In the solar system’s early days, a first Earth is thought to have been pulverised by a planet that scientists call Theia. We don’t know what it was made of or where it came from, only that it may have been the size of Mars. The powerful collision destroyed both planets so completely that scientists can only guess what they were like.
As a child, you almost certainly at one stage spent hours watching ants move about from their nest. Maybe you dropped a piece of food and watched as a group of ants came and picked it up, carrying it home in an impressive display of cooperation.
Most of us feel afraid when faced with a threat or danger, but people with phobias and anxiety feel overwhelming levels of fear in situations that are relatively harmless. Scientists want to moderate this response by using drugs to wipe out scary memories or by harnessing the power of heartbeats to improve therapy.
Nature is complex – often too complex for humans to see. But squint-controlled glasses that let people see 3D thermal images and a camera that can capture the inner workings of high-speed chemical reactions are helping to push the limits of human perception.
Identifying the chemical switches that turn different parts of our immune system on and off is opening up new avenues for treating diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis – and potential new uses for discarded drugs, according to Professor Luke O’Neill, an immunologist at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.
A €30 carbon price in 100 countries, proof that gene editing can correct epilepsy, and the ability to pinpoint the location of fast radio bursts from space thanks to new telescopes are just some of the breakthroughs that European scientists told Horizon would make the biggest difference to their field in 2019.
A robust, adaptable robot that responds to its environment on the fly and overcomes obstacles such as a broken leg without human intervention could be used to rescue people from an earthquake zone or clean up sites that are too hazardous for humans.
People’s interactions with machines, from robots that throw tantrums when they lose a colour-matching game against a human opponent to the bionic limbs that could give us extra abilities, are not just revealing more about how our brains are wired – they are also altering them.
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.