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.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s biggest particle smasher, stands a good chance of discovering the elusive particle or particles, known to scientists as dark matter, that make up five-sixths of the mass of the universe, researchers say.
Sleeping, eating and even going to the bathroom, our bodies are clearly affected by the time of day. But the cycle of the moon could also have impacts on our biological functions, according to Professor Kristin Teßmar-Raible, at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories, University of Vienna, Austria, who is leading LUNAR.CLOCK, a project funded by the EU's European Research Council exploring how the moon affects marine organisms.
Three EU-funded researchers have been awarded a share of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing molecular machines including a tiny lift, artificial muscles and miniscule motors, that are a thousand times thinner than a human hair.
Plants can override their own body clocks in times of stress, hijacking their programmed activities in a last-ditch attempt to survive, according to researchers who believe their work could change the way we think about internal timing.
Measuring energy fluctuations in the nucleus of a rare radioactive element could improve the accuracy of GPS from metres to centimetres, while marbled volcanic magma is being used to create eruption countdowns, thanks to groups of European researchers who are pushing the boundaries of timekeeping.
The European Commission has launched plans for the next research funding programme.