Facial reconstruction by John Gurche made possible through generous contribution by Susan and George Klein
From discovering cures for life-threatening diseases to exploring outer space, from unearthing new facts about human history to making incredible strides in artificial intelligence, humanity achieved exceptional breakthroughs in the field of science and technology in 2019.
As the year comes to an end, it is time to look back at some of those glorious scientific revolutions that will shape our future. Here are our picks for the most significant scientific advancements of 2019:
5. Hello Sun? Earthlings are going beyond your influence!
A simulated landing process of Chang'e-4 lunar probe at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center on Jan. 3, 2019.
Launched in January 2006, the interplanetary space probe New Horizons from the US space agency NASA steered past the Kuiper Belt object 486958 Arrokoth (then nicknamed Ultima Thule) on January 1, 2019. The Kuiper Belt is the region beyond the known planetary system of solar system, and this was the farthest flyby ever conducted by any human-made spacecraft.
Also this year, on November 4, NASA's Voyager 2 reached the interstellar mediuma space between star systems, well beyond the influence of our solar system. Voyager 1 had earlier achieved this feat in 2012. Voyager 2, its successor, was launched in the year 1977.
Also, China's moon mission, Chang'e 4, successfully made a soft landing on the far side of the Moonbecoming the first ever mission to do so. Named after the Chinese moon goddess, the mission is attempting to determine the age and composition of the Moon's unexplored region.
4. Quantum leap in computing
Of all the progress made in computing research in 2019, the biggest breakthrough was perhaps the realisation of quantum computing.
Right in the first month of 2019, technology giant IBM unveiled Q System Onethe first quantum computer outside a research labbringing a rather abstract concept into the public imagination. Unlike the bits of information in computers we use, a quantum computer uses quantum bits, or qubits, enabling an exponential rise in the amount of data it can process and store.
Also Read: Rewind 2019: A Look Back at Significant Developments in Indian Science This Year
Further, a team of researchers from Australia and Singapore developed a quantum-powered machine that can accurately simulate future outcomes arising from different set of alternatives. Meanwhile, another study at Yale University showed that we can catch a qubit between the quantum jump and alter its outcomes. This was an exponential jump in fine-tuning the quantum systems as the outcomes need not be completely random and abrupt.
While other research also helped in conceptualising quantum drives with immense storage capacity, the biggest news was from Google. The search giant confirmed in October that it had achieved quantum supremacy. To put things in perspective, researchers at Google claim that the quantum computer solved in three minutes a problem that would have taken 10,000 years even for a supercomputer.
3. Revolutionary research in medical science
Medical researchers are always striving to push the envelope of human resilience and efficiency. The year 2019 saw progress on both these fronts, with the development of potential cures for multiple life-threatening diseases and gene-editing promising to be more effective than ever.
This year, twin drugs were developed for Ebola and were found to be effective in nearly 90% of the cases, making the seemingly incurable condition treatable. Researchers also discovered potential cures for bubble boy disease, a condition where babies are born without disease-fighting immune cells, for cystic fibrosis, a painful, debilitating lung disease, as well as for pancreatic cancer.
Moreover, after decades, HIV research finally yielded some fruitful results this year with patients positively responding to treatments. After a long gap of 12 years from the day the first patient was cured of HIV infection that causes AIDS, another patient was cured in March 2019. Researchers had been relentlessly trying to replicate the treatment that cured the infection for the first time in 2007.
Furthermore, using CRISPR gene-editing technology, scientists have found potential treatments for cancer patients, even those with whom the standard procedure was not successful. In October, researchers produced scientific evidence that new gene-editing technology has the potential to correct up to 89% of genetic defects like sickle cell anaemia.
2. Imaging the faraway invisible wonder
Image of the black hole at the center of galaxy M87
Named the top scientific breakthrough of 2019 by the journal Science, this incredible photograph of a black hole was taken using eight radio telescopes around the world to form a virtual instrument that is said to be the size of the Earth itself.
The first-ever image of a black hole, released on April 10 this year, was taken by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration team. The gravity of a black hole is so strong that even light cannot escape its pull, and to capture an image of something that does not emit light is no easy task.
