Top 10 Technological Discoveries in 2017 Part 2
Read the part 2 of #top 10 #technological #discoveries and you will definitely have your jaw-dropped of how far we have come globally. Read on!
6. Turning Pollution Into Power
The idea of solving both the problem of air pollution and power generation in one piece of technology is an interesting one. Researchers from the University of Antwerp and KU Leuven (University of Leuven) in Belgium have a new technological process that manages to do both of these things simultaneously. The technology allows the hydrogen gas to be stored, which can later be used as fuel.
“We use a small device with two rooms separated by a membrane,” Professor Sammy Verbruggen said, “These catalysts are capable of producing hydrogen gas and breaking down air pollution. We are currently working on a scale of only a few square centimeters. At a later stage, we would like to scale up our technology to make the process industrially applicable. We are also working on improving our materials so we can use sunlight more efficiently to trigger the reactions.”
7. Tracking Individuals Simultaneously
Researchers have developed a method for tracking hundreds of individuals at once. It may sound like something out of a futuristic spy movie, but this technology could help to spot weird suspicious behaviors and predict dangerous crowd movements. This could potentially save countless lives. The method currently does not work in real time, but the researchers are hopeful that the algorithm can be improved upon in the near future. To track crowds of people at once could prove to be a major step forward in ensuring crowd security in public spaces and identifying potentially dangerous behavior.—Laura Leising
8. Gene Therapy 2.0
The dream of gene therapy has been around for decades for the researchers to chase. This Gene therapy idea is elegant: use an engineered virus to deliver healthy copies of a gene into patients with defective versions. But recently it produced more disappointments than successes. The entire field was slowed in 1999 when an 18-year-old patient with a liver disease, Jesse Gelsinger, died in a gene-therapy experiment. Fixing rare diseases, impressive in its own right, could be just the start.
Researchers are studying gene therapy in clinical trials for about 40 to 50 different diseases, says Maria-Grazia Roncarolo, a pediatrician and scientist at Stanford University who led early gene-therapy experiments in Italy that laid the foundation for Strimvelis. Gene-therapy researchers have used many of those early problems by using viruses that are more efficient at transporting new genetic material into cells. But several challenges remain.
Gene therapies have been developed for several relatively rare diseases, creating such treatments for more common diseases that have complex genetic causes will be far more difficult. In diseases like SCID and hemophilia, scientists know the precise genetic mutation that is to blame. But diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and heart failure involve multiple genes—so that’s a difficult one.
Availability: 10 to 14 years
9. Hot Solar Cells
Converting heat to focused beams of light, a new solar device could create cheap and continuous power. Solar panels cover a growing number of rooftops, but even decades after they were first developed, there’s no big change. The slabs of silicon remain bulky, expensive, and inefficient. Fundamental limitations prevent these conventional photovoltaic from absorbing more than a fraction of the energy in sunlight.
But a team of MIT scientists has built a different sort of solar energy device that uses inventive engineering and advances in materials science to capture far more of the sun’s energy. The trick is to first turn sunlight into heat and then convert it back into the light but now focused within the spectrum that solar cells can use. The key step in creating the device was the development of something called an absorber-emitter. It essentially acts as a light funnel above the solar cells. The absorbing layer is built from solid black carbon nano-tubes that capture all the energy in sunlight and convert most of it into heat. If the researchers can incorporate a storage device and ratchet up efficiency levels, the system could one day deliver clean, cheap—and continuous—solar power. How amazing is that?
Availability: 10 to 15 years
10. The Cell Atlas
Biology’s next mega-project will find out what we’re really made of. The objective is to construct the first comprehensive “cell atlas,” or map of human cells, a technological marvel that should comprehensively reveal, for the first time, what human bodies are actually made of and provide scientists a sophisticated new model of biology that could speed the search for drugs.
Performing the task of cataloging the 37.2 trillion cells of the human body, an international consortium of scientists from the U.S., U.K., Sweden, Israel, the Netherlands, and Japan is being assembled to assign each a molecular signature and also give each type a zip code in the three-dimensional space of our bodies. Behind the cell, atlas are big-science powerhouses including Britain’s Sanger Institute, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and a new “Biohub” in California funded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Availability: 5 years