to Bring Us into the Future
Everyone has been there. You hear or read a news story about one of the latest breakthroughs in science and think how are researchers doing this? Sometimes you even think why researchers are doing this. Maybe you want to know more about these breakthroughs. How they work, and how will they affect you.
Read on for information about some of the biggest current and forthcoming scientific breakthroughs, including some of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of the 21st century.
Current Scientific Breakthroughs
There have been many breakthroughs in scientific research in the last decade. Here are some of the most recent scientific breakthroughs.
Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of spacetime caused by the motion of massive objects. They were first predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916.
Although any object with mass produces gravitational waves when it moves, most are incredibly small. It takes very massive objects like black holes or neutron stars to produce waves that we can measure.
When two black holes or neutron stars orbit and collapse into each other, they send out waves in all directions. These waves can be detected as they pass through the Earth using a device called a Michelson interferometer.
Nearly a century after they were predicted, the LIGO collaboration finally detected gravitational waves in 2015. They have since detected many more, from both black hole and neutron star sources.
The Higgs boson is a subatomic particle and the last piece of the puzzle for the standard model of particle physics. It is a fundamental particle that gives mass to all the other particles.
The standard model encompasses three of the four fundamental forces in the universe. It brings us closer to a unified understanding of how the universe works.
In 1964, Peter Higgs, among others, predicted the existence of the Higgs boson to complete the standard model. It wasn’t until 2012 that researches at the CERN collaboration finally discovered the particle.
Ribosomal ribonucleic acid, or rRNA, is a type of nucleic acid responsible for making proteins. Similar to how DNA carries the genetic instructions for animal cells, RNA carries the instructions for cells of other biological entities, such as viruses.
In addition to DNA, humans also have small fragments of RNA that are important for our health. Recent discoveries in rRNA fragments (rRFs) analysis show that this RNA appears in different amounts for different racial and gender groups.
These RNA fragments also appear different for diseased cells, so they may have a use in detecting disease in the future.
Gene editing refers to changing parts of an organism’s genetic code to cause a predicted outcome. It is different from many other methods of genetic modification because it targets a specific part of the genome of an organism.
CRISPR is a technology that uses the Cas9 nuclease to target part of an organism’s DNA, open the strand, and modify it. It has many applications, including the possible detection and treatment of genetic disorders, including cancer.
Some research has been done on modifying the human genome with CRISPR. However, much more research is needed to determine the ethics and efficacy of its wider use and potential adverse effects.
Future Scientific Breakthroughs
In addition to breakthroughs of the past decade, many new scientific breakthroughs are expected to happen in the upcoming years. Here are some of the biggest and some of the most controversial.
Universal Flu Vaccine
The influenza virus has been around for centuries, but scientists have only developed a vaccine for it in the last 100 years.
Since the virus can mutate and there are several different strains of it, we need to get a new vaccine every year to protect against the current strains and mutations.
Even though some parts of the virus mutate every year, other parts remain the same. It is these parts that scientists can target to develop a universal vaccine.
Human trials for a new potential universal vaccine are currently in testing, giving hope to the idea that a universal flu vaccine will become widely available in the next few years.
In 1997, most of the world was shocked to hear about the first live birth of a cloned mammal, a sheep named Dolly. Since then, genetic cloning has caused widespread controversy.
Several research groups have claimed to have successfully cloned a human, but all have been fraudulent. In 2013, however, researchers successfully cloned human embryos and developed stem cells from them. These cloned embryos never developed into humans, so they were never birthed. However, clones of monkeys were developed and born several years later, in 2018.
Earlier this year, a group of researchers made progress in cloning a woolly mammoth. They implanted active cell nuclei from a woolly mammoth into a mouse.
Although the ethics of cloning, especially in humans, is still under much scrutiny, it is still an active area of research with many potential applications for the future.
Quantum computing is the use of the principles of quantum mechanics to solve problems in computer science or computer engineering. It has many powerful prospects, especially in the realm of cryptography.
Quantum mechanics differs from the rest of physics in that it is based on probability. Imagine you flip a coin. Normally, when it lands it will either be heads or tails. In quantum mechanics, however, it will be in a combination of both. This may seem counterintuitive, but it has been confirmed with decades of experimentation. It is also incredibly useful when applied to computation.
Because of the nature of quantum mechanics, quantum computers can quickly solve problems that would take years to solve on a classical computer. For instance, most modern encryption uses integer factorization to secure information because classical computers are unable to solve them for very large numbers.
Quantum computers, on the other hand, can solve these problems easily, but they also offer even more ways to encrypt data. Even though some quantum computers exist today, they are not commercially available. It is reasonable to expect their widespread use in the coming years.
Connecting the Brain
Earlier this year, Elon Musk announced progress on a device, called Neuralink, that would connect a human brain to a computer. The medical industry has been using implants to control muscles in patients for several years.
However, this new development is the first to connect to a computer system. At first, it will only be used in the most important medical situations, but Musk has expressed interest in eventually making it available for the general consumer.
These are just a few of the most important scientific breakthroughs of the last decade and some of what to expect for the next decade, feel free to do some research and explore deeper into these topics.