Science Discoveries That Changed Our World
Our world changes through science and culture. As time goes on, we learn things about ourselves and our world that can push us to bigger and better places.
The last 100 years have seen this accelerate to unseen paces.
We outline some of the most incredible scientific discoveries that are changing our planet for the better. In a few years from now, Earth might be unrecognizable – but progress always improves our lives for the better.
Let’s take a look at some of these discoveries.
The World’s Oldest Painting
In 2014, explorers came across a piece of artwork in the Sulawesi cave in Indonesia. At first, they believed it was around 35,000 years old. However, after additional testing and examinations, they deduced it was actually closer to 39,900 years old!
That difference was significant. This jump now makes it the second-oldest art structure in the world. The only other piece of art comes to around 41,000 years old in Spain. To date, no one is quite sure who painted the picture or what it means.
We’ve had decades of experience when it comes to transplanting hearts, livers, or kidneys. However, science has taken another leap in recent years and seen us transplant entire faces from one donor to one recipient.
The first successful face transplant took place in 2010 in Spain. In total, 30 doctors spent 24 hours performing the procedure which was ultimately deemed a success. However, there are still ethical questions about using someone else’s face for cosmetic reasons – at least for now.
Until now, we assumed that life only existed on Earth. Well, it seems like that might change in the next few decades as we explore more planets. NASA discovered TRAPPIST-1 – a solar system with seven planets that orbit their own special star.
What’s unique about this is how they seem to be located in what’s called ‘the Goldilocks Zone’. This means that they seem to carry some of the same properties that make Earth habitable. Who knows – maybe one day we will be able to travel there and see it for ourselves…?
Humans and Pigs Can Coexist!
We’ve briefly touched on how science has helped people with their organ transplants. However, there are still more than 114,000 patients in the USA who are on some kind of waiting list when waiting for a new organ.
Well, scientists have discovered how to merge humans and pigs together by using their organs as replacements. It’s not as weird as it sounds: we actually share a lot of our DNA with the animal and so it is fairly compatible with our bodies. Pig heart, anyone?
There’s a form of hereditary blindness called Leber congenital amaurosis. It affects newborns or toddlers and can be destructive – until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) got involved! They found a way to help more than 13 out of 20 blind people – here’s how.
There is a therapy called Luxturna, which involves injecting a virus into the eye of the patient. As the eye fights against the virus, it also restores the blindness through promoting healthy proteins. After only a month, many people noticed improvements in their eyesight.
Computers That Think Like Humans
We’ve been edging toward this for a while now, and it seems like we might be approaching the era where computers and humans will become more similar than ever before. In 2014, scientists found that a computer chip could contain more than 5.4 billion transistors on the size of a postal stamp.
This is significant because it was just enough for the chip to mimic awareness and memory abilities similar to human brains. It could communicate with other people and even understand where it was. Spooky!
Accidentally Creating Doomsday
Not all science is good science! In 2011, researchers from the Netherlands created a virus that they admitted could cause a universal epidemic of bird flu. Initially, they wanted to share the information with the necessary people so that we knew how to best prepare and react to it.
However, the US government put a stop to it and begged the researchers to keep their findings a secret. In their attempt to create a vaccine, they accidentally made something more dangerous. Imagine if bioterrorists got their hands on it?
No more Captain Hook! Pierpaolo Petruzziello once lost his arm in a car crash, but his life would change for the better in 2009. Scientists had found a way to successfully attach a robotic arm that was made with biomechanical technology.
What does that mean? Well, simply put it means that Pierpaolo could now control his arm using his own mind. There are countless benefits to this for those who are living with inanimate prosthetic limbs on their bodies.
We Almost All Died. Seriously.
In July 2019, the science community almost froze in their tracks when they looked through their telescopes. Researchers saw that there was an asteroid coming straight towards Earth! At the time, they thought there were only a few days before having a direct impact with Earth. What would happen?
Well, it turned out that nothing would happen. The asteroid, named Asteroid 2019, missed Earth by around 43,500 miles. That might sound like a lot, but space is pretty large it was a relatively close call.
