Bacteria may be some of the oldest organisms in the evolutionary tree, but, as Horizon discovers this month, they are inspiring new technologies, from turning sunlight into car fuel to creating building blocks that can repair themselves when cracked. We also hear from scientists using these single-celled organisms to heat our homes, and others who are using them to help trees clean up contaminated soil.
Scientists have found a way of producing electricity and fuel for cars from bacteria and green algae, and scaling up these techniques could create a reliable source of renewable energy that could be used as an alternative to fossil fuels.
Inserting bacteria into bricks and concrete could help generate heat, circulate air and repair cracks, according to researchers who are designing innovative construction materials to transform bricks and mortar into living buildings with a reduced environmental footprint.
Rare diseases are uncommon, but there are still thousands of different conditions which together affect between 27-36 million people in the EU. This month, Horizon examines the latest efforts to tackle rare diseases as well as new technology to better diagnose uncommon conditions and novel ways to reduce the socioeconomic burden of unusual disorders.
This July, Horizon goes on an investigation to find the latest in how science can catch the bad guys, from recreating crime scenes in virtual reality to hidden cameras that turn on when they spot crime in rural areas. Plus we hear how looking at organised crime could help track down terrorists, and how to keep your information safe, such as through a phone that could recognise the way you swipe.
Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk fear that the robotic revolution may already be underway, but automation isn’t going to take over just yet – first machines will work alongside us.
Future human labourers could wear sensors that talk to their robot co-workers.
A digital personal assistant plans to help migrants integrate.
Better treatments are needed to help those suffering from rare diseases, says Dr Daria Julkowska.