BBC Future

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The truth about whether you are a ‘lark’ or an 'owl’

We all have a time of the day when we are more productive and feel more awake. Science says there are deep reasons for that.<p>Some people love waking up really early, while others thrive in the late hours.<p>The reasons behind that have to do with our hormones and the ways our bodies work. Check out the …

Behavior

Could Estonia be the first ‘digital’ country?

Estonia, the Baltic nation of 1.3m, has been pursuing a grand idea since 1997: putting their entire government online. But is the idea a grand one, or a complicated one?<p>We’ve all been there: standing in an interminable queue in a stark government building, staring into space, waiting for what seems …

eGovernment

This is the face of the average American politician

BBC Future created a composite face of all members of the US Senate and House of Representatives. Here’s what it tells us about US politics in 2017.<p>Take a close look at this face. Who do you see?<p>We’d call him a clean-cut, middle-aged white man. He looks like a John, a James, or a Robert. Perhaps …

Behavior

The hidden ways that faces shape politics

A candidate’s appearance can influence votes more than you think – so what exactly is a good look for a politician?<p>George Washington knew it. He was particularly conscious of his forehead, which he believed would look better if it was even bigger. For maximum emphasis he’d pull his hair back into a …

Psychology

The Soviet Union’s flawed rival to Concorde

The world’s first supersonic airliner was not the Anglo-French Concorde but a Soviet design intended to show the world the superiority of the USSR.<p>It is December 1968, and a truly ground-breaking airliner is about to take its first flight.<p>It resembles a giant white dart, as futuristic an object as …

Aerospace

Do we use 10% of our brains?

A review of the truth behind the myth that we only use a fraction of our brains.<p>The brain is an amazing thing: weighing just over three pounds, it's packed with nearly 90 billion nerve cells that help us think, move, feel, learn, and experience the world around us.<p>But how much of that massive …

The Brain

The great thaw of America’s north is coming

One of the most profound effects of a warming world is underway on US soil – the impact will force thousands to relocate, and have far-reaching, global consequences. Sara Goudarzi reports from Alaska.<p>Vladimir Romanovsky walks through the dense black spruce forest with ease. Not once does he stop or …

Climate Change

The benefits of ‘floating’ solar power

In China and beyond, more countries are chasing the same idea: place massive solar panels on bodies of water to soak up the Sun.<p>China is arguably leading the globe in solar energy production. The International Energy Agency says that the country installed two times more gigawatts of solar capacity …

Clean Energy

The city where the internet warms people’s homes

Your online activity could one day be helping to generate hot water. Erin Biba visits Sweden to see an ambitious – and profitable – green energy project in action.<p>“The cloud” is a real place. The pictures you post on Instagram, the happy birthday wishes you leave on Facebook pages, and the TV shows …

Sustainability

A new way to look at emotions – and how to master yours

A new theory of emotions reveals just how easily our feelings can be shaped by context – offering some powerful ways for dealing with stress.<p>One day at graduate school, one of Lisa Feldman Barrett’s colleagues asked her out on a date. She didn’t really fancy him, but she had been in the lab all day …

Emotions

The real truth about whether our tongues have 'taste zones'

For years, we were taught that the different taste receptors clump together in zones on our tongues. But it turns out that’s not quite the truth…<p>You probably remember the diagram from school – a pink tongue with different regions marked for different tastes – bitter across the back, sweet across …

Language

Six grand ideas to fight the end of antibiotics

Overuse of antibiotics has led them to becoming less and less effective to treat us when we’re sick – leaving scientists scrambling for a fix. Here are some of the best ideas to tackle one of the 21st Century's biggest challenges.<p>The world is nearing a moment when antibiotics no longer work to …

Microbiology

How many female scientists can you name?

Some people apparently struggle to recall the name of one – we decided to fix that by asking a selection of leading researchers and communicators to nominate the female scientist they most admire.<p>Today is Ada Lovelace Day, which celebrates the achievements of women in science and technology. …

Women in Science

How chicken feathers could warm our homes

One of the world’s most under-exploited waste products – the feathers from poultry farms – is finding a clever new use inside buildings.<p>Where there are people, there are chickens. Pretty much every country on Earth has poultry or their eggs on the menu.<p>So, from Norway to New Zealand, and Cuba to …

The female code-breakers who were left out of history books

Over the last 100 years, women have had significant, high-level roles in breaking secret codes – from Nazi ciphers to the secret messages of Al Capone’s gang – but their contribution is only just emerging.<p>Picture this. In 1917, the United States is just entering World War One. But to begin with, …

