It's been 15 years since the euro came into circulation and to mark the occasion Horizon is looking at what the future could have in store for finance. We talk to one economist who says the way to avoid another crisis is to keep banks small and boring, and we explore the effect of alternative local currencies on supporting small businesses. We also delve into some of the technology that could enable us to move to a cashless society, and we look at the growth of the so-called sharing economy, in which people share access to resources.
From eliminating checkout queues to potentially cutting counterfeiting and even terrorist financing, the rise of cash-free payment systems might not only change the way most of us pay but even pave the way to a cashless society.
People who use car-sharing services could soon be able to roam with different providers when travelling, much in the same way as people do with their mobile phone networks, thanks to a new piece of software which its inventor says will also help make car sharing economically viable in smaller cities and rural areas.
We need to return to a diverse, small-scale banking system in order to reduce the risk of another financial crisis, according to Professor Eckhard Hein from the Berlin School of Economics and Law, Germany, who was involved in the EU-funded FESSUD project examining the causes and consequences of the 2008 - 2009 financial and economic crisis.
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.
Tracking people’s daily and lifetime movements will determine link between environment and mental health, says Dr Marco Helbich.