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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
PC: 'Crystal Structure of Cas9 in Complex with Guide RNA and Target DNA' by Hiroshi Nishimasu and et all. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons
PC: 'Google Loon Balloon close up' by iLighter - Flickr: Google Loon June 2013. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons
PC: 'Nuclear fusion' by Yikrazuul (talk) - Own work; parts used from Wereon's work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
PC: 'Poliovirus binding receptor 1DGI' by Fvasconcellos. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons