As our world becomes more digitalised and connected, we can actually make a virtual copy of it. And such replicas are now being used to improve real world scenarios, from making aircraft production more accurate to preventing oil spills.
More than two decades ago, Professor Andrew Oswald worked at the London School of Economics, UK, when he organised what he says was the world’s first conference on the economics of happiness. He put up posters, invited speakers, and waited for the crowds to come.
Lining rundown historic areas of cities with plant life and smart sensors and reusing old buildings for new purposes are helping to breathe new life into Europe’s decaying urban spaces.
Just months after Dr Ahmad Al Ajlan begun a new job as a university lecturer in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, he was forced to flee his country for Europe. When he arrived in Germany in March 2015, after several months of travelling, he was placed in a number of camps before being allocated a cramped apartment with five other refugees.
For a teenage refugee starting a new life in Europe, going to school and using digital media form a big part of navigating an unfamiliar society. But appropriate interventions at school and online could help them feel more at home in a new country.
Few technologies have the potential to disrupt old institutions as much as blockchain – a system that maintains records on huge networks of individual computers. As with any new technology, it could be used for social good – such as supporting people who are priced-out of the current bank accounts – but the big challenge is how to limit its unintended consequences.
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.
Listening to someone speaking with a foreign accent makes human brains work harder which can lead to unintentional discrimination against people communicating in languages other than their own, new research suggests. But exposure to foreign accents can also change the way people speak, and over time, the ensuing accents can become new languages.
What does sustainable shopping look like? From environmental impact to workers’ rights, the term can cover so many aspects that buying sustainably can be a daunting task. But a new app that helps people select supermarket products by ethical preferences and an online database that brings transparency to supply chains aim to change that.
Modern communications technology means one can find anything, anywhere around the world, on the internet and via mobile phones. But people still live in communities and need information that is relevant to them.
Virtual simulations can also help build aeroplane wings more efficiently.
Understanding consciousness in healthy people could help when things go wrong.
Dr Michaël Gillon on what's next for exoplanet science.