This December, Horizon talks to scientists who are drawing lines between free will and genetic disposition, differentiating between feeling and thinking, unlocking how our brains process placebo drugs, and even defining the grey area between consciousness and unconsciousness in comatose patients.
A greater scientific understanding of consciousness is allowing researchers to quantify exactly how conscious we are at any given moment, and the resulting measurements are providing new insight into the likelihood of coma patients to recover.
It’s one of the mysteries that has confounded scientists for over a century – if you offer sick people fake pills and say it will help cure them, it often will. Now, researchers are working out exactly how the placebo effect operates in the brain and how it can be enhanced in order to harness its power in a new approach to treating disease.
To mark the European year of cultural heritage, Horizon explores how science is helping to uncover more about our past and to preserve our art, landscapes, buildings and ways of life for the future. We discover why prehistoric humans chose to paint rock art where they did, and how farming techniques from hundreds of years ago could help fight climate change today. Plus, we learn how cultural heritage feeds into European identities and what can be done to prevent the destruction of historical sites during wartime.
The way we work is undergoing a major shift thanks to technological development and demographic change and, this month, Horizon looks at how research is helping us stay ahead of the game. We find out how decisions made early in your career could determine when you retire, and how to get the most out of the relationship between humans and machines in factories. We also investigate some of the ethical issues that could arise in the jobs of the future and how best to take them into account.
Swarms of firefighting drones could one day be deployed to tackle hugely destructive megafires that are becoming increasingly frequent in the Mediterranean region because of climate change, arson and poor landscape management.
The challenge of how to rebuild society following conflict is a difficult question that arises all too frequently, but recent studies have demonstrated that putting people at the centre of the process and enabling cooperation on politically neutral issues can help build peace.
Large fires are increasingly common in the Mediterranean region.
Where does one start to fix a broken society?
Destruction of cultural heritage sites can be a war crime as they form part of people's emotional landscape, according to Dr Margarete van Ess.