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#15 Amazing Scientific Discoveries Of 2016

Science is no doubt an important entity in our day to day life – If not for science, then we would be still living under caves, comprehending this Earth as a flat mass of land.

If not for scientists who made vaccines and medicines, we would have been dead with a viral fever and if not for science, Mars and Moon would still have been distant images, seeming impossible to conquer.

Herein, we bring to you 5 biggest and most powerful scientific discoveries, inventions and attempts which actually redefined our World as we know it, and took humanity one step further:

Slight Genetic Mutation 800 Million Years Ago Leads To Multicellular Life

Researchers found that an ancient molecule, GK-PID, is the reason single-celled organisms started to evolve into multicellular organisms approximately 800 million years ago. The molecule has been found to be like a molecular carabiner able to pull chromosomes together to latch them onto the inner wall of a cell membrane when division occurs. This allows cells to copy properly and avoid becoming cancerous.

The fascinating discovery indicates that the ancient version of GK-PID did not behave in the same way it does currently. The only reason it became capable of working like a genetic carabiner is due to a single mutation that copied itself, suggesting that multicellular life is the result of a single, identifiable mutation.

New Prime Number Discovered

Mathematicians discovered a new prime number in January via the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search. The new prime number is 2^74,207,281 – 1.

You might be asking why there is a project to determine such a number. Modern cryptography requires the use of Mersenne Prime numbers (Of which only 49 have been discovered) and other complex numbers to encode data. The new prime number is currently the record holder for the longest prime and is almost 5 million digits longer than its predecessor. The total number of digits in the new prime falls just under 24,000,000 making “2^74,207,281 – 1” the only practical way to write it.

A Ninth Planet Was Discovered In The Solar System

Before the discovery of Pluto in the 20th century, it had been theorized that a ninth planet, Planet X, existed beyond Neptune due to the gravitational clustering that could only be caused by a massive object. It was then believed that this planet was found in Pluto, but that never fully quantified the gravitational distortion until scientists at the California Institute of Technology presented evidence that a ninth planet truly does exist with an orbital period of 15,000 years.

The astronomers who published their discovery have calculated that there is “only a 0.007 percent chance, or about one in 15,000, that the clustering could be a coincidence.” Presently, Planet Nine remains hypothetical, but astronomers have calculated its orbit to be quite massive. If it does exist, the planet would likely be approximately 2–15 times the mass of Earth and orbit between 200 and 1,600 Astronomical Units (AU) from the Sun. An AU is 150,000,000 kilometers, which means that the planet could orbit as far from the Sun as 240,000,000,000 kilometers.

Cavefish That Can Walk Up Walls Shows Similarities To Four-Limbed Vertebrates

As science has learned over the past 170 years, vertebrate life on land evolved from fish that swam in the seas of ancient Earth. That is of course until researchers from the New Jersey Institute of Technology discovered a Taiwanese Cavefish that is capable of walking up walls and has the same anatomical capabilities as an amphibian or reptile.

This is a huge discovery in terms of evolutionary adaptation because it can help scientists to better understand how land-dwelling tetrapods evolved from prehistoric fish. The difference between the cavefish and other fish species that can move on land is its gait, which amounts to a “robust pelvic girdle” when climbing.

Cybernetic Implant Helps Quadriplegic Man Move His Fingers

A man who has been a quadriplegic for the past six years has been able to move his fingers due to the implantation of a small chip in his brain.

Researchers at Ohio State University were able to build a device that, once implanted, sends signals to a nearby terminal, which transmits that information to an electronic sleeve worn on the man’s arm. The sleeve then uses wires to stimulate specific muscles to cause the movement of the fingers in real-time. The patient was even able to play Guitar Hero, much to the surprise of the doctors and scientists in charge of the project.

