Q&A: How Covid-19 hijacks human cells

The virus that causes Covid-19 hijacks human cells by exploiting a ‘doorway’ that is potentially also used by other deadly viruses such as HIV, dengue and Ebola, according to recent research that may help to explain why the coronavirus is so highly infectious to a wide range of organs in the body.  Dr Yohei Yamauchi, a viral cell biologist at the University of Bristol, UK, who led the … Read more

Galactic archaeology: astronomers are using stars as fossils to study the Milky Way

Our Milky Way is thought to be home to as many as 400 billion stars, one of which is, of course, our own sun. But how and when did these stars form, and where did they come from?  Understanding the stellar population of our galaxy could reveal a great deal, not only about our own home … Read more

Q&A: Plate tectonics is fundamental to understanding Earth’s evolution – but big questions remain

The division of the Earth’s surface into seven major mobile plates is fundamental to our planet’s uniqueness, creating a habitable environment and possibly the conditions under which life itself originated. The theory of plate tectonics is 50 years old, but there are many puzzles left to answer, says Dr Kate Rychert, who studies the geology … Read more

The paints that eat pollutants and heat homes

Light-activated catalysts that can neutralise airborne pollutants are being embedded in paint with a view to cleaning up city air. Image credit - AM Technology

Applying a coat of paint on the walls of a house may soon help to heat it, saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions. It could also clean the air that we breathe, breaking down chemicals and pollutants, and eliminating harmful pathogens. In Europe, half of cities’ annual energy consumption goes to heating and cooling. Despite the EU’s … Read more