Skyrora is a UK launch vehicle provider with the environment at the forefront of its focus. Aiming to provide sovereign launch capabilities to the UK through conducting the first ever vertical orbital launch from these shores, Skyrora seeks to fill a market gap to provide cost effective, sustainable access to space.
Skyrora is rapidly approaching vertical orbital launch through the development of several innovative technologies, including an orbital transfer vehicle which can deorbit dangerous space debris and a rocket fuel derived from unrecyclable plastic waste.
The company is also taking an incremental learning approach to launch, developing four suborbital rockets to perform real-time testing of the avionics, ground control systems, payload deployment, and recovery systems of the vehicles in parallel with the development of their orbital rocket.
In 2022, Skyrora achieved several significant milestones on their journey to reach orbit, including completing the largest successful integrated orbital rocket stage test to be held in the UK since the 1970s and attempting to launch their Skylark L vehicle into space from the Langanes Peninsula in Iceland. These milestones have provided the team with valuable experience in operations procedures, logistics coordination, and execution of the rapid setup and pack-down of their mobile launch complex, experience which will propel them forward monumentally towards reaching orbit and change the course of the UK space sector.
About Nickie Finnegan
Nickie is a recent International Business Management graduate of Heriot-Watt University and The Australian National University. Through her exposure to global business environments, she has gained a unique perspective on the Space sector and developed key analytical, digital marketing, and editorial skills. Nickie currently heads up the communications and public relations department at Skyrora Limited, where she develops the company’s external image through the curation of media campaigns, press releases, and external events.
What will our cities look like in the future? How will our cars be powered and homes be heated? Climate innovation is providing the solution with the development of electric transport, citywide heating systems, and smart technology that aims to provide a more sustainable future for us and our planet.
Join Holly O’Donnell, a Climate & Energy Policy Manager at WWF Scotland, as she discusses the innovative ways heat can be extracted from the air, the ground and even waste water to provide us with cosy homes all year round.
Take a virtual tour of a construction site and see how Morrison Construction uses the latest innovation and technology to design buildings on their sites. Hear how they use advanced low energy construction to build sites with very low environmental impact.
For the past 60 years, satellites have helped collect information about space, enabled us to communicate with each other all over the world, and in some cases, has even been used for spying.
Some are as big as a double decker bus and some are small enough to fit in your pocket. The space sector is growing fast in Scotland with over 7,500 people innovating in areas such as research and development, manufacturing, launch and operations, and data analytics.
One of the companies leading this innovation and growth is AAC Clyde Space. Founded in 2005, it manufactures products which have 1000s of hours in space and offers complete nanosatellite missions covering mission analysis and design, manufacture, launch and operation, and data delivery.
The future is bright for the Scottish space sector so come along and learn more from Pam Anderson and Derek Bennet and find out how you can be part of this exciting sector.
The launch of the crew of Expedition 1 to the International Space Station over 20 years ago marked the last time every human was on the Earth at the same time. Join NASA engineers Stephanie Walker and Miriam Sargusingh as they talk about keeping those astronauts healthy, safe, and comfortable in low Earth orbit aboard the ISS, and how we take the next giant leap to return to the Moon.
On Sunday 28th February 2021, a bright fireball streaked across the sky in Southern England. It was seen from as far away as France, Belgium, Ireland and Scotland. This hugely bright event was the most captured fireball in history, with people across the UK recording their sightings of the fireball and sending them to the UK Fireball Alliance (UKFAll).
Thanks to this amazing citizen science effort, and a suite of high-tech all-sky fisheye cameras, scientists were able to calculate the trajectory of what became the first UK meteorite in 30 years – the Winchcombe meteorite. Hear from one of the leaders of UKFAll, Dr Luke Daly, of the University of Glasgow, who has spent the last 5 years establishing a network of fireball detectors, and his colleague Aine O’Brien, who joined Luke in the field search to recover the meteorite from the Gloucestershire countryside in March 2021.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the scientific successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in December 2021. It is going to change how we see the entire universe, including our own solar system. The giant planets are all going to be targets of Webb. The images it will take will help to answer the many questions we have about their atmospheres, especially the mysterious ice giants, Uranus and Neptune.
Join Naomi Rowe-Gurney, from the University of Leicester, to find out how the James Webb Space Telescope is going to change the way we see our solar system.
Colon Capsule Endoscopy is a procedure which involves swallowing a capsule the size of a vitamin pill. The capsule contains a digital camera which is swallowed and, on its journey, takes up to 400,000 images (32 per second), which are remotely reviewed and analysed. It is highly accurate, with the potential to be cost effective, less invasive, and more acceptable to patients, than existing procedures. It could potentially be a viable and safe alternative to traditional colonoscopy. This ambitious project brings together innovation partners from across the NHS, academia and healthcare sectors.
