Science & Environment

Science: Best long reads of 2016 (part two)

There has been a feast of interesting stories behind the news headlines this year.

Here's part two of our festive selection of science and environment long reads.


Football as a numbers game. By Jonathan Sullivan

Image copyright Alex Livesey

"Big data" - the world of analytics, algorithms and statistical models - is increasingly part of our lives, and professional sports such as football are no different.

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Are humans driving evolution in animals? By Prof Adam Hart

Image copyright Getty Images

Mounting evidence suggests activities such as commercial fishing, angling and hunting, along with the use of pesticides and antibiotics, are leading to dramatic evolutionary changes in other species.

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How do you drill into a 500C volcano? By Rebecca Morelle

Scientists in Iceland are drilling in to a volcano to harness the energy from beneath the Earth. They hope this will enable the geothermal industry globally to step into an era of more production.

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Is there any point in planting new trees? By Isabella Kaminski

Image copyright AFP

Successive governments have made popular pledges to plant large numbers of new trees. But do these trees ever actually get planted and, where they do, does it ever achieve anything useful?

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The huge promise of tiny machines. By Paul Rincon

Image copyright University of Groningen
Image caption Innovations have included this nano car, produced by Bernard Feringa's team

The 2016 Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded for the design and synthesis of the world's smallest machines. The work has overtones of science fiction, but holds huge promise in fields as diverse as medicine, materials and energy.

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Nuclear fusion lab faces uncertain future. By David Shukman.

Image copyright CCFE
Image caption JET holds the record for the longest sustained nuclear fusion reaction

A question mark hangs over a world-leading laboratory that has pioneered research into fusion for nearly 40 years. Fusion is the process that powers the Sun and a decades-long quest has attempted to replicate it here on Earth to provide a clean source of energy. Since the vote for Brexit, many at the centre have become "extremely nervous" amid uncertainty about future financing and freedom of movement.

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Solar Impulse: A repaired plane and team. By Jonathan Amos

Image copyright Solar Impulse

The pilot behind the longest non-stop solo aeroplane flight recalls the big bust-up and make-up that he believes has put his team in a stronger position to complete its solar-powered circumnavigation of the globe.

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