This year’s biggest scientific achievements
For our solstice event I tried to put together a list of this year’s biggest scientific achievements. They can likely all be looked up with a bit of searching and each one is worthy of a celebration in their own right. But mostly I want to say; we have come a long way this year. And we have a long way to go.
I tried to include science and technology in this list, but really anything world-scale (non-politics or natural disaster) is worthy of celebrating.
Rosetta mission lands on a comet
using young blood to fight old age (rats)
kinghorn human sequencing machines (Sydney relevant)
100,000 genomes project
the world’s oldest cave art @ 40,000 years old
tesla battery//released their patents on their electric engines for use by anyone.
Virtual reality (cardboard)
Astronauts growing their own food
Self driving cars
Lab grown kidneys successfully implanted into animals
Chicken with a reptile face
nearly an altzeimers cure (ultrasound techniques)
DAWN orbits Ceres
Deepdreaming machine learning (and twitch-deepdream)
Prosthetic limbs that transmit feeling back to the user
Autonomous rocket landing pointy end up
Ion space travel engine
Anti—aging virus injected into the patient 0
Super black substance made
High temperature superconductor (-70c)
23&me were allowed to open back up
Enchroma colourblindness adjusting glasses
Google releases “Tensor Flow” which whilst its not very good at the moment has the potential to centralize the Deep Learning libraries.
CRISPR’s ability to change the germ line.
Deep Dreaming, but also image generation. Faces generated, bedrooms generated and even a toilet in a field. Its clear that within the next few years you will have pictures entirely generated by Neural Nets. (Code: https://github.com/soumith/dcgan.torch).
On the NLP side of deep learning this post, which whilst not using new techniques, sparked a lot of generative work (http://karpathy.github.io/2015/05/21/rnn-effectiveness/). There has also been really interesting work on Question Answering (http://arxiv.org/abs/1506.02075)
Quasipolynomial time algorithm for graph isomorphism (http://jeremykun.com/2015/11/12/a-quasipolynomial-time-algorithm-for-graph-isomorphism-the-details/)
April 29 – The World Health Organization (WHO) declares that rubella has been eradicated from the Americas.
July 14 - NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft performs a close flyby of Pluto, becoming the first spacecraft in history to visit the distant world.
September 10 – Scientists announce the discovery of Homo naledi, a previously unknown species of early human in South Africa.
September 28 – NASA announces that liquid water has been found on Mars.
Recommendations from the slack:
china makes a genetically modified micropig and sells it: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/03/micropig-animal-rights-genetics-china-pets-outrage
psyc studies can’t be reproduced: http://www.theverge.com/2015/8/27/9216565/psychology-studies-reproducability-issues
zoom contact lenses
room temperature synthetic diamonds
terry pratchett passed away
John Forbes Nash Jr
Nobel medals this year
Chemistry – Paul L. Modrich; Aziz Sancar and Tomas Lindahl (“for mechanistic studies of DNA repair”)
Economics – Angus Deaton (“for his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfare”)
Literature – Svetlana Alexievich (“for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time” )
Peace – Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet (“for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011”)
Physics – Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald (“for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass”)
Physiology or Medicine – William C Campbell, Satoshi Ōmura (“for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites”) and Tu Youyou (“for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria”)
Polio came back
(also this year) - upcoming spaceX return flight on the 19th dec
runner up: vat meat is almost ready.
runner up: soylent got a lot better this year
runner up: quantum computing having progressive developments but nothing specific
Things that happened 100 years ago (from wikipedia):
March 19 – Pluto is photographed for the first time
September 11 – The Pennsylvania Railroad begins electrified commuter rail service between Paoli and Philadelphia, using overhead AC trolley wires for power. This type of system is later used in long-distance passenger trains between New York City, Washington, D.C., and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
November 25 – Einstein’s theory of general relativity is formulated.
Alfred Wegener publishes his theory of Pangaea.
Thomas Huckle Weller, American virologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (d. 2008)
Charles Townes, American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2015)
August 27 – Norman F. Ramsey, American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2011)
Clifford Shull, American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2001)
November 19 – Earl Wilbur Sutherland Jr., American physiologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1974)
Henry Taube, Canadian-born chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2005)
Paul Ehrlich, German scientist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1854)
December 19 – Alois Alzheimer, German psychiatrist and neuropathologist (b. 1864)
Chemistry – Richard Willstätter
Literature – Romain Rolland
Medicine – not awarded
Peace – not awarded
Physics – William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg
Meta—This list was compiled for Sydney’s Solstice event; I figured I would share this because it’s pretty neat.
Time to compose: 3-4hrs
With comments from the IRC and slack
To see more of my posts visit my Table of contents
As usual; any suggestions welcome below.