Here Are The Top 24 Science Stories Of 2016!

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We know how desperately humankind is waiting for 2016 to end: assassinations, explosions, terrorist attacks, countless celebrities’ death, and misery from all over the world. There are, however, a few good things worth remembering from this damn year and most of the good news came from scientists, but with a lot of warning -- such as how global warming has come to an alarming state or the possibility of AIs taking over the world.  

If you could survive 2016 to this day, here are the top 24 science and technology stories that will probably make you a few more hopeful for the new year.

1. Japanese scientists successfully reproduced a tardigrade after being frozen for more than 30 years.

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Researchers at the National Institute of Polar Research in Tokyo defrosted and revived two of the tiny animals, which are also known as water bears, from a batch collected in the Antarctic in 1983. While one tardigrade died after 20 days, the other began reproducing. It laid 19 eggs, of which 14 hatched successfully.

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2. Discovery of clear gravitational wave signals

Physicists have announced the discovery of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime that were first anticipated by Albert Einstein a century ago.

The discovery was the fruit of 50 years of trial and error, and 25 years of perfecting a set of instruments so sensitive they could identify a distortion in spacetime one thousandth the diameter of one atomic nucleus across a 2.5 mile (4km) strip of laser beam and mirror.

The phenomenon detected was the collision of two black holes. Using the world’s most sophisticated detector, scientists listened for 20 thousandths of a second as the two giant black holes, one 35 times the mass of the sun, the other slightly smaller, circled around each other.

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3. World’s first ‘solar panel road’ opened in France.

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In the small village of Tourouvre-au-Perche in Normandy, a 1/2 mile (1 kilometer) road was opened that could generate enough electricity to power the street lights. The panels have been covered in a silicon-based resin that allows them to withstand the weight of passing big rigs.

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4. China began operating the world's largest radio telescope.

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The telescope began searching for signals from stars and galaxies and, perhaps, extraterrestrial life! Measuring 1640 feet (500 meters) in diameter, the radio telescope is nestled in southern Guizhou province. It took five years and $180 million to complete and surpasses that of the 984-foot (300-meter) Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, a dish used in research on stars that led to a Nobel Prize.

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5. Chinese scientists turned mouse stem cells into working sperm cells.

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Scientists in China have successfully made mouse sperm cells from embryonic stem cells. These “spermatid-like cells” were used to successfully fertilize mouse egg cells and produce healthy fertile offspring. This is a significant breakthrough and makes the possibility of generating functional sperm for men who are infertile that bit closer.

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6. A novel written by AI passed the first round in a Japanese literary competition.

www.skyword.com

A Japanese AI program has co-authored a short-form novel that passed the first round of screening for a national literary prize. So probably no job out there will be safe in a world run by AI!

The novel is called The Day A Computer Writes A Novel, or “Konpyuta ga shosetsu wo kaku hi” in Japanese. It couldn't win first prize at the third Nikkei Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award ceremony, but it did come close.

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7. Tomatoes, peas, and 8 other crops have been grown in Mars-equivalent soil

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Although the Mars-equivalent soil produced slightly fewer crops than regular Earth soil, the difference wasn't huge, suggesting that, in the right conditions, early settlers might be able to sustainably feed themselves with crops grown on the Red Planet. The dream of a Martian colony just got a little bit closer.

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8. A group of researchers claimed that Octopuses might have Alien DNA.

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According to a group of scientists, octopuses might actually be aliens not of this world. It's the first genome sequencing ever conducted on a cephalopod and it showed remarkable complexity with some 33,000 protein-coding genes identified - more than is found in a human.

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9. Worm DNA may unlock the secret to superhuman regenerative abilities.

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Scientists are trying to unlock the mutant's healing powers for everyone - using the DNA of a worm. Researchers from the University of Washington found that acorn worms can regrow every body part, including the head, nervous system, and internal organs, from nothing.

If the worms' self-healing genetic code is deciphered, tissue from a human amputee could be collected and the genes from those tissues activated to trigger regeneration.

10. Scientists announced plans for synthetic human genomes.

130 scientists, entrepreneurs and policy leaders held an invitation-only, closed-door meeting at Harvard University to discuss an ambitious plan to create synthetic human genomes. The participants have published their idea, declaring that they're launching a project to radically reduce the cost of synthesizing genomes -- a potentially revolutionary development in biotechnology that could enable technicians to grow human organs for transplantation.

