YEAR IN REVIEW 2017: SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY?

YEAR IN REVIEW 2017: SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY?

Hello All. First of all Team GEP wishes you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year. Now, its turn to do what we always do for all of our readers, i.e. to share precious knowledge with you all in order to  make you all up to date with the cornucopia of information of this beautiful universe. So, Number of significant scientific events occurred in 2017. The United Nations declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. For science and Technology, this year brought discoveries and breakthroughs in everything from cancer and CRISPR to iPhone-X to Tesla model 3. So, here we go with the top inventions that made this year’s cut.

01) CRISPR:  Its a technique that allows scientists to make precision edits to any DNA, is really having its moment. In 2018, We Will CRISPR Human Beings. Ever since 2012, when researchers first discovered that bacterial immune systems could be hijacked to edit DNA in living creatures, CRISPR has been hailed as a maker of revolutions. This was the year that prediction felt like it was starting to come true. US scientists used the CRISPR gene editing technique to treat a common genetic heart disease in a human embryo. Many more diseases were successfully treated in mice using CRISPR. This year, scientists reported selectively altering genes in viable human embryos for the first time. One day, CRISPR could be our ticket to curing all genetic disorders.

 

02)  SpaceX successfully flew the first-ever reused rock:

 It's tempting to have an item in this list that simply reads "Elon Musk exists," but we will fight that urge. In 2017, Musk's SpaceX successfully recycled a rocket for the first time in space flight history. Not to be outdone by, well, himself, Musk led his company to launch the first reused Dragon spacecraft atop a reused Falcon 9 rocket later in the same year.

 

03) The first stable helium compound is synthesized, Na2He. Helium is the most unreactive element:

Sodium is rarely reluctant to form compounds whether it’s with non-metals, hydrogen or a wide variety of ions. Helium, on the other hand, is not so keen. But, put it under enough pressure and even this most unresponsive of elements will succumb to sodium’s charms, scientists have discovered. In the latest work, helium has been shown to form a highly insulating solid, an electride, in which electron pairs are localised between cubes of sodium atoms and so act as the anions to the positively charged sodium atoms with the helium nuclei residing in the spaces in between.

 

04) TSRI Scientists Create First Stable Semisynthetic Organism:

 Life’s genetic code has only ever contained four natural bases. These bases pair up to form two “base pairs”—the rungs of the DNA ladder—and they have simply been rearranged to create bacteria and butterflies, penguins and people. Four bases make up all life as we know it. Until now, Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have announced the development of the first stable semisynthetic organism. Building on their 2014 study in which they synthesized a DNA base pair, the researchers created a new bacterium that uses the four natural bases (called A, T, C and G), which every living organism possesses, but that also holds as a pair two synthetic bases called X and Y in its genetic code. TSRI Professor Floyd Romesberg and his colleagues have now shown that their single-celled organism can hold on indefinitely to the synthetic base pair as it divides. Their research was published January 23, 2017, online ahead of print in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

05) Scientists successfully grew a lamb in an artificial womb

It may sound (and look!) like science fiction, but scientists grew lamb fetuses in "artificial wombs" for up to four weeks until their time of birth. This wasn't about lambs though: This technology could have major benefits for human babies born prematurely.


 

06) NASA discovered a record number of Earth-sized planets around a dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1:

In February 2017, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star, which is located 39.6 light-years from the sun. Dubbed TRAPPIST-1, this star system contains three planets that are firmly in the habitable zone, but all of the planets could potentially have liquid water. This treasure trove of potentially livable planets got us one step closer to the ongoing alien search.

 

07) Scientists Used CRISPR to Put a GIF Inside a Living Organism’s DNA:

The promise of using DNA as storage means you could conceivably save every photo you’ve ever taken, your entire iTunes library, and all 839 episodes of Doctor Who in a tiny molecule invisible to the naked eye—with plenty of room to spare. But what if you could keep all that digital information on you at all times, even embedded in your skin? Harvard University geneticist George Church and his team think it might be possible one day. They’ve used the gene-editing system CRISPR to insert a short animated image, or GIF, into the genomes of living Escherichia coli bacteria. The researchers converted the individual pixels of each image into nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA. They delivered the GIF into the living bacteria in the form of five frames: images of a galloping horse and rider, taken by English photographer Eadweard Muybridge, who produced the first stop-motion photographs in the 1870s. The researchers were then able to retrieve the data by sequencing the bacterial DNA. They reconstructed the movie with 90 percent accuracy by reading the pixel nucleotide code.

 

08) Scientists report first data transmission through terahertz multiplexer:

 Multiplexing, the ability to send multiple signals through a single channel, is a fundamental feature of any voice or data communication system. An international research team has demonstrated for the first time a method for multiplexing data carried on terahertz waves, high-frequency radiation that may enable the next generation of ultra-high bandwidth wireless networks. In the journal Nature Communications, the researchers report the transmission of two real-time video signals through a terahertz multiplexer at an aggregate data rate of 50 gigabits per second, approximately 100 times the optimal data rate of today's fastest cellular network. This is the first time anybody has characterized a terahertz multiplexing system using actual data, and our results show that our approach could be viable in future terahertz wireless networks. Current voice and data networks use microwaves to carry signals wirelessly. But the demand for data transmission is quickly becoming more than microwave networks can handle. Terahertz waves have higher frequencies than microwaves and therefore a much larger capacity to carry data. However, scientists have only just begun experimenting with terahertz frequencies, and many of the basic components necessary for terahertz communication don't exist yet.

