Light pulses that last just a billionth of a billionth of a second are allowing scientists to view the movement of electrons in detail for the first time. In the darkest month of the year, Horizon turns its gaze towards the science of light.
We discover how these rapid light pulses are helping scientists make ‘molecular movies’ of chemical reactions, and learn how Europe is leading the way in the use of extreme light, from the world’s brightest X-ray to one of the world’s most powerful lasers.
We investigate the new materials that are harnessing sunlight to clean our environment, from pollution-absorbing bus lanes to paint that purifies drinking water. Finally, we explore how new LED technology could not only dramatically cut Europe’s lighting bills but also influence the way we interact with our environment.
The world’s brightest pulses of light will reveal things that have never been seen before, according to Professor Wolfgang Sandner, director-general of the consortium building a facility known as the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI), which can produce lasers that are stronger than all the world’s power stations combined.
Ultra-short bursts of light are helping scientists see the movement of electrons in real time and opening up the possibility of controlling their activity, with potential applications that include super-fast computing and a window into the mechanics of chemical reactions.
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.
This month, Horizon takes an in-depth look at a shared human trait – our emotions. We find out how science is seeking to better understand and regulate human emotions across a range of applications, from mental health to politics. We uncover the implications of a neuroscientist’s efforts to determine how the brain controls fear and anxiety, with possible implications for treating mental health disorders and autism. We explore how emotions shape our politics and ask whether this can help provide a different perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And we look at research examining how apps and online games can help people manage their emotional sides.
A sister and brother who created shock-activated protective gear featuring a starch liquid for people who in-line skate, motorcycle and do other risky sports, won one of the three first prizes at this year’s European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS).
Winners from Germany and Canada take home top prizes.
New observations may provide alternative explanations for dark energy.
We need to double-check the evidence on dark energy, as it may not exist at all, says Prof. Subir Sarkar.