Every day, we get closer to a sci-fi future. We already make human cells regenerate to grow new internal organs, grow animals in artificial wombs, and are trying to discover another planet like Earth.
Bright Side has collected the 13 most important scientific discoveries for the last few years.
13. We’ve defeated Ebola.
In 2016, the Public Health Agency of Canada together with MSD, a pharmaceutical company, created a vaccine against Ebola. The World Health Organization thinks that the effectiveness of this vaccine varies from 75-100%. The rules have changed for the first time in 40 years and people are stronger than this virus now.
12. We’ve traveled to Pluto.
NASA’s New Horizons mission was launched in 2006 when Pluto was considered to be a full-fledged planet. It took the New Horizons spacecraft 9 years to reach the target and take first color photos of Pluto and Charon, Pluto’s largest moon. There are no more unexplored planets in the Solar System.
11. We replace the parts of DNA.
A team of Chinese and American scientists continues to conduct studies with the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 that lets people cut a necessary part of DNA, change it, and edit it. We almost have an opportunity to modify the genome of a human being. It’ll probably help doctors cure diseases that cause changes in genes.
10. The remains of ancient people have been found.
In 2013, Professor Lee Berger organized an expedition to the Dinaledi cave and discovered 1,500 ancient fossils. After studying the remains of ancient people called Homo naledi, it was concluded that these were the earliest members of the human race. They lived approximately 2-3 million years ago.
9. A tissue that can save living cells has been printed.
Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have developed a method that lets people print tissue. Cells were placed in the wells of the ink cartridge and the printer was programmed to print them in a certain order. Earlier, the use of this technology was challenging since cells used to die because of lack of oxygen and nutritious substances. This invention will help scientists grow limbs and internal organs in the future.
8. We’ve created an antibiotic against the bacteria that is resistant to most drugs.
Researchers from NovoBiotic Pharmaceuticals have developed a device that can be placed in the ground to let bacteria live in their natural environment. One of the substances produced by bacteria turned out to be extremely effective against most bacteria resistant to other antibiotics. The substance was called teixobactin. This compound kills bacteria by causing their cell walls to break down.
7. We’ve linked 4 rats’ brains together.
Neuroscientists from Duke University Medical Center have linked together 4 brains of adult rats. This thing that they call brainets was able to process images, store and search for information, and even predict the weather. The performance of the “organic computer” was better than the total performance of each brain. How would it feel to have one brain for 4 individuals?
6. We tried to turn back the aging clock.
A group of scientists from Stanford University has developed a way to lengthen human telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of the strands of DNA, by as much as 1,000 nucleotides. The younger a person is, the longer their telomeres are. As time passes, they get shorter and a person gets older. We can slow down the process if we lead a healthy lifestyle but Stanford scientists have a brand new approach. They’ve proved that the ends of the strands of DNA called chromosomes can be modified.
5. We’ve “edited” a human embryo.
On July 27, 2017, in Portland, scientists opened the doors to a new era in medicine. With the help of CRISPR, they managed to erase a heritable heart condition linked to heart diseases. Now scientists are able to edit DNA by inserting and removing elements and replacing its parts. The process is so accurate that scientists can try lots of chemical combinations before they perform a certain correction.
Experts from Google’s AI subsidiary DeepMind published an article depicting the way they taught AI to get used to changing environments. 3 agents (a headless body, a body with 4 legs, and a 3D human figure) managed to learn parkour in virtual worlds. This method allows scientists to change AI’s behavior and teach AI to adapt to a rapidly changing world.
4. We’ve taught artificial intelligence parkour.
3. We’ve decided to cool the planet.
Starting from 1980, the temperature on Earth has increased by 30°F each decade. According to the UN’s prediction, our planet will become 36-40°F warmer in 100 years. Ice melting will cause sea levels to rise, coasts will be flooded, and different global cataclysms will occur. Considering all threats, the members of the UN have decided to implement the Paris agreement. Within this program, countries are obliged to start the process of “decarbonizing” the economy, saving energy, and implementing environmentally friendly technologies.
2. We’ve developed an artificial womb.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia team managed to develop a womb to rescue a premature lamb. In the future, this device may help doctors prevent mortality and diseases in premature babies under 37 weeks. Nevertheless, today, the artificial womb can’t be used to keep premature children alive since the device doesn’t reproduce all the important features of the womb and the placenta, that supply the fetus with oxygen and nutrients.
1. We’ve found a planet suitable for life.
Scientists from the European Organization for Astronomical Research have found a planet, LHS 1140b, that might be suitable for life. It’s situated in a habitable zone just 40 light-years away from Earth. According to the preliminary version, the planet orbiting a red dwarf star has all opportunity to support life. It’s rocky and is able to retain an atmosphere and possibly even liquid water on its surface.
We’re on our way to the future and science is the main engine. We hope it’ll help us discover new and wonderful things.
Did you know about these facts? Which one is the most impressive?
Preview photo credit nature.com