The world of science and technology moves fast, but we often don’t hear about it. When new discoveries are made, their importance isn’t often recognised until a few years later when they are developed into a working product. But the reality is, there are so many new discoveries being made, and studies being carried out, that will have a significant impact on life as we know it.
Scientific Discoveries That You’ve Probably Not Heard About
Yet, you’ve probably not heard about that many of them. If you’re out of the loop, these are some of the most significant scientific discoveries in the last year.
Walking into a building and having your face scanned in before a creepy computer voice greets you personally is a staple of sci fi movies, but it’s fast becoming a reality. We’ve already seen a huge improvement in the security of a lot of our technology through fingerprint scanners that are now commonplace on any new phones. However, facial recognition is even better than fingerprints, and it makes it very difficult for anybody to replicate. The technology has been around in basic forms for a few years, but now a Chinese startup called Face++ have perfected the technology and started rolling it out. You can now get into buildings and pay for things at certain places, just by having your face scanned. They are also looking into using the technology to track criminals far more effectively. This is going to have a massive impact on the world because it can seriously reduce the risk of identity theft, and make it far easier to track and catch dangerous criminals. It is likely that this will take the place of most of the security measures that exist currently.
E Cigarettes Are Safe
That might not sound like news to you because that’s what they’ve been saying from the outset. But that’s what they said about normal cigarettes when people first started smoking them. Until recently, people thought that E cigarettes probably were safe, but there was no solid evidence to back that up. Now that people have been using them for a while, researchers were able to get good data for a recent study into the relative safeness of smoking e cigarettes. Prior to this, e cigarette companies have been able to sell their products because there are different liquid flavours that are more pleasant than smoking and they could claim that they were likely to be healthier. We’ve already seen a huge increase in their popularity but this recent study will push that even further. By measuring the levels of dangerous chemicals in smokers of traditional cigarettes and smokers of e cigarettes, they have proven that e cigarettes are far less harmful.
Paralysis caused by spinal cord injuries could soon be a thing of the past. The technology is a while away from being used in humans, but successful experiments have been done on monkeys. In a study conducted in France recently, scientists managed to paralyse a monkey’s leg, and then get it walking again. They severed the spinal cord so that it’s right leg was no longer receiving signals from the brain, and couldn’t move. They then attached devices to the brain and the leg, that were connected wirelessly. They effectively took over the role that the spinal cord could no longer carry out. Signals from the brain were picked up and transmitted to the receiver in the leg, which quickly began moving. After a short while, the monkey was walking normally again. This could eventually mean that people who have been paralysed for life, will be able to be cured completely, massively improving their quality of life. It isn’t likely to be a working treatment in humans for about ten years, but the process is starting right now.
Quantum computing is something that a lot of people are talking about, but most of us don’t really know what it is or why it’s going to be so useful. To understand just how a quantum computer works, you need a fairly in depth knowledge of quantum physics, so there’s no need to go into that now. The important distinction is that they will be able to send and store information much faster than anything we could create now. At the moment, they fill entire rooms and most of the time they need to be cooled to just above absolute zero. That isn’t something that you’ll be able to do at home. But recently, the tech giants of the world have started making progress toward more practical quantum computers. At the moment, they are very unstable and prone to error, but researchers believe that they have fixed a lot of those problems, making them more suitable for day to day use. Once we are able to use them regularly, computers will be far more secure and less prone to hacking, as well as being immeasurably faster than what we currently have. Lots of scientific research relies on simulations, but we are often getting to the point where our computers are simply not fast enough to run the simulations that we need them to. Hopefully, quantum computing will change that and could lead to a whole host of new discoveries.
Gene therapy isn’t a new idea, but it’s one that scientists have struggled to get off the ground. The basic idea behind it is that you can replace defective genes that cause diseases, with healthy ones, and completely cure people. It was an area that researchers were looking into but things slowed down considerably in 1999 after a patient died during an experiment. However, in the last couple of years, there have been more successes. A disease called Severe Combined Immune Deficiency which effectively removes a person’s immune system has been completely cured in a young boy in Boston. While it hasn’t been used for that many different diseases yet, scientists believe that they’ll be able to use this concept to cure all sorts of diseases that may possibly include forms of cancer. This would be one of the biggest breakthroughs in medical science in history if it can be done and millions of lives would be saved.
360 Degree Cameras
360 degree images aren’t a new development in themselves. You’ve probably seen a photo online that you can pan around with your cursor, and virtual reality images are filmed using these kinds of cameras. They used to set you back somewhere in the region of $10,000 so it wasn’t something that anybody can just do. However, scientists have recently developed a 360 degree camera that they used for studying the effects of climate change in a forest. It comes in at about $500 and anybody can buy one for themselves right now. Soon, the price will come down even further and they will be no more expensive than a standard camera. Once they’re widespread, it’s likely that a 360 image will become the standard format for all photos, and a 2D image will be a thing of the past. News outlets like the New York Times have already started using these 360 degree images as part of their reports and it’s likely that others will start to follow suit. These cameras are readily available right now so it could be as little as a few years before everybody is using them.
These are just a few innovations over the last few years are set to change the way the world works in ways we can only imagine, but who knows what else is being discovered right now?