The British journal Nature recently took stock of the major scientific news of 2019, the first black hole photos of mankind, Google announced the successful demonstration of “quantum supremacy”, Japan’s Osprey 2 probe visited the asteroid “Dragon Palace” and China’s Chang’e 4 successfully landed soft on the back of the moon.
Gaze deep into the sky
In 2019, humanity will accelerate its march into deep space.
On the first day of the new year, the New Horizons probe flew up close to the Kuiper Belt object on the edge of the solar system(formerly known as the “end of the earth”) to complete one of the most distant interstellar “slugs” in the history of human exploration.
On January 3rd, China’s Chang’e-4 successfully landed in the Von Carmen impact crater on the back of the moon, achieving the first soft landing of the human probe.
In February and July, the Japan Osprey 2 probe twice landed on the asteroid Dragon Palace and collected samples.
In April, the Event Vision Telescope project released the first black hole photos ever obtained, bringing together more than 200 researchers from around the world.
The Mars probe is also bright. The U.S. Insight Mars rover first captured the Martian earthquake in April, the first time a human has detected an “earthquake” on a planet outside Earth; the U.S. Curiosity rover measured its highest level of methane in seven years on Mars in June, and the subsequent plunge is yet to be explained by scientists.
In 2019, the development of information technology based on the principles of quantum physics will reach a milestone.
In October, a team led by Google announced the success of the successful demonstration of “quantum supremacy” that would take about 200 seconds for a processor containing 53 effective qubits to complete the computing task of the current strongest supercomputer in 10,000 years. If confirmed, it would be an important symbolic step in the development of quantum computing. Future breakthroughs in this field will help solve complex problems in the fields of materials, medicine, and code deciphering.
Iconic events in the field of information technology also include a series of artificial intelligence studies. Pluribus, an artificial intelligence program developed by Carnegie Mellon University and Facebook Inc., beats several of the world’s top players in a six-person Texas poker game; Alpha Star, an artificial intelligence program developed by Google’s Deep Thinking, surpasses 99.8 percent of human players in the instant strategy game “StarCraft 2” , in the game’s human, divine and insect rankings have reached the highest “master” level.
Previous achievements in “strategic reasoning” by artificial intelligence have been limited to two-person games such as Go, and new results suggest that artificial intelligence can also beat humans in multiplayer strategic games closer to the real world.
In 2019, some of the deadly viruses pose serious challenges for humanity.
That year, the Ebola virus raged in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The outbreak, which began in August 2018, has killed more than 2,000 people, second only to the Ebola outbreak in three West African countries that claimed more than 11,000 lives between 2013 and 2016.
The good news is that anti-Ebola drugs and vaccines have made breakthroughs. Two new drugs, REGN-EB3 and mAb114, have significantly reduced ebola mortality, according to a clinical trial in congo, and a vaccine called Ervebo was approved in the European Union in November, becoming the world’s first officially approved Ebola vaccine.
AIDS treatment has also re-emerged in Sugon. An AIDS patient known as a “London patient” has not been detected with HIV for 18 months after a stem cell transplant, according to a study published in March, and could become the second patient to successfully emerge from the virus after a “Berlin patient”.
In 2019, some research in the biomedical field has sparked ethical controversy.
The team, led by Yale University scholars, removed the pig’s brain hours after the pig’s death and restored certain circulatory and nerve functions at the cellular level by simulating blood circulation in the pig’s brain. Although the study did not restore brain activity associated with consciousness and cognition, it raised the issue of whether scientists “need to redefine brain death.”
The current internationally accepted ethical rule is that human embryos cannot be cultured in vitro for more than 14 days, but the debate over whether to allow human embryos to develop to a later stage has never stopped. To “bypass” the 14-day limit, U.S. researchers used stem cells to create an “artificial embryo” and used it to simulate the early development of human embryos.
Science news, according to Nature, also includes global climate governance, the US government shutdown and the impact of Brexit on research, as well as anti-scientific sexism and bullying.