Significance December 2020 issue

In a data-driven economy, access to data is vital. So, what happens when data are not available due to disclosure issues or other restrictions? In the December 2020 edition of Significance, we take a close look at the use of 'synthetic data' in the civil service, asking whether it is possible to draw useful conclusions based on carefully manufactured data.

Also in this issue, Simon Raper chronicles the rise and fall of the deterministic view of the universe – the idea that all events can be explained entirely by their causes – and how this change in mindset altered our understanding of probability.

Maria Ibrahim, a kidney doctor in training – and winner of our early-career writing award – discusses the vital role of statistics and statistical analysis in transplant medicine: from matching donor organs to patients, to helping doctors and patients weigh the risks and benefits of a life-changing operation.

And Matthew Russell asks whether Earth’s existing forestland has the space and resources necessary to enable 1 trillion additional trees to survive and thrive.

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