As 2013 draws to a close Impact Science takes a look back at the biggest events and discoveries that took place over the past year in the world of science.
Meteor Strike Hits Russia
Way back in February a meteor hit Russia and caused more than 1,600 injuries. It was the largest meteor to hit Earth since 1908. Scientists had been watching for an asteroid which was travelling within 28,000 km of Earth when the 17m meteor exploded over Russia. Hundreds of buildings were damaged during the meteor explosion, and most of the injuries were causing by broken windows. It brought media attention to the risks of smaller meteors as opposed to large asteroids which were thought to be the main threat.
NASA Voyager Entered Interstellar Space
NASAs Voyager 1 reached interstellar space after 36 years, making it the first space-craft to leave the solar system. It has now travelled further than any other human made object and its purpose is to study the outer Solar System.
Miniature Brains Grown in Test Tubes
Scientists at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology in Vienna used stem cells to grow miniature brains using a matrix that recreated conditions similar to those inside the human womb. The ‘organoids’ as they are called, can be used to understand how organs develop in the womb and to study neurological and mental conditions such as autism and schizophrenia.
The End for Comet Ison
Dubbed as the comet of the century Comet Ison met its end this year after passing over the surface of the Sun. It was first discovered in 2012 by two amateur astronomers and since then attracted media attention at the claim it could shine brighter than a full moon. The comet was formed from the Oort cloud nearly three million years ago and finally ended its journey early December when it was destroyed by the Sun. NASA even gave it a fitting eulogy. Interestingly the distance that the comet travelled was only a quarter of the distance of Earth to it closes neighbouring star.
Nobel Prize for Higgs Boson
After the Large Hadron Collider found a particle that matched the Higgs boson last year, the Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to its creators Peter Higgs and Francois Englert. After 48 years the boson particle, which is responsible for the mass of atoms that make up all life, was discovered.
First Laboratory Grown Hamburger
Scientists led by Dr Mark Post at Maastricht University grew 20,000 muscle fibres from cow stem cells over the course of three months to produce the very first laboratory grown burger. The most expensively grown hamburger at €250,000 (donated by Google co-founder Sergey Brin) aims to show that edible meat grown in laboratories could be a potential solution to the worsening impact of meat production in the world today.
In the Technology World…
This year saw the unveiling of the iPhone 5C, a prototype for Google Glass, advancements in 3D printing including the first functional 3D printed gun and further leaps into printing organs. 2013 proved to be a tough year for Blackberry who saw their new phone Blackberry Z10 flop, then were forced to cut half their staff after record losses. The company was not able to keep up with Apple and Android phones and are currently looking for buyers.
Richard III’s Body Was Found
In 2012 a skeleton was found during an excavation of a car park in Leicester. In February 2013 the University of Leicester confirmed the skeleton belonged to King Richard III who died in 1485. The skeleton was found to have curvature of the spine, a sign of scoliosis, which Richard III was reported to have had. The skeleton also gave an insight into how the king died as it showed over 10 injuries, 8 of these were series injuries to the skull, where part of the base of the skull had been sliced off by a blade. It was reported that the blade went 4 inches into the brain and that the injuries caused how the head were the cause of death.
Jessica Hewitt-Dean and Faiza Peeran