In reverse order…
10. Epilepsy pioneers Ingrid Scheffer and Sam Berkovic awarded PM’s Prize for Science
Together Ingrid and Sam made the first fundamental discoveries into the genes responsible for certain types of epilepsy and have now found half of all the genes responsible for this debilitating condition in children. Their work in research and in translating this research into clinical practice has been fundamental to getting a better understanding of the disease. Read more in our University of Melbourne research magazine, Pursuit.
9. Mega dinos discovered
This mega dino find proves there’s much more to be discovered about big dinosaurs. Touted as the largest yet, these well preserved skeletons of seven titanosaur sauropod dinosaurs were unearthed in Argentina in May. Called Dreadnoughtus schrani, the 100m year-old animals may have weighed around 77 tonnes – as much as 14 African elephants,were 40m long and stood 20m (seven stories) high. Read more
8. Climate warnings dire
The most recent IPCC report came out this year, again warning about the dangers of climate change. In January, Australian research published in Nature warned that global average temperatures will rise at least 4°C by 2100 and potentially more than 8°C by 2200 if carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced. The research shows our climate is more sensitive to carbon dioxide than most previous estimates. This new research takes away the lower end of climate sensitivity estimates, meaning that global average temperatures will increase by 3°C to 5°C with a doubling of carbon dioxide.”
Another study concluded that nearly one-fifth of the 720 UNESCO World Heritage Sites – including the Sydney Opera House – will be affected by rising sea levels this century if global temperatures rise by 3 °C.
7. Scientists discover the mineral ‘ringwoodite’ buried in a diamond. The new mineral reveals vast water reservoirs may be locked up in crystals deep beneath the Earth’s surface
“This sample really provides extremely strong confirmation that there are local wet spots deep in the Earth in this area.” It might be of more interest to scientists than the public, but this first ever mineral find hints at a much wetter interior of the Earth, which could have major implications for how we understand the continents formed. “That particular zone in the Earth, the transition zone, might have as much water as all the world’s oceans put together, ”said lead author Graham Pearson from the University of Alberta, whose findings were published March 13 in Nature.
6. Bypassing speech or text, humans use their mind to ‘send’ a thought 8000 km away
How might we communicate in the future? Not by text or email, but directly from brain to brain. That’s a possibility uncovered by the first ever direct brain-to-brain communications between humans. Read more here. Or just plug your brain directly into this amazing concept.
5. We possibly contaminate Mars with life
Our mission on Mars? To send the first ever interstellar explorers to visit the planet. Trouble is, these possible hitchhikers are bacteria who just may be able to survive the space journey and avoided NASA’s stringent spacecraft cleaning procedures. That’s what another Nature paper found when it warned that we may have accidentally sent more than a machine to Mars.
4. Sex roots found
In October, Australian’s unearthed a Scottish fossil fish that holds the first conclusive evidence of vertebrate sex. With bizarre genitalia and a sideways-style hook up, this first known instance of sex in the evolutionary records explains why first times really can be awkward.
3. Paralysed man walks again
Darek Fidyka, a Polish man paralysed from the chest down after a knife attack, received an amazing gift after successful surgery on his spine allowed him limited movement. The incredible groundbreaking operation came after research into cells within the nose that are able to constantly regenerate and kickstarted repair of his spine tissue.
2. Ebola breaks out
Ebola emerged from a small outbreak to an epidemic, testing the way we respond to virus outbreaks and challenging the system that underwrites the developments of treatments for diseases that break out in poor nations.
There is currently no known cure for the virus, which has claimed at least 5,160 lives, however Doctors Without Borders, along with three different research partners from Belgium, France, and the U.K., is conducting clinical trials of treatments – an unprecedented move in medical research.
1. We land a probe on a comet for the first time
The Rosetti spacecraft’s long-awaited ultimate goal was realised when it launched the probe Philae to successfully land on the surface, unintentionally bouncing twice before managing to touchdown.
The science findings from the spacecraft include smashing the theory that comets like 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and asteroids from the distant regions of space are the probable source of the water that formed the Earth’s oceans billions of years ago. The findings were published in November in the journal Science, while the landing itself was watched closely by around the world. You can follow the brave little spacecraft on Twitter.