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Adam Shaw on urinepowered robots and Bangalore’s biofuel

Horizon, a long-running British documentary television series on BBC World News has Adam Shaw, award-winning presenter, traveling the world, utilising local reporters to bring regional knowledge and insight to the programme.

Talking about the intrigue of it all, Shaw is all praise for the show. “From the Mongolian Gobi desert to the skyscrapers of New York, we search for new ideas that will define the world. I’m very proud of the thinkers we have brought to the screen who are at the cutting edge of science, technology and business,” he tells us, adding that innovation is not always as glamorous as a Star Trek film. Some of the most interesting ideas involve seemingly useless waste. “At a South Korean Women’s University, we discovered a factory full of stinky, old fish skin, which was to be boiled down and synthesised into cling film, for biodegradable food packaging. We also visited a laboratory testing urine-powered robots where the toilets had a sign that read, “If you’d like to pee in this bucket, you would be really helping us out,” Shaw tells us, marvelling at the way science has progressed.

Make a difference
On the show, Shaw came all the way to Bangalore to profile a company which was turning seaweed into biofuel. “Apart from that, their latest innovation sees the application of silver to clothes in hot countries to stay fresher, without needless washing, thus saving energy and water. They are also looking at adding anti-microbial to mattresses and clothing in hospitals as well as bank notes to fight the spread of germs,” the long-time host shares.

Talking about the influence of technology on humanity, Shaw says, “It defines modern society and economics. Our task is to promote technology we like and avoid those we think are intrusive or unhelpful.” When asked about the dramatised vision people have of science and technology, the presenter is quick to dismiss that notion. “It isn’t just about technology, it is also about society and what we want. I do think they will play a larger role in the future, but the Sci-Fi vision of robotic servants and drone delivery is still some way off,” he signs off.

Saturday at 7 am and 2 pm, Sunday at 8 pm. Details: bbc.com/horizons
—Aakanksha Devi

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