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.
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.