The Scientific Guide to Your Future Life

The Scientific Guide to Your Future Life

The Scientific Guide to Your Future Life

From smartphones to smart homes, technology and scientific breakthroughs are revolutionising our lives. In this new BBC Focus Special Edition discover the big innovations that will change your world in the years to come. IN THIS ISSUE… - Home: 3D printers, robot butlers - Food: lab-grown burgers, dodo kebabs - Health: beat cancer, live to 100-plus - Travel: drones, driverless cars, jetpacks

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1 Min.
your smart life

Anyone remember Zip drives? If you’re old enough to recall the floppy disk (yes, youngsters, the ‘save’ icon was once a physical object), you may also remember wishing that they held more than 1.4MB of data. Then in the mid-1990s, the Zip drive came along, with its whopping 100MB per disk. It was soon superseded by the more flexible flash drive that pops in and out of a USB port. How about pagers? Back in the 20th Century, the seemingly impossible dream of being able to contact somebody at any time, no matter where they were, became a reality. Gone are the days of us all using those basic beeping/vibrating devices (now reserved for doctors only). Smartphones rule – at least for the time being. One day, there may be no…

11 Min.
your future smart home

OUTSIDE WALLS Self-healing is no longer reserved for video game characters: buildings can do it too. Scientists have created a coating that contains microcapsules. When a coated concrete surface becomes damaged, the capsules break open and release a solution, which fills the crack and turns into a water-resistant solid when exposed to sunlight. PAINT Self-cleaning paint is one development aimed at keeping houses looking new. One company, StoLotusan, has developed a paint that won’t let water adhere to it. Slap it on your property, then when it rains, any dirt will be lifted from the surfaces of the walls and washed away. The fact it’s available in 500 colours is just a bonus. WINDOWS Windows that change their tint automatically aren’t new, but a team at the University of Texas has developed glass that’s able to…

2 Min.
smart city

FLOWING TRAFFIC Sensors on streetlights spot crashes and snarl-ups, alerting a central computer to coordinate traffic lights to keep you on the move. SMART PARKING Incredibly, up to 40 per cent of inner-city hold ups are caused by vehicles on the hunt for a parking space. Streetlight-based radars keep an eye on parking spots and relay availability in real-time to a smartphone app. PEOPLE POWER Public spaces harness ‘people power’ – the kinetic energy of pedestrians’ footsteps is captured by floor tiles that convert motion into electricity. Sport pitch floodlights could even be powered by the players running around. ENERGY BOOST Buildings are clad in photovoltaic glass, which acts like a solar panel while letting light through. The next step is coating roads and cycle paths in solar panels. POLLUTION SCRUBBERS Instead of just marketing products, billboards also remove…

5 Min.
power tools   to keep the lights on

SKY-HIGH WIND TURBINES Wind farms now account for 3.7 per cent of global electricity usage. And there’s growing investment in offshore wind farms – £21.5bn was invested in 2016, 40 per cent up from the previous year. But now that land and sea have been conquered, US engineers are looking to tackle the skies. Altaeros Energies is currently developing a device that will generate energy from the strong, steady winds hundreds of metres above the Earth’s surface. It incorporates a three-blade horizontal axis wind turbine within an inflatable shell. When filled with helium, it floats into the air where it is held in place by tethers at a maximum height of 600m – so it won’t spoil the view of the landscape. At this altitude, the wind power density is three times that…

8 Min.
the future of   food

Diet can be a contentious issue, subject to the forces of personal ethics, religious beliefs and health concerns. In recent years, scientists and the public have become increasingly aware that the food we eat can have negative impacts on the planet. According to figures from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), one-third of our greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture. But that’s just one factor. Our food system is also the leading cause of deforestation, land use change and biodiversity loss in the world. Then there’s overfishing, pollution, groundwater depletion, excessive fertiliser use and pesticides to contend with as well. With all these issues to consider, a ‘sustainable’ diet might mean different things depending on who you talk to. However, certain trends cut through the noise – most notably,…

1 Min.
facts to chew over

73% Is the amount global meat consumption is forecast to rise by 2050, due to growing incomes and urbanisation in developing countries. 9.7 billion The estimated population of Earth in 2050. Growing enough food to feed a rapidly increasing global population is already a pressing concern. 15,000 litres The water required to make 1kg of (farmed) beef, compared to 2,500 litres for 1kg of rice. 7.1 trillion kg The CO2 equivalent contribution of global livestock farming per year. This represents 14.5 per cent of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. 68% The proportion of people who said they wanted to try cultured beef following the presentation of the world’s first lab-grown burger.…