Scientific breakthroughs happen across the globe each year as the world's top researchers make innovative discoveries that alter life on earth and change our perception of reality. The greatest scientific discoveries are an inspiring testament to the profound capabilities of the human mind. Each year, scientists make incredible discoveries.
In 2017, scientists learned how to pull water out of thin air and edit a human embryo. The latest breakthroughs from 2018 are just as impressive. If you haven't already learned about these recent scientific advances, now is the time.
This list of 2018 scientific discoveries features informative works that span a wide range of disciplines. Some discoveries brought about a more rich understanding of our past. The last wild horses may not truly have wild ancestors and a lost Native American tribe gave us a more complex look at our earliest ancestors. Other discoveries may mean huge leaps for medical science. From blood tests to detect cancer to the potential to grow human organs for donations, these breakthroughs will give you hope for the future even in bleak times.
The latest in science news is inspirational for a new generation of thinkers who will continue to push the boundaries of human capability. What were the biggest discoveries of 2018? Read on to find out.
Male Birth Control Could Be Available Soon
In March 2018, researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle announced they may have finally created an effective male birth control pill. Known as dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU), the male pill contains a combination of hormones that suppress sperm production and is taken once a day. In addition to blood work indicating the pill was working effectively, research subjects who took the pill reported minimal side effects. While further studies are necessary before the pill becomes widely available, the news is promising.
For years, researchers have attempted to create a male birth control pill, but have run into a number of common problems. Testosterone used in past male birth control pills could cause liver problems. In addition to this, pills previously tested had to be taken twice daily to work effectively. While the new pill causes mild cholesterol issues, it so far seems to have avoided many of the major problems associated with male birth control in the past.
Scientists Determined The Origin Of Sickle Cell Anemia
In March 2018, an article in the American Journal of Human Genetics announced scientists have determined the origin of sickle cell anemia. The genetic condition affects the shape of red blood cells and can lead to serious complications like blood clots, infections, and blood loss. Via analyzing historical records and genomes of over 3,000 people with genetic histories of sickle cell anemia, scientists pinpointed the time and place of the disease's origin. Sickle cell anemia likely likely began about 7,300 years ago in West-Central Africa. The original mutation was likely passed on for hundreds of years until one child was born with two copies of the mutated gene and developed the disease.
What are the implications for the study? Researchers hope more information regarding the disease and its origins can lead to better medical care.
Scientists Discovered A Type Of Ice Inside Diamonds They Did Not Think Existed On Earth
Ice-VII is a type of ice that is one-and-a-half times denser than regular ice, making it more stable under pressure. Until March 2018, scientists believed ice-VII did not exist on Earth. They suspected our solar system may have pockets of ice-VII, possibly on some of the ice moons orbiting Saturn and Jupiter, but doubted the earth's environment could support the formation of this type of ice. However, a team of researchers discovered this type of ice trapped inside diamonds when studying phases of carbon monoxide.
The diamonds containing ice-VII formed very deep in earth's crust, and the combination of unique pressures and cold temperatures allowed ice-VII to form. Diamonds generally form deep under earth's surface and - in a process known as inclusion - may absorb certain chemicals from their surroundings. Oftentimes, when diamonds surface, they contain trace materials found only found deep in the earth. In this case, the diamonds in question had ice-VII trapped inside of them.
Scientists Discovered Time In Space Can Actually Alter Gene Expression
In March 2018, NASA announced their twin studies program had made a surprising discovery. Time in space can actually change the expressions of certain genes. Upon returning from space, Scott Kelly's DNA underwent some changes. As part of the program, NASA sent Scott Kelly into space and kept his brother, Mark Kelly, on Earth. When Scott returned, researchers did extensive studies on his physiology. When Scott's results were compared to Mark's, researchers found some changes in the expression of Scott's genes. While it's not uncommon to have gene expression change during space travel, researches think about seven percent of the changes may be permanent.
Why would space alter someone's genes? Researchers believe a combination of oxygen deprivation, increased inflammation, and nutrient shifts could be the cause.