Thanks to thousands of scientists from very different fields our world is coming closer and closer to the sci-fi future that we see in the movies. They never stop amazing us when they report having done a successful head transplant surgery or sending a Tesla car into orbit.
The past several years have been a true breakthrough for all of us. And this is why Bright Side has made a list of the most important scientific discoveries of 2017 and 2018 that will make the world a much better place.
17. Scientists helped a disabled person start walking again.
A group of neurophysiologists from Russia and the U.S. managed to do the almost impossible: give a paralyzed person the ability to walk again. A man who was paralyzed several years ago after he fell from a snowmobile took part in the international experiment. This method was used by scientists for the first time. The patient was cured with electric stimulators that were originally made for other purposes — to relieve pain. Now, thanks to electric stimulation, even if the damage is really serious, it’s possible to help people move again.
According to the neurophysiologists, the partial rehabilitation of this patient took 44 weeks. At the moment, the man can stand and walk on a treadmill.
16. The first color x-ray in history
Scientists from New Zealand made the first 3D color x-ray in history. The new device was made based on the traditional black and white x-ray machine using particle tracking technology called Medipix. Thanks to this technology, in 2012, in a Large Hadron Collider the particles called “Higgs boson” were found.
Medipix works like a camera at the subatomic level. As a result, it gives us high-contrast images. On color x-rays, you can clearly see the difference between muscles, bones, and cartilage, including the size and position of cancer tumors.
15. Scientists created a vest that can warn you about a heart attack several days in advance.
Smart Vest looks quite simple but on the inside there are special sensors and electrodes. They allow you to track your own ECG, registering blood pressure and heartbeat. And all this is done 24/7. Someone who owns this vest can download a special app on their smartphone where all the data about the heart function will be stored.
The creator of this invention says that the application can give a diagnosis and even predict serious heart issues because the abnormal activity of the heart can be noticed on the ECG 2 days before the heart attack. The vest has already been successfully tested on volunteers.
14. Israeli eye ophthalmologists invented eye drops that restore the eye cornea.
Can you imagine that very soon glasses for eyesight correction won’t be necessary anymore and their job will be done by regular eye drops? This is what a group of Israeli ophthalmologists are working on. The scientists have already tested the drops on pigs and the result was amazing. The drops are effective at fighting near- and far-sightedness. And according to the scientists, the drops can completely replace glasses.
13. Chinese policemen now have smart glasses with face recognition technology.
At the beginning of 2018, Chinese policemen in Zhengzhou were given smart GLXSS glasses that have a facial recognition system. They can take photos, record video in HD quality, and also show information on the lens thanks to AR-technology. This device has already helped to capture almost 40 criminals.
GLXSS cost $635 but you can’t buy them for personal use right now.
12. “Self-parking” slippers from Nissan
Finally, the problem of constantly lost slippers can be forgotten because Nissan has come up with slippers on wheels. The slippers have engines and sensors based on ProPilot technology. Thanks to this technology, these slippers can return to a predetermined spot. Now, anyone who wants can try these slippers in one of Japan’s hotels.
11. In China a flying taxi was successfully tested.
Aerocar EHang 184 looks like a drone but it can do much more. It can transport 2 passengers, it can fly up to 15 km with a full charge, and it can go as fast as 130 km/h. But the best thing about EHang 184 is the fact that it can work autonomously. The developers think that the commercial version of the taxi will work on autopilot. The passenger will only have to show it the final point of the destination.
Soon this flying taxi will allow us to avoid huge traffic jams in big cities.
10. Artificial intelligence protecting humanity
This news is not exactly a scientific discovery but everything that happened in this story is a great example of how much artificial intelligence has developed.
In January 2018, a woman from Argentina published a post on Facebook where she said goodbye to her friends and relatives. There was a photo of some potent substances attached to the post. Her message was tracked by the algorithms of the social media that uses AI for these purposes. The program sent a signal to the managers of the website in the US and they contacted emergency services of Buenos Aires. The rescue team found the woman unconscious but they managed to save her.
9. An exoskeleton of a hand that is controlled by the mind
The engineers at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) created a prototype of a hand exoskeleton that can be controlled with the mind. The electrodes are located on a special helmet. In the early versions, the electrodes had to be placed under the skin. The exoskeleton is easy to control and can be set up within several minutes. The device has already been tested by people who have spinal cord injuries or a stroke. Now, the engineers are improving the exoskeleton in order to make it good enough for mass production.
8. Testing unmanned cars
In 2017, it became absolutely clear than unmanned cars will be an important part of our lives. In the U.S., Tesla is the leader in this industry and is improving their electric cars year after year.