Earth Has A Second Moon

NASA scientists discovered an asteroid that has been captured and is in stable Earth orbit, making it a constant near-Earth companion, or a second satellite. There are a lot of objects orbiting this planet—space stations, man-made satellites, and lots and lots of junk—but only one moon that we can see. Now, NASA has confirmed the existence of 2016 HO3.

The asteroid orbits very far from Earth and is more gravitationally affected by the Sun than Earth, but it does orbit Earth as well along its orbital path of the Sun. Don’t get too excited about walking on it one day, as it is considerably smaller than our natural satellite with dimensions of 40–100 meters (130–350 ft) across.

2016 HO3 is in a fairly stable orbit around the Earth and Sun but will depart in a few centuries according to Paul Chodas, manager for NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Objects (NEO). Chodas also revealed that 2016 HO3 has been a stable quasi-satellite of Earth for more than a century.

Injection of Stem Cells Into Stroke Patients & Making Them Walk Again

Easily one of the major breakthroughs for medical science this year: Scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine were able to inject stem cells directly into the brains of chronic stroke patients, which will enable to walk again.

Till now, such patients were bedridden or were made mobile via wheelchairs. Hence, this new procedure to inject stem cells opens up a new window of opportunities to help paralyzed and immobile patients.

Unlimited Storage Of Data For Eternity

Destruction is the rule of the World – Whatever is created, needs to be destroyed. And sadly, it includes all storage devices as well. But not anymore.

Some smart folks at University of Southampton have invented a storage system, which can store data for 13.8 billion years. This is approximately the same time period for which our Universe has existed!

Size of a small coin (American quarter), this a round shaped nano-structured glass, which can hold upto 360 GB of data at any given time. And the beauty of this tiny storage device is that, it can remain intact even in -1000 degree Celsius temperature. However, for storing the data for 13.8 billion years, the storage device needs to be present within 190°C.

Interestingly, the recording and retrieval process consists of ‘five dimensional (5D) digital data by femtosecond laser writing.

COCan Now Be Converted Into Rock

CO2 Or Carbon Dioxide is one of the most harmful by-product of humans – not only it gets emitted by us during the breathing process, but this chemical is also produced by industries and machines. As of now, the emitted COgets mixed up with the atmosphere, thereby harming the ozone layer, and making the whole environment harmful.

But not anymore.

Researchers at University of Southampton have devised a method using which carbon dioxide can now be converted into rock. Infact, when scientists pumped COinto volcanic rocks at Iceland, they sped up the process which converts basalts into carbonate minerals, thereby turning them into lime stones. Usually, this process takes over 100 years, but scientists from University of Southampton did it in less than 2 years.

Thus, carbon dioxide will be now be utilized for various purposes, including construction of buildings and for making roads.

ISRO Makes History, Yet Again

In April this year, ISRO successfully broke US monopoly over GPS, when they launched 7th and final IRNSS Navigational Satellite, which will enable Indian military and commercial establishments to use India’s own satellite navigation system.

In September this year, ISRO made us again proud, when they launched it longest ever launch mission as they placed 8 satellites in different orbits in one single launch. India became world’s second country, Asia’s first to achieve such feat.

And now, few days back, ISRO announced that they will launch whooping 83 satellites in one single go, a feat which no other country has achieved till date.

SpaceX Lands A Rocket Vertically

In animation and movies, we have seen this countless times: a rocket landing vertically on a surface. But in reality, this has never been done before due to the complexities of execution. Normally, when NASA or ISRO’s rockets come back, they are either dumped into the ocean or destroyed as soon as they enter Earth’s atmosphere.

But SpaceX, company founded by Elon Musk, for the first time in the history of mankind, landed a rocket (part of its Falcon 9 rocket) vertically on a floating autonomous drone ship in Atlantic Ocean.

Such successful landing will save a billions of dollars, as rockets can now be reused, and can be landed at any location.

The landing was broadcasted live as millions of space enthusiasts watched this phenomenon with wonder, an event which forced them to admire and appreciate what SpaceX has been doing for years.

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