Soon we are looking at advances that will make even our jaded heads spin. For now though, let’s look at how far we’ve come in the last 10 years with, the Top 10 Scientific Breakthroughs of the Noughties.
10. Evolution Theory Further Supported
Scientist site that there is only a 4% genetic difference between humans and apes- this is far closer than was previously thought. This comes, dubiously, on the heels of the completion of the human genome project, which set out to map all human traits. In addition to the chimp data, 2005 saw scientist using the flu virus as another example of evolution. It really does seem like they are beating a long dead horse though.
9. Nonelectronics Research
The idea of using chemical groups on a molecular basis as computer is not a new one. In fact the idea has been around since the 1960s for sure. But until 2001 no one has made a serious go of it. In 2001 scientist were able to “wire” these molecules together, in effect making a nan-computer. At this point, it’s not practical to use, however, it paves the way for future, smaller computers.
8. Water on Mars
In 2004 Spirit and Opportunity, the two NASA rovers still surveying Mars, discovered that the planet once had lakes, rivers and even rain. Since water is believed to be one of the main components to establishing life, this is a major find. This has led science to wonder where all the water went and if indeed, life might have existed at one point in Mars’ history.
7. Chimpanzees Make Spears for Hunting
Two anthropologists watched as several female chimpanzees crafted spears and used them to hunt smaller mammals. Jill Pruetz of Iowa State University and Paco Bertolani of Cambridge observed them crafting the spears from beginning to end of the process with the chimpanzees going so far as to even sharpen their spears on rocks. This shows a level of sophisticated thinking not shown by any other animals in the animal kingdom ever before.
6. Engineers Create “Glass” as Strong as Steel
Engineering researchers at the University of Michigan have created a super-strong see through material. Nicholas Kotov developed a system of using a material made up of very strong and nearly microscopic clay particles. These are then placed between two layers of plastic, the tiny bits of dirt act as a reinforcement, much like millions of tiny columns- giving the ordinary material extraordinary strength. The applications for this are astounding, but most likely will be used by the military first.
5. The T-Rex Journey
A Tyrannosaurus Rex’s leg was found in Montana in 2004. What’s so amazing is that the leg was buried under a mineral sediment that preserved it for 68-million years. Scientists analyzed the biological material contained in that leg for the first time in 2007. In an issue of Science, scientists compared the deadly predator to animals that roam the earth today and concluded that it has a lot in common with chickens. This leads one to wonder if the testing was a taste test.
4. Enzymes Convert Any Blood Type to O
Shortages in type O have always been a problem due to its rarity. Type O is the type of blood that anyone can use. Blood type is important when you consider giving the wrong type of blood to someone can result in death. Researcher Henrik Clausen published research in Nature describing a way to convert any kind of blood into Type O. Should this pan out, blood reserves might swell to an unprecedented useful amount, though most likely there will always be a shortage.
3. Pulsar pair
The first known pair of pulsars was discovered in 2003. Pulsars are neutron stars that emit an incredible amount of radiation. Studying of these pulsar pairs may provide a more accurate assessment of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Until now scientists have not been able to prove or disprove Einstein’s theory.
2. Researchers Turn Skin Cells to Stem Cells
Scientists found a way to make stem cells by using a virus to change skin cells.
Japanese and American scientists were able to manipulate a skin cell into forming muscle, heart, fat and nerve tissues without using any embryonic stem cells. Unfortunately, the modified cells often became tumors.
Scientists are still fine-tuning this discovery, but the implications for stem cell research are profound.
1. New Cancer Drugs
Researchers in Massachusetts found compounds which kill cancer stem cells 100 times more efficient than chemotherapy. This would mean a more productive treatment without the side effects that chemotherapy often has. The scientists have analyzed 16,000 compounds before this one, named salinomycin, was discovered. Further trials are needed, but the research looks very promising.