The #DigiInventorsChallenge, in association with Glasgow Warriors and the Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre (DHI), is on a mission to find smart new ways to help Scotland’s young people keep active, staying healthy and happy, now and in the future.
Can you help reverse the trends that have led to young Scots being rated as having one of lowest activity levels in the world?
The way proteins are folded is a rapidly-evolving research area in biology and medicine. However, understanding the 3D structures of these protein molecules and how they relate to diseases such as cancer can be very challenging. To make it easier, researchers at the University of Glasgow have collaborated with Sublime/ Edify to develop software that uses virtual reality technology. Their Molecular Viewer software allows users to view and analyse protein structures in 3D, which can help provide a better understanding of the role of proteins in health and disease.
In this video, Professor Edward Tobias explains the importance of the BRCA1 gene in causing hereditary cancer. Using the Molecular Viewer software, he’ll show you the intricate 3D structure of an important part of the human BRCA1 gene. By looking carefully you’ll see how a tiny change in the DNA can cause a dramatic change in the structure of the BRCA1 protein, which can then cause breast cancer.
Increasingly, we rely on technology to help us whether it’s fighting climate change with wind turbines and solar panels, or using smartphones to make our everyday lives easier. But all of this technology requires more and more elements that come from rocks and minerals from the earth.
Join GeoBus and learn about these elements, how they are sourced and just how much work is needed to ensure we have a safe, sustainable supply to meet the growing demand.
As we use increasing amounts of technology in our everyday lives, we need more and more resources to build them. For example, mobile phones- currently 44.8% of the global population owns a smartphone, that’s 3.5 billion people! To build these phones, we need elements that come from rocks and minerals that are mined from the earth. But, do we have enough? Join GeoBus and explore the challenge that earth scientists are facing in making sure we have enough of these elements, while keeping our environment safe as well as the people who carry out the mining.
We are going through a crisis where several important wild species have gone extinct already and thousands more are going to go extinct if they cannot be conserved. For this reason, it becomes important to monitor if these species are genetically susceptible to disease, carry genetic abnormalities or disease-causing copies of genes.
However, obtaining samples from wild animals, so we can extract their DNA, is a very challenging task. That’s why researchers at the University of Glasgow have turned to blood sucking insects such as midges, mosquitos and tsetse flies. Using these insects, the researchers hope to develop methods of obtaining samples and monitoring wildlife that are typically very difficult to get samples from such as elephants, rhinos and tigers!
See how their work could go a long way in deciding the fate of wild species across the world. Could this innovative strategy help us to monitor and conserve the many species’ of animals that are currently endangered?
Please introduce yourself: what is your name and what do you do?
I am Anubhab Khan, I am part of a group of wildlife biologists at the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow. We work on a wide range of species, including African wild dogs, rhinos, fishes, horses, tsetse flies and diseases. I am a wildlife population geneticist. I work on the genetics of small, isolated populations, which is a common state of endangered species. I have worked on populations of tigers, elephants, jungle cats and Indian wild dogs. I have spent lots of time in the forests of India tracking tigers to collect their samples.
Tell us about your research, what problem did you want to solve?
Small, isolated populations face several threats, including increased risk of diseases due to loss of variability at genes involved in resistance to pathogens and also increase in frequency of diseases that can be inherited. This is due both to increased inbreeding (mating between relatives) and increased effects of random processes* in small populations. To save these threatened populations, it is important to monitor the frequency of such diseases and the degree of genetic variation that is maintained to allow adaptation to pathogens and to varying environmental conditions. However, several endangered species are spotted very rarely and if spotted, cannot be disturbed for sample collection. It is extremely difficult to obtain samples from such elusive charismatic species. Better non-invasive sampling methods are thus needed to monitor these populations.
What was your solution, and how did you come up with that solution?
Here, in the University of Glasgow, we have collected lots of tsetse flies. These are insects that suck blood from wild animals in Africa. Since these flies are already sampling the blood of wildlife, we are using them to obtain DNA from the wildlife they have fed on. People have been using such indirect samples to detect host species for a while now. However, very few studies have attempted in-depth population level studies or monitor disease resistance genes using such samples.
Photo credit: Prof. Steve Torr, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
How will your work support endangered species?
We aim to provide an innovative solution to the problem of monitoring wildlife populations. Generally, traditional methods are very slow since they rely on direct sampling of wild populations. It is also not always possible to sample highly endangered and rare wild species. Our method will increase the range of species that could be sampled while decreasing the time needed significantly and help in measuring connectivity between populations, which could also influence the transmission dynamics of pathogens.
Once you understand the genetics of a herd, what interventions can you use to improve their prosperity?
Once we identify genetically distinct populations, we can prioritise conservation of a species or population based on the genetic data. We may also introduce a breeding male from another herd to increase the genetic mix within the herd.
