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Frontier research

30 June 2021

Q&A: ‘Our society desperately needs objective, truth-based knowledge’

Basic, or ‘frontier’, research that expands the boundaries of our knowledge can help address some of the most important challenges of our time – and it’s important that more people become aware of this, according to Prof. Maria Leptin who has today been appointed president of the EU’s frontier research funding body, the European Research Council (ERC).
14 June 2021

How carbon-intensive industries can scale up CO2 recycling

New technologies that capture and recycle carbon dioxide from industrial processes such as steel and cement making will be vital if the EU is to meet its goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and down to zero by 2050. However, while solutions are emerging, more work is needed in order to roll them out at scale, experts say.
10 June 2021

Extremophiles could hold clues for climate change-tackling technologies

Microscopic organisms known as extremophiles inhabit some of the last places on Earth you might expect to find life, from the extreme pressures of the ocean floor to freezing ice caps. Understanding how these microbes survive by interacting with different metals and gases is opening up new knowledge about Earth’s elements and their potential uses.
01 June 2021

Bird-like robots could assist in medical emergencies and hunt down drones

A bird flaps its wings, glides using air currents and then smoothly descends to perch on a pole. But this is not just any bird, it’s a robot bird. And robots like these could in the next decade be used to respond to emergencies or to hunt down drones posing a threat to safety or security.
25 May 2021

Nanorobots could target cancers and clear blood clots

Tiny nano-sized robots and vehicles that can navigate through blood vessels to reach the site of a disease could be used to deliver drugs to tumours that are otherwise difficult to treat.
18 May 2021

How flood protection can paradoxically put people at risk

Governments who build defences against rising seas can actually increase their citizens’ risk of being flooded – if they fail to take account of the ‘safe development paradox’, according to a flood defence expert.
17 May 2021

How chemists are building molecular assembly lines

Four huge robot arms surround the gleaming metal shell of what will soon be a top-of-the-range automobile. They jerk into life, attaching the bonnet, the wing mirrors, and other panels. It’s the kind of precision operation you can find at car factories around the world these days. But here’s a question worth considering: could we pull off a feat like this only about a billion times smaller?
11 May 2021

Why climate change could make Mediterranean atmospheric ‘meteotsunamis’ more common

Rogue waves that strike without warning across the Mediterranean and elsewhere may become more frequent as the climate changes, early-stage research suggests.
06 May 2021

Q&A: Why unconventional resources are key to expanding geothermal energy use

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.
05 May 2021

Five things to know about: Mixing and matching coronavirus vaccines

Amid global vaccine rollouts, with nearly 1.2 billion doses currently administered, some countries have recommended a mixed-dose approach where a first prime shot is followed by a booster of a second type.