European science has had a major makeover in the shape of Horizon 2020, the EU’s ambitious €70bn framework for science and innovation lasting until 2020. Effective from 1st January, it is batting its eyelashes at industry in a bid to be more economically relevant: 22 per cent of the budget is earmarked for “industrial leadership,” with at least half of that going to small businesses. Of the €5.4bn set aside for energy, 85 per cent must go to non-fossil fuel research.
Registration opens in January for the Wendy Schmidt XPrize, a $2m award for teams who can develop sensors to measure ocean acidification (www.oceanhealth.xprize.org). The oceans are soaking up carbon emissions but the effect of pumping carbon dioxide into watery ecosystems remains unknown; current ways of measuring pH are costly and imprecise. To reflect this, half the cash will go to the cheapest sensor and the other half to the most accurate. Ms Schmidt is the wife of Google’s Executive Chairman Eric, and a green philanthropist in her own right.
One of my regrets of 2013 is not making it along to Somerset House to view Photo 51, a grainy X-ray snapshot taken by Rosalind Franklin and used to identify the helical nature of the DNA molecule. “The instant I saw the picture my mouth fell open and my pulse began to race,” recalled James Watson; he was shown the picture without Franklin’s knowledge. As Unesco has designated 2014 the International Year of Crystallography, perhaps its most famous daughter, cruelly denied a Nobel, will have her work venerated once more (www.iycr2014.org).