What makes your innovation new/different to the work that came before it?
Previously DNA samples from invertebrates that feed on vertebrate blood (for example, biting flies and leeches), soil, water, and other sources have been used for exploring biodiversity based on “environmental DNA (eDNA)” approaches. These “anonymous” analyses generally do not involve knowing the number of individuals in a sample, but is focused on identifying what species are present. Our innovation is to extend these approaches to allow inferences about population structure, levels of inbreeding and variation at genes that are important for adaptation. This will be done using advances both in genetic sequencing technology and in bioinformatic analyses. We will also compare genetic variation of the biting flies, the hosts they feed on, and the parasites and other microorganisms carried by both the flies and their hosts.
Is team work important to this project and who do you collaborate with?
Like any research, team work is a most important component in wildlife research. Generally, wildlife researchers forge collaborations with wildlife managers, Government and non-government organisations, private companies, funding agencies, universities, communication specialists, law experts and many others. We are collaborating with other researchers in the UK working on tsetse flies, as well as local partners in Tanzania and Kenya.
Is there any particular technology that helps you in your work?
Our work depends heavily on next generation sequencing technologies. These are technologies for sequencing lots of DNA in a very short span of time. This allows us to read the genetic code and identify risks and solutions. For example, this technology has made it possible to sequence the DNA from several sources in a single step. The data generated is used to identify genetic locations where disease causing genetic variants exists. Also, we can now identify genetic locations important for disease resistance, but lacking the variation. These can then be targeted for genetic rescues.
You are in the early stages of this research, but do you have a vision for what could come next? Are there other applications for this innovative technique?
There are multiple directions the work can go in. Presently, we use very high throughput data generated by expensive DNA sequencers that require the use of super computers for analyses. Once we can identify specific genetic regions that are important, these can be monitored with much cheaper sequencers and by using lesser computational infrastructure. This will be useful for low-income countries with rich wildlife but less resources for wildlife research. Also, our methods will be used to obtain biological insights into evolutionary processes driving multiple species in the same patch of habitat. Different species react differently to various factors. Our method will make it possible to study several species at once.
*Random processes can be environmental for example, if a population has only 10 individuals and 1 of them dies due to thirst or road/rail accident, the population just lost 10% of the individuals. While if the population has 100 individuals and 1 dies due to one of these random incidents, 1% of the population died.
The random process can be demographic for example if a population had 10 individuals and 1 couldn’t find a mate or failed to produce viable offspring, then only 90% of the population contributed to the next generation. While if the population has 100 individuals and one failed, 99% contributed to the next generation.
There is also genetic stochasticity where an advantageous genetic variant may be randomly lost or a deleterious genetic variant can be randomly fixed in a population. This happens more often in a small population (for example due to above effects) than in large population. This reduces the overall fitness of a population.
In Scotland, we have access to clean, safe drinking water, which is easy to take for granted. However, many parts of the world aren’t as fortunate. To combat this the UN have created an objective to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, as part of their sustainable development goals.
Learn how researchers at the University of Glasgow have developed exciting new data analytics so we can use this data to help maintain and conserve our water.
Please introduce yourself: what is your name and what do you do?
Our interests are in studying the environment using data and statistical models to investigate changes, to find patterns and to explain them where possible. One area we are all passionate about is water.
Here in Scotland, we perhaps take for granted that we have plenty of clean water but this is not true around the world. Even here in Scotland, we need to take care of our water resources in terms of both water quantity (floods and droughts) and quality (different pollutants). The freshwater resources of our lakes and rivers are fundamental in supporting life. Water quantity and quality have changed over the years due to climate change, as well as activities such as water extraction for crop irrigation, and the run off of pollutants from land.
We work with data coming from many different sources:
Routine collection of water samples from lakes and rivers, brought back to the laboratory and then analysed for chemicals of interest.
Smart sensors which are placed in the environment and stream back data (often powered by solar energy)
Drones and satellites.
The laboratory measurements and small sensors give us data about water quality at a very specific location as identified by its latitude and longitude.
New technologies (sensors and satellites) have allowed the generation of diverse data streams to observe water quality and quantity in significant detail from around the world.
The satellite data comes in the form of images observed over time. Every time the satellite passes overhead an image is recorded, often the image is obscured by clouds. Satellites provide images where each image is made up of pixels, which are small grid cells, a bit like a jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces in the shape of a square or pixel. Sometimes each side of the pixel is as small as 10m, for other satellites, the side of the pixel could be a kilometer in length.
Example of satellite image showing phytoplankton fluorescence in North American lakes. This image was taken by Envisat’s MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS). The redder an area is, the stronger the fluorescence from phytoplankton.
2. Tell us about you research, what problem did you want to solve?
We are currently working on several projects:
Globolakes is a global project studying 1000 lakes. We are using historical satellite images, taken monthly and going back 12 years, to try and understand changes in water quality (temperature and chlorophyll levels for example) in these lakes.
