How digital ‘twins’ are guiding the future of maintenance and manufacturing

Digital replicas of infrastructure such as oil platforms could help prevent accidents by spotting potential ruptures before they happen. Image credit - Akselos

by Tom Cassauwers As our world becomes more digitalised and connected, we can actually make a virtual copy of it. And such replicas are now being used to improve real world scenarios, from making aircraft production more accurate to preventing oil spills. A digital twin is a virtual replica of a real life entity, such … Read more

‘We’ve found dozens of potentially habitable planets – now we need to study them in detail’

In 2016, Dr Gillon discovered a system of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf called TRAPPIST-1 (artist's impression). Image credit - NASA/JPL-Caltech

by Jonathan O’Callaghan From the first discoveries of planets beyond our solar system in the 1990s, we now know of thousands of alien worlds, some of which could even be habitable to life as we know it. Now we need to detect more of these exoplanets and study them in detail, says astronomer Dr Michaël … Read more

Parkinson’s disease: Stimulation of brain, feet may help people overcome freezing episodes

More than half of people with advanced Parkinson's disease experience freezing of gait, which can lead to falls.

Paolo Sanvito would often freeze like a statue after entering a meeting room when he was working as a manager in a multinational company. Known as freezing of gait, it’s a disabling symptom of Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative brain disorder that he suffers from. During a freezing episode, a patient feels like their feet are … Read more

Sewage, rivers and soils provide missing link in antibiotic resistance story

In poorer countries, using raw wastewater to irrigate urban farms could be an underlying cause of antibiotic resistance.

If you think that the key to beating antibiotic resistance is only for doctors to prescribe less and scientists to find new drug candidates, you are probably wrong. The fundamental solutions may lie far from medicine – in managing our rivers and soils. That is the view of scientists who have uncovered disturbing amounts of … Read more

Dried-out tardigrades could point way to drug preservation, resilient crops

Scientists are trying to work out how tardigrades survive extreme environments such as heat and drought. Image credit - Frank Fox, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

by Gareth Willmer New insights into how tardigrades survive extremely dry environments could reveal new ways of preserving drugs, boosting crops’ tolerance to drought or fighting disease, but so far there is no simple answer to how these tiny creatures endure desiccation. Despite being nicknamed moss piglets, tardigrades do an awful lot more than just … Read more