The wonderful thing about science is that researchers are always pushing to produce the latest, greatest and most wonderful findings they can. They never let up. And 2013 was no exception.
From synthetic hearts that beat of their own accord, through treatments for HIV and amazing developments in fusion, to finding out why hot water freezes more quickly than cold, this year’s headlines have been full of great science. Here are some of our favourites.
Scientists have managed to sequence the genome of a 700,000-year-old horse — in the process generating the oldest complete DNA sequence yet.
After months of back and forth, scientists agreed that NASA’s Voyager 1has become the first manmade object to leave the solar system. And it only took 36 years to make the 12 billion mile-long journey.
For the very first time, a research team has been able to grow human heart tissue that beats totally autonomously in its petri dish home.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a landmark report which places the blame for climate change squarely at the feet of humankind.
At least 35 million people around the planet live with HIV, and it kills over 1.7 million people each year, so the fact that it’s currently untreatable is one of the biggest medical problems of our time. But in recent years scientific advances seem to be kicking HIV’s arse more effectively than ever — so is there hope that we neutralize the virus’s threat? The answer is more hopeful than you think.
The biggest volcano ever found on Earth — one of the biggest we know of in the solar system — has been hidden for ages. But now scientists have found it, just chillin’ beneath the sea. It’s a monster.
Nuclear fusion, the same process that powers the sun, could provide us with limitless cheap energy — but experiments to date have always used more power than they created. Now, though, researchers have apparently tipped that balance, making fusion a real possibility.
Spears feel very much like a human weapon of war — so it’s surprising to find out that, in fact, the stone-tipped projectiles pre-date our species by a bewildering 85,000 years.
For the past few millennia, the dewy rainforests of Australia’s Cape Melville have remained totally isolated from human interference. That is, until a team of scientists from James Cook University took humanity’s first steps into a land untouched by time. What they found there was almost beyond belief.
A meteor exploded over the Chelyabinsk region of Russia, injuring hundreds of people and damaging buildings.
Hundreds of sci-fi movies have depicted hyperspace travel, where stars appear as streaks of light as the spacecraft in question surges forward. But according to a team of physicists, that’s bullshit — and hyperspace travel would look a whole lot fuzzier.
For centuries, scientists have puzzled over a counter-intutive observation: hot water, for some reason, seems to freeze faster than cold. Fortunately, now a team of physicists has worked out why it happens.
A team of Chinese researchers have deliberately created deadly new strains of influenza in a veterinary laboratory — and are now on the receiving end of severe criticism from across the wider scientific community.
Today’s smallest primate, the pygmy mouse lemur, can reach up to about 5 inches in height — and that’s even on the larger side. But the primate skeleton that researchers just uncovered, the oldest ever found on record, stood even smaller than our pygmy friend as it scampered around the earth a whole 55 million years ago.
The world’s premier artificial, $US300,000 lab-grown finally its way into human mouths today. Turns out it tastes pretty weird. Go figure.
Deep within our bodies are all kinds of genes that turn on and off over the years, including the very genes that make you grow a body in the first place. This is where scientists are looking for the magical code that could enable us to regrow organs and regenerate limbs. A Harvard researcher thinks he might’ve found it.
This might shock you, but for over a century scientists have been pondering why kettles whistle — and completely failed to find an answer. That’s all changed now, though, thanks to two scientists from the University of Cambridge who have worked out how it happens. Thank. Goodness. What a great 2013, science!