Finding new viruses is easy – the hard part is understanding which ones cause disease, says Dr Lia van der Hoek, a virologist from the Amsterdam UMC, the Netherlands, who discovered a human coronavirus called NL63, in 2003.
The smouldering heat generated during the formation of our planet and the continuous decay of radioactive material lies trapped within the Earth’s crust, just waiting to be tapped to satisfy humanity’s insatiable demand for heat and electricity.
The successful development of mRNA vaccines for Covid-19 is ‘transformational’ and opens the doors to new types of vaccines for other infectious diseases as well as cancer, according to Dr Özlem Türeci and Dr Uğur Şahin, the co-founders of Germany’s BioNTech.
Asteroids — the bits and pieces left over from the formation of the inner planets — are a source of great curiosity for those keen to learn about the building blocks of our solar system, and to probe the chemistry of life.
Developing new, green technologies has been hailed as a way to both achieve Europe’s environmental goals and support its economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic. But what type of green technologies do we need and how do we get them scaled up to a point where they can have a real impact?
Insects are vital to the health of our planet but they can also reveal a lot about climate change and help us fight future vector-borne disease outbreaks, says Alexey Solodovnikov, an associate professor at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, who runs the rove beetle-dedicated Solodovnikov Lab and is a curator at the Natural History Museum of Denmark.
Fears over supermarket shortages during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic led many people to buy their food from local producers, raising the prospect of a transformation in the way people get their food in the future. But while eating locally and shorter supply chains are often viewed as a more sustainable alternative to our global food system, the reality is much more complicated, explains Dr Tessa Avermaete, a bioeconomist at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium.
A mysterious flu-like illness that caused loss of taste and smell in the late 19th century was probably caused by a coronavirus that still causes the ‘common cold’ in people today, according to Professor Marc Van Ranst at KU Leuven in Belgium, an expert on coronaviruses.
Artificial intelligence (AI) used by governments and the corporate sector to detect and extinguish online extreme speech often misses important cultural nuance, but bringing in independent factcheckers as intermediaries could help step up the fight against online vitriol, according to Sahana Udupa, professor of media anthropology at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany.
Researchers are investigating links between microbes and rare earth elements.
We asked five young bioeconomy researchers to set out their vision.
Dr Kate Rychert studies ocean plate structures.