EHT imaged the silhouette (or shadow) of a massive black hole called M87 which is located at the centre of a galaxy 55 million light-years from Earth. M87 has enormous masswhopping 6500 million times the mass of the Sun. The image shows a ring of light coming from the gas falling into the event horizon (the boundary from beyond which nothing can escape) of the black hole.
1. Retracing the origins of humans
Craniofacial reconstruction process of Rakhigarhi cemetery individuals (BR02 and BR36).
Humankinds fascination with the question 'Where did we come from?' has persisted over centuries. Yet, some of the biggest breakthroughs in answering this question were made this year, starting with the discovery of a previously-unknown species of ancient humans. Named Homo luzonensis, this small-bodied bipedal species was discovered in the Philippines and is said to have lived on the island of Luzon 50,000 to 67,000 years ago.
In May, researchers deciphered a four-decade old mystery by identifying a 160,000-year-old human jawbone found in the Tibetian Plateau nearly 40 years ago. The fossil was of Denisovan, an enigmatic ancestor species of humans who ranged across Asia until some 50,000 years ago. The discoverymade despite the absence of DNA in the jawhelped scientists understand this species better. In September, another group of researchers further refined the picture of Denisovans whose traces still linger in the DNA of a few modern humans.
In August, descriptions of a nearly 38-lakh-year-old remains of a skull belonging to a bipedal ancestor of humans baffled the world. This skull proved that two of our ancestor speciesA. anamensis and A. afarensismay have overlapped for at least 100,000 years. This evidence of the existence of these two of our ancestor species at a similar timescale busts the long-held belief that human evolution follows a single lineage, i.e. one species coming after the other.
In a first-of-its-kind attempt, scientists have generated an accurate facial representation of people from the Indus Valley Civilisation in October. Nnother important study showed that the ancestral homeland of every human alive today traces back to a region south of the Zambezi River in northern Botswana. Building on the previous genetic evolution studies, the researchers used ethnolinguistic and geographic frequency distribution data from the genomes of over 1000 southern Africans to trace back the origin of modern humans.
Exponential growth continues
India has also contributed immensely in all scientific domains over the past few years and is now only behind China and the US in terms of the number of published research studies. Building exponentially on the success of previous decades, scientists around the world have made immense contributions from improving our daily life to understanding the mysteries of the universe.
With so much exciting research pouring in from all corners of the world, it isn't easy to even keep track of the incredible pace at which science is progressing. While we have tried to cover a few iconic annual scientific highlights in this article, there are thousands of other important discoveries, studies and achievements that shaped science in 2019.
And as yet another potential-filled year dawns on our planet, The Weather Channel India will keep you tuned in about all the exciting news, updates and breakthroughs from the world of science.
So for your daily dose of weather, environment, space and science stories, stay tuned to weather.com and stay curious!
