Disasters at sea trigger ship-safety advances

Research projects in Europe developed water-surface scanners and better hull designs to tackle shipping accidents. By  Tom Cassauwers When one of the world’s largest container ships crashed into the bank of the Suez Canal in 2021, a major gateway for global trade became blocked with an estimated $9.6 billion in daily commerce being held up. … Read more

Fighting extreme weather with extreme computing power

Artificial intelligence, which can already generate texts and mimic human speech, might also help the world prepare for the worsening effects of climate change. By  Tom Cassauwers In late October, climate change suddenly felt very real in northern Italy. A severe storm brought heavy rainfall to the region, causing Lake Como and the Seveso River … Read more

High hopes: the quest to turn cannabis into a potent medicine

Marijuana shows promise in treating illnesses ranging from depression and addiction to arthritis and epilepsy. By  Vittoria D’Alessio Callie Seaman was 16 when she started smoking cannabis to control her epilepsy. The seizures that had started two years earlier were affecting her ability to function and, while she’d excelled at school until her diagnosis, her … Read more

The flying, swimming and tunnelling robots inspired by nature

Drawing inspiration from birds, fish and even worms, researchers in Europe are developing machines to explore places on Earth that are difficult for people to reach. By  Gareth Willmer The Ornithopter in the sci-fi blockbuster film Dune resembles a helicopter crossed with a dragonfly. It’s no wonder why. Ever since humankind has imagined flight, pioneering … Read more

Fishing industry rides tech wave to go green

Sensors, “smart” buoys and high-tech traps can make fisheries in Europe more sustainable and profitable. By  Helen Massy-Beresford Professor Zigor Uriondo was so keen to make tuna fishing less polluting and more profitable that he refused to let the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 scuttle a planned research trip to the Seychelles. Uriondo, a researcher at the … Read more

The good, bad and essential: microbes that affect food and health

EU researchers are examining how bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms could boost the health of both plants and animals. By  Gareth Willmer When Professor Tom Gilbert and his colleagues were researching how different diets affect chickens in 2019, something strange happened: one batch of chicks grew much more slowly than in two previous trials. And … Read more