Some of the lakes are in very remote parts of the world, so that the satellite images allow us to observe them without sending teams of scientists.
Some challenges include the problem with cloud cover, so that sometimes large parts of a lake are not observed, another challenge is dealing with lakes which freeze over in the winter. What we want to do, using all these data, is learn which lakes are behaving similarly over time. Recognising this could allow us to recognise the effects of climate change.
These images show the results of looking at all the 1000 lakes and the smooth curves we have estimated, and then clustered.
This image shows the locations of the lakes, each one represented by a coloured dot, the colour representing the cluster.
This image shows the patterns in each of 9 identified clusters of lakes.
Source: Maberly, S. C. et al. (2020) Global lake thermal regions shift under climate change. Nature Communications, 11, 1232. (doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-15108-z)
In the Ramganga Project we are studying a large river in India. Here the challenge is again to understand about water quality in the Ramganga River, we are using water samples (lab based), sensors, drones and satellites:
The classical water samples, are collected in a few locations each month, they are taken to the laboratory and analysed there.
The sensors can be placed along the river and while we only have a few, they can produce data every day or even more frequently.
The drone we fly over specific stretches of the river and it produces a very detailed image of that stretch.
The satellite can provide images covering the whole length of the river.
Bringing together and linking these different data streams is called data fusion. Data Fusion allows us to benefit from the strengths of all the data sources to produce the best estimate of water quality along the entire river (and very importantly) taking account of any uncertainty.
Some challenges we have here is that the river is narrow in the dry season, but much much wider in the wet (Monsoon) season so the satellite is not always able to distinguish the river. However, if we can produce a map of water quality in the river and how it changes, then this will help people who live along the river.
This image shows the river with locations marked for where we are monitoring the water and planning to fly the drone.
Scottish River Levels
The third project in Scotland is also using sensors and satellite images to understand river levels and soil moisture to help farmers identify when best to withdraw water from the river to irrigate their crops. Measuring soil moisture also helps them plan their crop management.
This is part of a Digital Environment initiative. The sensors are distributed around the river system, but we had to plan where to place the sensors to make sure that the data they collect can be transmitted back to base for our analysis.
We are using solar panels to help power the sensors, so we need to keep an eye on energy since if the energy falls, then we might have less confidence in the measurements. (We are also collecting data on rainfall).
We use satellite data from the Copernicus satellite to map the whole area then we can fuse the data from the satellite images with that from the sensors to build our understanding of river levels and soil moisture.
What challenges have you faced and was your solution?
In the Globolake project we are working with massive amounts of data. What we have tried to do is first create a framework, tackling data quality and any errors, which allows us to create clusters of lakes with similar patterns and observe their geographic distribution.
With the Ramganga Project, we are trying to fuse quite different data streams to provide an improved map of water quality. The challenge here is that the sensor and lab sampling tell us about a specific place and time in the river. With the satellite images, however, each pixel is an area, not a point location, and we may only have observations every 14 days, so the data are described as misaligned. Our solution was to develop a statistical model that links together these different data streams taking account of the ‘misalignment in time and space’.
In the third project, we are building a model that links the different data together which will allow us to make forecasts of what the soil moisture will be in a specific place, up to several days into the future.
How important is gathering and processing data to your research? Is there any particular technology that helps you in your work?
It is absolutely vital that we have the different data streams in our projects, and the availability of satellite data have really made a big difference to how we are thinking about our environment – hence the digital environment theme to all our projects.
Is teamwork important to this project and who do you collaborate with?
Teamwork is vital, we need people who understand the environment, so water specialists, soil scientists etc, we need people who understand about the technology, so engineers and IT (Information Technology) specialists, and we need people who understand data (that is us). For the project in India, we are working very closely with Indian colleagues.
Mesothelioma is an unusual type of lung cancer that is extremely difficult to measure and detect. Because of its complex shape it requires highly skilled doctors to identify the tumours and draw them by hand on scans. This leaves room for user error and takes away valuable time that doctors could spend treating patients.
To help solve this problem, experts at the University of Glasgow and Canon Medical Research Europe have created a prototype artificial intelligence (AI) system, which can detect and measure Mesothelioma tumours on CT scans without any human input.
Learn how experts trained the AI system to automatically detect tumours by using existing scans that were marked by doctors. Could this AI tool soon help doctors treat cancer patients with greater precision and for less money? Could it help improve clinical trials to find new drug treatments more quickly?
AI system able to detect and measure complex tumours without any human input
Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lung caused by inhalation of asbestos, a building material commonly used in construction. Glasgow has the highest incidence of Mesothelioma in the world, due to the historical use of asbestos in its shipbuilding industry.
