As Europeans head to the beaches for their summer holidays, Horizon takes a look at the science of the Mediterranean.
For our Sea, Sun … and Science issue we speak to the scientists who helped develop the idea for a synchrotron being built in the Middle East and bringing together researchers from across the region.
We interview a researcher who discovered unexpectedly large swarms of jellyfish in the Mediterranean while checking ocean acidity. And we find out how smart biosensors could help prevent contamination of drinking water.
We also look at the best way to avoid colliding with whales if you are navigating a cargo ship, and hear from Tim O’Higgins, a man who believes the value of the seas can’t just be measured by markets.
Dr Tim O'Higgins, coordinator of the EU-funded KnowSeas project, based in Oban, Scotland, argues that implementation of the EU Integrated Maritime Policy will require a delicate balance between the use of Europe’s seas and conservation of the maritime ecosystem.
A third of a million Europeans get ill every year from diseases caused by contaminated water. Researchers now hope that smart biosensors can help them develop an early warning system that can prevent infection by raising the alarm long before contaminated floodwater reaches people’s drinking water supplies.
The coronavirus pandemic rattled our supply chains, putting them under intense pressure and forcing many to become aware of these complex systems that bring us food, medicine and other goods. Was 2020 a wake-up call to rethink supply chains? Or have they proved more robust than we feared and should continue as business as usual? In February, we ask whether today’s supply chains are due for reconfiguration. We speak to Dr Tessa Avermaete, a bioeconomist at KU Leuven in Belgium, about why short and local is not always better – or more sustainable – when it comes to food supply. We look at how medical supply chains can be maintained or even set up during a crisis situation, and at the environmental and social impacts of Europe’s supply chains on the rest of the world. And we look at how, in the future, goods from food to furniture could be transported according to new concept called the ‘physical internet’, where logistics mimics how information travels through the internet.
The construction industry has a heavy carbon footprint, accounting for some 40% of global emissions, and yet, as the world’s population grows, demand for housing and building is only soaring. We kick off 2021 by looking at how the construction sector can become greener and some of the radical solutions required. We speak to sustainable architecture expert Dr Catherine De Wolf about the need to design recyclable buildings and how that will require a fundamental restructure of the way the construction industry works. We look at nearly zero energy wooden homes and investigate whether this material can help us kick our concrete habit – concrete being the most used substance on Earth. We home in on techniques to make cement greener and piezoelectric to light up spaces with the addition of vegetable waste, and at how self-healing building materials can prolong the life of civil infrastructures. And we explore the promise of fungal architecture to see whether structures grown from fungus can green the way we build.
The earliest signs of alkaptonuria are often subtle and harmless, like a diaper stained black. However, over the years, this rare genetic disease can lead to a lifetime of surgery. Now, after 20 years of research, a not-so-new drug can offer relief for thousands of patients worldwide.
Nitisinone approval brings relief for people with alkaptonuria.
Producers must act now to ensure survival, say experts.
Dr Kate Rychert studies ocean plate structures.