With the start of the New Year Impact Science takes a look back at the biggest news stories and discoveries in the world of science and technology in 2014.
One of the biggest stories of the year was that of the 67P comet landing. The Philae probe from the Rosetta spacecraft landed on the surface of comet 67P. Results collected by the probe found the presence of carbon-based compounds on the comet which could help with learning how the sun’s planets were formed. It has taken the Rosetta spacecraft a decade to reach the comet and the deployment of Philae became the first soft landing on a comet. However, the probe had a bit of a shaky landing and came to settle in shadow leading to its solar powered batteries to run out.
2014 saw the birth of the first baby to be born from a transplanted womb. The mother who had been born without a uterus received a transplant from a friend who had undergone menopause. An embryo produced by IVF was then implanted into the womb.
In March scientists behind the BICEP2 project reported that they had found evidence to support the Big Bang. Ripples were observed in the sky at the South Pole which scientists believed to be a cosmic microwave signal left by the rapid expansion of spacetime after the Big Bang. However, many physicists doubted these findings, and it was soon found that the gravitational waves may in fact have come from space dust.
A new type of stem cell was discovered called the F-class which could have the potential to be a safer and more efficient therapy for treating diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
In the world of technology the biggest news was about issues with security online. eBay users found their accounts hacked, Sony found itself under a cyber-attack, and later in the year it was revealed that many celebrities had their iCloud passwords stolen leading to their private photos being leaked online.
The Nobel Prize for Physics went to physicists for their work on blue LED lights. While the Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded for the work on new super microscopes.
Finally, the story biggest story of the year was that of the Ebola crisis. The disease that originated in Guinea in West Africa back in March is the worst occurrence since 1976. Areas in Africa such as Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone had to be put under quarantine to prevent further spread of the disease. The often fatal disease damages the immune system leading to decreased blood clotting and hemorrhaging. So far almost 8,000 deaths have been reported, though the number is expected to be greater. In late December a British nurse who returned to Glasgow from Sierra Leone, was found to have contracted the disease and is currently in a critical condition.