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- Can Quantum Computing Be the New Buzzword - Analytics Insight - April 1st, 2020
- Q-CTRL to Host Live Demos of 'Quantum Control' Tools - Quantaneo, the Quantum Computing Source - April 1st, 2020
- We're Getting Closer to the Quantum Internet, But What Is It? - HowStuffWorks - April 1st, 2020
- Who Will Mine Cryptocurrency in the Future - Quantum Computers or the Human Body? - Coin Idol - April 1st, 2020
- Universities Space Research Association to Lead a DARPA Project on Quantum Computing - Quantaneo, the Quantum Computing Source - April 1st, 2020
- The Schizophrenic World Of Quantum Interpretations - Forbes - April 1st, 2020
- Disrupt The Datacenter With Orchestration - The Next Platform - April 1st, 2020
- Quantum Computing strikes technology partnership with Splunk - Proactive Investors USA & Canada - March 26th, 2020
- Devs: Alex Garland on Tech Company Cults, Quantum Computing, and Determinism - Den of Geek UK - March 26th, 2020
- Is Machine Learning The Quantum Physics Of Computer Science ? - Forbes - March 26th, 2020
- Recent PDF Report : Quantum Computing Market 2020: In-depth Industry Analysis By Size, Share, Competition, Opportunities And Growth By 2029 - Sound On... - March 26th, 2020
- Organisms grow in wave pattern, similar to ocean circulation - Big Think - March 26th, 2020
- Tech incubator Fountech.Ventures launches in US and UK - UKTN - March 26th, 2020
- Why resilience is the key to future security - Raconteur - March 22nd, 2020
- Quantum computing is right around the corner, but cooling is a problem. What are the options? - Diginomica - March 21st, 2020
- Quantum Computing: Will It Actually Produce Jobs? - Dice Insights - March 21st, 2020
- Quantum computing, AI, China, and synthetics highlighted in 2020 Tech Trends report - VentureBeat - March 16th, 2020
- Early investment in quantum computing could result in a competitive advantage - Help Net Security - March 16th, 2020
- Quantum Computing for Everyone - The Startup - Medium - March 16th, 2020
- UC Riverside to lead scalable quantum computing project using 3D printed ion traps - 3D Printing Industry - March 16th, 2020
- Deltec Bank, Bahamas - Quantum Computing Will have Positive Impacts on Portfolio Optimization, Risk Analysis, Asset Pricing, and Trading Strategies -... - March 16th, 2020
- NIST Works on the Industries of the Future in Buildings from the Past - Nextgov - March 16th, 2020
- Archer Materials" patent application received by World Intellectual Property Organisation - Proactive Investors Australia - March 16th, 2020
- Why the Journey to Cloud Must Start With the Workforce - AiThority - March 9th, 2020
- 'Devs': How the FX on Hulu show's tech compares with reality - Los Angeles Times - March 5th, 2020
- Quantum Computing Market: Qualitative Analysis of the Leading Players and Competitive Industry Scenario, 2025 - Express Journal - March 5th, 2020
- Quantum Computing Market 2019 Analysis by Key Players, Share, Trend, Segmentation and Forecast to 2029 - News Times - March 5th, 2020
- Cracking the uncertainty around quantum computing - Information Age - March 4th, 2020
- Surprise contender Honeywell enters the quantum computing race - New Scientist News - March 4th, 2020
- Cambridge Quantum Computing teams up with CERN to advance quantum technologies - IT Brief Australia - March 4th, 2020
- Gilles Brassard honoured by the BBVA Foundation for his work in quantum computing - Quantaneo, the Quantum Computing Source - March 4th, 2020
- The view of quantum threats from the front lines - JAXenter - February 24th, 2020
- U.S. Progress on AI and Quantum Computing Will Best China, Says CTO Michael Kratsios - BroadbandBreakfast.com - February 24th, 2020
- Scientists Have Discovered a Brand New Electronic State of Matter - ScienceAlert - February 24th, 2020
- Where the Buzz About Quantum Computing Is Wrong - Toolbox - February 21st, 2020
- New report: Quantum Computing Market Size position and size report for 2019 to 2023 recently published - Instant Tech News - February 21st, 2020
- Global Deep Learning Chip Market (2019 to 2027) - Drivers, Restraints, Opportunities and Trends - ResearchAndMarkets.com - Business Wire - February 21st, 2020
- Quantum Computing Technologies Market: Industry Players Analysis, New Innovation, Growth Prospects, Size, Growth, Revenue, Development Policy,... - February 21st, 2020
- Why Quantum Computing Gets Special Attention In The Trump Administration's Budget Proposal - Texas Standard - February 20th, 2020
- Quantum Internet: The Technology That Could Change Everything? - The National Interest Online - February 20th, 2020