Robots Inspired By Termites
When it comes to building infrastructure, you probably imagine men at work with hard hats and machines. Well, that might be about to change! Developers at Harvard University have created new autonomous robots that can operate and build on their own.
This will reduce costs and improve safety for all new projects, making them all more effective in the future. The robots work together to navigate the climate and environment to complete the tasks as quickly and carefully as possible.
Of course, any time something is invented for good it can be weaponized for the bad. Well, we can see that here with these special robotic insects. Are you surprised to know that governments around the world are working on tools like this?
The USA, China, and Russia have all invested billions of dollars in research into nano-weapons. Think of the consequences: they could poison towns and villages, drill into heads of citizens, or gas entire communities. Basically, they could destroy humanity as we know it.
Expanding Stem Cell Research
Stem cell research has been around for a few decades but has often hit political and ethical roadblocks. Stem cells are unspecialized cells that can turn into anything if placed in the right part of the body at the right time.
This means that they could be used to grow more organs, repair nerve damage, or remove diseases. While the research has occasionally been stifled, it is speeding up again and ready to transform how we cure people young and old.
The Latest Continuent
We all think there are only seven continents. Well, science might have a different answer – depending on what you believe. The story of Atlantis and the hidden underwater city is a myth, but it IS based on real scientific facts and evidence.
About 50-60 million years ago, there was a whole part of Australia that broke away from the mainland and sank to the bottom of the ocean. Today, scientists have called this part of the region Zealandia. It rests entirely underwater beneath New Zealand.
Rockets To Reuse
You’ve probably heard of Elon Musk and his efforts to transform space travel through his company, SpaceX. In 2018, he launched a rocket into the solar system which is still going strong today – but what is it doing?
Well, one of their major projects at the company is the concept of reusable rockets. This means that astronauts can save millions of dollars by safely landing rockets into the sea after take-off to use on more spaceships. He aims for each rocket to be used at least 10 times.
Real World Kryptonite
Who needs to fly to Krypton when we have our own Kryptonite on Earth? Ok, so it isn’t actually the Superman-repellent we read about in the comics, but it’s pretty close! Explorers in Serbia found this bizarre crystal in Serbia and couldn’t work out what it was so they sent it to a mineral specialist.
He deduced that it was sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide. While he couldn’t find anything similar to it in his research, he realized it DID match the same qualities as mentioned in the famous DC comic book.
Supermassive Black Hole
If you thought our sun was big, then you might want to think again! Scientists recently discovered the notable SDSS J0100+2802. This catchy name was given to the biggest and brightest black hole ever discovered. How big is big?
Well, it turns out that the black hole is 12 billion times bigger than our sun. In fact, it’s as bright as 420 trillion of our suns. These are numbers we can’t even fathom in our heads! While scientists are still learning more about the hole, no one knows how it grew as big as it is.
Think all jobs are safe from automation? With these robotic doctors, you can say goodbye to bedside manner and hello to round-the-clock care and attention. All over the healthcare industry, we are seeing more robots assist doctors in diagnoses and procedures.
One robot, the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR), has already made waves among the medical community due to its ability to help stitch up pig tissue unassisted. It won’t be long until humans are incorporated into the process, too!
This might feel like an episode of Black Mirror, but it’s here in today’s world. Technology company Three Square Market found a way to microchip its employees back in 2017. Inserted in the flesh between the thumb and forefinger, it was a way to open doors, sign into computers, and buy from the kitchen.
While these started off to be fairly innocent, it’s easy to see how these can progress into GPS tracking devices used to spy on people or harass them.
Water on Mars
Some said it was impossible. Well, science has proven those haters wrong. In 2018, people discovered that there was actually frozen water on the red planet after decades of looking for life off Earth.
Analyzed by radar instruments, the frozen lake had many of the same similarities as Earth has. While it doesn’t explicitly point to signs of life on Mars, it certainly raises questions about our solar system. In a few years, we might know if we are alone or not.
3D Printing Human Skin
3D printers have been around for a few years, but most of the products aren’t human flesh! You might be wondering what the point of 3D printing skin is, but scientific developments might mean it could save lives.