Asbestos has been banned in the UK since 1999, however we expect to see Mesothelioma cases continue to rise as it can take 30-50 years for the disease to develop after asbestos exposure.
Countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China still use asbestos in their construction industries, and so we expect to see global cases rise too.
Mesothelioma is unusual because it doesn’t grow like a round ball, like most tumours. Instead, it grows like a ‘rind’ around the surface of the lung, forming a complex shape.
Mesothelioma shown within yellow loop
Think about the orange peel being the tumour rather than a seed in the centre of the orange.
Mesothelioma shown in green
This makes it difficult to detect and measure Mesothelioma on scans and requires highly skilled doctors to identify and quantify the size of the tumour, and any changes with treatment. It involves drawing the tumour on the scans by hand based on their own experience and judgement. This is time consuming, leaves room for user error, and uses up time the doctor could spend treating patients.
Experts at the University of Glasgow and Canon Medical Research Europe (a Scottish firm specialising in next generation medical imaging software) have created a prototype AI system able to automatically find and measure Mesothelioma on CT scans without any human input.
The AI was trained by showing it over 100 CT scans, on which an expert clinician had drawn around all areas of the tumour which showed the AI what to look for. The trained AI was then shown a new set of scans and was able to find and measure the tumour extremely accurately on its own.
Human drawing in red AI drawing in green
The AI tool streamlines tumour measurements, potentially making clinical trials of new drugs more accurate, less time-consuming and therefore less expensive.
This pilot project was funded by Cancer Innovation Challenge, and has been successful in leveraging a multi-million Cancer Research UK Accelerator Award for a Mesothelioma Research Network called PREDICT-Meso.
PREDICT-Meso brings together expert mesothelioma researchers from across Europe to design and validate new therapies and diagnosis techniques for Mesothelioma.
After further work to test and validate the AI tool as part of PREDICT-Meso, the AI technology may soon be available to help doctors measure Mesothelioma on scans during treatment with greater precision and at a reduced cost.
The successful results of the project will provide a strong foundation for similar tools to be developed in the assessment of other cancers.
Imagine standing inside a human cell. Not a cell drawn by an artist but a real cell that was scanned by lasers and then sent to a Virtual Reality (VR) headset! Once the data is in the correct format the cells can be 3D printed, incorporated into a CGI-style 3D animation or you could put on a Virtual Reality headset and be transported inside the cell. The University of Glasgow are using VR technology to potentially radically change the way we teach biology and the way that students learn about the complex 3D structure of biological tissues. See the workflow involved in laser scanning a biological sample and processing it for sophisticated CGI-style animation, fully immersive Virtual Reality and interactive gaming. Looking at biological images is interesting enough but being able walk around the data, and pick it up, takes learning to a whole new level.
As climate change continues to be one of our biggest global challenges, we often turn to technology to help us cut down on energy use, reliance on fossil fuels and the production of harmful greenhouse gasses. But, can some energy saving methods really end up using more energy? Join OURFUTURE.ENERGY as they debate the energy efficient methods that are not actually as efficient as you might think, all thanks to something called the ‘rebound effect’.
So which energy saving methods are the big offenders? Renewable energy sources such as pumped hydro storage plants, renewable fuels such as hydrogen, recycling and even carbon capture, a method that stops harmful carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere! What makes these technologies use so much energy and can they still be beneficial to society and our environment? How do we balance the energy trilemma of sustainability (not wasting energy or harming our planet), accessibility (the cost and location of energy sources) and security (making sure energy is available when we want it, now and in the future)?
Researchers, scientists and analysts around the world are looking at ways we can efficiently capture and store the light (and heat) the sun gives us. With help from ourfuture.energy learn how some bright sparks in the scientific community are looking at how we can use current technology to make the most of the sun on our roads.
Solar Powered Roads
The amount of sunlight that hits the surface of the earth is huge. The possibilities of what we could use that amount of sunlight for are even bigger!
Researchers, scientists and analysts are looking at ways we can efficiently capture and store the amount of light (and heat) the sun can give.
However, there are some bright sparks out there looking at how we can use the technology we do have already, to make the most of that big, bright, boiling ball in the sky on our roads…
Walking on Sunshine
By replacing the usual materials used for motorways, roads and footpaths with LED or solar panel tiles, there are benefits to be had over traditional concrete.
One company, Solar Roadways, is looking at using solar panels as an alternative.
The solar panels designed by the company are able to avoid seasonal problems such as ice and snow, which can cause accidents and traffic issues, by heating up. The heat produced from the panels means cold weather would not affect these roads as it would normal roads.
Solar Roadways hexagonal shaped solar panels are heated to keep them clear of snow and ice. Photo credit – Solar Roadways
The LED lights can be changed to any pattern or sequence of words that could replace street signs such as speed limits or STOP signs. Or they could simply be used to separate lanes that are currently provided by paint or “cats eye” reflectors.
