From bacterial invisibility cloaks to unexpected dinosaur colors, Horizon uncovered some fascinating facts in 2019. Here are our 12 favourites.
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Microscopic organisms known as extremophiles inhabit some of the last places on Earth you might expect to find life, from the extreme pressures of the ocean floor to freezing ice caps. Understanding how these microbes survive by interacting with different metals and gases is opening up new knowledge about Earth’s elements and their potential uses.
A circular bioeconomy – which turns renewable biological resources and waste streams into new products – is at the heart of the EU’s efforts to slash its carbon emissions while also maintaining economic growth. But what does a bioeconomy look like and how do we get there?
Viruses like Covid-19 make no distinction between those they infect. They should in theory cause disease in the rich just as they do the poor and pay no heed to social status or cultural background. But in practice the pandemic has widened the gulf between vulnerable groups and other populations in Europe rather than helping to level out inequalities in society, researchers warn.
Since the early 1950s, humans have produced more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic – the weight of around a billion elephants. About 60% of that plastic has ended up in a landfill or in the natural environment, according to the UN Environment Programme, but that pattern may start to change as repair and recycling technology gathers pace.
Researchers are investigating links between microbes and rare earth elements.
We asked five young bioeconomy researchers to set out their vision.
Dr Kate Rychert studies ocean plate structures.