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Posts Tagged ‘Alternative life’

The Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs of 2012

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 17, 2013

Robert T. Gonzalez and Annalee Newitz

This was an incredible year for science and engineering. We sent a powerful robot scientist to Mars, and we discovered the elusive Higgs Boson particle, plus there were world-changing innovations in medicine and materials science. We sequenced the genome of a human ancestor, and looked into the mind of an artificial intelligence that recognized the content of images on the web for the first time (of course it included cat faces). Here are the seventeen biggest scientific breakthroughs of 2012.

 The Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs of 2012

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Lands on Mars

NASA’s one-ton, six-wheel-drive, nuclear-powered science laboratory — aka Curiosity —touched down on the surface of Mars in early August, following an eight-month voyage across millions of miles of space. It is far and away the biggest and most scientifically capable rover ever sent to another planet. The landing sequence, alone, which required lowering the rover to the surface of the planet from a hovering, rocket-powered sky crane, was the most technically impressive ever attempted, and played out beautifully.

Today, just five months into Curiosity‘s two-year primary mission, the rover is still just stretching its legs, but has already made several intriguing discoveries. In the months to come, the rover will begin poring over the pages of Mars’ history, as it scans the layers of sedimentary rock comprising Mount Sharp in search of signs of whether the planet can, or ever could, support life.

 The Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs of 2012

Artificial DNA Brings Us Closer Than Ever to Synthesizing Entirely New Forms of Life

Synthetic biologists demonstrated that artificial nucleic acids known as “XNAs” can replicate and evolve just like DNA and RNA, and are even more resistant to degradation than the real thing. The implications of evolvable, artificial genetic information are vast, to put it lightly, and stand to affect everything from genetic research to the search for alien life, to the creation of an entirely synthetic, alternative life form. Read the rest of this entry »

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