Scientific Discoveries in 2012

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Not a year goes by without discoveries and advancement of science being made – 2012 was no exception.

By Tamar Lawson

  1. In July, the Higgs boson particle was discovered using Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The particle is an invisible energy field filling all space, giving mass to other particles.
  2. The Doomsday prediction may not have eventuated, but the discovery of asteroid 2012DA14 occurred in 2012. It passed within 35,000 kilometers of Earth                              on 15 February.
  3. 2012 saw some major advances in neurological conditions.  Early in the year it was revealed that Deep Brain Stimulation, a treatment used for tremor-inducing conditions, is a safe treatment for people suffering mental illness. Meanwhile a stem cell treatment, which uses skin cells from a mentally ill patient to grow stem cells in a laboratory, could also help patients of other neurological conditions.
  4. In California, scientists have produced a cheap plastic that removes large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air. It’s been suggested that this new material could be used to make artificial trees that would help lower concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Meanwhile, researchers in Arizona  have developed a software that is capable of estimating greenhouse gas emissions in urban areas.
  5. There are even discoveries for the foodies too. A Japanese study found that green tea can significantly reduce disability in the elderly. However, men who drink over six cups of tea per day may be 50% more likely to develop prostate cancer.
  6. On the subject of cancer, it’s been confirmed that grape seed extract kills head and neck cancer cells but leaves healthy cells unharmed. On the other end, scientists have also discovered two flawed genes prevalent in people with a high familial risk of bowel cancer.
  7. Although the phrase ‘it’s in my DNA’ rings true, there is still a lot we’re still learning. Scientists in America have successfully sequenced the genome of an 18-week-old human foetus by taking blood samples from the mother. In future, millions of children could be safely screened for genetic disorders.
  8. Every year new animals are officially named. One little guy to get his name is the Paedophryne amauensis, a frog measuring just seven millimetres.
  9. Discoveries are even being made amongst extinct species. In Queensland, palaeontologists excavated the largest Diprotodons (aka “giant wombat”) gravesite containing up to 50 specimens.
  10. It wouldn’t be a science article if we didn’t talk about the tech world.  A quantum computer has been developed that uses encoded strings of photons designed to appear at random. It allows for sensitive information to be shared and deciphered. This could lead the creation of ultra-secure cloud computing
  11. Last, but not least, for all you music lovers out there, scientists have recovered the sounds of music and laughter from the oldest playable American recording, which was made in 1878.

With such an impressive list I can’t wait to hear about the discoveries and innovations made in 2013. If you want to share your scientific discoveries with us, email grapeshot@mq.edu.au.

 

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