Women's History

Rural Rwanda is home to a pioneering new solar power idea

Nearly 20% of the world’s population has no electricity. Rachel Nuwer tells the story of a group of London graduates who, apparently against the odds, have helped thousands of people in Africa access energy from the Sun. Could their idea teach power providers in the West a thing or two?<p>Fidel …

Renewable Energy

The world’s oldest scientific satellite is still in orbit

Nearly 60 years ago, the US Navy launched Vanguard-1 as a response to the Soviet Sputnik. Six decades on, it’s still circling our planet.<p>From his desk at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, space debris analyst Tim Flohrer keeps track of the 23,000 or so catalogued objects …

Exploration

'Fatbergs', faeces and other waste we flush could be a fuel

The stuff we flush down the toilet and the fat washed down the drain could be the surprising fuel of the 21st Century – improving sanitation and creating green energy worldwide.<p>Our planet has a problem. Humans, like all living creatures, produce a lot of… well, unpleasant waste. In the form of pee …

Sustainability

The bold, tech-fuelled plan to save Africa’s big beasts

Kenya's rhinos, elephants, and zebras pull in millions of tourism dollars and supply jobs. Poachers threaten that – but an ambitious programme is combining the influence of local communities and innovative technology to keep them at bay.<p>Josephine Ekiru is not nostalgic for the past. Growing up in …

Conservation

The biggest myths about bad breath

Claudia Hammond analyses the science, the misconceptions – and what you may be doing wrong.<p>Many years ago, soon after I’d started working in radio, I arrived at the newsroom to be given my assignment for the day. I was asked to visit a clinic treating bad breath where I was to get my own breath …

Alternative Medicine

How will we deal with all of the world’s rubbish?

Despite our best environmental efforts, the world still overflows with more non-biodegradable trash than ever. We review four clever ideas for dealing with it all.<p><b>Animation by George Mason</b><p>Rubbish has been a problem for as long as modern civilisation has existed. Humans produce a lot of garbage, …

Recycling

The perks and downsides of tea and coffee

How the drinks compare when it comes to your alertness, sleep, wellbeing and health… plus we identify the beverage more likely to stain your teeth.<p>The video above was inspired by the science in this in-depth article on the health impact of tea and coffee: Tea vs coffee: which is drink is better for …

Coffee

Anti-ageing: Is it possible, and would we want it?

Eternal youth has been a human preoccupation for millennia. But what would happen if we could actually halt the ageing process?<p>In the 1850s, the average life expectancy in the US at birth was only 40 years old. Now, the average American can expect to live until at least 78. Recent medical research …

Longevity

How wind can power the world's mass transit

This year, Dutch commuters ditched fossil fuels to power their country's trains on 100% wind energy - and it's a grand idea that's catching on the world over.<p>The world’s soaring population is prompting a slew of transit innovations: wheel-free bullet trains, obstacle-sensing robot cars, 120mph …

Transit

The ‘disaster psychologists’ who helped after Mexico’s quake

As Mexico reeled after last week’s magnitude 7.1 earthquake, it wasn’t just rescue workers and doctors who mobilised fast. Julissa Trevino reports from Mexico City.<p>Raquel Barrera felt nauseous and couldn't sleep or eat.<p>“I felt dizzy, too. I was scared it was going to happen again,” she said.<p>Last …

Mexico City

The mosque that powers a village

A place of worship in Morocco offers visitors prayer - and also keeps their lights on. Could this tiny village inspire other communities around the world to do the same?<p>The village of Tadmamet is just an hour’s drive south from the bustling city of Marrakech in Morocco. But it’s a world …

Renewable Energy

Could India’s crowded roads help us create better cars?

Half of Earth’s population lives in cities, and that number will hit 66% by 2050. Overcrowding streets are a key concern – but the wild roads of India could help us find solutions.<p>“In 60 seconds you have to consider 70 options,” says my rickshaw driver Raju, leaning over his shoulder as we weave …

Transportation

The deadly germ warfare island abandoned by the Soviets

During the Cold War, Vozrozhdeniya Island was a top-secret testing ground for deadly Soviet super-pathogens. Despite over two decades of abandonment, their legacy lives on.<p>On the Kazakh-Uzbek border, surrounded by miles of toxic desert, lies an island. Or at least, something that used to be an …

Microbiology

Is porn harmful? The evidence, the myths and the unknowns

Pornography is now only an internet search away, and is becoming ever more immersive. How is it changing people’s behaviour, relationships and desires?<p>Few things are truly universal. But while people across the world speak different languages, eat different foods and even feel different emotions, …

Psychology

The water speed record that's surprisingly hard to break

While teams try to build a car that can go as fast as the speed of sound, other researchers are trying to break a more modest record – can a boat powered by human effort go faster than 20mph?<p>On a cold day in October 1991, a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) led by physicist …

Fish