It’s more effective and less painful than skin grafts, and can even help people like soldiers who are hurt in war. Currently, scientists are only capable of performing the procedure on pig skin. But who knows when science can develop and help humans?
Our Own ‘Evil’ Twin?
It’s like something straight out of a sci-fi film. When Yamini Karanam started behaving weirdly, she consulted a doctor. Over time, Karanam had difficulty understanding basic instructions, she was sleeping more, and couldn’t communicate with her friends. What was happening?
Doctors found a tumor in her brain – but this wasn’t any old tumor. It contained some strains of hair, small teeth, and some bones. It turns out that Karanam had engulfed her twin while in the womb. Today, she refers to her tumor as her ‘evil’ twin.
Science Found A New Organ?
Ok, so it’s not like we’ve discovered a new heart or lung. However, in 2018 scientists from New York University’s School of Medicine found a brand new organ in the human body. They called it the interstitium, and here’s what it does:
According to the doctors, the interstitium is a system of tissues that are found all across the body. They effectively hold all of our organs in place, such as the lungs, digestive tracts, and the veins. It might help us understand how diseases are spread over the body.
We’ve all custom-designed some artwork or clothes over our lives, but what about our own children? We’re getting closer to being able to genetically modify our own children through DNA-altering technology.
In 2018, Chinese scientists ‘created’ two babies who had had their genetics altered in the womb. The repercussions of this can be wide and far-reaching: battles with the disease can be fought and won, but biases and prejudices can also be enhanced. Do you think this is playing God?
Teleportation Is Almost Here
It might not look like we’re close to accomplishing this, but that’s only because you’re not paying attention! Chinese scientists have successfully teleported the first object into space from Earth. But how?
It wasn’t exactly a human in a red beam like in the shows. Instead, science allowed them to teleport photons to a satellite that was orbiting our planet. Out of the millions of photons they teleported, 911 of them were successful. So, we’re not quite ready to test it on ourselves just yet!
Nanomachine Drug Dealers
Don’t worry – these machines won’t be flying college dorm rooms! In fact, these tiny machines can be injected into human bodies and can ‘swim’ around searching for organs in need of medicine.
When spotting a part of the body that is in need of repair, these nanomachines can administrate. Their own dose of antibiotics. Pretty soon, our bodies will have these things injected into them and help us heal much quicker than ever before. Welcome to the future!
Our Bodies Will Cure Our Own Cancer
Cancer is one of the biggest killers yet to be eradicated by the medical community. While a cure for the disease has always been considered the pinnacle of medical achievement, we might be closer to it than we think.
There is a special treatment called CAR T-cell therapy that has changed how doctors approach battling cancer. It involves ‘training’ someone’s immune system to battle specific cells. In 2018, one woman overcame breast cancer using immunotherapy.
Baby With Three Parents…?
For as long as there has been life on Earth, babies have been made with the DNA of two people – a male and a female. However, some people might remember 2016, when the first baby was conceived using the DNA of three different people!
The mother of a Mexican couple had genes that included Leigh Syndrome. Since she didn’t want to pass it onto her child, scientists removed that part of the cell and replaced it with the cells of another woman. When the boy was born, he contained the DNA of two mothers and one father.
Get Ready For Robot Replacements
We’ve seen many enhancements to our bodies over the years. Many of us wear glasses which can be considered a scientific replacement or enhancement. However, as science develops we can be sure these will only get more intense.
We already see robotic prosthetics taking over as a new way for amputees to use arms and legs again. Well, some scientists predict that by 2070, our entire bodies could be swapped and replaced with new technologies. Will you be on Earth to see that happen?
Reversing the Aging Process
Time’s Arrow: forever moving forward. But what if we could reverse it? While we may not be able to time travel (yet), some scientists have been able to slow down and even reverse the human aging process.
Is it possible that we could become immoral? Harvard Medical School seems to have slowed down the blood flow, and hence the aging process, in mice. If applied to humans, this could repair hair loss and muscle aches associated with old age.
Who wants to live forever? Well, let’s define what it means to live! If our personalities are defined by our memories and experiences, then storing them on a hard drive could lead to the type of immortality.
