Human spaceflight is dangerous, but worth the risk, according to Jan Wörner, the Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA). But even so, there are limits – like Mars. Robots, as proxies for human exploration, can take on dangerous missions by travelling to places astronauts are not yet capable of reaching, but they can never replace what we learn from putting women and men in space, according Wörner.
We know that outbreaks like coronavirus will become more common in the future and tackling them is the Apollo programme of our time, according to Professor Marion Koopmans, head of the viroscience department at Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
The race for a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, is on, with 54 different vaccines under development, two of which are already being tested in humans, according to the World Health Organization. And among the different candidates is a new player on the scene – mRNA vaccines.
We need to improve how we keep track of objects in space and predict where they will go in order to avoid collisions in Earth’s increasingly crowded orbit, according to Dimitra Stefoudi, a space law researcher from Leiden University in the Netherlands.
Patients with rare diseases often suffer a long and lonely path as they struggle to find out what the cause of their debilitating symptoms are, but recent advances in diagnostics are helping to give them new hope of identifying their illness, and perhaps even finding a treatment, according to Dr Lucia Monaco of Italy's Fondazione Telethon and chair of the International Rare Diseases Research Consortium (IRDiRC).
Male seahorses not only become pregnant and give birth, but do so in ways that take different forms, which make them unique research subjects to understand the evolution of pregnancy, according to Dr Olivia Roth from the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR) in Germany.
The Atlantic Ocean is under threat from fishing, fossil fuel extraction and deep-sea mining, and the onus should be on these industries to prove that their exploitation is sustainable rather than requiring scientists to come up with reasons to protect it, says Professor J Murray Roberts, a marine biologist at the University of Edinburgh, UK.
How people and deliveries get to their final destination is currently making urban environments harder places to live, and cities need to solve this ‘last mile problem’ by using a combination of ‘carrot and stick’ measures, according to Karen Vancluysen, secretary general of Polis, a network of European cities and regions working on sustainable innovative transport solutions.
We need to understand how glaciers are shrinking in order to better adapt to climate change impacts such as changes to water supply, landslides and avalanches, says Professor Andreas Kääb, a glacier expert from the University of Oslo in Norway.
We need an active public debate on the ethics of gene editing technology to realise its potential and prevent it being used in nefarious ways, for example by the military and amateur scientists, and to take cultural differences into account, according to Professor Christiane Woopen, executive director of the Centre for Ethics, Rights, Economics and Social Sciences of Health (CERES) at Germany’s University of Cologne.
Independent factcheckers can bring context to AI tools, says media anthropologist.
Live mycelium networks, capable of information processing, could be used as building materials.
Dr Kate Rychert studies ocean plate structures.