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.
Nature is complex – often too complex for humans to see. But squint-controlled glasses that let people see 3D thermal images and a camera that can capture the inner workings of high-speed chemical reactions are helping to push the limits of human perception.
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.
The world looks very different from this time last year. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the centrality of science, research and innovation, accelerated some changes already in the works, but also exposed our weaknesses. In September, Horizon looks at how the pandemic is reshaping Europe in areas including health research, work, tech, transport and food – and how research can contribute to Europe’s recovery over the coming years. We will also be covering the European Research & Innovation Days at the end of the month, which will bring together scientists, policymakers, entrepreneurs and citizens to debate how research and innovation can ensure that the transition to a post-coronavirus society is sustainable, inclusive and resilient.
In August, Horizon looks at one of the features that makes Earth unique and habitable: plate tectonics. We explore what we know – and still don’t know – about how the shifting plates beneath our feet shape our planet. We speak to researcher Dr Kate Rychert, who wants to understand what makes a plate plate-like, and delve into one of the outstanding mysteries in the subject – how and why plate tectonics began. We find out about the link between mountain formation, erosion and climate change, and we look at what moonquakes and marsquakes can reveal about tectonic activity elsewhere.
European governments need to provide investment on a ‘wartime footing’ to stimulate a post-coronavirus economic recovery, but also need to redefine economic success to incorporate climate and social goals, the European Research and Innovation Days conference has heard.
The Covid-19 crisis provides an opportunity to reshape Europe’s economy, conference heard.
'Frontier research' scientists share how they are fighting Covid-19.
Dr Kate Rychert studies ocean plate structures.