Every day, scientists around the world work diligently to solve complex problems and to expand the sum total of human knowledge. Although every scientific discovery is valuable in the sense that it constitutes information that was not known before, some are so large or shocking that they are hailed as breakthroughs. Here are four of the most important recent scientific breakthroughs.
Discovery of a Possible New Planet Beyond Pluto
In the second half of 2016, a great deal of discussion took place in the astronomical community regarding a controversial theory that suggested the existence of a distant ninth planet in our own solar system. Although the planet has never been seen, its existence and rough size have been predicted by observing unaccounted-for orbit anomalies in smaller objects in the distant reaches of our solar system. If it exists, the planet could be almost as large as Neptune and take as long as 20,000 years to orbit the sun.
An Engine That May Break the Laws of Physics
Everyone knows Newton’s Third Law, which states that every action produces an equal and opposite reaction. A new propulsion system currently being researched by NASA, however, breaks that law. The engine, known as the EMDrive, produces forward propulsion while curiously having no opposite effect on any other object. Contrary to the known laws of physics though it might be, the engine appears to have worked in preliminary tests and may be a key component to the future of space flight.
Better Explanations of Antibiotic Resistance
One of the most pressing issues facing humanity today is the prospect of growing antibiotic resistance. Medical scientists are working diligently to discover how resistance mechanisms develop in bacteria that were once easily treatable with common antibiotics. Through microbiome research, scientists have learned that the many varieties of helpful bacteria that exist throughout the human body are a rich source of resistance genes that can be transferred to harmful bacteria under the right circumstances. With this increased understanding of how bacteria become resistant, advances can now be made in combating the phenomenon.
Strong, Lightweight Metal Foams
One of the biggest breakthroughs in the world of material science in recent years has been the development of CFMs, or composite metal foams. Thanks to their structures, these foams are lightweight, but also stronger than normal metals. While they have yet to fully enter the marketplace in the form of products, metal foams may be one of the most important and useful material classes in the coming decades.
It is incredible to see how much we have been able to develop over the years. Science will always keep expanding and growing, so there will always be more to discover. I can’t wait to see what they think of next.