- HPC User Forum to Explore AI-HPDA Use In Banking and Investment Firms - insideHPC - February 20th, 2020
- 29 deeptech VCs in Europe you need to know - Sifted - February 20th, 2020
- Why Quantum Computing Gets Special Attention In The Trump Administration's Budget Proposal - KUT - February 19th, 2020
- The $600 quantum computer that could spell the end for conventional encryption - BetaNews - February 19th, 2020
- Quantum Internet Workshop Begins Mapping the Future of Quantum Communications - Quantaneo, the Quantum Computing Source - February 19th, 2020
- Correcting the jitters in quantum devices - MIT News - February 19th, 2020
- Govt creates tech group to chart the tech landscape for India - Economic Times - February 19th, 2020
- The EU is preparing to invest 2bn in a cloud computing alliance - NS Tech - February 19th, 2020
- Quantum Computing Market Analysis With Key Players, Applications, Trends and Forecast To 2026 - Instant Tech News - February 19th, 2020
- Russian Quantum Center and Nissan have launched a project in the field of quantum chemistry - Quantaneo, the Quantum Computing Source - February 17th, 2020
- QUANTUM COMPUTING TECHNOLOGIES Market: Comprehensive study explores Huge Growth in Future | D-Wave Systems Inc., IBM Corporation, Lockheed Martin... - February 17th, 2020
- Quantum Internet Workshop Begins Mapping the Future of Quantum Communications - HPCwire - February 17th, 2020
- Quantum Computing Market 2020 Trends, Market Share, Industry Size, Opportunities, Analysis and Forecast by 2026 - Instant Tech News - February 17th, 2020
- Quantum Computing Market Size Outlook 2026: Prime Firms, Trends, Growth Factors Details by Regions, Sorts and Applications - Instant Tech News - February 17th, 2020
- Nobody is behind in science and technology: Serguie Beloussov - Kuensel, Buhutan's National Newspaper - February 17th, 2020
- China beats US in key patents to secure technological dominance - The News International - February 17th, 2020
- Quantum Computing Market 2019 Analysis by Key Players, Share, Trend, Segmentation and Forecast to 2026 - Instant Tech News - February 15th, 2020
- Chinese researchers smash the record for realising two entangled quantum memories at maximum distance - www.computing.co.uk - February 15th, 2020
- Quantum Computing: How To Invest In It, And Which Companies Are Leading the Way? - Nasdaq - February 14th, 2020
- DOE Workshop Begins Mapping the Future of Quantum Communications - insideHPC - February 14th, 2020
- Scientists discover how to use time crystals to power superconductors - Big Think - February 14th, 2020
- Quantum Computing Market With Four Main Geographies And Their Countries - Instant Tech News - February 14th, 2020
- Russian Quantum Center and Nissan have launched a project in the field of quantum chemistry - Research Snipers - February 14th, 2020
- Global Quantum Computing Market Newest Research Report In PDF With Forecast [2020-2029] : International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation, Google... - February 14th, 2020
- Budget 2020: Govt bets on AI, data analytics and quantum computing - Livemint - February 2nd, 2020
- This Week's Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through February 1) - Singularity Hub - February 2nd, 2020
- AI has great potential in transforming the world: Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai - YourStory - February 2nd, 2020
- Budget 2020: New scheme to boost local manufacturing of mobiles, will iPhone get cheaper now? - India Today - February 2nd, 2020
- What Is Quantum Computing and How Does it Work? - Built In - January 30th, 2020
- IBM Just Called Out Google Over Their "Quantum Computer" - The National Interest Online - January 30th, 2020
- Quantum Computing releases its new software application called Mukai - Proactive Investors USA & Canada - January 30th, 2020
- Burning Things With Big Lasers In The Name Of Security - Hackaday - January 30th, 2020
- What Is Quantum Computing, And How Can It Unlock Value For Businesses? - Computer Business Review - January 27th, 2020
- The End Of The Digital Revolution Is Coming: Here's What's Next - Innovation Excellence - January 27th, 2020
- Healthcare venture investment in 2020: Quantum computing gets a closer look - Healthcare IT News - January 27th, 2020
- Delta Partners with IBM to Explore Quantum Computing - Database Trends and Applications - January 27th, 2020
- New Centers Lead the Way towards a Quantum Future - Energy.gov - January 27th, 2020
- ASC20 Finals to be Held in Shenzhen, Tasks Include Quantum Computing Simulation and AI Language Exam - HPCwire - January 27th, 2020
- Toshiba says it created an algorithm that beats quantum computers using standard hardware - TechSpot - January 27th, 2020