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Ten scientific breakthroughs of 2017
Material posted : Administrator Publication date: 01-01-2018

Awarded the Nobel prize for the LIGO detector 70 and other telescopes through collaboration managed for the first time to fix, as it joined together two neutron stars. According to Science, this is the most significant scientific breakthrough of 2017.

The top ten also included a previously unknown cousin, new means of treatment of serious diseases, a new way of repairing genes and information about a much more ancient origin of our species.

1. The collision of neutron stars

The LIGO detector again showed that in astronomy began a completely new era. August 17 this year, he has registered the strongest signal in history, going from two neutron stars, which are melted together in a galaxy located at a distance of 130 million light years from us.

The LIGO detector and last year took first place in the list of the greatest scientific breakthroughs, and this year's Nobel prize in physics Rainer Weiss (Rainer Weiss), Barry Berisha (Barry Barish) and a Pile Thorne (Kip Thorne) for their work with him.

© AP Photo, Andrew Harnik. American physicist and astronomer Kip Thorne

But the event on August 17 is worthy of more first place. Previously registered LIGO gravitational waves coming from four collisions of black holes. This time astronomers first saw the clash of two luminous stars that can lock and a normal telescope, and immediately sent a message to his colleagues around the world: the starry sky is something interesting happening.

LIGO and the European gravitational wave detector Virgo, and 70 different telescopes, watched the deadly dance of two neutron stars and cascades of light, of gold, platinum and other heavy elements that they face out in space.

Neutron stars are very dense, they are like giant atomic nucleus with a diameter of 10 kilometers and can weigh one and a half times greater than the Sun. Now astronomers for the first time got the opportunity to test their theories about how during their collisions formed heavy elements.

Gravitational waves, as measured by LIGO and Virgo, is only a small ripple in space, consisting of heavy celestial bodies. the Ability to measure gives them access to entirely new knowledge, as if we connect the sound to a silent film about a Symphony orchestra. 17 August first the sound from the LIGO and Virgo were combined with the pattern obtained in other observatories, and we could hear the first piece of the entire concert of the universe.

2. New APE family

This year we have a new cousin — a previously unknown orangutan living in the North of Sumatra. Up to this point to apes counted six species: chimpanzees, bonobos, two gorillas, and klemantaski orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) on Borneo and Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) in Sumatra. A new species, which was named tapolsky orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis), lives on the other side of lake Toba, just a hundred kilometers from Sumarokovo orangutan, and differs from it genetically, and behavior. Apparently, it is the oldest of the three types. In nature there are only 800 of this species and their existence threatened by the planned construction of the dam.

© AP Photo Bullit Marquez. An orangutan named Pacquiao with the owner of the zoo "Malabon" in Manila, Philippines

3. Filmed life at the atomic level

What the top ten Science became a breakthrough, rewarded this year by the Nobel Committee, very unusual. Usually the Committee goes on much longer. But this year in the top ten — not only the event, awarded the Nobel prize in physics, but cryoelectronic microscope, the basis for which was laid by the prize laureates in chemistry. Thanks to this technology scientists can up to atomic level to explore the molecules of cells, indistinguishable in any microscope, and even create films of these individual moments to show how molecules move and interact.

4. Biologists share their articles

For physicists are biologists who have found a way to share unpublished scientific articles. Subscribe to scientific publications the road, besides a lot of time before the results get there. For works in physics, mathematics and astronomy from 1991, there is a database arXiv. There, everyone can quickly access the results and to give constructive criticism before the author sent the article for official review in scientific publication. This year gained momentum the project accounting database for biologists, called bioRxiv.

5. To fix the gene

Known to 60 thousand genetic variations associated with human diseases. Almost 35 thousand of them are explained by a single error in a single composite unit of the genetic code A, C, G and T. the Genetic scissors Crispr, won first place in the ranking of Science 2015, can cut and isolate the gene, but much less suited to replace a single "letter" of the genetic code. Scientists at Harvard University have created a new tool that allows a chemical way to turn incorrect C in T, then the erroneous G in A. the Group of scientists from the broad Institute were able to do the same with the "cousin" of the DNA molecule — RNA.

6. Treatment not depending on where the cancer is hiding

In may, the US has approved the cancer drug pembrolizumab (which is sold under the name "Keytruda"). It would seem, is not so remarkable. The drug was already approved for the treatment of, e.g. malignant melanoma. But now it can be used for all forms of cancer, if patients do not work correctly, the mechanisms which correct errors when copying our DNA. 86 critically ill patients with 12 different types of cancer have received treatment ambrosianeum, and more than half of these tumors has decreased. These data may lead to new strategies against cancer.

7. The Earth's atmosphere 2.7 million years ago

In the ice of Antarctica has bubbles, which preserved the air of the past. Scientists have managed to drill the ice ages 2.7 million years of age: 1.7 million years older than the previous record. Ice refers to the period when the fluctuations between glacial periods and warming had only just begun and the first tests show that the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere then was much lower than today. Now scientists want to drill the ice age five million years from the time when the amount of greenhouse gases was about the same as it is today.

© AP Photo, John Weller. Emperor penguin on a drifting ice floe in Antarctica

8. Homo sapiens is older than we thought

This year has changed ideas about the place and time of the appearance of our species. Until now, the oldest fossils that belong to the Homo sapiens, were the remains of Ethiopia by age 200 thousand years, but our ancestors seem to have already existed 300 thousand years ago the territory of present Morocco. This is evidenced by the skulls and tools found in the cave of Jebel Irhoud a hundred kilometers to the West of Marrakech. The miners found there a skull in 1961, but until the anthropologist Jean-Jacques Yublen (Jean-Jacques Hublin) is not conducted new excavations, it was believed that this skull is younger and belongs to the African Neanderthal.

9. Breakthrough in gene therapy

Atrophy of the spinal cord is a devastating disease. Children with the most severe form of the first type often die before the age of two years. Muscle function is gradually fading, and as a result, children lose the ability to breathe independently. But now there was hope. Of the 12 children treated with high-dose gene therapy, all but one was able to eat, sit and talk. The two began to walk.

And it was not only a breakthrough in gene therapy for the year. For example, one boy got a new skin and also approved two options for the treatment of blood cancer optimizing your own immune cells patients.

10. A small neutrino detector

Neutrino is a small, uncharged particle, which weighs less than a millionth of an electron and can pass freely through the Earth. Therefore, it is very difficult to study. Still required huge detectors like "Super-Kamiokande" (Super-Kamiokande) — a giant steel tank with 50 thousand tons of ultrapure water in a mine in Japan, or Ice cube (IceCube), in which to study these particles are used cubic kilometers of Antarctic ice. This year, scientists were able to see neutrinos with a completely new type of detector, which is mobile and weighs just over 14 pounds.

© Emanuel Jacobi of the National Science Foundation. Neutrino Observatory IceCube is located in the neighborhood of the South pole in Antarctica. Archive photo

Scientific fiasco of the year

Even before Donald trump took over as President of the United States, many scholars have expressed great concern about its relationship to science. And it was no exaggeration. For the first year in power trump including decided that the US should withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, made inimical to science individuals leaders, for example, the Department of the environment, and cut allocated to science. In addition, he has not appointed any adviser on science. But it also led to the fact that scientists around the world took to the Marsh in defense of science, which has never happened before.

The other fiasco is the refusal of the attempts to save from extinction the vaquita (a type of toothed whales — approx. transl.)and information on sexual harassment in the scientific community.

Maria Gunther (Gunther Maria), Amina Manzoor (Manzoor Amina)


Tags: science , space

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