Horizon looks at the big implications of the science of the very small, from the promise of microscopic machines that kill damaged cells, to the search for ways to make sure that nanomaterials are safe.
Nanotechnology involves examining and developing structures so tiny that they are only a fraction of the width of a human hair. When materials get this minuscule, their properties change dramatically – in new and sometimes unexpected ways.
Horizon looks at how nanorobots could carry drugs into the body without affecting healthy cells, and sees how these tiny particles and structures are already in products we use every day – like cosmetics, sun cream, and even parts of your TV.
We also hear from Professor Kai Savolainen, director of the Nanosafety Research Centre at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki, who talks about research into the risks of nanomaterials, and, also, their benefits to society.
Professor Kai Savolainen, director of the Nanosafety Research Centre at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki, coordinates the NanoSafety Cluster. He believes more needs to be done to understand the risks of nanotechnology.
Dumped waste, from used nappies to industrial by-products, have long wound up in landfills and can take hundreds of years to decay. In October we speak to the scientists figuring out how to keep such items in use to reduce rubbish and create a so-called circular economy. We learn about new efforts to mine industrial waste for the rare metals that go into making aircraft parts, pacemakers and bicycle gears, and find out about the culture shift needed to develop a zero-waste society. We also speak to the researchers building a biorefinery to turn soiled nappies into fertilisers and raw materials, and look at whether seaweed could become the next plastic.
The model of our universe as expanding at an accelerated rate has given rise to theoretical constructs such as dark energy and dark matter, which scientists believe could make up 95% of the universe. In September, Horizon takes a deeper look at what we really know about the expanding universe. We speak to Prof. Subir Sarkar, who believes that the Nobel-winning discovery that universe expansion acceleration could be a fluke, and the scientists who are trying to answer the question by allowing us to better measure the expansion rate. We also look at the significance of accurately measuring gravity in deep space, and what dark matter haloes can tell us about the existence of dark energy.
Bill Gates and the European Commission have launched a €100 million investment fund designed to bring radical clean energy technologies more quickly to market in order to promote energy efficiency and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Hydrogen can be used to power cars, supply electricity and heat homes, all with zero carbon emissions. The snag is that the vast majority of hydrogen itself is derived from fossil fuels – a fact that scientists are now hoping to change. They plan to clean up production to kickstart a dedicated economy – something that has already found small-scale success in Scotland’s Orkney Islands.
Europe's leadership 'more important than ever', says Gates.
The goal is to remove reliance on fossil fuels.
A circular economy needs new business models and reusable products, says Felipe Maya.