As another year comes to a close it is time to look back and see what humanity accomplished. From visiting a comet to “neuromorphic” chips and a new game-changing treatment for diabetes patients, 2014 was an exciting year filled with radical breakthroughs that will impact our lives for years to come. Here now are some of what Science magazine considers to be the most significant achievements of our most recent spin around the sun!
Hello Earth, I’m on a comet!
The international mission to send a lander to a comet. As only the seventh place to be visited,67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has rekindled many people’s excitement about space exploration. The Rosetta mission not only opened a new door for comet research, but Philae, the name of its travelling companion and lander captured our heart through its first person twitter account. As it lay on its side, just before its batteries ran dry, its final tweet came out, “I’m feeling a bit tired, did you get all my data? I might take a nap.”
Researches took one step closer to finding the fountain of youth as they showed that blood from a young mouse rejuvenated an old mouse’s muscles and brain. The implications are obvious and far-reaching for anyone who would prefer to stay forever young.
Is that a brain in your pocket?
The world’s first large-scale “neuromorphic” chips started rolling off the presses this year. Traditional chips, that process data linearly, are not as efficient at the human brain at breaking down massive amounts of information, such as vision or hearing. These new chips process data in a similar way and adapt to input as they process data allowing them to tackle complex jobs with relative ease.
Stick it to the man!
For most sufferers or type 1 diabetes, daily injections of insulin are just part of the routine. The body’s immune system misfires and starts to attack the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. This year a team of researchers found a way to turn human stem cells into the functioning pancreatic cells, allowing the body to produce its own insulin and removing the need for painful and inconvenient injections.
The mother of cubeSats
With costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars, satellites have a lot of work to justify their price tag. Now with CubeSat, basically a big, orbiting cannon that shoots out 10-centimeter boxes, the cost of putting a satellite into space has dropped by nearly 99.9%! Not only that, but with satellites able to be built from off-the-shelf cell phone components a record breaking number of these minions have been launched and they are starting to have a serious impact in the scientific community.
ATGC…and sometimes X and Y
Every living thing in the world is the way it is because of its DNA. DNA is basically a recipe book that tells your body what proteins to make and how to put them all together and it is written with the same 4 letters: A, T, G, and C. Researchers have now successfully integrated two new letters into the DNA of some bacteria. These new letters will allow the bacteria to form new proteins and could serve as genetic markers to help medical researchers discover cures for diseases.
Noosphere Ventures applauds the hard work done by everyone who is working to make the world a better place. To find out what the next big thing for 2015 will be, keep reading our blog. We look forward to seeing what our next journey around the sun will bring us!