We are living in the age of incredible scientific advancements with mind-bending discoveries being made each year. The last decade has been generous and we’ve seen scientists make remarkable progress in exploring the human body, our planet’s deepest secrets, and the limitless mysteries of the outer space. Breakthroughs are coming one after the other in all fields from genetics and DNA-altering to astrophysics and space travel. Here are 9 greatest scientific discoveries of the last decade.
Thousands of exoplanets
We’ve always been fascinated by Earth-like worlds, that’s why humanity has been starting at the night sky since the dawn of times, wondering if we were alone in this vast and dark space. The whole last decade, from 2009 and till 2018 NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has been doing the same, looking for planets similar to Earth. It has found the first ever exoplanet, while its successor TESS has already given us 38 Earth-like worlds to explore. On the ground researchers found TRAPPIST-1, a star system with seven exoplanets similar to Earth that could be harbouring life!
We’ve learned to modify our DNA
It turns out some bacteria use a natural tool called the Crispr-Cas9 system to fight off viruses by storing bits and pieces of their DNA and then shredding them to pieces when they encounter similar ones. In 2012, researchers thought they could use the same system to alter human DNA – and it worked! Now we are able to cut DNA and alter it as we like. While the whole world was toying with the idea and the possibilities it gave us, a Chinese researcher He Jiankui started human trials – he altered the DNA of two girls who were born in 2018 with actually edited DNA. This sparked a number of ethical questions about the use of Crispr, especially on humans.
Exploring the space as never before
Gaia, a spacecraft launched by the European Space Agency, has been collecting distance and velocity info for millions of stars in our galaxy since 2013. The data it received was groundbreaking, which was only reinforced by the Planck satellite’s measurements of the earlier days of Universe – its ingredients, structure, and rate of expansion can’t be explained by modern physics! To make matters even more mysterious, in 2019 the Event Horizon Telescope made the first ever photo of a black hole!