

Unfortunately there are some out there who want to prevent this kind of reporting—to silence journalism when it’s needed most. A simple, inexpensive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack can be carried out by almost anyone with access to a computer—and take a site completely offline before its owners even know they’ve been attacked.

These attacks threaten free expression and access to information—two of Google’s core values. So a few years ago we created Project Shield, an effort that uses Google’s security infrastructure to detect and filter attacks on news and human rights websites. Now we’re expanding Project Shield beyond our trusted testers, and opening it up to all the world’s news sites to protect them from DDoS attacks and eliminate DDoS as a form of censorship.

We learned a lot from our early group of Project Shield testers. Not only have we kept websites online during attacks that otherwise would have taken them offline, we learned crucial information about how these types of attacks happen, and how we can improve our services to defend against them.

With this expansion, tens of thousands of news sites will have access to Project Shield. And because Project Shield is free, even the smallest independent news organizations will be able to continue their important work without the fear of being shut down.

Finally, Project Shield is not just about protecting journalism. It’s about improving the health of the Internet by mitigating against a significant threat for publishers and people who want to publish content that some might find inconvenient. A free and open Internet depends on protecting the free flow of information—starting with the news.

Visit our website to learn how Project Shield works and, if you work in journalism, discover how you can join the fight to protect the world’s news.

Posted by Jared Cohen, President, Jigsaw, and Advisor to Executive Chairman, Alphabet Inc. IMAGE URL AUTHOR NAME AUTHOR TITLE AUTHOR TEAM


Black Googler Network fuels inclusion at Google

Category: Google | Feb 24, 2016

Posted by Yolanda Mangolini, Director, Global Diversity & Inclusion

On February 1 we kicked off Black History Month with a Doodle recognizing the remarkable life of Frederick Douglass and a new collection of Black history archives on the Cultural Institute. Googlers around the world have joined in the celebrations, hosting film screenings, spoken word performances, speaker series, and participating in community service. These efforts have been driven by the Black Googler Network (BGN), one of Google’s largest employee resource groups with 12 branches worldwide.

BGN focuses on empowering the Black community at Google and beyond. BGN Googlers work on many different teams, participating in BGN as volunteers or in their 20 percent time. They run service trips to communities in need, provide professional development and mentorship programs, convene dialogues on topics affecting the Black community, and help Googlers connect with each other and develop a sense of community. They’ve also driven social justice movements across the company, including solidarity for #BlackLivesMatter and $2.35 million in funding from for racial justice innovators.

As Black History Month comes to a close, we asked some of these Googlers to share what they’re working on both in their day jobs and within BGN.

Brandon Parrott

Brandon says: In addition to my job working on sales for Google’s large customers, I pursue my passion for diversity, inclusion, and giving back through my role as the BGN Global co-Chair. Giving back is core to BGN’s work: our Annual Outreach Trip convenes members from around the world for several days of service. In 2015 we went to Charleston, SC, where we conducted coding workshops for around 100 students and parents to expose them to computer science and how creative, collaborative, and fun it can be. The year prior, we held a Social Media 101 training for 100+ small business owners in Atlanta. Everyone deserves equal access to opportunity, whether it’s computer science education or the economic benefits of the Internet. I’m proud to have Google’s support while doing work that affirms #BlackLivesMatter.

Robin Joseph, Data Center Facilities Specialist in Atlanta

Robin says: I work as a Data Center Facilities Specialist in Atlanta, supporting and coordinating data center functionality for 350 onsite personnel. BGN has always been an important part of my Google experience: I supported the revival of our Atlanta chapter, served for three years on our service-oriented Outreach Leadership Team, and integrated our smaller data center chapters into a stronger, more supportive unit—BGN@datacenters.

I also work on projects to expand access to technology in my local community. I serve as a CS First program evangelist, helping engage diverse students in computer science learning, and I’m a Diversity Ambassador advancing our diversity work in the data centers. One of my proudest moments was when I helped secure a Google grant for a robotics program at a local school—helping them scale the project from 10 students to 150!

Victor Scotti, Diversity Specialist in New York City

Victor says: In my role on the Diversity team, I work to ensure that all Googlers play a role in fostering a fair and inclusive culture. My work with BGN is focused around the multifacetedness of the Black experience. Through community partnerships and collaborations between BGN and Gayglers, I try to showcase the rich particularities to the personal and professional lives of Black people on the LGBTQIA spectrum. I’m celebrating Black History Month by renewing my commitment to unapologetically bringing my whole self to work each and every day.

Maasha Kah, GooglersGive Specialist in Mountain View

Maasha says: Our Black History Month theme within Google this year is “Lift Every Voice: Ignite Inclusion.” This theme of inclusion is powerful for me: when I first came to Google, I felt a bit isolated. I was not only a Black woman in Tech, but also working in the corporate social responsibility space, where there aren’t many Black folks. Joining BGN was critical in helping me feel like I could truly be myself at Google, with all my triumphs, tribulations, and differences included.

These days, I’m passionate about making Google a place where everyone is comfortable being themselves. In my role on the GooglersGive team, a program which gets Googlers involved in charitable giving and community service, I’ve coordinated opportunities for Googlers to use their spare time giving back in places ranging from Oakland and Harlem to Ghana and South Africa. Projects include teaching students computer science skills, conducting outreach to at-risk youth, and working with communities struggling with homelessness and abuse.

