The first Middle East particle accelerator – officially opened on 16 May – sets an example for young researchers on how a small group of people can build bridges across the troubled region, according to one of the original founders of the project, Professor Eliezer Rabinovici from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, who also holds the Louis Michel Chair at France’s Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques.
Atom-scale building blocks that have been compared to microscopic Lego are allowing researchers to play with the properties of common materials, and the possibilities are so great that it could keep scientists busy for the next 50 years.
The quantum internet, which connects particles linked together by the principle of quantum entanglement, is like the early days of the classical internet – no one can yet imagine what uses it could have, according to Professor Ronald Hanson, from Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, whose team was the first to prove that the phenomenon behind it was real.
The deepest parts of the ocean were once assumed to be pristine, but recent discoveries of chemicals and radioactive products at the bottom of underwater trenches has shown that humanity’s footprint extends to the furthest reaches of the earth – and it could affect the balance of oxygen in the oceans and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Re-engineering immune cells and modifying yeast to produce drugs are just two of the tantalising applications of CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology, says Professor Toni Cathomen, director of the Institute for Cell and Gene Therapy at the University of Freiburg, Germany.
In a disease outbreak, the exact strain of bacteria or virus can remain a mystery for weeks, preventing patients from receiving the most effective treatment and letting the illness spread. Now, more precise diagnostic tools are helping to quickly identify the right therapy, an approach that could be particularly valuable in treating a disease that kills 1.8 million people a year - tuberculosis.
A set of 3D-printed lenses that are smaller than a grain of sand but can mimic eagle-eye vision came about thanks to a chance discussion with a colleague and the freedom to pursue scientific creativity, according to its inventor.
Cancer treatments that are personalised to an individual’s tumour cells or body clock, a boost to the hunt for dark matter using new findings from Large Hadron Collider data, and long-distance communications enhanced by augmented reality are just some of the scientific breakthroughs expected by researchers this year.
It is very, very difficult to predict when a big earthquake will hit. And we may never be able to forecast precisely the time, magnitude and location of destructive quakes such as those that tore through central Italy in August and October. But our understanding of how they happen is improving dramatically, says Giulio Di Toro, professor of geology in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Manchester, UK.
New measurements of carbon emissions provide better estimates of deforestation effects.
Illegal logging is a billion-euro racket but trees have traceability built into their trunks.
Better space weather forecasts will help.