This year’s top science stories are filled with inspiring developments, from breathing sensors that can diagnose diseases to a NASA mission to train to protect our planet.
Today, the world uses more than 110 million tons of nitrogen fertilizers to improve crop production annually. What if the food was made from scratch? Researchers are working to capture and “lock” nitrogen, carbon and sulfur using chemical synthesis in a single approach.
Testing for disease can be as simple on patients as exhaling. New breathing sensors can diagnose disease by sampling concentrations of more than 800 compounds in a person’s breath. For example, increased amounts of acetone in human breath indicate diabetes. The sensors look for changes in electrical resistance as breathing compounds flow through a metal oxide semiconductor. Then the algorithms analyze the sensor data.
Scientists at the Center for Paleogenetics in Stockholm extracted DNA from the remains of a mammoth believed to be 1.2 million years old, yielding the oldest complete genome known to date.
In October, American scientists David Julius and Erdem Patbutian won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discoveries about temperature and touch receptors. Research conducted by the duo is used independently to develop treatments for a variety of diseases and conditions, including chronic pain.
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