12 science stories that matter
1. STEM CELLS
Experimental genetically modified fast-ageing mice were injected with stem cells and found to live longer. In Sweden, surgeons reported having implanted a patient with a vein grown from the patient’s own stem cells. A kidney like organ was grown in a lab in Italy and shown to work for animals.
2. QUANTUM COMPUTERS
Austrian researchers developed a quantum computer capable of performing calculations without revealing any of the data involved. This would help in cryptography. Later IBM demonstrated a qubit microchip which could hold the data for a long time. Researchers also developed a power crystal quantum computer with 300 atoms.
American researchers “cloak” a three dimensional object making it invisible to some parts of the electromagnetic spectrum in the microwave region.
4. 3D PRINTER
Now under construction are 3D printers– Dutch doctors fit a jaw that was made with a 3D printer on to an 83-year old woman. The D-Shape Robotic Building System constructed a full-sized house. American engineers have built a 3D printer which can make tools out of lunar or Martian rock.
5. HIGGS BOSON
A longstanding search for a fundamental particle called the Higgs boson arrived at a climax. Scientists at CERN cautiously announced the experimental discovery of a Higgs-like boson. It was theoretically predicted nearly fifty years ago.
6. DISCOVERY OF MAJORANA FERMION
Dutch scientists report sighting of the Majorana particle which was theoretically predicted in the 1930s by the Italian scientist Ettore Majorana. This is important because the particle is its own antiparticle (unlike the electron whose antiparticle is the positron).
Significant advances were made in HIV/AIDS research. First, U.S. researchers announced a possible cure using a drug used in cancer treatment. Canadian researchers made significant progress towards an AIDS vaccine. Their trials showed a boosting of immunity levels and no adverse effects.
In the early part of the year there was bad news for malaria research, in that a new drug-resistant strain was reported in the Thai-Cambodian border. But later, as if to balance it, came the claim from South African researchers that they have a breakthrough drug that cures all strains of malaria.
Neutrinos were in the news throughout the year. First, because a team mistakenly reported that they could show neutrinos travelled faster than light.
This was later disproved.
There was another group that sent a neutrino “message” through 780 feet of rock.
Though this is in the nascent stages, it could develop into technology for interstellar communication, given how weakly neutrinos interact.
Astronomers discovered the first rectangle-shaped galaxy LEDA 074886.
Robotics has advanced to a great degree. A paralysed woman used a bionic mobility suit to run a marathon – The London Marathon – in 16 days. Whereas the London Symphony Orchestra performed the music composed by the Lamus computer without human intervention. Playing games is not easy for a robot, but University of Bonn scientists developed a soccer playing robot.
12. SPACE SCIENCE
NASA rover landed in Mars, the landing place was named 'Bradbury Landing' after the famous science fiction writer Ray Bradbury.
The International Space Station (ISS) was in the news too, because the first unmanned commercial spacecraft Dragon X made contact with ISS.