Jessica Moore, Benefits Communications Specialist in Mountain View

Jessica says: I first encountered Google’s commitment to making the company and the technology industry more diverse and inclusive as a BOLD intern on the Diversity team. Later, I returned to Google full-time on the People Operations team, and I plugged into the Black Googler Network. I’ve been able to serve in leadership roles for Black History Month, develop relationships with BGN members across the world, and interact with senior executives. BGN has provided me with opportunities that have helped me gain confidence and feel like I belong at Google—while allowing me to contribute to a cause much larger than myself.

IMAGE URL Yolanda Mangolini Director Global Diversity & Inclusion


AMPing up in mobile Search

Category: Google | Feb 24, 2016

Access to information is at the heart of Google’s mission. Unfortunately, today, the mobile web isn’t living up to the expectations people have for getting the information they need, particularly when it comes to speed. In fact, data shows that people abandon websites after just three seconds if the content doesn’t load quickly—which is bad not just for people trying to get what they want online, but for the publishers who want those readers to enjoy the content they’ve created for them. That’s why, last October, we joined others across the industry on the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP for short), an open source initiative to make the mobile web as fast as possible.

In just over four months, AMP has come a long way, with hundreds of publishers, scores of technology companies and ad-tech businesses all taking part in this joint mission to improve the mobile web for everyone. And starting today, we’ll make it easy to find AMP webpages in relevant mobile search results, giving you a lightning-fast reading experience for top stories.

Now when you search for a story or topic on Google from a mobile device, webpages created using AMP will appear when relevant in the Top Stories section of the search results page. Any story you choose to read will load blazingly fast—and it’s easy to scroll through the article without it taking forever to load or jumping all around as you read. It’s also easy to quickly flip through the search results just by swiping from one full-page AMP story to the next.

AMP is great for browsing the web on mobile devices, because webpages built with AMP load an average of four times faster and use 10 times less data than equivalent non-AMP pages. In many cases, they’ll load instantly. It’s how reading on the mobile web should be—fast, responsive and fun.

While helping people find fast AMP content through Google Search is a significant step, there’s still a lot of work ahead for the open source AMP Project. Still, it’s been thrilling to see how the industry has come together to work on this common goal of making the mobile web great for everyone. And given the potential AMP holds for other types of content, we’re excited about what the future holds.

Posted by David Besbris, VP Engineering, Search IMAGE URL AUTHOR NAME AUTHOR TITLE AUTHOR TEAM


Google Science Fair 2016: #howcanwe make things better with science?

Category: Google | Feb 23, 2016

The 2016 Google Science Fair opens for submissions today. Together with LEGO Education, National Geographic, Scientific American and Virgin Galactic, we’re inviting all young explorers and innovators to make something better through science and engineering. To learn more about the competition, how to enter, prize details and more, visit the site, and follow along on Google+ and Twitter

In this post, 2015 Grand Prize winner, Olivia Hallisey, joins us to reflect back on her own experience with Google Science Fair. -Ed.

I remember the day I first heard about the Google Science Fair last year. I was sitting in my 10th grade science class when my teacher asked us: “What will you try?” I loved the invitation—and the challenge—that the Google Science Fair offered. It was a chance to use science to do something that could really make a difference in the world.

I had always been curious and interested in science, and knew I wanted to submit a project, but didn’t really know exactly where to begin. I asked my teacher for his advice on selecting a research topic. He encouraged me to choose something that I felt passionate about, or something that outraged me, and told me to look at the world around me for inspiration. So I did. At that time, the Ebola crisis was all over the news. It was a devastating situation and I wanted to help be a part of the solution. I had found my project.

With the outbreak spreading so quickly, I decided that I wanted to find a way to diagnose the virus earlier so that treatment could be delivered as quickly as possible to those who were affected. I read online about silk’s amazing storage and stabilizing properties, and wondered if I could use silk to transport antibodies that could test for the virus. After many failed attempts (and cutting up lots of cocoons) I finally succeeded in creating a temperature-independent, portable, and inexpensive diagnostic test that could detect the Ebola virus in under 30 minutes. I was really excited that my research could help contribute to saving lives, and I was proud to be selected as the Grand Prize winner a few months later.

As the 2016 Google Science Fair launches today, I wanted to share a few tips from my own experience: First, as my teacher once guided me to do, look at the world around you for ideas. If you’re stuck, try the Make Better Generator to find something that excites or inspires you. Second, find a mentor who’s interested in the same things as you. There are a lot of helpful ideas on the GSF site to get you started. And finally, don’t get discouraged—often what first appears like failure can teach you so much more.

I urge other teenagers like me to take this opportunity to find a way to make the world around them better. Every one of us, no matter our age or background, can make a difference—and as young people, we’re not always so afraid to try things that adults think will fail. But change doesn’t happen overnight, and it often starts with a question. So look at the world around you and challenge yourself to make something better.

Science isn’t just a subject—it’s a way to make things better. So I hope you’ll join the conversation and enter the Google Science Fair this year. Our world is waiting to see what you come up with!

Posted by Olivia Hallisey, 2015 Grand Prize winner, Google Science Fair IMAGE URL AUTHOR NAME AUTHOR TITLE AUTHOR TEAM