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.
In August, Horizon looks at one of the features that makes Earth unique and habitable: plate tectonics. We explore what we know – and still don’t know – about how the shifting plates beneath our feet shape our planet. We speak to researcher Dr Kate Rychert, who wants to understand what makes a plate plate-like, and delve into one of the outstanding mysteries in the subject – how and why plate tectonics began. We find out about the link between mountain formation, erosion and climate change, and we look at what moonquakes and marsquakes can reveal about tectonic activity elsewhere.
As commutes dropped during coronavirus lockdowns, many of Europe’s city-dwellers breathed cleaner air. In July, Horizon takes a look closer look at our air pollution problem, what it is, how it affects human health and whether now is the time to make the move to greener transport. We spoke to social epidemiologist Dr Basile Chaix about what it will take to capitalise on the post-coronavirus calls for greener cities to really change our urban spaces – and transport habits. We dissect the properties of particulate matter to understand how characteristics such as particle size or number relate to toxicity, and what they do to human cells. With wildfires known to strike particularly in the summer, we look at how scientists are tracking this lesser-known source of air pollution to better understand the impact on human health. And we find out how a soybean-related asthma outbreak in 1980s Spain is influencing air pollution research today.
Eavesdropping on the shudders and groans echoing deep inside alien worlds like Mars and the moon is revealing what lies far beneath their surfaces and could teach us more about how our own planet formed.
More than six months into the coronavirus crisis, data show that not just age, but also biological sex plays a pivotal role in the manifestation and response to Covid-19, with more men dying from acute infections versus women in the short term. This discrepancy has shined a spotlight on a key theme that has gained traction in recent years: is enough being done to account for sex and gender in disease and medicine? Not enough, says Dr Sabine Oertelt-Prigione, the chair of sex and gender-sensitive medicine at Radboud University in the Netherlands and a member of the European Commission’s expert group on gendered innovations.
Earth is not the only place in our solar system that shakes with seismic activity.
Dr Sabine Oertelt-Prigione on a ‘moment of awakening’ for medical research.
Dr Kate Rychert studies ocean plate structures.