Launch of the most powerful rocket, Methane on Mars, new form of DNA and Spinal Cord Repaired in the Womb —the most important science stories of the year
A new form of DNA in our cells
In a world first, Australian researchers have identified a new DNA structure called the i-motif inside cells. A twisted 'knot' of DNA, the i-motif has never before been directly seen inside living cells. The new findings, from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, are published in the leading journal Nature Chemistry. Deep inside the cells in our body lies our DNA. The information in the DNA code all 6 billion A, C, G and T letters provides precise instructions for how our bodies are built, and how they work.
The Earth BioGenome Project
A 10-year global effort to sequence the genomes of all 1.5 million known animal, plant, protozoan and fungal species on Earth. The Earth Bio Genome Project (EBP), a global effort to sequence the genetic code, or genomes, of all 1.5 million known animal, plant, protozoan and fungal species on Earth, officially launches today (1 November) as key scientific partners and funders from around the globe gather in London, UK to discuss progress in organising and funding the project.
Ozone layer finally healing after damage caused by aerosols
The ozone layer is showing signs of continuing recovery from man-made damage and is likely to heal fully by 2060, new evidence shows. The measures taken to repair the damage will also have an important beneficial effect on climate change, as some of the gases that caused the ozone layer to thin and in places disappear also contribute to warming the atmosphere. Phasing them out could avoid as much as 0.5C (0.9F) of warming this century.
Chinese researcher claims to have created gene-edited twins
A Chinese researcher has shocked many by claiming to have altered the genomes of twin baby girls born this month in a way that will pass the modification on to future generations. The alteration is intended to make the children’s cells resistant to infection by HIV, says the scientist, He Jiankui of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China.
Spinal Cord Repaired in the Womb
Two unborn babies have had their spines repaired by surgeons - weeks before they were born. The operations - which are the first ever of their kind in the UK - were carried out by a team of 30 doctors at University College Hospital in London. The babies had spina bifida, a condition when the spinal cord fails to develop properly and has a gap in it. It is usually treated after birth, but the earlier it is repaired the better for long-term health and mobility.
First known alien moon
About 8,000 light-years away, a giant planet circles an aging star, marching once around its sun in a single Earth-year. But that planet, called Kepler 1625b, might not be traveling completely alone. Scientists now suspect the planet’s skies are filled by an orbiting mega-moon, a stunningly large world the size of Neptune that may be the first moon spotted outside our solar system.
Successful launch of the most powerful rocket since the Space Shuttle program
US entrepreneur Elon Musk has launched his new rocket, the Falcon Heavy, from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mammoth vehicle - the most powerful since the shuttle system - lifted clear of its pad without incident to soar high over the Atlantic Ocean. It was billed as a risky test flight in advance of the lift-off.
Scientists have produced two genetically twins Monkey using the same technique that developed Dolly
Chinese scientists have produced two genetically identical long-tailed macaques using the same technique that gave us Dolly the sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal. The feat is a first for nonhuman primates, and despite limitations, it could lead to batches of genetically uniform monkeys for biomedical research.
NASA Finds Ancient Organic Material, Mysterious Methane on Mars
NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet’s surface and subsurface.
First confirmed image of newborn planet caught with ESO's VLT
Astronomers led by a group at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany have captured a spectacular snapshot of planetary formation around the young dwarf star PDS 70. The international team has made the first robust detection of a young planet, named PDS 70b, cleaving a path through the planet-forming material surrounding the young star