Tourists and locals in Paris can already try the experimental unmanned mini-bus with an electric engine.
In the near future, the international traffic rules will most likely be changed to correspond with the development of unmanned vehicles on the roads of our planet.
7. Cryptocurrency is a new part of economics.
In 2017, the world economy had an unexpected blast — the increase in popularity of cryptocurrency. Despite the fact that the first and the most well-known cryptocurrency called bitcoin was invented in 2009, it became really popular only last summer. From August to December, the exchange rate was changing very rapidly, going from $2,000 to $20,000, and then falling to $6,500 for one bitcoin.
Experts predict that that cryptocurrency has a big future in world economics along with the euro and dollar.
6. Researchers have proven that the theory of our origin is not true.
In 2017, humanity made huge progress in learning more about itself. For a long time, people believed that the Homo sapiens originated from other species about 200,000 years ago somewhere in Eastern Africa. Most of the anthropological and archaeological theories known today confirmed this version.
However, this summer, in Nature Magazine, an article by an international group of scientists was published. They found the remains of people which are more than 300,000 years old. These people lived on a completely different part of the African continent. Researchers are sure that if they were dressed in modern clothes nobody would be able to tell the difference. This discovery has proven that the theory we believed before was completely wrong.
5. Astronomers found an object called Oumuamua in our Solar System.
2017 challenged science many times. In Hawaii, astronomers found a unique asteroid that is not part of our Solar System. It means that it originated somewhere far out in galactic space. The speed of the asteroid is too high for our Sun to pull it with gravity.
Some scientists have theories that the asteroid was made by a living thing and there is even a huge telescope that is trying to capture signals from intelligent life.
4. Chinese scientists cloned a monkey.
The first successful cloning experiment happened when molecular biologists managed to grow 2 clones of the same monkey. Born from a surrogate mother, these monkeys have the same DNA. The experiment will help humanity find a cure for cancer, avoid genetically inherited diseases, and clone extinct animals.
3. Genetical editing to treat a patient
In August 2017 bioengineers changed the genes of a living person. Experts at Oregon University made their first attempt to genetically modify an embryo by removing a gene responsible for the development of an infectious heart disease. The surgery was successful.
Also, another company did a surgery changing the genome of pigs using CRISPR technology. Thanks to the surgery, 37 absolutely healthy pigs were born without any harmful viruses in their bodies.
And finally, there was a genetic modification done on a living person. The patient is a 44-year-old man who had Hunter syndrome. The scientists are still waiting for the results of the treatment. And if they are positive, doctors will soon be able to treat serious diseases this way.
2. Scientists will find a cure for oncological diseases soon.
Modern medical experts are on the way to making people forget the word “cancer.” Of course, it is impossible to cure cancer completely, but it might become as easy as curing a cold.
In 2017, several ways of fighting cancer cells have been tested but the most progressive one was the method for treating cervical cancer. Sperm with a special drug were sent to the necessary areas and when it reached them, the sperm emitted the drug. As a result, more than 90% of the cancer cells there were removed. This method allows patients to avoid chemotherapy.
1. The first successful head transplant surgery
You will probably agree that this piece of news sounds like it was told by someone who returned from the future. But the future is actually now. This is what our scientists are trying to prove.
Chinese surgeons, managed by Sergio Canavero, performed the first head transplant from one corpse to another. The surgery took 18 hours and the result was the successful connection of the spinal cord, nerves, and blood vessels. On December 25, 2017, Canavero predicted that in 2018 the first head transplant surgery of a living person will be performed.
Aside from all of these discoveries and achievements, 2017 and 2018 had other scientific events:
- Re-using the first stage of SpaceX Falcon 9. Experts at Elon Musk’s company made a breakthrough when they launched Falcon 9 into geostationary orbit again. By doing this, they saved $19 million for one launch. In the future, the amount of saved money will be tremendous.
- Finding exoplanets. This is probably one of the biggest pieces of news from NASA. In the TRAPPIST-1 system, they found 7 planets, 3 of which could possibly be inhabited. They are at the right distance from the closest star for life to develop.
- Alpha Go artificial intelligence beats humans. Last year, a machine, or special software beat the best Alpha Go player in the world. This game is believed to be more difficult than chess.
- At the beginning of February, SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy. According to the project, the rocket will be able to deliver 64 tons of load into orbit, and 16.8 tons to Mars. This rocket sent Elon Musk’s own car to space — his cherry Tesla Roadster. A dummy dressed in a SpaceX space suit is in the car. This is a real breakthrough because this is the heaviest rocket that has ever been used.
Which of these scientific discoveries do you think will make the world better? Share your opinion in the comment section below.