Detecting diseases, removing CO2 from chemicals and uncovering the composition of the earth’s core: diamonds have many more uses than just decorating our hands. This January, Horizon talks to the researchers who are unearthing new ways of using one of nature’s most treasured materials.
New experiments that crush material between two diamonds to simulate the extraordinarily high temperatures and pressures found in the earth's interior are providing answers to the age-old questions of what our planet is made of, and where its ingredients came from.
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.
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.
It is very, very difficult to predict when a big earthquake will hit. And we may never be able to forecast precisely the time, magnitude and location of destructive quakes such as those that tore through central Italy in August and October. But our understanding of how they happen is improving dramatically, says Giulio Di Toro, professor of geology in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Manchester, UK.
Billions of tonnes of water are swept up and down Europe’s estuaries and coastlines each and every day. Engineers have been working hard to develop the technologies to tap into this vast store of tidal energy and are now predicting a ramp-up in production from 2020 onwards.
He says we should focus on building houses to withstand them.
Turbines capture the movement of the sea.
The Pacific region can serve as an exemplar of how science diplomacy could work, says Prof. Jean-François Marini.