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.
The model of our universe as expanding at an accelerated rate has given rise to theoretical constructs such as dark energy and dark matter, which scientists believe could make up 95% of the universe. In September, Horizon takes a deeper look at what we really know about the expanding universe. We speak to Prof. Subir Sarkar, who believes that the Nobel-winning discovery that universe expansion acceleration could be a fluke, and the scientists who are trying to answer the question by allowing us to better measure the expansion rate. We also look at the significance of accurately measuring gravity in deep space, and what dark matter haloes can tell us about the existence of dark energy.
This month, Horizon takes an in-depth look at a shared human trait – our emotions. We find out how science is seeking to better understand and regulate human emotions across a range of applications, from mental health to politics. We uncover the implications of a neuroscientist’s efforts to determine how the brain controls fear and anxiety, with possible implications for treating mental health disorders and autism. We explore how emotions shape our politics and ask whether this can help provide a different perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And we look at research examining how apps and online games can help people manage their emotional sides.
A sister and brother who created shock-activated protective gear featuring a starch liquid for people who in-line skate, motorcycle and do other risky sports, won one of the three first prizes at this year’s European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS).
Winners from Germany and Canada take home top prizes.
New observations may provide alternative explanations for dark energy.
We need to double-check the evidence on dark energy, as it may not exist at all, says Prof. Subir Sarkar.