Look Back 2016 Science

Look Back

Scientific Developments In 2016 Which Will Shape Our Future; Know About Them

Spandan Mondal

January 2nd, 2017


Detection of Gravitational Waves: On 11th February, scientists from the LIGO collaboration announced the first detection of gravitational waves. Gravitational waves are extremely small distortions of space-time that were previously impossible to detect. Often referred to as the “century’s biggest discovery”, this detection confirms a major prediction of the General Theory of Relativity (1915), exactly a century after Gravitational waves were first predicted by Albert Einstein.

Image Courtesy: scientificamerican

T-cells for Cancer Treatment: On February 15, scientists reported “unprecedented” success using T-cells to treat blood cancer. In one trial, 94 percent of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia saw their symptoms disappear entirely, and response rates were above 80% for other types of blood cancer. The treatment involves reprogramming the patient’s immune cells (T-cells) to attack tumours.

Image Courtesy: netdna

New Quantum-state of Matter Discovered: On April 4th, a group of researchers from Tennessee, USA, observed characteristic features matching a quantum spin liquid in a graphene-like magnetic material, RuCl3. The material was observed to host curious magnetic quasiparticles called Majorana fermions which are their antiparticles. It is a step forward in material science and is expected to foster quantum computation

Image Courtesy: nature

First Sea landing of Rocket: On April 8, a private spaceflight company SpaceX successfully landed the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket on a floating drone ship for the first time. Sea landing of rockets have numerous advantages over earth-landing and is believed to be crucial for mankind’s future space explorations.

Image Courtesy: space

ISRO’s Reusable Launch Vehicle: On May 23, the Indian Space Research Organisation successfully tested the world’s first unmanned flying testbed named the RLV-TD. This demonstrative craft is a prototype of a reusable launch vehicle that is capable of sending a spacecraft into orbit and then returning to the earth’s surface. This is the first step towards realising a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) reusable launch vehicle, which when fully developed will result in a ten-fold reduction in the cost of launching satellites.

Image Courtesy: isro

Capturing CO2 underground: In June, a team of scientists from Iceland successfully demonstrated that carbon dioxide emissions could be pumped underground and altered chemically to form solid carbonate. The new process takes only a few months and is believed to be a quick and efficient method. In their experiment, between 95 and 98 percent of the injected CO2 was mineralised over the period of less than two years.

Improved Survival rates for Pancreatic Cancer: For the first time in a decade, a new combination of chemotherapy drugs has been discovered that vastly improves pancreatic cancer survival rates. On June 3, scientists presented results of a trial that demonstrated that long-term survival could be increased from 16% to 29% of patients, at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual conference in Chicago.

Solar-powered aircraft: On 26th July, Solar Impulse 2 became the first solar-powered aircraft to circumnavigate the Earth. Although the mission had begun in March 2015, the aircraft’s battery sustained severe thermal damage that took months to repair. Finally, the Swiss aircraft was able to successfully complete one round around the globe.

Image Courtesy: lynceans

Carbon Nanotube Transistors: On 2nd September, University of Wisconsin-Madison materials engineers reported the creation of carbon nanotube transistors that outperform silicon transistors. These carbon nanotube transistors achieved currents that are 1.9 times higher than silicon transistors – a dream of nanotechnology for the last 20 years. Practical applications include longer battery life, faster wireless communication and faster processing speeds for smartphones and laptops.

Image Courtesy: goldandblack

Lab-grown Lungs: On 8th November, researchers at the University of Michigan reported having transplanted lab-grown lungs into mice where the structures were able to survive, grow and mature. In just eight weeks, these mini-lungs grown from stem cells grew into mature tissues that had impressive tube-shaped airway structures similar to the adult lung airways. This could serve as a tool to study lung diseases in humans.

Image Courtesy: Discover Magazine


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