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.
It's been 15 years since the euro came into circulation and to mark the occasion Horizon is looking at what the future could have in store for finance. We talk to one economist who says the way to avoid another crisis is to keep banks small and boring, and we explore the effect of alternative local currencies on supporting small businesses. We also delve into some of the technology that could enable us to move to a cashless society, and we look at the growth of the so-called sharing economy, in which people share access to resources.
This December marks one year on from the Paris agreement, where world governments agreed to keep global warming to within 2 degrees Celsius of the average pre-industrial temperature. To mark the occasion, Horizon takes stock of the situation and examines the challenges ahead. We speak to scientists who are mapping a pathway for governments to cut back on emissions, we host a debate on steel - one of Europe’s most polluting industries, and we look the progress of carbon capture and storage. We also interview Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder of the Potsdam Institute in Germany, who was the first to propose that 2 degrees should be set as a limit for global warming.
In the province of Limburg, in northeastern Belgium, residents earn points by helping out in the community which they can spend on cinema tickets or trips to the local swimming pool.
The increase is partly driven by climate challenges.
Neuroimaging techniques are helping us read the pictures in our heads.
There is unlimited kinetic energy all around us and harnessing it could change the way we interact with the world, says Dr Gonzalo Murillo.