As the decade comes to a close, now is an opportune time to reflect on how far we have come in the past 10 years. Science is a broad and rapidly changing field, with new discoveries being made every year. Below is just a small selection of all the scientific findings from 2010 to 2019 that have influenced the way we observe and interact with the world.
Scientists started the decade with a deep dive into the past, painting a potential picture of the prehistoric world of dinosaurs. Yale researchers analyzed fossilized “dino fuzz” with an electron microscope and discovered melanosomes in these ancient samples, suggesting that dinosaurs were once covered in iridescent, colored feathers.
In 2011, a global clinical trial involving HIV-positive individuals and their partners confirmed the success of antiretroviral therapy in preventing the transmission of HIV. This finding was a major step forward for HIV treatment and prevention strategies and has drastically improved the quality of life for people infected with HIV, who currently number around 40 million.
This year marked the discovery of the groundbreaking Higgs boson, also known as the Higgs particle or God particle, which continues to be studied and debated by physicists today. I scoured the internet for a definitive explanation of why exactly this particle is so amazing, but pretty much everything went over my head. However, I did manage to deduce that the Higgs boson is responsible for giving objects their mass, and physicists are really excited about that.
CLARITY imaging developed in 2013 has contributed to the field of neurology as a way for researchers to better study the brain. With this technology, scientists are able to create transparent brain models and then use chemicals to color only select structures for imaging and analysis, facilitating research on topics such as autism and Alzheimer’s.
The bionic eye released this year granted partial sight to sufferers of retinitis pigmentosa, which leads to blindness. This innovative technology partially replaces retinal cell function, allowing wearers to perceive light and darkness.
Malaria is an infection that afflicts over 200 million people annually, killing half a million people each year. In 2015, the world’s first malaria vaccine, RTS,S, was approved for use, and the vaccine continues to slowly make its way to countries desperately in need.
In 2016, Elon Musk announced the new Tesla as the first completely self-driving car, boasting “full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver”. Enough said.
In 2017, the FDA approved the first ever targeted gene therapies, both for the treatment of blood cancer. This was a significant development in the rapidly-advancing field of genomics.
In 1996, Dolly the sheep became the first mammal ever to be cloned. 22 years later, Chinese scientists used the same technology to clone a primate for the first time, creating a pair of monkey twins. Monkeys cloned with this method could be useful models for studying disease, although experimentation on nonhuman primates is a controversial topic in many countries.
Our final scientific breakthrough to highlight this decade is the very first image of a black hole, captured this year. Although some out-of-this-world memes were made at the expense of the rather hazy picture, the impressiveness of this feat should not be discounted, as obtaining such an image was previously thought to be impossible.
From paleontology to physics to genetics, the diverse scientific discoveries of this decade have contributed significantly to our understanding of the world. Here’s to another 10 years of innovation.
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Veronica Eskander is a contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.