This month, Horizon looks at the research shaping the lives of Europe’s younger generations, and heads to the classroom to learn how technology is transforming education.
Horizon finds out how one EU project could help swap textbooks for augmented reality and interactive video games, and we speak to Erki Urva from the Estonian Information Technology Foundation for Education, to hear how Estonia is pioneering digital education by incorporating IT training across the school curriculum.
Child prodigy Anne-Marie Imafidon, who gained an A level in computing at the age of 11, shares her views on how to close the gender gap and get more girls to study science, technology, maths and engineering subjects at university.
Horizon also looks at infant cognition, and in particular why parents should talk to their babies from as young as two months old, and interviews a researcher who explains how, for bilingual children, one language affects the way children learn to read the other.
On some streets in Europe, eight out of 10 children go to university, while in others it’s fewer than eight in 100. That’s according to an EU project which aims to reverse this trend by encouraging institutions to set up children’s universities and get young people to help change the way science is taught.
If more girls are to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects at university, then attitudes among parents and society at large must change – that’s according to Anne-Marie Imafidon, a speaker at the EU’s Innovation Convention in March 2014. She passed an A level in computing aged 11, and at 20, she obtained a master’s degree. She is the founder of Stemettes, an organisation which encourages girls to get into STEM subjects by connecting them with women working in the field.
Seven years after scientists successfully managed to adapt a gene editing system used by bacteria into one that can be easily used in labs to edit human genes, we take a look at some of the emerging applications and ethical issues of CRISPR-Cas9. We talk to the head of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies about whether the simplicity and low cost of CRISPR means that there is potential for misuse and what should be done about this. We find out how scientists have used CRISPR to create cows lacking two sugars that trigger the human immune system, leading to hopes of longer-lasting heart valves for transplant patients and healthier red meat. And we speak to researchers who are using CRISPR to improve other gene editing technologies.
On December 17th, the European Space Agency’s CHEOPS telescope will blast into space to take a closer look at some of the potentially habitable planets we’ve found beyond our solar system. Ahead of its launch, Horizon takes an in-depth look at what we already know about such exoplanets and what’s still to learn. We speak to Dr Michaël Gillon, who in 2017 was instrumental in discovering a system of seven Earth-like planets outside our solar system, about the diversity of the thousands of exoplanets we’ve found so far and next steps for research. We talk to scientists who are trying to understand the structure of Super-Earths – planets up to 10 times the size of Earth – by recreating elements of planetary cores in their labs, and others who are trying to understand how different planetary systems formed in the first place. Finally, we delve into one of the most important conditions for life to exist on exoplanets – their atmospheres – and find out how scientists are trying detect the biosignature gases that indicate the presence of life.
Scientists have cloned a genetically engineered bull which they hope will help heart valve transplant patients lead better quality lives and benefit people with red meat allergies.
Europe changed dramatically during the Bronze Age, with huge population shifts generally ascribed to the rise of new metal technologies, trading and climate change. But scientists believe that there may have been another reason for this social upheaval – the plague, possibly transported by, or on the back of, newly domesticated horses.
Removing immune-stimulating sugars should also help people with red meat allergies.
Newly domesticated horses may have increased the spread of disease.
Dr Michaël Gillon on what's next for exoplanet science.