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.
The way we work is undergoing a major shift thanks to technological development and demographic change and, this month, Horizon looks at how research is helping us stay ahead of the game. We find out how decisions made early in your career could determine when you retire, and how to get the most out of the relationship between humans and machines in factories. We also investigate some of the ethical issues that could arise in the jobs of the future and how best to take them into account.
Even though we all spend about a third of our lives asleep, there's still plenty left for us to learn about the science of sleep. This month, Horizon looks at the importance of shuteye for our physical and mental health, and how sleep-deprived brains may be both awake and asleep at the same time. Plus, we investigate what exactly drives us to sleep and wake up, the effects of insomnia, and how the way our bodies use sleep to form memories is inspiring scientists to discover ways to improve our brains.
Mining isn’t the only way to extract valuable metals. Soon, they could increasingly be recovered from waste, reducing the need for new raw materials and helping Europe’s transition to a low-carbon economy.
The future of work is here – and it’s defined by flexibility, autonomy and pressure, according to Prof. Seán Ó Riain from Maynooth University, Ireland, who has been studying how workplaces have changed since 1995. He says we need to rethink public services to help people balance work and family in this new era.
Landfill trash is being turned into industrial treasure.
The 9 to 5 is in decline, presenting problems for work-family balance.
Sleep expert says that around 10 % of people are at risk of insomnia and it is genetically correlated with depression.