8 scientific innovations that marked the year 2023

Like every year, 2023 was behind us lots of interesting scientific news. Some were good news in fields such as medicine or space science. But there was other very bad news, as climate records which were slaughtered all over the world.

It is important to know both. Good science news tells us that science is on the right track and that it can make all sorts of great advances for society. On the other hand, bad science news puts mistakes on the table, whether in science or in society, so we try to make the right decisions. appropriate measures to solve them.

This list includes scientific reports of both types. It is impossible to include everything good and bad that has happened in science in the last year, so it is nothing more than a choice. Of course, there will be very interesting news that will be omitted. However, we no doubt thought we should remind them again before the end of this year.

The first human kidneys cultured in pig embryos

dead pigs, human kidneys, pig embryos
It was an immature kidney, but it was great progress. Credit: Amber Kipp (Unsplash)

Spain is one of the leading countries when it comes to organ transplants. Not only because of the quality of the professionals who practice them. Also because of the large number of organ donors that exist within our borders every year.

However, even though they are among the countries with the largest number of donors, they do not always arrive on time. Therefore, science has worked a lot in recent years in two alternative ways. One consists in obtaining artificial organs, sometimes synthesized in 3D printers. However, he uses a different method organs of other animal species.

This is something known as xenotransplant and has been studied since the early 1990s Pigs are usually the most commonly chosen animals to try to perform these types of procedures. Although milestones such as transplanting a pig’s heart into a human have been achieved, this is something dangerous because generally immune system the person ends up being rejected by the organ. So the second option is to grow human organs in embryos of other species. It may seem like something out of science fiction, but it was done for the first time last September, when a team of scientists from Canton Universityin China, for the first time, kidneys were cultured in pig embryos. These are immature kidneys, but this is the first time this type of procedure has been performed on a complete organ, rather than just a few cells.

There are still many steps needed to make these organs work, but it is very interesting because they would not only be useful for transplants. They could also be used, for example, to try new medications.

India lands on the moon

Chandrayaan-3, Moon, IndiaChandrayaan-3, Moon, India
Chandrayaan 3 is equipped with instruments to perform a wide range of measurements on the Moon. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Last August, perhaps the most important Indian science report of the year took place. And it became the fourth country to land a probe on the moon. But in addition was the first to land near the moon’s south pole.

They achieved this with Chandrayaan-3, a ship equipped with both a rover, the so-called Pragyan, as well as several instruments capable of measuring, among other things, seismic activity, lunar thermal conductivity and temperature.

Bad science news: 2023 climate records

Several temperature records have been broken since records began.

According to data from Copernicus, European Environmental Monitoring Programme, 2023 was the warmest year on record. This is some of the worst science reporting we could provide. But behind this global record is 2023 broke many other climate records.

For example, with 21.1ºC, the highest average ocean surface temperature since records began was recorded. The hottest month on record globally was also July. The surface air temperature was 16.95 °C on average 0.37 ºC above the previous record registered in July 2019.

But above all, if we’re going to talk about bad science news, we have to mention what happened in Novemberwhen we pass two days at a temperature higher than 2ºC above pre-industrial levels. This is the threshold practically designated as the threshold of no return in the Paris Agreement. Touching him, even if only for two days, is therefore a great sign of apprehension.

Nobel Prize for parents of coronavirus vaccines

Nobel Prize for MedicineNobel Prize for Medicine
Nobel Assembly

If coronavirus vaccines were the big science news of 2020, Nobel Prize for Medicine given to its two main discoverers, Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissmanwas undoubtedly one of the big science news of 2023.

It should be noted that they have developed vaccines based on messenger RNAsuch as Pfizer and ModeRNA.

This is a technology through which instructions are introduced into the body so that our own cells make a viral protein that triggers an immune system response. It is a very effective mechanism and safer than traditional vaccines. Vaccines against the coronavirus have so far been the first to be based on this tool, but they are under investigation for many other diseases.

Hi ChatGPT

ChatGPT went viral in 2023.

While ChatGPT launched in late 2022, it didn’t really go viral until early 2023. That’s when Artificial Intelligence From something almost abstract, accessible to a few scientists, it became a tool that could be used by anyone with an Internet connection.

Many other chatbots emerged from his hand, as well as artificial intelligence tools capable of adding voices to videos or creating images, among other things. Expectations are as attractive as they are terrifying. And of course they made many angry content creators.

It cannot be argued that this is one of the great scientific innovations of the year, because even though it is an innocent chatbot, ChatGPT shows that artificial intelligence has entered our lives to stay in them.

Good science news: green light for CRISPR to treat diseases

CRISPR-Cas9 is a very useful tool in genetic engineering. Jennifer Doudna/UC Berkeley

CRISPR-Cas9 It is a genetic engineering tool that functions as a species molecular cut-and-pasteremoving unwanted DNA fragments and replacing them with interesting ones if necessary.

Its use has been studied for a wide range of applications, from obtaining plants with interesting properties to treatment of diseases. However, with the latter, scientists are cautious because it needs to be proven that the benefits outweigh the risks and that the tool is actually useful.

A lot of research has been done on this matter and finally the health authority, specifically UK medicines regulator, granted permission for the use of CRISPR-Cas9-based therapy aimed at treating beta thalassemia and sickle cell disease.

The case must be carefully monitored; but it was definitely a great start.

Fire wave in Canada

Canadian fires, fire tornadoes, disastersCanadian fires, fire tornadoes, disasters
Fires in Canada have burned around 4 million hectares.

If we talk about bad scientific news, we cannot leave out the fires that are increasing all over the world. In 2023, the greatest emphasis was placed on Canadawhere they were recorded between March and June more than 2000 fires.

These 4 million hectares of land were devastated and forced more than 100,000 people to evacuate. Drought and unusually high temperatures are the main cause of most of these fires. Although it cannot be ruled out that some are provoked.

The smoke from these fires was so intense that it even engulfed NY in a fog so thick that for a few hours it overtook New Delhi on the list of the most polluted cities in the world and took the lead.

NASA is sending the largest asteroid sample in history to Earth

250 grams of Bennu samples were collected. Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

Last October, another of the great scientific news of the year took place. Mission capsule OSIRIS Rex returned to earth loaded with a sample of material extracted from the asteroid Bennu, located 120 million kilometers away.

It was not the first mission to send samples from an asteroid to Earth. Japan has done this before with its two Hayabusa missions. With the first, he brought some grains of material from the asteroid to Earth Itokawa. Less than a gram total. He managed to cash in with Hayabusa 2 Ryugu just over 5 grams that were also successfully brought to Earth.

NASA hoped to bring back 60 grams of Bennu. However, they exceeded all their expectations, collecting 250 grams of material from the asteroid. There is therefore a lot of work ahead of them. Very important work; Among other goals, these scientists are trying to discern by analyzing its composition what might be the best way to Determine if one day it gets too close to Earth.

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