Could machines, technologies and devices made with micro-organisms and bacterial cells soon be a part of our daily lives? Will modified cells be a part of the medical treatments we take, the food we eat, the fuels we use?
November’s issue of Horizon takes a look at the cutting-edge technologies known as synthetic biology which are bringing together engineering and biology to create completely new systems and innovations.
We hear how bacteria can be turned into electricity-generating cells and even change how we take our medicines.
In this issue, we speak to researchers who are using synthetic biology to augment our bodily systems by, for example, adapting cells so that they release hormones that make us feel full when they sense too much fat in our blood.
The languages we speak and how we speak them are an integral part of our identity, shaping not only how we see the world but also how people see us. In January, Horizon puts language under the spotlight, kicking off the month with a look at Europe’s minority languages and how to preserve them. We also delve into the social and cognitive aspects of language use, finding out how accents arise and how they affect people’s perception of the speaker, and discovering how ageing affects linguistic capacity in bilingual people – and vice versa. We also speak to researchers looking into the language impairment dyslexia and potential options for early diagnosis.
When it comes to climate change, it is often said that what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. This month, with the COP24 UN climate change conference taking place in Katowice, Poland, Horizon looks north to the region of the world that is feeling the effects of global warming most acutely. We speak to Marianne Kroglund from the Arctic Council about whether it is too late to save the fragile ecosystems there and examine how studies of ice melt show that the world may still have a fighting chance of limiting sea level rise. We find out how the Arctic environment could be protected in the face of increased maritime traffic and look at the effect of melting permafrost – soil, sediment or rock that’s been frozen for at least two years – on the environment and local communities.
From high winds and heavy rainfall to droughts and plummeting temperatures, people in Europe have already begun to feel the effects of extreme weather. As we get used to this new reality, scientists are investigating how it will affect how we get around and whether our infrastructure can cope.
Increasingly severe weather could cripple our roads and railways. Here’s how we’re getting ready.
There is no evidence that language skills prevent cognitive decline, say researchers.
More regulations won't prevent drone disruption, says security expert Dan Hermansen.