As the year comes to a close, we found Wired Scienceâ€™s list of favorite scientific discoveries of 2011. From chimpanzee freedom to the God Particle, hominid mutts to commodity speculators, their top ten makes us ask questions and dig deeper for answers about how we live(d) and the world(s) around us.
Do you have any favorites that aren’t on this list?
Extinct Human Ancestors Survive in our Genes
Anthropologists have suspected for years that Homo sapiens cross-bred with Neanderthals, which proved true in 2010 with the firstÂ hard genetic evidence of Neanderthal DNA survivingÂ in living humans. Moreover, 2011 proclaimed that it’s not just Neanderthals that live on in us, but long-extinct, recently discovered Neanderthal cousins called Denisovans. (Now THAT would be an amazingÂ DNA Portrait!)
Hints of the Higgs boson
The $10 billion Large Hadron Collider may have proven its worth in December when results from two experiments, ATLAS and CMS, showed a small data bump that might correspond to the long-sought Higgs boson. If future data corroborates the finding, finding the Higgs will likely be regarded as one of the 21st century’s great discoveries.
Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos Detectedâ€”or Not
In September, researchers announced the measurement of neutrinos flying faster than the speed of light. Although most physicists dismissed the finding, the masses still hoped for the start of a new scientific revolution.
A New Link Between Aging Cells and Aging People
The debate on whether aging at the organismal level is linked to aging at the cellular level has been active for decades, but this November gerontologists showed that flushing old, broken-down cells from the bodies of mice slowed the aging process. Even though the same trick can’t be performed for people as was performed in this one strain of genetically modified mice, the findings will likely influence a whole new generation of aging research.
Humanity Hits 7 Billion
In October, the human population reached 7 billionâ€”just 12 years after we hit 6 billion. In contrast, it took humanity about 72,000 years to reach its first billion. The number prompted a global moment of reflection: How do we, as a civilization, want to live? Do we want to shareâ€”with each other, and with the rest of life?
More from Wired Scienceâ€™s 2011 list of discoveries:
Deregulation, Speculation and the Price of Food
Intelligent Animals and Emotional Bees
Bird Flu Nightmare Comes Trueâ€”in the Lab
Chimps Not Needed for Hepatitis C Research
A Possibly Habitable, Earth-Like Planet
A compact version of our larger works, the DNA Mini Portrait measures 8″ x 10″ (20 cm x 25 cm) and is a custom Giclee print protected by a glare-resistantÂ glass frame. It can easily be displayed on shelf, desktop or wall.
(And if you havenâ€™t entered to win the grand prize, it closes today at 12pm EST! Â Enter now!).
Who doesnâ€™t like playing with magnets? And when you throw a little Ferrite into the mix, suddenly you have this alluring Interactive Liquid Sculpture. The products (Ferro, the mini and Ferrite, the larger Desktop version) contain Ferrofluidâ€”an extraordinary material with unique ferromagnetic properties.
From Designer David Markus:
By applying magnetic fields of different strengths, different shapes and formations begin to appear in this otherworldly black liquid. By suspending it in a clear liquid, even more interactive qualities are exposed.
Ferrite has been designed with the desktop use in mind. Its solid aluminum base prevents the display from tipping over, while a matching stylus houses powerful neodymium magnets.
Ferro has been designed as a smaller, more interactive version of Ferrite. It features a cage to protect the glass container, as well as a special encased magnet that rests on the top of the vessel.
Want to get your hands on a Ferrite or Ferro? Back this project!
Just what you would expect from Wacomâ€”simple but elegant, the Bamboo Stylus offers users a premium experience for notetaking, sketching, drawing, and other forms of creative expression. ItÂ brings a more accurate and precise way to take notes in meetings and classroom settings, or to sketch out rough ideas while on the go.
We know for a fact that fantastic gifts come in mini packagesâ€”like our DNA Mini Portraitsâ€”and that’s why we’re excited for today’sÂ Holiday Countdown ContestÂ give-away fromÂ MOO:Â 100 mini-cards and a Mosaic Frame!
Half the size of a standard business card, MiniCards are great for showing off your portfolio, your products or your business. With the option of a different image on every card, upload your own artwork or choose from thousands of designs.Â Position (and re-position) your MiniCards in a Mosaid Frame to make the perfect arrangement.
Feeling a little behind with your holiday cards? Today’sÂ give-awayÂ fromÂ Sincerely InkÂ will have your online Christmas and Holiday hards signed, sealed andÂ deliveredÂ in less than 10 minutes.
Send beautiful cards directly to your loved ones from your iPhone, Android or iPad. With more than 30 photo cards and illustrated designs, sending holiday cards has never been easier. Customize your creations with family photos, and add a personal touch by editing text on both the front and the back.
Want a chance to win today’s prize?Â Re-Tweet something from ourÂ Twitter feed, publicly share or comment on one of ourÂ FacebookÂ posts, or comment on the blog for a chance to win 200 credits from Sincerely Ink.
‘Tis the season for stylish entertaining. If your service dishes and accoutrements need refreshing, enter today’s give-away for anÂ UmbraÂ U+Â TAMBOURINE Cheese Board or an Umbra U+ GRANATA Spice Grinder. Two winners!
Umbra believes that everyday objects can be a source of pleasure when reinvented to combine function with modern technology, stylish design, fresh colors and wit, at affordable prices.
OurÂ give-awaysÂ are still rolling! It’s Day 5 of ourÂ Holiday Countdown ContestÂ and our friends atÂ BlurbÂ kicked in a $75 gift certificate for today’s daily prize.
With Blurb, youâ€™ll find all the tools you need to make your own photo book, whether youâ€™re making a personalized wedding album, cookbook, baby book, travel photo book, or fundraising book. Count on bookstore-quality printing and binding, and a range of choices from Hardcover photobooks to Softcover paperbacks in an array of trim sizes.
Put the power of CorelDRAWÂ® Graphics Suite X5 behind your ideas and make a bold impact across any media. This versatile graphic design software packs everything you need to strengthen your visual communication into one tightly integrated suite with vector illustration, page layout, photo editing, tracing, web graphics and animation tools.
(And if you haven’t yet entered to win the grand prize,Â enter today!).
Today we’re making a bold statement with our holiday cheer and giving away a DNA 11 Fingerprint Portrait! TheseÂ uniqueÂ art statements pop in any room and are a testament to fingers of any age.
Our Fingerprint Portraits are available in an almost limitless number of color combinations to suit anyÂ dĂ©cor and areÂ a great way to show off every family member’s individuality!
To enter today’sÂ give-away, leave a comment on this blog post and tell us who you’d like to get a Fingerprint Portrait for.
(And if you havenâ€™t yet entered to win the grand prize,Â enter today!).