Innovations in the last decade are not limited to tech alone. While you are browsing on a reliable review platform like US-Reviews, most people comment and talk about the latest gadgets almost all the time. Virtually everyone knows about the various high-tech gadget shops close to their home or workplace.
However, with the rapid advancement in science, it’s possible to lose track of what we didn’t know only a few short years ago. Breakthroughs in biology, physics, and astronomy, to name a few, have occurred over the last decade. Here are our picks for the decade’s most significant scientific breakthroughs and unexpected discoveries.
HIV Preventative Treatment in 2011
Many people at high risk of contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) now take a daily pill to mitigate their risk. The United States Food and Drug Administration approved Truvada for this purpose in 2012.
The research, called the “breakthrough of the year” by the Journal Science, was the first since 1994 to demonstrate a novel method of preventing HIV transmission from one person to another. The research started in 2005, with 2011 findings serving as interim findings. In that data, the researchers discovered a 96 percent reduction in HIV transmission. The 10-year study’s final results, published in 2016 in The New England Journal of Medicine, showed a 93 percent reduction in HIV transmission.
Gravitational Waves in 2014
Before 2014, scientists had only indirect evidence for the Big Bang theory, which explains a mind-boggling expansion of space 13.8 billion years ago that birthed our universe. However, in 2014, scientists observed direct signs of this interstellar expansion, which some have dubbed a “smoking gun” for the universe’s birth.
This proof came in the form of gravitational waves, which are literal ripples in space-time left over from the Big Bang’s first fraction of a second. These ripples altered the interstellar microwave background’s polarization, which is a remnant of the early universe’s radiation. The polarization shifts are referred to as B-modes. In Antarctica, these B-modes were discovered by scientists using the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization 2 (BICEP2) telescope.
Since then, gravitational waves have started to shed light on the universe’s mysteries, such as the dynamics of black hole collisions and neutron star collisions. Gravitational waves can also aid in determining the rate at which the universe expands.
Human Embryos Underwent The First CRISPR Editing In 2015
Perhaps the most significant biomedical tale of the decade has been the emergence from the relative obscurity of a gene-editing technology called CRISPR. This technology evolved from certain bacteria’s natural defense mechanisms; it consists of repetitive gene sequences linked to an enzyme called Cas9 that functions similarly to a pair of molecular scissors. The gene sequences can be modified to target a specific segment of DNA, instructing the Cas9 enzyme to enter and begin snipping.
Scientists can easily delete and insert DNA fragments into living organisms using this system, a capability that has clear implications for curing genetic disorders — and likely leading to custom-made infants. The first step down this path was taken in 2015 when scientists at China’s Sun Yat-sen University revealed that they had used CRISPR to make the first-ever genetic modifications to human embryos. Although the embryos were not viable and the operation was only partially successful, the experiment pioneered an ethical path that the scientific community continues to debate.
First Black Hole Image in 2019
Black holes have long captivated astronomers: we know they exist, but since light cannot escape beyond their event horizons, they are also somewhat invisible.
Until now: Scientists have captured the first sight of a black hole. The portrait subject was a black hole at the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy, which is approximately our solar system’s size. The image resembles a glowing doughnut of matter encircling a black hole’s point of no return; this is the dust and gas orbiting the black hole’s point of no return. The researchers involved in the discovery were awarded the 2020 Breakthrough Prize, one of the most coveted honors in science.