Science Breakthroughs in 2019

Science Breakthroughs in 2019

Science Breakthroughs in 2019

In this BBC Focus Special Edition experts reveal the big science discoveries that will be hitting the headlines next year. IN THIS ISSUE… Space mining ready for lift off Personalised nutrition to suit your genes How to combat the loneliness epidemic The effect of Brexit on research and fisheries China's replacement for the space station Jim Al-Khalili on why we shouldn't fear AI Building Neanderthal brains

United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited


the year ahead…

It goes without saying that the planet’s plastic problem, the changing climate and air pollution will keep scientists and editors busy next year. If you think about it that way, the New Year can seem a bit depressing. But 2019 could present some neat solutions to the messy problems of the 21st century. For one, immunotherapy – using the body’s own equipment to tackle illness – has the medical community fizzing with excitement. The hope is that doctors might soon have a single weapon they can hone to tackle the multitudes of cancers seen in their patients. Neural networks – deep-learning algorithms that can crunch through oceans of data to spot patterns invisible to the human eye – provided no end of breakthroughs in 2018. These number-crunching machines embarrassed chess and Go champions,…

health in 2019

“The ceaseless revolution in our understanding of human evolution shows no signs of slowing down. In 2019, expect more revelations – new characters, more sex and exciting drama in the epic story of us.”DR ADAM RUTHERFORD author and broadcaster, presenting BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science“The new Fast Mimicking Diet (FMD) is currently being tested in a number of medical centres around the world, with results expected in 2019.”DR MICHAEL MOSLEY author and broadcaster, presenting the BBC series Trust Me, I’m a Doctor“Huge advances are being made in ancient DNA, uncovering how our ancestors migrated and bred with other human species. I expect 2019 will see history rewritten before our eyes.”ANGELA SAINI author of Inferior…

your perfect plate

Individual genomic data tells us people who can’t digest lactose have a variation in the LCT gene We’re always being told what to eat to lose weight, prevent cancer or sleep more soundly. But what if pumpkin seeds and papaya just aren’t doing it for you? Not everybody’s body works the same and the one-size-fits-all dietary recommendations dished up by the media and public health campaigns are starting to look outdated. Instead, some nutrition experts suggest we need to tailor our diets to our DNA. The future of food, they suggest, is in ‘personalised nutrition’. We’ve known for a long time that everyone processes food slightly differently, but this knowledge is now being supplemented by information about our genes, shedding new light on individual food issues and preferences. Many of us, for example,…

take a test

Today, there are already plenty of companies offering personalised nutrition services and anyone can pay to have their DNA analysed. All you have to do is send a saliva sample off to a lab, where scientists test it for a range of genetic variations that are important in metabolism. The results tell you whether you are any more at risk of certain diseases than the general population and what this means for how you manage your diet. Nutrigenomix sends out reports to its clients, giving them a detailed breakdown of what their genes say about how their body processes proteins, fats, vitamins and key molecules like caffeine and gluten. Alongside the results, the report provides insights such as “you have a high preference for sugar” and recommendations like “consume 20-30…

should we all go vegan in 2019?

Algae Seaweed grows quickly and is a core part of Japanese diets. As it can be grown at sea, it would solve the issue of dwindling land for crops. There are thousands of varieties that could be farmed and eaten. Wheat gluten Also known as wheat-meat, seitan or mock duck, wheat gluten is made from the ‘glue’ of wheat. As well as having a higher protein content than more well-known meat substitutes such as tofu, its chewy consistency also gives it a meaty texture. It’s thought to have been first produced by Buddhist monks who adhere to strict vegetarian diets, and it’s particularly popular in Asian cuisine. Although wheat gluten tastes bland on its own, it’s good at absorbing flavours. Artificial meat Back in 2013, the world watched as food critics tucked into the first…

could going vegan save the planet?

According to figures from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research 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. So what can be done? A paper published in 2016 in Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences concluded that a mass switch to vegetarianism would bring down food-related greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 63 per cent. Even just sticking to global health guidelines regarding meat consumption would be enough to reduce emissions by 29 per cent. Going vegan, however, seems to have the edge in the planet-saving stakes. Many of…