Not just a vaccine: amazing scientific discoveries in 2020
In 2020, incredible scientific discoveries have not stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. First of all, this is the phenomenal work that scientists have done to research the disease and develop vaccines in record time to stall the global pandemic. It was a truly titanic effort, undertaken by literally thousands of scientists from around the world. Other scientific discoveries in 2020 were reported by the publication USA Today.
Here are just a few of the amazing science stories of 2020:
We heard the voice of an ancient mummy
In January, scientists recreated the voice of an ancient 3000-year-old Egyptian mummy using 3D printing, medical scanners and an electronic larynx. They were able to reproduce a single vowel sound that looks like a cross between А и Э.
The "boiling" plasma was noticed in the sun
They also managed to take the most detailed photographs of the sun ever produced. One of the images shows a pattern of "boiling" plasma covering the entire sun. Cellular structures, each the size of Texas, are a sign of strong movements that transfer heat from the sun's interior to its surface.
Scientists discover giant turtle fossil
In February, paleontologists discovered what they called the "reaper of death" - a fearsome new dinosaur species that was "the oldest large Tyrannosaurus rex found."
And back in February, scientists announced the discovery of a huge turtle fossil in South America. According to scientists, this is "one of the largest, if not the largest turtle that ever existed." This colossal, long-extinct animal, from 5 to 10 million years ago, was 9,5 feet (2,9 m) in size, roughly the size and shape of a medium-sized car.
NASA robot detects hundreds of "Marsquakes"
We also heard about "Marsquakes" and that our neighboring planet, called "Red", has experienced hundreds of tremors over the past year. They were recorded by the NASA InSight robot, which landed on Mars in November 2018. “This is the first time we've established that Mars is a seismically active planet,” said NASA's Bruce Banerdt.
"Miracle chicken" became the oldest bird fossil
In March, the attention of scientists was attracted by a creature dubbed the "wonder chicken". She is the size of a seagull with features of ducks, chickens and turkeys. The skull was almost entirely contained within nondescript pieces of rock, more than 66 million years old, making it the oldest bird fossil ever found. (This is less than 1 million years before the asteroid struck that killed all large dinosaurs.)
“The moment we first discovered the fossil was the most exciting of my scientific career,” said lead author Daniel Field.
They also learned about the ancient worm-like creature that is the ancestor of all animals. This creature, the size of a grain of rice, lived about 555 million years ago.
Neanderthals were actually skilled fishermen
In March, the Neanderthals' reputation rose when it was learned that they were more than the bulky beasts of popular legend, hunting and eating only woolly mammoths in the freezing northern climate.
The study showed for the first time that they were skilled fishermen and that seafood served as a key diet for them.
Earth was "visited" by a comet outside the solar system
In April, scientists tracked an unusual visitor from space: comet 2I / Borisov, which astronomers described as "a snowman from a dark and cold place" because "comets are the remnants of building blocks since the formation of planets."
“This is the first time a comet has come to us from outside our solar system,” said NASA astrochemist Martin Cordiner.
A fossilized strange mammal called "crazy beast" was discovered in Madagascar
In April, it became known about the fossil of a bizarre mammal called "crazy beast", which was discovered in Madagascar. The skeleton is the most complete of all Mesozoic mammals found in the Southern Hemisphere.
The 66 million-year-old opossum-sized fossil is a new species that the study authors named Adalatherium hui from the Malagasy word for crazy and the Greek word for beast.
Incredibly rare super-earth discovered
In May, scientists announced the discovery of an incredibly rare "super-Earth" that they said was "one in a million." Calling it "incredibly rare", New Zealand astronomers say that this planet "is one of the few previously discovered, and it is comparable in size and orbit to Earth."
On the subject: Scientists have discovered a new organ inside the human head
The largest group of human footprints found in Africa
In May, it became known about the largest group of fossilized human footprints in Africa, which were found in Tanzania. Thousands of years ago, a group of 17 people walked through the mud in East Africa. Surprisingly, traces of them have survived to this day and were recently discovered by archaeologists.
There may be dozens of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy
In June, scientists received news that we are probably not alone in our galaxy: the Milky Way may be "Dozens" of intelligent civilizations.
“There should be at least several dozen active civilizations in our galaxy, assuming that it will take 5 billion years for intelligent life to form on other planets, like on Earth,” said Christopher Conselis, astrophysicist at Nottingham University.
