“Science: the final frontier” as the old medieval proverb goes. It’s a mysterious beast, and one I certainly don’t understand - for example, I got caught off-guard the other day when I realised that I still don’t understand how VHS works. How is there sound on it? How is there sound on a strip of tape? It makes zero sense - this 40-year-old technology still baffles my feeble mind to this day.
But I’m not here to talk about VHS (I wish, but my pitch got rejected), I’m here to talk about the scientific discoveries of this year, a one 2017. What did the big brains find out? What world-changing things will I struggle to comprehend even the basics of? Which stories will make my tiny, puny brain vibrate until pink seeps out of my ears?
Well, these ones:
Space-geeks found seven whole new planets, that are probably full of aliens
NASA found a dozen-plus-one globes orbiting a star in a nearby solar system, which is known as TRAPPIST-1 and is presumably inhabited by a bunch of pissed intergalactic monks. Scientists say that these earth-sized planets inhabit the so-called ‘Goldilocks Zone’, which essentially means they’re not too hot and not too cold, meaning that there’s a relatively good chance of life. Supposedly they’re close enough to study too, so those bald, robe-wearing alien monks might soon be invited to your next birthday party.
Medical whizzes discovered a new way to fight cancer
Patients are now attacking cancer with their own blood cells, using a pioneering new treatment called CAR T-cell therapy, which involves removing someone’s cells, re-engineering them, and then putting them back in the body. This is baffling to me but obviously, it’s also massively good news, albeit not something that I could possibly understand, or ever will. Words are my trade, and I can’t even get them right half the time.
Computer poindexters essentially invented teleportation
I may be able to understand how you can rip a pig’s still-beating heart from its chest and eat it to save your life, but teleportation? No thanksiree! That’s science-fiction, mate, not real, not possible, beyond the realm of human comprehension. Or not, because a team of show-offs from China managed to teleport protons into outer space using mirrors and layers, whatever in the hell that means.
Of course, we’re not exactly close to actually beaming me straight into the pub at precisely 5.30pm on a Friday, but supposedly it’ll help with the internet, or something. Really, no idea on this one, but I do have one tip for the science-bods: make sure there aren’t any flies in the lab when you run your tests, because I’ve seen what can go wrong and trust me, you don’t wanna have to deal with it.
Sex-dweebs created a male contraceptive gel that has a 100% success rate
In monkeys, anyway. They handed the gel out at monkey clubs and none of the women monkeys got pregnant at the after-party. Essentially, the gel is injected into the vas deferens (the tubes between the bollo and the willy) and it blocks sperm from getting into the seminal fluid, thereby eliminating the risk of pregnancy. Human trials will begin in 2018 or 2019. In many ways this won’t actually make dating any simpler but it is a lovely development.
History boffs found a MASSIVE secret chamber in one of the pyramids (and they don’t know what it was for)
Basically, a 100-foot cavern was discovered in the Great Pyramid of Giza, the use of which is as-yet unknown. So yeah, I can understand a chamber in a big building, but what I can’t understand is how they found it. Oh, they fired a bunch of high-speed muon particles - which are made when “cosmic rays from supernovas, merging neutron stars, black holes and other high energy objects reach earth and interact with air molecules” - through the rock of the pyramid to reveal the hidden void.
Ah, I see, I understand now. Cosmic rays. Muon particles. Supernovas. Pyramids. Failure. I am an unthinking failure incapable of understanding science. Air molecules.
Biology nerds basically invented a new life form
Underwater continents I can understand, but here’s where the wheels fall off a bit. Essentially, from what I can gather, scientists created two new DNA bases, that can seamlessly integrate alongside the existing ‘alphabet’ of DNA. These two new amino acids work as an ’artificial instruction system’ that can be used to create new information inside living cells. In case you were in the dark about a very important matter relevant to this article: no, I have no idea what I am talking about, but it sounds a bit like we’ve invented the first steps to Hollywood style mutants, which is cool, if not naive…
A bunch of clever clogs found a whole new continent nobody knew about
Everyone knows the standard continents: Africa, Europe, erm, the other ones, umm, France? But this year an entirely new one was discovered, underwater. It’s being called Zealandia, is submerged between New Zealand and New Caledonia and fossils have been found that prove it was once above water, and as such, calls are to have it officially recognised as the official eighth continent. Obviously this is an entirely redundant gesture give the entire place is underwater but it’s nice, nonetheless.
Womb-experts grew a sheep in a big plastic bag
Physicians at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia made a fake uterus using a synthetic device and grew a whole, real lamb inside it. Obviously, as the natural progression goes: lambs first, humans next - so we’ll all be being born inside big blow-up bags of goo in the future. But this isn’t just a fun experiment (it was fun though), the science will be used to prevent disease and early death of children younger than 37 weeks, so it’s actually pretty extraordinary, when you think about it. Go science.
More space-geeks invented a rocket booster that can be reused
Elon Musk’s SpaceX created the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy booster systems, which basically don’t crash and sink in the sea after they’ve sent something up into space. As a result of this, sea-debris is greatly reduced, and around $18 million per launch, can be saved. How this works in unknown to me, but I presume it has something to do with Elon Musk piloting it back to the ground from a specially built cockpit stuck on the side with Blu-Tack.
A horde of geography goobers warned of our melting poles
Back in July, a huge chunk of ice (around the size of Delaware) broke off an ice shelf in Antarctica and floated off - it is now the world’s third-biggest iceberg. Essentially, scientists confirmed that the poles are in a bad state, and show no signs of returning to the frozen stability they used to display. Finally, something I understand - ice melts when it gets hot, and the sun is gradually getting hotter the more coal they put on it. Could’ve told you this ages ago, you berks.
Medical dorks took a step closer to shoving a pig’s guts into humans
Instead of waiting for other humans to die before you can use their organs, why not just shaft a pig out of its heart instead? That’s the plan for the future - ham lungs and pork hearts - and it’s all down to Cambridge-based biotech company eGenesis. This year they used the CRISPR gene editing tool to essentially create pigs that wouldn’t pass on certain viruses to humans through transplant, which is a huge step forward. Soon, we can all be the pig-men! An army of pink-snouted, snorting freaks with curly tails and chorizo livers. I can’t wait, WHEEEZE!
A crack-team of swots discovered how the entire universe’s supply of gold and platinum was created
Hey, it’s me again! The dunce, the luddite! Supposedly, all the gold in the universe was created when two small, dense stars smashed into each other, 130 million light years away from earth - this collision also created a huge supply of platinum and silver. If anyone could explain to me how that gold then made its way to earth, I would be greatly appreciative, because *ha* I am feeling rather unintelligent and particularly worthless right now.
Anyway, lots of stuff to be getting your head around there, most of which makes an absense of sense to me - but that’s why the clever people are up in their labs doing pioneering work and I am sitting here in my boxers with crumbs in my hair, crying.
Update: I have been asked to go home because supposedly my appearance is not “conducive to the office environment”.