The world's top scientists and researchers are always pushing to discover, prove, and create innovations in the world of science and technology. Their breakthroughs 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. What scientists learned in 2017 could help them make new advances in 2018, and scientific discoveries in 2018 can influence 2019 scientific advancements.
This list of 2019 scientific discoveries features breakthroughs and recent informative works that span a wide range of disciplines. From learning new things about the worlds beyond our planet to unlocking possibilities within our very cells, Some discoveries brought about a more rich understanding of our past, 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. Read on to find out the biggest discoveries of 2019 and the latest scientific advancements.
In the early '70s, in Greece, scientists discovered two skulls in a cave they named Apidima 1 and 2. Though Apidima 2 was quickly identified as a 170,000-year-old Neanderthal, Apidima 1 remained a mystery for years. Because the scientists who authored the study, "Apidima Cave fossils provide earliest evidence of Homo sapiens in Eurasia," only had the back of the skull for Apidima 1, and assumed it to be at least 40,000 years older than Apidima 2, identifying its origin proved difficult. Apidima 1 has a rounded shape, a characteristic known only to modern humans. It also proved to come from a very different environment than Apidima 2, according to one of the scientists, Rauner Grün. The fact that both skulls were found in conjunction with one another appeared to be a coincidence, or a "wonder," as Grün said.
Using CT scans, the scientists on the case reconstructed Apidima 1 decades after its discovery. They concluded the specimen was a 210,000-year-old human, changing our previously understood timeline of migration. For one, Eurasia, where the skulls were found, is known to have been populated by Neanderthals, but according to scientist and author Katerina Harvati, it is possible Neanderthals and Homo sapiens co-existed for a time before Neanderthals took over the region.
Though the timeline of human migration has shifted, it is still true that modern humans did leave Africa and take the place of Neanderthals in Europe from 45,000 to 35,000 years ago.
In June 2019, Australian researchers published a paper in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology identifying the Fostoria dhimbangunmal, a new plant-eating mid-Cretaceous dinosaur from the land down under. In 1984, a man named Robert Foster alerted paleontologists about opal encrusted fossils which were later displayed at the Australian Museum in Sydney for decades before being donated to Australian Opal Centre.
Researcher Phil Bell from the University of New England in Armidale lead the investigation into the opalized fossils in which he and his team discovered about 60 opal encrusted bones with a blue/green hue to them, belonging to a single individual adult dhimbangunmal. The adult fossil was found with three juveniles, leading paleontologists to conclude this dinosaur traveled in packs.
The creatures are said to belong to the same group of dinosaurs who evolved from the duck-billed hadrosaurs elsewhere, which, according to paleontologist Terry Gates from the Department of Biological Sciences at North Carolina State University, "fills in a glaring gap in our understanding of duck-billed dinosaur evolution in a spectacular way."
Photos of of the colorful fossils laced with opal can be found on National Geographic.
In November 2018, scientists and policy makers from 60 different nations agreed to redefine the way we measure a kilogram. The Le Grand K is a block of metal housed in Paris that has represented the weight of kilogram for over 100 years. As of Monday, May 20, 2019, otherwise known as World Metrology Day, the kilogram will be defined by the Planck constant, "a physical constant observed in the natural world," as opposed to the specific weight of a single prototype.
Scientists have agreed to make the change because the original unit with which the kilogram was defined has lost atoms and therefore mass thanks to natural deterioration. The Le Grand K is no longer a reliable sorce of comparison. The official value of a kilogram will not change, but the Planck constant enures that the weight of it's foundation is always accurate. National Physical Laboratory fellow Ian Robinson explains the move:
By using a universal constant of nature to define the kilogram we have enabled the whole world to contribute to the topmost level of mass measurement and, in addition, paved the way for future innovations. Much like upgrading a building's foundations, we're building a stable base for future science and industry.
In May 2019, an American explorer by the name Victor Vescovo broke the record for deepest dive into the ocean depths at 10,927m (35,849ft) below the surface in the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench. Vescovo and his team made five different dives and sent "robotic landers" to explore unaccessible areas. Upon their descent, they discovered four new species which the BBC describes as, "prawn-like crustaceans called amphipods, a creature called a spoon worm 7,000m-down, and a pink snailfish at 8,000m."
Vescovo also found a plastic bag and candy wrappers, bringing new meaning to the human impact on environments we have yet to explore. Scientists intend to test the new species for microplastics as a result.
Along with the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench, explores have traveled to the bottom of the "Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic Ocean (8,376m/27,480ft down), the South Sandwich Trench in the Southern Ocean (7,433m/24,388ft), and the Java Trench in Indian Ocean (7,192m/23,596ft)." Finally, there are plans to dive into the Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean in the fall of 2019.