2008: The wow!

Unlike Time Magazine, who published their “best of” list at the end of October (and subsequently missed things like the stem-cell-based windpipe transplant), I’ve waited until the middle of December to unleash my favourite stories from the past 12 months.

First up are some of the scientific advances that, frankly, blew me away with potential and implications.

  • A patient was cured of HIV by having their bone marrow replaced with marrow from a donor who had a natural immunity to the virus. About 1% of white males don’t have a particular molecule in their cells that HIV binds to (other races and genders differ slightly).
  • While a Harry Potter like invisibility cloak has been demonstrated already, they come with a downside: you can’t see out from under them. Remote cloaking gets around this.
  • Knots of light are still only a theory but if they are realised then they may be able to contain the plasma found at the center of fusion reactors.
  • Another advance that could aid the development of fusion power was the creation of room temperature superconductors. More efficient superconducting magnets are the dreams of nuclear fusion scientists. Unfortunately, these room temperature superconductors require massive pressures to operate. As far as I can figure though, the hard part has been done.
  • Two entangled photons apparently “communicated” at 100,000 times faster than light over a distance of 18km. While no information was actually transferred, to observe coherence with this much separation is something that surprised me. Next task is upping the distance: between Earth and the ISS.
  • Researchers have placed mice in suspended animation using hydrogen sulfide and revived them successfully. I’m holding out for something a little less stinky.

Alongside these are promises of maglev trains and a space elevator from the Japanese and also a new space engine from the Chinese.

Yes, the next 25 years are going to be exciting.

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