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11. China launched the world's first quantum satellite.

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The $100m Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) mission was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northern China. For the next two years, the craft – also named "Micius" after the ancient Chinese philosopher – will demonstrate the feasibility of quantum communication between Earth and space, and test quantum entanglement over unprecedented distances.

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12. Astronomers detected 'mysterious' signal 95-light years away.

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A"strong signal" was detected by a radio telescope in Russia that is scanning space for signs of extraterrestrial life.

"No one is claiming that this is the work of an extraterrestrial civilization, but it is certainly worth further study," said Paul Gilster, author of the Centauri Dreams website which covers peer-reviewed research on deep space exploration.

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13. Stephen Hawking warned artificial intelligence could end mankind.

Prof Stephen Hawking told the BBC that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence. "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race," he said.

"It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate," he said.

"Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded."

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14. Scientists have discovered evidence that the “sixth sense” may be more than just a feeling.

www.ucg.org

"Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a new study by scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), studying two patients with a rare neurological disorder, shows that a gene – PIEZO2 – controls certain aspects of human touch and proprioception, the ability to sense stimuli originating within the body. Due to mutations in this gene, the patients faced numerous difficulties, including loss of touch in certain parts. However, they managed to overcome these challenges by using vision and other senses."

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15. The world's first baby has been born using a new "three person" fertility technique.

www.thestar.com

The baby has the usual DNA from his mom and dad, plus a tiny bit of genetic code from a donor. Experts say the move heralds a new era in medicine and could help other families with rare genetic conditions.

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16. Nobel prize winners of the year were announced.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi of Tokyo Institute of Technology “for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy.”

The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to David Thouless of the University of Washington, Duncan Haldane of Princeton University, and Michael Kosterlitz of Brown University “for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.”

17. And the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Jean-Pierre Sauvage of the University of Strasbourg, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart of Northwestern University, and Bernard Feringa of the University of Groningen “for the design and synthesis of molecular machines.”

18. NASA announced that Mars Ice Deposit holds as much water as Lake Superior.

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Researchers using NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have determined that frozen beneath a region of cracked and pitted plains on Mars lies about as much water as what's in Lake Superior, largest of the Great Lakes.

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19. Artificial intelligence 'judge' was developed by UCL computer scientists.

A software that is able to weigh legal evidence and moral questions of right and wrong has been devised by computer scientists at University College London and used to accurately predict the result in hundreds of real-life cases.

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20. SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced the plans to get humans to Mars in six years.

Elon Musk has outlined his vision for manned missions to Mars, which he said could begin as soon as 2022 – three years sooner than his previous estimates.

“What I really want to try to achieve here is to make Mars seem possible – like it’s something we can achieve in our lifetimes,” Musk told an audience in his keynote speech at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.

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21. Google's DeepMind defeated legendary Go player Lee Se-dol.

A huge milestone has just been reached in the field of artificial intelligence: AlphaGo, a program developed by Google's DeepMind unit, has defeated legendary Go player Lee Se-dol in the first of five historic matches being held in Seoul, South Korea. Lee resigned after about three and a half hours, with 28 minutes and 28 seconds remaining on his clock.

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22. The lost city of Thonis-Heracleion resurfaced after 1,000 years under water.

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Ancient Egypt’s gateway to the Mediterranean – submerged and buried under layers of sand is now on show in a British Museum. At the end of the 2nd century BC, this thriving city was hit by a triple whammy of earthquakes, floods, and geological subsidence.

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23. 2016 was also a milestone year in the continued warming of the planet.

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From unstable agriculture to melting ice sheets to extreme weather events and heat waves, climate change has disrupted virtually every corner of the world.

In the centuries to come, history books will likely look back on September 2016 as a major milestone for the world’s climate,” Brian Kahn of Climate Central wrote earlier this year.

That’s because, during September, a month in which atmospheric carbon dioxide — a heat-trapping greenhouse gas —is usually at its lowest, the monthly value failed to drop below 400 parts per million. The 400 ppm mark has sad significance in the climate community, as it has long been considered a point of no return for the atmosphere by scientists.

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24. The official theme of the 2016 meeting of World Economic Forum was “mastering the fourth industrial revolution.”

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“The First Industrial Revolution used steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres” Professor Klaus Schwab told.

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