“Keep it simple”. This is a kind of refrain that nearly obsesses me, but I reckon it’s a good advise. Since I’m still a blog amateur I stick to it for my very first official science post.
In the last days, between 2016 and 2017, I read lots of articles talking about the biggest breakthrough of 2016 and looking ahead to 2017.
I’d like to do the same, highlighting a few topics that will dominate the news this year, of course, according to me.
Science goes fast and many things happen in 365 days. 2016 was probably the year of “gravitational waves”. I still remember the excitement (I could feel it as well) of LIGO scientists during the press conference that announced to the world their huge achievement: “We did it. We detected gravitational waves”. Gravitational waves are ‘ripples’ in the fabric of space-time caused by some violent and energetic processes in the Universe such as colliding black holes and the collapse of stellar cores (supernovae). They were predicted to exist by Einstein in 1916 and scientists needed 100 years to prove them.
If you are attracted by “Gravitational Waves” you can click here to watch this simple 3 minutes video to understand a little bit more about them.
2017 has just started but there is a “battle” that will see an end (possibly) shortly. I’m talking about the CRISPR patent (I’d like to spend time talking about this cutting edge technique so expect to find more about gene editing in this blog in the future) and you can find more details reading this Nature article. In brief, there are 2 groups (one from Berkeley, the university of California and the other from the Broad Institute and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both in Cambridge) fighting for the intellettual property of the tecnique that is changing the way research is done and also medicine. In fact, in October, a lung cancer patient in China was treated using cells edited by CRISPR-Cas9 for the first time.
2016 ended with the news that a ebola vaccine trial in Guinea gave 100% protection against the virus. The hope is that 2017 would bring the same good result for Zika virus, one of the threat that is currently scaring the world.
In few weeks, president Donald Trump will officially set his office in the White House. Science immediately after the election compiled a list of scientific issues that Donald Trump and America are going to face and deal with (but it’s not only about America and Trump!). The list includes, among others, pathogens changing faster than our defences, seas rising faster than expected, brain health and the rise of artificial intelligence.
To end my view on 2017, I’d like to mention an article by Stephen Hawking that appeared in the Guardian last December. It’s about our future and our planet. It’s a kind of warning for all of us because, according to Hawking ,we are living the most dangerous time for our planet. He also says “We can’t go on ignoring inequality, because we have the means to destroy our world but not to escape it”.
Happy new year and enjoy the reading!