 

09) Physicists discovered of new form of matter, excitonium:

Excitonium is a condensate—it exhibits macroscopic quantum phenomena, like a superconductor, or superfluid, or insulating electronic crystal. It’s made up of excitons, particles that are formed in a very strange quantum mechanical pairing, namely that of an escaped electron and the hole it left behind. It defies reason, but it turns out that when an electron, seated at the edge of a crowded-with-electrons valence band in a semiconductor, gets excited and jumps over the energy gap to the otherwise empty conduction band, it leaves behind a “hole” in the valence band. That hole behaves as though it were a particle with positive charge, and it attracts the escaped electron. When the escaped electron with its negative charge, pairs up with the hole, the two remarkably form a composite particle, a boson—an exciton. Professor of Physics Peter Abbamonte and graduate students Anshul Kogar and Mindy Rak, with input from colleagues at Illinois, University of California, Berkeley, and University of Amsterdam, have proven the existence of this enigmatic new form of matter, which has perplexed scientists since it was first theorized almost 50 years ago.

 

10) Cars That Could Make Electric Mainstream:    

Tesla Model 3: Electric cars typically have one of two problems: they’re either too expensive, or they have a too-limited range. Tesla’s Model 3 aims to render both issues moot: it’s the buzziest in a series of $35,000-and-up electric cars offering more than 200 miles of driving distance on a single charge (alongside the Chevrolet Bolt). Consumers are certainly intrigued: demand for the Model 3 is so high—as many as 1,800 orders each day, per company estimates—that Tesla is struggling to keep up. “We are deep in production hell,” Elon Musk, the company’s co-founder and CEO, tweeted in October. But Tesla remains confident it will catch up—which is good for its shareholders, and also the environment. Vehicles like the Model 3, which runs on batteries rather than gasoline, are likely to play a major role in combating climate change. 

 

11) Super-Sustainable Crops:

GreenWave 3D Ocean Farm:

The future of farming is growing oysters, mussels, clams and seaweed on ropes anchored to the ocean floor. So says Bren Smith, a commercial fisherman turned director of GreenWave, a Connecticut nonprofit doing just that. The concept isn’t as wild as it may seem. As land farming becomes increasingly problematic—it accounts for a growing portion of the planet’s greenhouse-gas emissions—and oceans get overfished, humans will need to develop alternative food sources. GreenWave’s crops offer compelling advantages: they’re protein-rich, self-sufficient (no fertilizer needed) and they even help combat climate change (by sequestering carbon as they grow). Of course, getting Westerners to center their diet on mollusks and seaweed is a stretch. Still, GreenWave sees potential: the group has helped fishermen establish 14 farms along the coast of New England since 2013, and now has plans to expand in California, the Pacific Northwest and Europe. 

12) Scientists saw the head-on collision of neutron stars:

Talk about a light show. About 130 million light-years away, two neutron stars collided in a fantastic display of science. In 2017, scientists caught the resulting gravitational waves and light show in the first detection of its kind.

13) Cassini took a finale dive into Saturn:

Cassini, one of the most ambitious efforts in planetary space exploration, bid its final farewell in September 2017. The 20-year-old spacecraft captured stunning images of Saturn and its moons before plunging to its demise, helping to transform what we knew about the Saturnian system.

14) Scientists uncovered a few incredibly well-preserved dinosaurs:

Who would've thought that 2017 would be so big for dinosaurs? A team at Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta, Canada brought us closer than ever to understanding our massive planetary ancestors by introducing us toZuul crurivastator. They discovered a "dinosaur mummy" that had guts, armor, and even some skin intact. Then, in December, scientists discovered a 100 million-year-old piece of amber encasing several preserved ticks, including one latched onto a dinosaur feather and another engorged with dinosaur blood. This is the oldest such preserved specimen of the parasite, and it showed that even dinos hated ticks. (Before you ask, no — there's almost no chance of going full Jurassic Park with the dino blood in its belly).

Now, we move to final one & it is none other than,

15) A Smarter Smartphone:

Apple iPhone X / $999: To Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering, the iPhone X is quite literally a dream come true. “I look at the design as something we really wanted to do since day one,”he says. It’s easy to see why: the X is arguably the world’s most sophisticated smartphone, with a screen that stretches from edge to edge, a processor optimized for augmented reality and a camera smart enough to allow users to unlock the phone with their face. (Though some of these features first arrived on devices from Samsung and LG.) But in order to make it all possible, Apple had to kill the home button, a popular all-purpose navigation tool. Much like the company’s move to nix the 3.5-mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7, this decision was driven by “looking to the future,” says Jonathan Ive, Apple’s chief design officer. “I actually think the path of holding onto features that have been effective, whatever the cost, is a path that leads to failure.” At $999, the X is also the most expensive iPhone yet. “As you would expect,” Ive says, “there’s a financial consequence to integrating the sheer amount of processing power into such a small device.” It’s easy to imagine a future iteration with a screen that wraps around the entire device, or a camera that can detect gestures. But for now, Ive and Riccio won’t divulge specific plans. “We have a clear vision” for the next generation of iPhones, says Ive. The X is “in some sense a completion of a chapter.”

 

 

?Note: Sources:1) Wikipedia, 2)TIME.COM, 3) Curiousity.com


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