Robots are becoming human helpers on the factory floor

New machines can improve conditions for workers and boost industrial productivity. By  Helen Massy-Beresford On the shopfloor of a Dutch machine manufacturer called Hankamp Gears, workers remove bulky equipment from a pallet, lift the material above their shoulders and painstakingly attach screws to it. Then helping hands suddenly show up to do the heavy lifting, … Read more

Mind the gap: travel apps need human help to bridge digital divide

Personal support and user opinions are crucial to ensuring local transport systems become more widely accessible. By  Jessica Berthereau When Inez Rastovac, who works for the Dutch municipality of Tilburg, asked 30 women of migrant background in 2021 about gaps in technologies for using local transport, she wasn’t expecting them to request cycling lessons. ‘At … Read more

Silver reveals luxury tastes of Vikings and trade talents of ancient Greeks

The precious metal’s role as far back as antiquity offers a window into the rise and fall of past civilisations. By  Gareth Willmer Vikings, traditionally depicted as primitive bearded warriors, had a fondness for some of life’s precious things. In Europe, hundreds of buried hoards of silver testify to its attraction for Vikings when they … Read more

Humans’ family tree revealed by ancient proteins

Humankind’s genetic links to long-extinct relatives are being mapped in a rapidly expanding research field called palaeoproteomics. By  Michael Allen They are a fixture of almost every novelty T-shirt shop: humorous pictorials of human evolution, five figures in silhouette – from ape to human – usually with the last replaced by a skateboarder, Darth Vader … Read more

Easing job jitters in the digital revolution

As new technologies reshape workplaces, EU research has come up with new ways to help companies and workers stay in control. By  ANDREW DUNNE Professor Steven Dhondt has a reassurance of sorts for people in the EU worried about losing their jobs to automation: relax. Dhondt, an expert in work and organisational change at the Catholic … Read more