Horizon takes you to the Expo Milano 2015 world fair in Italy, where researchers show how they will feed future generations nutritiously and sustainably.
We talk to the scientists who are using genetic techniques and molecular methods to create pest-resistant feed crops, resilient fish, and plants that can produce food in hot and dry weather conditions.
We look at how traditional African foods are being improved through research, and discover how to manage forest lands to make the most of scarce rainfall.
We also speak to the next-level recyclers – the researchers who are finding ways to turn waste water into plastic bottles, and make food wrappers from lobster and shrimp shells.
Researchers may have figured out how to reduce the risk of becoming ill from eating chicken, and the answer is surprisingly simple. After trying without success to eliminate risky bacteria by vaccinating poultry or using viruses to kill bacteria, they have now launched an e-learning programme to prevent bacteria being carried into the slaughterhouse.
A strong bioeconomy, which uses technology to maximise the use of renewable resources, is the best way to ensure the sustainable production of food, materials, chemicals, and energy, according to Professor Erik Mathijs, chair of the foresight expert group for the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research, which presented its fourth foresight report at Expo Milano on 19 June.
Extreme weather and a changing climate are presenting new threats to the safety of our fish, seafood and vegetables, according to European scientists who are working out how to keep our food safe to eat.
The inability to access nutritious food due to poverty is the main reason people face food insecurity, an issue that affects people within the EU as well as in developing countries, according to Prof. Johan Swinnen, who is on the project management team of the EU-funded FOODSECURE project and sits on the EU scientific steering committee for Expo Milano.
The construction industry has a heavy carbon footprint, accounting for some 40% of global emissions, and yet, as the world’s population grows, demand for housing and building is only soaring. We kick off 2021 by looking at how the construction sector can become greener and some of the radical solutions required. We speak to sustainable architecture expert Dr Catherine De Wolf about the need to design recyclable buildings and how that will require a fundamental restructure of the way the construction industry works. We look at nearly zero energy wooden homes and investigate whether this material can help us kick our concrete habit – concrete being the most used substance on Earth. We home in on techniques to make cement greener and piezoelectric to light up spaces with the addition of vegetable waste, and at how self-healing building materials can prolong the life of civil infrastructures. And we explore the promise of fungal architecture to see whether structures grown from fungus can green the way we build.
In December, as the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission to create a precise 3-D map of a billion objects in the Milky Way releases its next tranche of data, we take an in-depth look at what we know – and what we don’t – about our home galaxy. We speak to astrophysicist Prof. Ralf Klessen about why it might enhance our understanding of the Milky Way to consider it as a constantly evolving ecosystem rather than studying different parts in an isolated way. We speak to scientists who are trying to image the centre of the galaxy, which is hidden from view behind giant dust and gas clouds, and we explore the latest research into how stars are formed. And finally, we find out what the galaxies surrounding the Milky Way can tell us about our home system.
In the summer of 2014 a strange building began to take shape just outside MoMA PS1, a contemporary art centre in New York City. It looked like someone had started building an igloo and then got carried away, so that the ice-white bricks rose into huge towers. It was a captivating sight, but the truly impressive thing about this building was not so much its looks but the fact that it had been grown.
Bilingual people can effortlessly switch between languages during everyday interactions. But beyond its usefulness in communication, being bilingual could affect how the brain works and enhance certain abilities. Studies into this could inform techniques for learning languages and other skills.
Live mycelium networks, capable of information processing, could be used as building materials.
Researchers are investigating whether bilingualism enhances certain cognitive abilities.
Dr Kate Rychert studies ocean plate structures.