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The Most Significant Advancements of the Decade

The 2010s have marked a very important decade in the scientific world with many milestones and breakthroughs. Scientists of all fields worked together to a better understanding of the world and created a more globalised and collaborative environment.

1) The Detection of Gravitational Waves

The detection of the ripple through the fabric of space and time confirmed Einsteins’ proposal that encompasses the idea that when massive objects accelerate they create waves of the fabric of space and time itself. The discovery has helped us to understand gravity better and was made in 2015 by US based observatory LIGO.

2) The CRISPR Era

The new, relatively easy and cheap way to precisely edit DNA has revolutionised many science fiction possibilities that are now able to be turned into reality. The CRISPR - Cas 9 System is able to store snippets of DNA, recognise them in different sections of the genome and cut out the precise section needed. It was first identified in bacteria’s immune system to fight viruses but it has been confirmed that the customised technique works on human DNA. However, this triggers a big ethical debate as this powerful tool allows scientists to be able to edit the genome of humans however they desire.

3) Climate Change Alarm Bells

Across the globe, the consequences of global warming are deepening and most of the world is ringing its alarm bells to try to slow down climate change. We are seeing spiking new temperatures across the world especially in Europe, an accelerating melting rate of the poles, global coral bleaching and the extinction of many species. Activists like Greta Thunberg and scientists are spreading awareness and working together with countries in events like Madrid’s 2019 Climate Change conference, whilst the Paris Agreement and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are creating solutions and plans for the future.

4) Changing the Course of Mortal Diseases

Many deadly diseases that took away thousands of lives are starting to lose the fight as scientists are finding ways to cure patients. For example, following the 2014-2016 Ebola out break in West Africa we have finalised rVSV-ZEBOV, a vaccine for the Ebola Virus. HIV patients are now seeing a more restricted spread especially among heterosexual couples as people are taking antiretroviral drugs to reduce the spread.

5) Visualising the Cosmos with new Technology

The universe is a tempting idea that nobody can map out; however some major observations are creating a 3D movie to help us to visualise it. This has been achieved with Gaia, a spacecraft launched by the ESA in 2013. Furthermore, the first ever image of a black hole’s silhouette was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope with the help of global scientists and teams.

6) Innovative Reproduction Ways

In order to avoid diseases that are genetically passed on and to introduce new reproductive methods for same sex couples, many clinical births are being tried. In 2016, a baby with three parents was born with a father’s sperm, a mother’s cell nucleus and a donor’s egg that has been enucleated. Using gene editing, same sex mice conceived pups. Chinese scientists also announced the birth of two cloned macaques, primates that had been cloned like Dolly the sheep.

7) Life’s Building Blocks

In this decade, scientists have been exploring new ways of looking for life and studying the chemistry and biology of other planets and worlds. NASA’s proof confirmed that the watery plumed of Enceladus (Saturn’s moon) has large organic molecules, similar to Earth, which means that it has the right conditions for life to flourish. NASA’s rover on Mars also found organic compounds on the planet and revealed more information on the atmosphere’s methane levels.

Laura L, Year 12

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