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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

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United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited
R 164,07

in this issue

1 min
tim spector

I can tell more about someone’s health by getting a detailed screen of their microbes than by screening their genes. We’re 99.7 per cent genetically similar, whereas we only share about 20 or 30 per cent of our microbes. Yet microbiome knowledge is 10 years behind human genetic research. If you’re on cancer chemotherapy, and you have the right type of microbes, you’ll be three times as likely to survive. So everybody going onto chemotherapy should be getting their microbiome tested. Indeed, it’s looking like microbes do work for a wide variety of conditions. If you’ve got a child with diarrhoea, giving them probiotics will significantly speed up recovery time. And people with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, food allergies, IBS, colitis and high blood pressure tend to lack these beneficial microbes that…

1 min
planet earth in 2019

“In 2019, the research icebreaker Polarstern (part of the MOSAiC expedition) will drift across the Arctic Ocean, collecting data on a huge variety of Arctic science topics.”HELEN CZERSKI physicist, oceanographer and BBC broadcaster“New techniques for efficiently recycling mixed plastics using bacteria could be an important breakthrough in 2019.”PROF MARK MIODOWNIK materials scientist and BBC broadcaster“8 million tonnes of plastics end up in our oceans every year. The actions of one may seem trivial, but the knowledge that there are people doing the same thing – that really does have an effect.”DAVID ATTENBOROUGH BBC broadcaster…

6 min
counting fish

As plenty of scuba divers will tell you, they rarely find themselves in exactly the right place at the right time to spot a whale shark, a basking shark, a hammerhead or any other shark species gracefully gliding by. Shark researchers face this same dilemma in their studies. They’ll spend days and weeks at sea hoping for shark encounters. Conventional surveys involve scuba diving, setting fishing lines to catch sharks or lowering video cameras into the sea, along with chunks of bait that sharks might come up and chew. But now there’s a much quicker and cheaper shark tracking tool – a bucket-full of seawater. “The ocean is a soup of DNA,” says Judith Bakker, a postdoctoral researcher at Florida International University. “Everything from small plankton to gigantic whales are constantly…

2 min
a sea change

“What happens in the high seas is fundamental to the processes that make this planet habitable for all of us” The United Nations set a target of safeguarding 10 per cent of the seas from humanity’s impacts, such as fishing and drilling for oil and gas, by 2020. So far, the numbers look promising. The Protected Planet website (www.protectedplanet.net) lists more than 15,000 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) covering roughly seven per cent of the oceans, up 10-fold since 2000. Much of that growth comes down to several enormous MPAs including the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Originally set up by George W Bush and expanded by Barack Obama, it includes remote coral reefs and islands stretching northwest from Hawaii and covers 1.5 million square kilometres, equal to the area of Spain and France…

4 min
creating edens

Forget those hoary myths about China building a coal-fired power station every week, says Sir Tim Smit, the man behind the Eden Project in Cornwall. In fact, he predicts, the country will soon lead the global environmental movement. “China is the most extraordinary example of development in the history of humankind. Their achievements are shockingly underplayed in the West. In my view, the repair of the environment is seen as one of the cornerstones of China’s self-confidence and its emergence into its next phase – being the dominant civilisation in the world.” For the past two decades, Smit has been best known for the Eden Project. Born in the Netherlands, he studied at Durham University intending to become an archaeologist, but instead made his fortune as a composer/producer for the likes…

4 min
drone alert

The world’s first drone-delivered pizzas landed in November 2016, when Domino’s flew a pair of chicken-topped ones to a couple living 25km north of Auckland, New Zealand. Since then many businesses, including online retail giant Amazon, have investigated using drones to carry products to customers. It’ll probably be at least a few more years before fleets of delivery drones are buzzing over our heads, but we’re likely to see steps towards that being taken in the year to come. The most obvious one will be the appearance of the CE mark to show that any drone being sold to the public meets the new Europe-wide safety certification soon to be introduced. “At the moment there aren’t any pan-European regulations for drones,” says Jonathan Nicholson of the Civil Aviation Authority. But there soon will…