With more and more EU citizens living in cities, Horizon finds out how science has the potential to transform life in Europe’s crowded urban areas.
From personal helicopters to lift people out of Europe’s congested streets, to the latest electric vehicles, high-tech office designs, or smart electricity meters to cut energy consumption, our Science and the City issue looks at how cities can help solve Europe’s environmental and energy challenges.
We interview Anne Stenros, who led a group of experts that helped to develop the EU’s Capital of Innovation Award, to hear how cities can build an innovative culture from the grass roots, and we speak to those involved in a project to bring science centres, museums, and festivals to European cities to inspire a new generation of researchers.
Dr Anne Stenros, who chaired a group of experts that helped formulate the concept of the EU’s Capital of Innovation (iCapital) competition and is also Design Director at Finnish lift-maker KONE, believes the EUR 500 000 award can help stimulate 'grass roots’ innovation through things like 3D printing and high-tech design.
Commuters could be lifted out of the noise and pollution of Europe’s overcrowded cities thanks to a group of researchers who are laying down the groundwork for the development of a personal helicopter system as an alternative to land-based travel.
By 2050, the world's population will be an estimated 9.7bn people, up from today’s 7.7bn. To feed this growing population whilst also protecting the climate and biodiversity, our food system needs to change dramatically. In May, we look at what sort of future food system we want and how to get there. We speak to sustainability expert Prof. Peter Jackson about how lockdowns have exposed our reliance on fragile supply chains, and what needs to happen to shape a more sustainable food system. We look at the smart farming solutions that are being explored to support food producers, and urban experiments from tackling food waste to strengthening organic, local production to see how these efforts can be scaled up to make a big difference. And we investigate insects – a protein-rich food and feed source – and the efforts behind mainstreaming what is still a niche science.
With the world in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, in April Horizon takes a step back to look at some of the challenges around sudden outbreaks of emerging diseases. We speak to virologist Prof. Marion Koopmans about the likelihood of future outbreaks of new diseases, what causes them and how to spot them before they appear. We speak to scientists who are helping to develop tests for Covid-19 to understand the challenges in coming up with an accurate and detailed diagnostic test for an entirely new disease. We talk to people working on coronavirus treatments about how to shorten the normally lengthy process of drug development. And we look into why diseases suddenly jump from animals, such as bats, into humans and the particular challenges of spotting and responding to these types of outbreaks.
The iridescence of marble berries and the clever, light-bending perforations of microalgae are some lessons from nature that scientists are drawing upon to create biodegradable glitter and makeup pigments, and bionic algae to use in lasers or to clean pollutants.
Efforts to design a safe vaccine for Covid-19 are moving forward at full throttle, yet experts agree that it’s likely to be a year, at least, before an immunisation is ready. Meanwhile, scientists around Europe are exploring ingenious ways – including with the help of alpacas – to use the latest techniques in molecular manipulation to repair coronavirus-induced lung damage or to block the virus before it wreaks havoc.
Scientists are drawing on nature’s clever ways to build structures and produce iridescence.
Infection-halting therapies being explored include neutralising antibodies.
Metagenomics can help us spot emerging diseases such as coronavirus, says virologist Marion Koopmans.