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.
The Italian Space Agency Detected Liquid Water On Mars
Scientists have been chasing after evidence of liquid water on Mars for decades. While the topography of the Red Planet and subterranean ice deposits suggest an aqueous past, scientists weren't able to confirm liquid water's current presence until July 2018.
On July 25, 2018, the Italian Space Agency announced researchers discovered an underground lake on Mars. Using a ground-penetrating radar, the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding instrument (Marsis), scientists uncovered a subglacial lake that is roughly 12.4 miles wide and three feet deep.
"Marsis was born to make this kind of discovery, and now it has," said Roberto Orosei, a lead investigator from the National Institute of Astrophysics.
Scientists Uncovered The First Ever Fossilized Snake Embryo In 105 Million Year Old Amber
University of Alberta paleontologists announced in July 2018 they found the first ever fossilized snake embryo. Preserved in amber and dating back 105 million years, the embryo could provide some key insight regarding snake evolution.
The team involved in the project had been tracking snake migration across Australia, India, Madagascar, as well as Asian and African countries. The amber containing the embryo also included insects and plants, indicating the snake lived in a forest environment. The scientists had also been studying how snakes evolved physically over time. Unfortunately, the fact only about 20 fully formed snake fossils existed hampered their research. Scientists hope the discovery of a fully formed embryo can provide new clues into snake development and fill in gaps in their research.
Scientists Pinpointed A Ghost Particle's Origins
On July 12, 2018, scientists released a study outlining how they were able to pinpoint the exact source of a neutrino, AKA a "ghost particle." Neutrinos are subatomic, nearly massless particles with no charge. These tiny specks are as small as electrons and can travel across the universe on a straight course; they don't bump into or interact with other particles, which is why they have the nickname ghost particles. This is also why they are next to impossible to detect.
One hundred trillion neutrinos pass through your body every second, but it wasn't until September 2017 that astronomers were able to fully detect and trace the origins of a high-energy neutrino back to a blazar. A blazer is an elliptical galaxy that boasts a swirling supermassive black hole as its center.
Why are astronomers so excited by this discovery? The scientists at the IceCube observatory in the South Pole believe these particles can help unveil mysteries of the cosmos. The particle's ability to travel through space unscathed makes it easier for scientists to understand phenomena happening billions of light-years from Earth. Ghost particles might also help scientists understand secrets about our universe's past, like why matter won over anti-matter in the Big Bang. Some believe it might even change human's fundamental understanding of physics.
"That's why this is exciting," astroparticle physicist and IceCube spokesman Darren Grant told The Washington Post. "It's a brand new vision on what's happening in the universe."
Astronomers Found The Brightest Object From The Universe's Infancy
In July 2018, astronomers discovered the brightest object in our universe. The discovered quasar, named PSO J352.4034-15.3373 (P352-15 for short), is 13 billion light-years away from Earth and started when the universe was only 7% of its age today.
A quasar is an object in space, such as a galaxy, that is fueled by a supermassive black hole. They can be up to a billion times as big as our Sun. Quasars absorb materials and then spew them back out in the form of blinding plasma, which is why scientists are able to detect them with sophisticated telescopes. Scientists can continue studying this quasar in an attempt to further understand the universe and its beginnings.
"This quasar’s brightness and its great distance make it a unique tool to study the conditions and processes that prevailed in the first galaxies in the universe. We look forward to unraveling more of its mysteries," said astrophysicist Chris Carilli of NRAO.