2017 has been a year that brought the world some extraordinary breakthroughs in the form of scientific and technological advancements. Below, you'll find six of the most fascinating advances that will help shape humanity's future in many different ways.
1. Lamb-in-a-Bag Artificial Womb
In April 2017, researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia managed to successfully create a working artificial womb. The device in question is a specialized transparent biobag, which fills with a fluid that imitates the internal environment of a womb. During trials, researchers managed to successfully house a 23-week-old lamb. The team says that their technology will soon be advanced enough to use on human babies, and is expected to save the lives of many premature babies in the near future.
2. Editing an Embryo
In July 2017, scientists from Portland, Oregon managed to genetically modify human embryos using a gene-editing device, known as CRISPR. Led by the Oregon Health and Science University's Shoukhrat Mitalipov, the team edited the DNA sequence of single-cell embryos, effectively demonstrating their ability to correct defective genes that carry heritable illnesses.
3. Genetic Editing Within a Human Body
CRISPR, the gene editing tool described above, has also been successfully used on a living human being. A 44-year-old patient who was suffering from Hunter syndrome had his genetic code successfully edited through CRISPR treatment that was developed by Sangamo Therapeutics, a renowned biotechnology firm.
4. Securing Quantum Communication's Future
When it comes to quantum theories, 2017 has hosted some of the largest developments to date. Quantum computing has seen some particularly significant advances, but the breakthroughs in quantum communication systems really take the cake. From sending messages using quantum cryptography to demonstrations of quantum entanglement from space, quantum researchers have proved that quantum technology is where the future of the internet lies.
5. SpaceX and an Age of Reusable Rockets
2017 has been an incredible year for Elon Musk's company, SpaceX. This is because they have managed to successfully reuse their Falcon 9 rockets, which signals the end of an era of ridiculously expensive space missions. However, SpaceX claims that that is only the start, and are attempting to make every single part of their spacecraft and rockets entirely reusable.
6. Finding Earth 2.0 and Trappist-1
In February 2017, scientists from NASA and the European Southern Observatory announced the discovery of seven different Earth-like exoplanets, situated in the habitable zone of a star system known as TRAPPIST-1. This star system exists around 39.5 light years from the Sun and is home to a very cool red dwarf star, that's only marginally bigger than Jupiter. While astronomers aren't in full agreement among themselves about the possibility of human life being hosted on these planets, it's a very promising find for humanity nevertheless.
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