Other safety problems the company claims the solar panels can overcome are potholes. Standard roads can sometimes get damaged with potholes over time, and repairing problems like these can take time and money. Solar powered tiles can be removed one at a time when they are damaged, meaning possibly less roadworks and hassle for drivers and cyclists.
Although, despite testing out these tiles for heavy loads like trucks, it’s hard to say how these new slabs would hold up on a busy motorway with thousands of cars, vans and lorries travelling over them all day every day.
However, the future of roads like these could also mean generating electricity and powering electric cars, which are already in use in the UK, though they are still not a common sight
Blame it on the Moonlight
Designer Daan Roosegaarde looked at creating range of sustainable ideas for roadways, Smart Highway.
Along with charging electric cars while driving on the motorway, as well as solar powered motorway lines to replace overhead street lights, Roosegaarde looked at the artier side of solar powered roadways.
Photo credit (along with main article image) – Studio Roosegaarde Van Gogh-Roosegaarde cycle path, Netherlands
He created a footpath with a design based on Starry Night to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of Vincent Van Gogh.
The footpath is made of glowing stones which charge during the day and shine at night.
Even if these ideas never see the light of day (sorry…), it’s interesting to see the innovation that could happen when you try new ideas, as well as mixing design, art, technology and science.
Who knows what other products could come out of the ideas shown here!
It might be easy to take electricity for granted when it’s available in our homes, schools and hospitals. However, this isn’t the reality for everyone. In some areas there isn’t a lot of electricity available either because it’s too remote or because it’s too expensive. The same areas of low electricity and high poverty are also likely to be developing countries which are at higher risk of climate change effects, for example flooding, which can wipe out what little access to electricity they do have.
So, what’s the solution?
Salt + Water = Light! Ok it might not be that simple, otherwise saltwater lakes would be glowing all day every day. Read on to see how simple chemistry could provide valuable light sources for those who need it most. Could saltwater lamps be a safer alternative to those that burn kerosine or paraffin for light, without risking people’s health? With help from OURFUTURE.ENERGY learn how electrochemistry, generating electricity from chemical reactions, can be used to bring light to people’s lives and the important parts needed to create a working circuit.
Busy roads and harmful emissions are some of the biggest challenges facing the transport industry. So, what are we doing about it?
Scientists, engineers and innovators are working hard to create the transport of our future. It might not be flying cars, just yet, but there are some incredible inventions that can help make our lives easier and keep our planet healthier.
Can hydrogen and biogas really be used to cut down harmful emissions, what about electric vehicles? How are autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence being piloted across the globe to improve commutes? Could a train system, described as a cross between a Concorde and an air hockey table, really cut down travel times from Edinburgh to London to just 30 minutes? With this resource from the National Grid, find out what the transport of our future will really look like.
Energy comes from the sun, wind, water and traditional fuels but, how does it get from the source to your house? It’s not as simple as flicking a switch! See how the National Grid collaborate with organisations to bring power to your plugs and heating to your homes! How do they balance supply and demand to make sure there’s enough energy for schools and hospitals, while we’re making a cuppa or washing our clothes? Then find out how giant under water cables are helping us tackle climate change on an international level!
Join James from the Innovate UK podcast as they explore the way robots could revolutionise our work, with help from industry experts already using this technology.
Listen in to discover how robots are being used in extreme work environments, from the crushing pressure of the deep sea to the radioactive contamination of decommissioned nuclear sites. Can robots really work alongside humans to improve safety and productivity without taking over our jobs?
Despite robots becoming cheaper and more sophisticated, there are still economic and practical issues that prevent them from being used widely in industry. How can we ensure robots have the dexterity to use lots of tools? How can we ensure robots survive extreme environments, without adding to our growing waste problem? Can we even keep robots powered for long enough to carry out the tasks we need them to do? James explores these challenges and their possible solutions, while looking towards the future of robotics. Follow along to see if robots can really change our lives and help create a safer world.
Warning – Contains detailed description of medical emergency from 12m20s – 14m40s
Find out what nanosatellites can do, what they are made of, and how they get into space!
Wilf demonstrates a home-made cubesat (not a working model!) and talks about all the different aspects needed to make a nanosatellite work. These include: the payload; computer; battery and solar panels; altitude control system; radio and antenna.
Research into precision medicine is still new and exciting, we can use information from your DNA, from proteins in your blood, from scans of your body and from your lifestyle choices, to help tailor and personalise the medications you take, ultimately making them more effective and safer for YOU. However, no matter how amazing the research, turning it into something that a doctor can use in clinical practice, to benefit patients, still remains a massive challenge!
Explore the activity below, where you can use some of your own basic genetic information to demonstrate how we can be put into different groups based on our own unique characteristics – this is the essence of precision medicine.
