As World Cup fever grips football fans this June, Horizon takes a look at the science of sport.
Horizon speaks to Dr Olivier Rabin, the science director of the World Anti-Doping Agency, who explains how putting a stop to the development of ‘gene doping’ is one of the institution’s main research priorities.
We find out how football fans are being coaxed out of the pub and onto the sports field, and we learn about the digital 'smart trainers' which could cut back on sports injuries.
Top tennis tournaments Roland Garros and Wimbledon both take place in June, and Horizon finds out about the technology that is shaping the future of the sport in an interview with Dr Francesco Ricci Bitti, President of the International Tennis Federation.
We also hear from a project whose findings suggest that, contrary to popular belief, exercise does not always make you healthier.
Innovations such as the Hawk-Eye line calling system, high-tech rackets, strings and smart monitoring can improve the game for tennis players, referees and spectators. However, too much innovation could change the nature of tennis, says Francesco Ricci Bitti, the president of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). Horizon Magazine spoke to him about tennis innovation at the EU’s Innovation Convention 2014.
Many football fans watch matches on the sofa or in the pub, and their fitness levels often contrast hugely with those of the players on the field. New efforts are underway to convert their fandom into motivation to get active and improve their health, or even to channel their support in socially beneficial ways.
The idea that an athlete could change their genes to grow bigger muscles, or increase their body’s production of red blood cells, may sound like the stuff of fantasy, but halting the development of ‘gene doping’ technology is one of the main research priorities of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), according to Dr Olivier Rabin, the organisation’s science director.
This month, Horizon explores the global challenge of biodiversity loss. Many experts believe we are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction, where human-caused factors such as land use and pollution are causing a decline in biodiversity – something that threatens the future of our own species. We speak to British ecologist Professor Georgina Mace about how bad the situation is and what we can do about it. We explore marine ecosystems, where species relocation outpaces that of terrestrial populations, and examine how we can help these environments adapt. We also look into the link between food insecurity and biodiversity degradation, and find out what’s in store for bees – our pollinators. Finally, we investigate the services nature provides for people – from cleaning our water to acting as a carbon sink – and ask whether putting a value on natural capital could help save it.
Fifty years after humans first set foot on the moon, Earth’s only permanent natural satellite is back in the news with China’s successful landing on the moon’s as-yet-unexplored far side. This month, Horizon looks at how Europe is contributing to moon research. We hear from the European Space Agency’s director of human and robotic exploration about their plans to send a robot and then humans to the lunar surface in the 2020s, and speak to the scientists trying to fill the holes in our understanding of how the moon was formed. We also hear how we could solve the puzzle of where water on Earth originated by analysing volatile substances from the moon, and take a look at the methods and facilities being developed to protect precious extra-terrestrial samples from human contamination.
Nature provides people with everything from food and water to timber, textiles, medicinal resources and pollination of crops. Now, a new approach aims to measure exactly what a specific ecosystem supplies in order to incentivise decision-makers and businesses to help combat biodiversity loss.
Europe’s position on privacy, regulation and competition could be a key way to attract entrepreneurs who share those values but there is still some work to do in encouraging ambition, according to Nicklas Bergman, a Swedish entrepreneur and technology investor. Over the past two years, he and other entrepreneurs have advised the European Commission on the design of the European Innovation Council (EIC), an initiative to support companies, researchers and entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business or scale up their projects internationally. The second phase of the pilot was launched on 18 March 2019.
To protect species, we need to speak the language of business, say experts.
He has advised the EU on its new European Innovation Council.
Species loss needs urgent international action, says Prof. Georgina Mace.