From robotic companions to third thumbs, machines can change the human brain

Image credit - Ruud Hortensius and Emily Cross

People’s interactions with machines, from robots that throw tantrums when they lose a colour-matching game against a human opponent to the bionic limbs that could give us extra abilities, are not just revealing more about how our brains are wired – they are also altering them. by Frieda Klotz Emily Cross is a professor of … Read more

How to protect the Arctic as melting ice opens new shipping routes

Increased maritime traffic raises the risks of oil spills in the Arctic.

by Gareth Willmer Early this year, the Eduard Toll set a record: laden with liquefied natural gas, the tanker was the first commercial vessel to cross the Arctic in winter without an icebreaker. This milestone in shipping may be a sign of things to come, with maritime activity expected to climb as global warming melts the region’s sea ice – declining … Read more

Earth’s magnetic poles could start to flip. What happens then?

The magnetic field protecting our planet originates deep in the Earth's core but fluctuates in strength over time.

by Jonathan O’Callaghan As Earth’s magnetic shield fails, so do its satellites. First, our communications satellites in the highest orbits go down. Next, astronauts in low-Earth orbit can no longer phone home. And finally, cosmic rays start to bombard every human on Earth. This is a possibility that we may start to face not in … Read more

Storing CO2 underground can curb carbon emissions, but is it safe?

Scientists at Hellisheidi geothermal power plant in Iceland have demonstrated a carbon capture and storage cycle at half the cost of previous estimates.

by Jonathan O’ Callaghan At first glance, it almost sounds crazy. Can we really take carbon dioxide emissions from an industrial plant and store them underground? To find out, research is currently taking place to test if such an idea is not only viable but safe, and prove that to the public. This approach is … Read more

Digital ‘coffeehouse’ to spark new scientific ideas now ready for use

Image credit - picture is in the public domain

By Annette Ekin The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), a virtual one-stop shop for researchers to share, access and reuse data, was officially unveiled at the University of Vienna, Austria, on 23 November, giving scientists, open data advocates, research institutions and policymakers a first glimpse of the portal. It is part of the EU’s vision for an … Read more