You can also watch the video to find out more about precision medicine in Glasgow and the University of Glasgow’s new programme, the Living Laboratory, which aims to create a world leading precision medicine campus centred around the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Govan.
Meet Dr Daniel Streicker, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Biodiversity Animal Health & Comparative Medicine at the University of Glasgow. He shows us how we can vaccinate bats against known viruses, using the animals’ behaviour to spread the vaccine. He also explains how machine learning algorithms can be used to assess the risk to humans of newly detected viruses, potentially warning us of the spillover events that are the prerequisite to pandemics.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to take preventative measures to stop animal-borne disease. Could it be time to use the powerful tools at our disposal?
Copyright Royal Society Stock footage provided by stockfootage and Videvo, downloaded from www.videvo.net Bat field footage shot by Carlos Tello
Once an incredibly common creature in UK waters, European flat oysters (Ostrea edulis) are absent from the majority of their former dwellings due to historical overfishing and more recent issues of water quality, invasive species and habitat loss.
That’s why the team at the Wild Oyster Project are working hard to re-establish native oyster populations in a number of locations in the UK where they once thrived. Once oyster nurseries are installed into marinas, adult oysters from these nurseries will broadcast their spawn into the water column to be transported back into coastal waters where oyster reefs once were. To help improve the chance of these larvae successfully settling, the team will also be restoring seabed habitats close to the nurseries to encourage the re-establishment of oyster reefs.
Oysters provide many key roles in the coastal marine environment, from improving water quality by filtering the water, to improving biodiversity through creating structure through their reefs. Although each individual oyster is reasonably small, because these creatures cluster together in large reefs, their overall contributions to the environment are significant.
As we move away from fossil fuels to become greener, we rely on clean renewable energy, electric vehicles and ways to store energy so it’s always available when we need it. But how do we make all of this technology from wind turbines to solar panels? We need lots and lots of elements that come from rocks and minerals from the earth! Join GeoBus and learn about these elements, how they are mined and just how much work is needed to ensure we have a safe, sustainable supply to meet the growing demand.
Space debris is a huge issue with about 8000 tonnes of defunct satellites, metal and glass floating around above our heads! We use satellites for internet, GPS, communications, disaster monitoring and weather predictions, so they’re pretty important. When satellites stop working or get wiped out due to a collision, people on earth lose access to these vital services, so it’s important we maintain a sustainable space environment so that doesn’t happen.
Because of the extreme environment in space, cleaning up debris is a challenging problem for humans to solve. That’s why engineers at Astroscale are turning to robots, using innovative technology to keep us connected! See how Astroscale are collaborating with Satellite Application Catapult to provide a state-of-the-art facility for organisations to operate their satellites. How is this collaboration helping companies develop their space technology and responsibly sustain our space environment?
As we move towards our goal of achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050, we rely more heavily on green energy sources such as wind turbines. The blades of wind turbines are now more than 100 meters in length and they’re being placed further offshore. This means rope access technicians, who inspect, maintain and repair wind turbines, are being put into riskier positions. So, what can we do to help?
Learn how BladeBUG who, with funding from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, are developing a unique walking robot to help technicians maintain wind turbines more safely. See how technology and creative problem solving can be combined to find innovative solutions to real life challenges, using robots to make our world safer.
Robots with artificial intelligence will be used in extreme environments where it’s dangerous or impossible for humans to go, like in space or the oceans. In the future, we may work alongside robots to help make our jobs safer, more accessible or to combine our creativity with their precision.
Join Innovate UK as they discuss how robots with artificial intelligence could transform the agricultural and energy industries, or help us tackle climate change and pollution.
If you enjoyed this video, then take a look at others from Innovate UK here:
This online resource was developed by the University of Glasgow to help people who don’t have a background in public health explore the wider impacts of COVID-19 on health and on society.
Their aim is to start conversations about how the pandemic response has affected many aspects of our lives including our mental health, employment and income, relationships, transport, education, environment, access to food, healthcare and housing. There is a particular focus on how measures to control the virus have fallen unevenly across society. Each issue has links to a wide variety of information sources and a poll to find out what you think about key questions.
All plastic is made from a type of molecule called a polymer. Polymers are long chains of repeating units. Most of the plastic which we use every day comes from petrochemical sources – fossil fuels – which are an unsustainable resource. These plastics don’t break down naturally and need to be recycled. However, there are an increasing number of bioplastics are being created by engineers and scientists. Bioplastics are plastic materials produced from renewable biomass sources. Some of these bioplastics are also biodegradable – meaning they can be composted after we use them.
In this video Sylvia, from the University of Strathclyde, will tell you about bioplastics and demonstrate how we can make a plastic from potatoes!
