Flying high: how drones on cables are expanding the scope of wind energy

Skypull's prototype designs are being tested in Switzerland to prove that the concept works before they build a full-size version. Image credit - Skypull

by Tom Cassauwers By harnessing the power of strong winds at higher altitude than turbines reach, airborne wind energy could be another key source of renewable energy, but it will need a combination of successful designs, more robust software and good storytelling to really take off. The square drone shakes in the wind with the Swiss … Read more

Q&A: We have to rethink disease detection to get ahead of the outbreak after coronavirus

Disease outbreaks are likely to become more common in the future because of the growing human population, climate change and land-use change, says Prof. Marion Koopmans. Image credit - rawpixel/licenced under CCO

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.  She is a member of the European Commission’s recently established advisory panel on Covid-19 and … Read more

The fight to save Europe’s olive trees from disease

The discovery of Xyella fastidiosa in European olive trees in 2013 caught European researchers off-guard. Image credit - Sjor/Wikimedia commons, licenced under CC BY-SA 4.0

by Fintan Burke A plant disease spread by sap-sucking insects has been devastating olive and fruit orchards across southern Europe, but scientists are inching closer to halting its spread with the help of insect repelling clays, vegetative barriers and genetic analysis.  In the late summer harvest of 2013, olive farmers in the Puglia region of … Read more

Covid-19: How unprecedented data sharing has led to faster-than-ever outbreak research

Online tools such as NextStrain are helping to track the spread of coronavirus in real time. Image credit -

by Ian Le Guillou Advances in gene sequencing have allowed scientists to trace and monitor the COVID-19 pandemic faster than any previous outbreak. However, gaps in our knowledge of how coronaviruses work has made it difficult to understand what makes the new coronavirus special. When the new coronavirus (formally known as SARS-CoV-2) was identified in China … Read more