2015: Terrorism, natural disasters, and progress
2015: An eventful year after all

The future of computing - Quantum computers

Computing
The future of computing - Quantum computers
  • After a series of tests between Google's D-Wave quantum computer and a normal computer, Google concluded that the quantum computer was 100 million times faster than a normal one.
  • The quantum computer uses "qubits" against a normal computer's bits.
  • This breakthrough will help overcome current limitations in computing and usher in a new era of advanced artificial intelligence systems, virtual simulations and optimization.

A new age of global internet connectivity

Connectivity
A new age of global internet connectivity
  • Google (Project Loon - Helium balloons), Facebook (Internet.org - drones and satellite constellation) and Qualcomm and Virgin (OneWeb - satellite constellation) took major steps in ensuring global internet connectivity for every human on earth at speeds of 1 Mbps.
  • Global internet connectivity will ensure 8 billion connected humans as opposed to the current 3 billion, adding 5 billion consumers to the global economy.

The holy grail of nuclear power - Fusion

Fusion
The holy grail of nuclear power - Fusion
  • Several companies like Vancouver-based General Fusion, Washington-based Helium Energy, and TriAlpha are getting funding to pursue the holy grail of nuclear power - fusion.
  • TriAlpha broke barriers by holding a ball of superheated gas at 10 million degrees Celcius for 5 milliseconds.
  • Fusion, being the power source of the stars, is pollution-free and would be a major step in solving the energy crisis.

Fuel cell cars which run on hydrogen

Cars
Fuel cell cars which run on hydrogen
  • Ushering in a new era of hybrid cars, Toyota announced the Mirai which runs on compressed hydrogen and emits nothing but drops of water.
  • Although pricey ($57,700), the Mirai can run 310 miles on a single tank, and a refill takes less than 3 minutes.
  • While the infrastructure to dispense compressed hydrogen needs significant development, this is a first step towards emission-free long-distance travel.

The next generation of robotics

Robotics
The next generation of robotics
  • While robots are used heavily in manufacturing and assembly lines, advances in robotics technology is making robots smarter, more adaptive and flexible.
  • Beneficiaries of the cloud-computing revolution, robots are now able to access information and instructions remotely, making them more versatile.
  • New-age robots are being used in precision agriculture for harvesting and weed control, specialized manufacturing tasks, and even in nursing roles in Japan.

SpaceX ushers in a new era of spaceflight

Spaceflight
SpaceX ushers in a new era of spaceflight
  • SpaceX succeeded in recovering the first stage of its Falcon-9 Orbital Launch Vehicle, bringing it back from near orbital speeds to its point of departure back on Earth.
  • Because the first stage has 9-10 engines, SpaceX can basically reuse 80% of the vehicle's parts for future missions.
  • Reusable rockets will usher in a new era of spaceflight as missions will cost significantly less.

Genetically re-engineered Polio virus treats cancer

Cancer
Genetically re-engineered Polio virus treats cancer
  • This year, a genetically re-engineered Polio virus, the PVS-RIPO, was used to treat glioblastoma - a brain tumour which carries a life expectancy of less than a year.
  • Unlike previous experimental treatments, PVS-RIPO proved successful in seeking out and poisoning cancerous cells while steering clear of normal ones.
  • Such advances in synthetic biology and genomics are paving the way for treating previously incurable diseases.

Researchers edit the genome of a human embryo

Gene
Researchers edit the genome of a human embryo
  • Researchers from China reported that they had been able to edit the genomes of human embyros using a new gene splicing technique- CRISPR-Cas9.
  • CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is a strand of DNA found in 1987 to be part of a bacterial defense system.
  • In short, the same mechanism can be used to edit genomes and create re-engineered life devoid of disease.

A look at the science/tech breakthroughs of 2015

31 Dec 2015
A look at the science/tech breakthroughs of 2015
  • Technology is perhaps the greatest agent of change and as 2015 comes to an end, we take a look at the most ingenious and revolutionary breakthroughs of 2015.
  • From revolutions in spaceflight to cancer research, from advanced computing to new energy sources, 2015 was a major year for humankind and its leap into a world of abundance, exponential change and new era of advancement.