This estimate suggests that intelligent life is being formed on other planets in the same way as on Earth.
The asteroid impact killed the dinosaurs, not volcanoes
In June, scientists found out for sure that the dinosaurs died from an asteroid impact, and not from a volcanic eruption. According to the study, an asteroid impact would throw particles and gases high into the atmosphere and block the sun for years to come, leading to eternal winter.
“Our study quantitatively confirms for the first time that the only plausible explanation for the extinction is the shock winter that destroyed dinosaur habitats around the world,” said study lead author Alessandro Chiarenza of Imperial College London.
Scientists confirm that the universe is 13,8 billion years old
The discoveries continued in the second half of the year: in July, scientists confirmed that the universe is 13,8 billion years old. While this estimate was known, in recent years, other scientific measurements have suggested that the universe may be hundreds of millions of years younger. Researchers studied the image of the oldest light source in the universe to confirm its age of 13,8 billion years.
Rare comet Neowise has appeared
In July, scientists had a rare chance to spot another violator of interstellar rules of motion: the comet Newise. “Discovered on March 27, 2020 by NASA's near-Earth wide-field infrared mission, Comet Neowise will be a magnificent sight for observers before it disappears and is not seen again for another 6800 years,” NASA said.
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Greenland's melting ice sheet has passed the point of no return
In August, in disturbing news, scientists said that Greenland's melting ice sheet has crossed the point of no return... In fact, the island's glaciers have shrunk so much that even if global warming stops today, the ice sheet will continue to shrink, the study said.
"The melting of the glacier has resulted in a permanent loss of dynamics for the entire ice sheet," said study co-author Ian Howat, a geological scientist at Ohio State University.
Astronomers see a hint of life on Venus
Scientists in September announced detecting a possible sign of life high in the clouds of Venus... Using telescopes in Chile and Hawaii, astronomers have discovered chemical traces of phosphine, a gas on Earth associated only with life, in the clouds of Venus. Based on a variety of scenarios considered by astronomers, the team concluded that the phosphine in the clouds of Venus has no other explanation than life.
Water was first found on the solar part of the moon
In October, the world learned that scientists had discovered water for the first time on the sunlit surface of the moon. NASA said this is an important discovery because water can be distributed over the moon's surface, not just in cold, shaded places like the poles. This is good news for astronauts at future lunar bases who can use these resources to drink and produce rocket fuel.
“We had indications that water might be present on the sunny side of the moon,” said Paul Hertz, director of astrophysics. - Now we know that this is so. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources related to deep space exploration. ”
$ 10 quadrillion metal asteroid
This is no ordinary space stone. In October, it became known that, according to a study, asteroid 16 Psyche - one of the most massive objects in the main asteroid belt, orbiting between Mars and Jupiter - could be made entirely of metal.
Even more intriguing, the metal of the asteroid is estimated at $ 10 quadrillion, this is 15 zeros more than the cost of the entire economy of the Earth.
Radio pulses within the Milky Way
In November, astronomers first detected a "fast radio burst" that occurred inside the Milky Way galaxy.
They believe they have found the source of one of the flares, which are extremely bright bursts of energy lasting a fraction of a second, during which they can emit 100 million times more energy than our Sun.
On the subject: Better than Earth: scientists have found 24 habitable planets
It looks like the radio pulses were created by a magnetar, a type of neutron star with an extremely powerful magnetic field.
Solved 50-year-old scientific problem
And in December we learned about the mysterious property of "protein folding". According to researchers, a new discovery in this area could open up a whole world of possibilities for understanding everything from disease to medicine... This breakthrough has sparked a wave of enthusiasm in the scientific and medical circles.
"Protein folding" has troubled scientists for five decades, and the opening of the London-based DeepMind AI lab has been heralded as a milestone.
“This computational work represents a stunning step forward in solving protein folding, a daunting 50-year-old biology problem,” said Wenky Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society of Great Britain.
Mass extinctions of land animals follow a cycle
In December, according to the study, scientists found that the mass extinction of life on Earth appears to be occurring in a regular pattern. The widespread mortality of land animals, including amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds, actually has a cycle of about 27 million years, the study said. And these mass extinctions coincide with the impacts of large asteroids, as well as devastating volcanic lava eruptions.
"Global mass extinctions appear to have been caused by major cataclysms and massive volcanism, possibly sometimes acting together," said study lead author Michael Rampino of New York University.
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