Our Progress This Year With Scientific Discoveries…
Science and technology relies on our curiosity. They stand as an ever-growing endeavor for knowledge. We continually learn, study and discover new things, year after year, at each academic step. This year, 2016, maintains this trend with some of the latest top scientific discoveries. Most of the biggest stuff this year brings about a particular focus on proportions and scales of the stellar kind.
So, here are the best discoveries in science and technology of 2016:
- Unravelling the ancient protein that kickstarted evolution
Life started at the microscopic scale. Multicellular development represents one of the most important milestones of Earth’s history… There one thing that started it all. Introducing the guanylate kinase protein interaction domain (GK-PID). This protein-based foundation acted as a “molecular carabiner.” It allows the assimilation of two different partner molecules. Discovered earlier this 2016, it encourages the combination of adjacent cells during our planet’s primordial era, eventually forming the first multicellular organisms.
- Introducing the hero to our weight gain nightmares
Our human body stores any energy it doesn’t use as fat. This well known fact illustrates the very reason why carbs are so much vilified upon in most fad diets. Enter the ‘detox enzyme’ glycerol 3-phosphate phosphatase (G3PP). It’s an enzyme preventing sugar from being stored as fat by freeing excess sugar from body cells. Don’t binge-eat those cupcakes yet though. Montreal University says that it’s actually more important to diabetes than for obesity.
- Super bacteria meets super nanoparticle
Our scare about super antibiotic-resistant bacteria looms nearer and nearer. False medical practices provides the reason for blame. Our way of treating antibiotics like normal food definitely doesn’t help either. There exists hope on the horizon though… The University of Colorado Boulder has developed a light-activated nanoparticle. It is capable of fighting already antibiotic-resistant bacteria, giving us new survival options to our ever evolving microscopic foes.
- Ultra thin, super efficient, highly affordable solar power
Solar power, ridiculed often for its very high investment costs, because it requires ROI periods of decades just to break even stand still as a viable opportunity for a better future. Thankfully, initiatives such as SolarCity are here to the rescue. The need for a technological breakthrough has now been met. It turns out that pervoskite solar cells are our nearest-term solution. Achieving top efficiency of 22.1% as of 2016, solar cells of this type will now be generally easy to manufacture. They can now provide ever evolving efficiency rates at relatively lower production costs.
- Eistein is proven right, once again
Gravitational waves are a phenomenon in general relativity predicted by Albert Einstein in the mid 20th century. After decades of speculation, it was finally directly observed… The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) on two separate occasions. The first one last February, and the second one last June. It made scientific headlines the world over, proving once again that Einstein was spot on with his mathematical equations and observations about our known universe.
- Reach for the stars, shoot for the stars
Interstellar distances are typically perceived as too great to be traversed in our lifetime using current technologies. Breakthrough Starshot is set to prove all of this wrong. Officially announced last August, this ambitious project will send a lightsail-based spacecraft zooming towards Proxima Centauri at 20% and 15% the speed of light. Will this be the first real life Avatar? We have at least two decades to find out.
- Alien megastructures on another star system?
KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby’s star, the subject of a very hot and controversial online debate amongst astronomy enthusiasts around the globe continues. Situated around 1,480 light years away from Earth, it presented electromagnetic anomalies suggest the possibility that some sort of gigantic artificial structure is orbiting the star. Type 2 civilization aliens? Experts say most likely not, and they have a reason to stay skeptical, but it has captured the imaginations of sci-fi nerds the world over.
- Improbable drive may not be improbable after all
The EmDrive, a space propulsion concept introduced in 2006 makes its come back. It presented the use of bouncing microwaves inside an enclosed tapered cylinder cavity to produce thrust as a possibility. Although promptly dismissed by the scientific community, due to the apparent violation of the law of conservation of momentum it reappears this year as a potentially viable option. NASA will be submitting an official research assessment on its viability as the next-generation space propulsion system this coming December.
- Commercial space adventures prove vertical booster landing
Rocket reusability… a concept that shelved for many decades since government space programs became tepid during the late 20th century. Commercial enterprises like SpaceX and Blue Origin plan on making full use of the technology. These can cut launch costs down to just a tenth of what used to be a gigantic space budget. Seeing one actually land after launch represents a spectacle in its own right, and stands as something that any space enthusiast must see to believe.
- Mars is about to get its first human visitor in eight years
In a spectacular announcement last IAC 2016, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveiled his plans to conquer the red planet. This within a timeline and scale that dwarfs even the most ambitious of NASA’s of the former Soviet Union’s space programs combined. Officially named as the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS), it is a gargantuan 500,000 kg payload vehicle that will serve as the spearhead of Mars colonization. Development starts as early as 2019, and after its first successful maiden voyage in 2024, we’re expected to see more of these ships flying back and forth to Earth and Mars with each passing (Hohmann transfer) launch window thereafter.