From arsenic candies to underground winter forest fires, Horizon uncovered some fascinating facts while researching our articles. Here are our ten favourites from 2018.
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Imagine lying on a green hill watching the clouds go by on a beautiful day. The clouds you’re probably thinking of are cumulous clouds, the ones that resemble fluffy balls of cotton wool. They seem innocent enough. But they can grow into the more formidable cumulonimbus, the storm cloud. These are the monsters that produce thunder and lightning. They are powerful, destructive and intensely mysterious. They may also be getting a lot more common, which makes understanding their workings – and their effects on the human world, including how we construct buildings or power lines – more important than ever.
Electronics made from carbon rather than silicon could lead to a new generation of medical devices, sensors and perhaps even robots, according to Professor Andreas Hirsch, chair of organic chemistry at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany.
In three decades of diving at locations including the Red Sea and Great Barrier Reef, Gal Eyal has seen coral reefs transform in front of his eyes.
Today’s silicon solar panels are an industry standard, but these rigid, heavy blocks may be shunted aside by plastic rivals – lightweight, flexible solar panels that could be printed and stuck onto buildings or placed in windows or cars, turning light into electricity in locations inaccessible to their heavier cousins.
Scientists are studying past conditions to understand which corals migrated to deeper waters.
A lack of knowledge about thunderstorms means we could be overengineering our tallest buildings.
Dr Kate Rychert studies ocean plate structures.