Right around the holiday season we start to see a lot of top 10 lists that go over all the major highlights of the year. Entertainment, politics, sports, and day-to-day living are all discussed in the yearly recap. So, what happened in science this year? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginia to find out.
2013 was a very productive and busy year for scientists. From the frosty beginning of the year through the heat and back into the cold, a lot of groundbreaking research took place that could result in some pretty amazing changes for our world. Scientists were busy in every field trying to understand more and more about our natural world. From the distant and far, like Voyager 1's confirmed departure of our solar system, making it the first human made object to leave the stellar neighborhood, to the amazing work on tiny cells deep within us that control memories, appetite, and neural activities this has been a very busy year for the millions of people involved in science worldwide.
Talking cockroaches, wooden skyscrapers, fake-but-real hamburgers, super-fast planes, geological changes, and some mind blowing astronomical news like the confirmation of water in the soil on Mars were all given some time in the spotlight. There were many other events which act as seeds that will, hopefully, one day blossom into the flowers of a new understanding. Scientists worked on cloaking nanoparticles to better help fight cancer, the mind was explored more than ever, the concept of de-extinction started to become a hot topic, and someone even planted fake memories into a mouse's brain! This has been quite the busy year.
The true beauty of science is that this work won't be a stopping point, but a series of new paths to take in the years to come. Each time we answer a question using science we find another set of questions to ask based on the new discovery. We confirmed water in the soil on Mars. Okay, great, so how do we use that water? We understand that the human evolution may have had a few more steps to it than we once thought. Alright, so where can we trace genetic lines back to? After we wrapped our heads around changing the circadian rhythm of algae we can start to see if it's possible to alter our own. The future holds a lot more answers and that's why we must keep asking questions that will one day lead to a better understanding of our world.
So, we can start to close the books on 2013 with a very energized and excited science community that's looking forward to picking up where this year's work left off.
"Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge." - Carl Sagan.
We could not agree more! We're looking forward to more stories in the next year.
Happy holidays everyone!
Article by Prabir Mehta, Science Museum of Virginia