Join Dr. Karen Johnston and Kasia Majerczak from the University of Strathclyde to learn about their innovative research developing Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging to tackle the issue of plastic waste in the UK. The project aims to optimise the use of compostable plastic food packaging, which will reduce the reliance on plastic while keeping food fresh and hygienic.
Innovation doesn’t just come from scientists, but from people everywhere. This is especially important when considering the climate crisis because often the people who are affected the most are people living in areas far away from where the climate crisis is being studied.
Scientists and indigenous people can work together to come up with innovative solutions to climate change driven problems.
Download this booklet from Dynamic Earth to find out about three great projects tackling climate change led by indigenous people and make a poster to let other people know about it.
Satellites help us in lots of ways from finding our way around to communicating with people, they can also tell us important things about how our planet is changing. Researchers at the WWF are even using satellites to help monitor snow leopards in the wild!
Take part in this activity by Dynamic Earth to learn how scientists are using artificial intelligence to make predictions about snow leopards’ behaviour and when to take early action to keep them safe. Then see how camera traps, trained with machine learning, can save researchers time while studying animals.
Finally, have a go yourself at spotting snow leopards that are cleverly camouflaged in their habitats. Are you quicker than AI? – There’s only one way to find out!
Click the pages below to read in full-size; or use the button below to download.
The climate crisis is one of the biggest challenges facing the world today. In short, the climate crisis is being caused by an increase in greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. These are being emitted by human activity such as burning fossil fuels to make electricity.
To solve big problems, like the climate crisis, we have to be really innovative. This means coming up with ways to emit less carbon dioxide, or to capture the carbon dioxide before it gets into our atmosphere.
Hamster power, kite power or artificial trees?! Discover which inventions have really been explored by scientists and which have been completely made up by Dynamic Earth, while playing their game ‘Science or Fiction?’.
Data from satellites can show tourists how to find their way round new cities on holiday, or on a bigger scale it can also be used to track major environmental changes, population shifts, or keep track of atmospheric pollution. Some people are uncomfortable with how closely satellites can observe what’s happening on Earth, but others have had their lives saved by information gleaned from space. It’s a thorny issue, and GSC’s Learning Lab are here to help you get to the heart of it.
Human-built satellites have been orbiting the Earth for over 60 years, and the number in space is increasing rapidly. Some of them are large enough for people to live in, and some are small enough to fit into a backpack. GSC’s Learning Lab team are here to explain why we launch satellites into space, and just how helpful they can be in our everyday lives.
In the next few years, parts of Scotland will soon be joining the iconic Cape Canaveral as the ideal site for launching rockets into space. While we’re lacking the palm trees and sunshine of the Florida coast, Scotland has a lot going for it when it comes to taking the next giant leap in space technology. Join Glasgow Science Centre’s Learning Lab team as we give you the lowdown on rocket launches and picking the perfect spot for a spaceport.
Artificial football pitches are a significant, and increasing, source of microplastic pollution. The little bits of black plastic are microplastic granules and these are used as infill on the top layer of the pitch. Because they are so small they can easily escape football pitches and end up in the environment, causing harm to wildlife.
See how Fidra are tackling this problem and learn how you can help spread awareness of this issue in your local community. You can use their resources to help those playing on pitches learn about the problem, spread awareness and take action.
Dr Kerry Dinsmore from environmental charity Fidra describes her ongoing work combatting ‘Forever Chemicals’, or PFAS, in the environment.
Kerry explains how this worrying group of industrial chemicals have found their way into almost every aspect of our lives, from treatments on our carpets and our coats, to cosmetics, cleaning products and even bike oils and ski waxes. Even our food now comes packaged in PFAS!
But why are we worried and what can we do? Learn more about what makes these chemicals such a problem, how they earned their title of ‘Forever Chemicals’, and what Fidra are asking of supermarkets, policymakers and the public to make change happen. This is a big issue, but Fidra believe it’s a solvable one!
Opened in 2001, Glasgow Tower stands at a whopping 127 metres tall, making it the tallest freestanding tower in Scotland. Its innovative engineering structure represents some of the best principles and applications of large-scale engineering design and construction.
In normal circumstances, a complex new design would have one or more prototypes built to prove the design before constructing a production model. The scale of this structure made that impossible, so it had to be proven in place.
Our guide Selina will take you on an all-access tour of the tower, meet with our engineers and get a closer look at how the tower works. Join us for a trip up to the viewing platform to take in the skyline and meet engineer Chris Keenan, from City of Glasgow College, to find out about the challenges and innovative solutions behind its unique design.
Find out how a small biotechnology company in Oban, Scotland are tackling the twin issues of food waste and plastic pollution through taking an innovative approach.
CuanTec use by-products from the food industry to create new packaging materials. Head of Science, Dr Tracey White tells us about their bioplastic, which not only extends the shelf life of food wrapped within it, but it also breaks down completely, unlike regular plastics which take about 450 years to decompose.