Ten most important scientific events of 2018

Ten most important scientific events of 2018
Ten most important scientific events of 2018

Science does not stand still, as evidenced by constant discoveries, new developments and technological solutions, each time raising the bar for new achievements.


Every year, scientists around the world make scientific breakthroughs that can improve life on Earth and change our perception of reality. Any event of this kind once again reminds us of what incredible things the human mind is capable of.

Breakthrough # 1: Reversing Aging in Mice

In a study published in March 2018 in the journal Cell, a Boston-based team of researchers led by Dr. David Sinclair announced the discovery of a way to reverse aging in mice. Aging in mammals is associated with the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) molecule required for survival. Over time, NAD levels naturally fall, leading to age-related disease. When Sinclair discovered the possibility of increasing NAD levels with nutritional supplementation in aged mice, the cells rejuvenated - and the subjects' overall health improved.

Ideally, Sinclair and his team hope to do the same experiment in humans. If the results match, scientists can develop a nutritional supplement that can slow down aging and reduce the likelihood of developing age-related diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's.

Breakthrough No. 2. Change in gene expression after being in space

Also in March 2018, NASA announced an amazing discovery during its twin study program. As it turns out, time spent in space can actually change the expression of some genes. Upon his return from space, Scott Kelly's DNA underwent some changes. NASA sent Scott Kelly into space and left his twin brother Mark Kelly on Earth. When Scott returned, scientists carefully studied his physiology. Scott's results were compared with those of Mark: for example, some changes in the expression of Scott's genes were found. Although gene expression changes during space flight are not uncommon, scientists estimate that about seven percent of the changes are permanent. The changes are thought to be due to a combination of oxygen deprivation, increased inflammation, and changes in nutrient intake.


Breakthrough No. 3. Laboratory creation of a sheep-human hybrid for growing human organs

On February 17, scientists announced the creation of sheep embryos, which are 0.01% human in terms of cell count. This was the second successful creation of a human-animal hybrid: in 2017, embryos were obtained from pig and human cells. The embryos did not develop after 28 days. Scientists hope that growing human-animal hybrids will help develop a method for growing human organs in the laboratory.

Breakthrough No. 4. Determination of the source of high-energy neutrinos

On July 12, scientists published a study describing how they managed to figure out the exact source of neutrinos, or "ghost particles." Neutrinos are subatomic, practically massless particles that have no charge. They are no larger than an electron and can travel through the Universe in a straight path without crashing into anything or interacting with other particles. In other words, they are difficult to register.

In September 2017, astronomers at the IceCube Observatory at the South Pole were able to detect high-energy neutrinos and determine their origin.It turned out that they were emitted by the blazar TXS 0506 +056 at 3.7 billion light years from Earth, in the direction of the constellation Orion.

Scientists believe that particles will help unravel many of the mysteries of space. The particle's ability to travel through space makes it easy to understand phenomena billions of light years from Earth. Also, neutrinos can help scientists uncover the secrets of the past of the Universe - for example, why there was more matter after the Big Bang than antimatter. Some believe that it could even turn fundamental ideas about physics upside down.

Breakthrough # 5. DNA nanobot capable of killing cancer cells

In February 2018, scientists announced a major breakthrough in the development of nanobots to track down and destroy cancer cells. In tests in mice that were injected with human cancer cells, robots were able to find the cells and cut them off from the blood source, causing them to dry out and die. No harm was done to other cells or parts of the body.

In essence, the treatment stopped the growth of the tumor completely. Scientists hope that nanobots will eventually help in the treatment of cancer patients.


Breakthrough No. 6. Detection of liquid water on Mars

Scientists have spent decades trying to find signs of liquid water on Mars. Despite the fact that the topography of the Red Planet and underground ice deposits hint at an aquatic past, scientists were unable to detect traces of liquid water until July 2018.

On July 25, the Italian Space Agency (ASI) announced that researchers using the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding Instrument (MARSIS) have found an underground lake on Mars - about 20 kilometers wide, at a depth of one and a half kilometers.

Breakthrough # 7. Successful Monkey Cloning in China

While sheep, pigs, mice, cats, dogs and cows have been successfully cloned in the past, primate cloning has historically been a major challenge for scientists. On January 24, 2018, the Shanghai Institute of Neuroscience announced the successful cloning of two monkeys named Huahua and Zhongzhong.

Scientists have applied the method by which the world-famous Dolly the sheep was cloned. They hope to use monkey clones to study human diseases.


Breakthrough number 8. The oldest cave painting

This September, researchers reported the discovery of the oldest drawing ever created by Homo sapiens. Archaeologists have found a stone scale with nine red lines in a cave in South Africa. They came to the conclusion that this object is about 73 thousand years old, that is, it is 30 thousand years older than all previously found drawings. Archaeologists believe that this image will help to learn about how people used symbols that eventually led to the formation of language and even civilization.

The drawing was found in Blombos Cave, 300 kilometers east of Cape Town. Scientists have also found teeth, spear points, shell beads, and tools made from bones. They are not entirely sure what the lines were drawn for, but they are sure that they were drawn on purpose.

Breakthrough No. 9. Successful landing of the InSight module on Mars

InSight traveled to the Red Planet on May 5, 2018 from Vanderberg Air Force Base in California. The launch of this module was the first interplanetary mission launched from the West Coast of the United States. InSight took off on an Atlas V rocket along with the MarCO-A and MarCO-B cubesats that accompanied the module for the next 6, 5 months.

On November 26, the probe landed on the Martian surface. This was the first successful landing on Mars since August 2012, when the Curiosity rover arrived on the Red Planet.

For the next two Earth years, InSight will probe the surface and interior of the Red Planet. To do this, the module uses two main scientific instruments: a heat probe, which will plunge five meters into the Martian crust, and a set of three incredibly accurate seismometers that will track "Marsquakes", meteorite falls and other phenomena.


Breakthrough # 10.Voyager 2 enters interstellar space

The Voyager 2 spacecraft, which began its mission back in 1977, has been exploring the solar system for four decades. He became the only probe to study Neptune and Uranus during planetary flyby. Upon completion of its planetary mission, the device flew to the edge of the solar system.

On December 10, NASA reported that Voyager 2 entered interstellar space on November 5, becoming the second human-made device to leave the solar system. The first interstellar traveler was Voyager 1, which left the heliosphere in August 2012.

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