In 2018, a group of scientists discovered that they had successfully ‘transferred’ memories from one snail to another. They did this by conditioning one snail with electric shocks, and then injecting a second snail with RNA. The second snail had reacted the same way – as if conditioned by the first snail’s electric shocks.
We’re Older Than We Think
For decades, science has suggested that humanity’s start was around 200,000 years ago in Africa. However, the assumption was destroyed in 2017 when that time-line was proven to be incorrect. Researchers actually found Homosapien artifacts from around 350,000 years ago.
While this was first found in the 1960s, researchers originally thought they belonged to neanderthals. In fact, us humans are much older than we ever thought! Today, we are reevaluating the entire history of humankind.
Last year, astronomers revealed that they found a ‘ghost’ particle deep inside of the ice in Antarctica. Researched explained that the particle, a neutrino, was traced back to its original source. What they found was shocking…
Scientists revealed that they found a galactic monster called a blazar. A Blazar is a massive black hole that has the mass one million times denser than our sun. Apparently, it is eating up dust and gas. We don’t know if that’s a good thing or not…
Manipulating Our Memories
We’ve all heard about the psychological phenomenon where humans can create their own memories through manipulation. But what about implanting false memories? Well, two neuroscientists found a way to insert artificial memories into mice in 2014.
They did this by ‘inserting’ the memory of being zapped when placed in a box. When the mouse was placed inside a box for the first time, it reacted negatively – as if to anticipate a shock. While it might treat Alzheimer’s or PTSD, it could also be used as torture which raises ethical questions.
We Almost Touched The Sun
Ok, not quite. While it seems impossible to land on such a hot gas star, we are edging closer and closer to the sun every year. In 2018, scientists sent a probe into space that had the capacity to fly at speeds reaching more than 213,000 miles per hour.
The Parker Solar Probe will be the closest man-made object to ever reach the sun’s surface. With a heat of more than 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit, the robot object will help us understand more about stars and the billions of them in our galaxy.
Curing Peanut Allergies
It’s one of the most common allergies in schools across the world. Weirdly, some humans can die just for coming in contact with the food. But not for long! 2018 saw the introduction of a new pill that might alleviate peanut allergies.
Overall, the medication saw a 67% improvement among people in the study. However, since the drug includes extracts of peanut, some people still have strong reactions and needed epinephrine after taking it. It is expected that it will improve over time.
Diets That Prevent Cancer
Every few years, magazines and social media tell us all about the latest diet trends to adopt. While some of these might help individuals, how many of them can claim to cure cancer? Well, ask this drugmaker!
Researchers have discovered that a new pill, partnered with a high-fat, low-sugar diet can help kill cancer cells. Next time you’re feeling sick, feel free to reach for those fatty foods! The pill, called PI3K inhibitor works best with a Keto or Atkins-type diet.
The World’s Oldest Cheese
Those that say they like their cheese aged should have a look at this! Located deep inside a 13th-century tomb laid this huge block of cheese! Overall, scientists (and cheese experts) believe it to be more than 3,200 years old.
They believe the dairy product was made from either cow milk or goat milk. While many cheese lovers will want to pick it apart and have a little taste, they should be wary of the bacteria nesting inside of it!
A Woman Won The Physics Nobel Prize
Ok, so this wasn’t groundbreaking, but it’s still something to celebrate. In 2018, Donna Strickland became the third woman to win a Nobel Prize in Physics, demonstrating an impressive increase in females who pursue Physics careers.
The associate professor at the University of Waterloo, Canada, shared her Prize with a French scientist for her work on lasers. She is one of only 210 people who have won Nobel Prizes in Physics – but she won’t be the last!
Communicating with Space
Way back in 2007, scientists heard a strange noise coming from space. These radio bursts were coming from an estimated 8 billion lightyears away – quite the distance! Even though 12 years have passed, we still don’t know what happened or where it came from.
Could it have been a collapsing black hole or a message from aliens? Today, no one has managed to repeat the event or even explain it. It’s likely that the event came from a distant galaxy.
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