10 biggest scientific breakthroughs in 2021

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10 biggest scientific breakthroughs in 2021

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 10 biggest scientific breakthroughs in 2021
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Highlights

  • Researchers have made a ground-breaking discovery that can help people with paralysis to control their robotic limbs and wheelchair just by thinking about moving their bodies.

  • On Nov 21, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe completed a record-setting swing by the Sun.

  • NASA completes building the world’s most powerful space telescope, James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most advanced observatory in space exploration’s history.

In the midst of a devastating pandemic gripping the world, scientists have quietly mustered their way to accomplish some of the most incredible breakthroughs in science.

Their astounding advances, from medicine, astronomy, engineering, computing, climate to human genomics, give hope to humanity battered by a series of bad experiences and tragedies.

Here we list 10 major scientific advances made in 2021.

Parker Solar Probe

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe completed a record-setting swing by the Sun. On Nov 21, the rover came within an 8.5-million-km radius from the solar surface, the 10th closest approach.

The pass, known as perihelion, occurred at 4:25 a.m. EST, with the solar probe moving at speeds of 586,864 kmph. This historic milestone marked a midway point in the mission’s solar encounter.

The Parker Solar Probe, designed and built at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, will transmit data on the properties and structure of the solar wind back to Earth.

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Sea slugs can regrow their entire body from an amputated head within weeks like plants.

Source: Pixabay

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Sea slugs’ regenerative ability

We have heard of animals that can regrow their severed tails or limbs but not quite like the sea slugs. These creatures can regrow their entire body from a severed head.

Japanese scientists made this amazing discovery this year. They found that sea slugs can regrow their entire body from an amputated head within weeks like plants. According to scientists, these slimy creatures have a plant-like ability to photosynthesize because of the algae they eat.

The findings open up a whole new study of animals’ regenerative ability hitherto unknown.

Brain-Computer Interface

Researchers at Tufts University’s BrainGate have made a ground-breaking discovery that can help a paralyzed person to control a robotic limb or wheelchair just by thinking about moving their bodies.

They developed the world’s first wireless brain-computer interface (BCI) that can transmit brain signals as fast as a cable system. Earlier, the BCIs were in use only in a research setting.

The discovery holds immense promise for people with paralysis as BCIs would no longer need bulky cables to transmit brain signals.

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First vaccine for parasitic disease

Malaria kills more than half a million people worldwide, of which over half of them are children, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. Now, scientists have developed the world’s first vaccine for a parasitic disease that can drastically diminish the deadly power of mosquito-borne pathogens.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had greenlighted the vaccine for all kids at risk in October. Experts believe this discovery could prevent up to 24,000 deaths among children under five annually.

Most powerful space telescope built

NASA has completed building the world’s most powerful space telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope. It is the largest and most advanced observatory in the history of space exploration.

It will blast off from French Guiana aboard the Ariane 5 rocket and will take months, traveling nearly one million miles, before it reaches the ideal spot to deploy the instruments.

The instrument will scan the unknown parts of the universe in an attempt to explain the evolution of our planet, the solar system, and galaxies beyond.

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Cure for type 1 diabetes

Some 1.6 million Americans suffer from type 1 diabetes. The disease prevents the pancreas from producing insulin to control blood sugar, requiring intense 24/7 management.

Now, that may change. Scientists, who took part in a five-year study, may have developed a cure. They effectively infused the insulin-producing stem cells in a 64-year-old with type 1 diabetes.

He told the New York Times about his recovery. Sixteen other people had participated in the study. But it is still early to say with certainty that the treatment is effective in the long term.

 NASA launched the most sophisticated Perseverance rover this year to search for evidence of past life on the red planet.

Source: Pixabay

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NASA launches Mars mission

NASA launched the most sophisticated Perseverance rover this year to search for evidence of past life on the red planet. It will spend nearly two years collecting rock samples to bring back to Earth.

The space agency also launched the solar-powered Ingenuity Mars Helicopter in April, the first aircraft to make a controlled flight on another planet.

New planets spotted

NASA scientists have confirmed the existence of 301 new exoplanets, taking the total to 4,870.

The agency used the new ExoMiner deep-learning technology for the space survey that evaluates data collected by the Kepler spacecraft.

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Perovskite solar panels

Although solar panels got cheaper, frustratingly, though, they haven’t gotten efficient.

Now, engineers at Rice University have developed two-dimensional perovskites that can withstand the elements and boost efficiency by up to 18%.

The researchers found that the sunlight contracts the spaces between the atomic layers of the 2D perovskites, increasing their efficiency manifold.

Perovskites can outperform the standard silicon used in existing solar panels.

According to them, it is a huge step forward in the field.

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First successful arm and shoulder transplant

French researchers led by Jean-Michel Dubernard pulled off their first successful double arm and shoulder transplant in January.

Dubernard had earlier carried out the world’s first double hand and partial face transplants, a feat that changed the surgical approach entirely. Felix Gretarsson, 49, had lost both arms in an accident. Sadly, Dubernard passed away in July, but not before giving Gretarsson a new life.

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