Can blind people see with their ears? Could ultrasonic vibrations lead to a button-free future? Why do some people’s senses get mixed up?
This October, Horizon immerses itself in the science of the senses to find out how they can be hacked and change the way we perceive the world around us.
We talk to researchers who are training blind people to see with their ears by turning everyday images into sound, and discover how our sense of smell could give us new insight into anxiety and eating disorders.
We delve into the futuristic world of haptics, which is using ultrasound vibrations to create invisible objects such as knobs and buttons from thin air. And we find out how our brain sorts out all the inputs from different senses, and what happens when they get jumbled.
How we perceive smell is more complicated than which molecules are detected by our noses, it also depends on our physical and emotional state, according to Professor Emre Yaksi from the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience and Centre for Neural Computation at NTNU, in Trondheim, Norway.
A new computer program that translates visual images into sounds and music is enabling blind people to see faces and other objects through their ears, and the results are inspiring brain experts to change their view of how the senses work.
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.