Science: Top 10 Scientific Breakthroughs of 2008

With the year 2008 wrapping up to an end, the Journal of Science has released its annual list of top ten scientific breakthroughs of 2008 in their December 19th issue.  

  1. Cellular Reprogramming:  A method that produces "made-to-order" cell lines by reprogramming cells from ill patients.   As this was number one on their list, there is an article that provides more detail on it: Breakthrough of the Year: Reprogramming Cells 
  2. Exoplanets:  Using a special telescope techniques, for the first time the astronomers were able to directly observe planets orbiting other stars.
  3. Expanding The Catalog Of Cancer Genes:  Researchers have been able to sequence genes from two deadliest cancer cells, pancreatic cancer and glioblastoma.  They turned up dozens of mutations that remove the brakes on cell division and send the cell down the path to cancer.
  4. New Mystery Materials:  An entirely new second family of high-temperature superconductors were discovered. These materials consisted of iron compounds instead of copper-and-oxygen-compounds.
  5. Watching Proteins At work:  It was a pleasant surprise for the biochemists to watch proteins bind to their targets, switch a cell’s metabolic state and contribute to a tissue’s properties.
  6. Toward Renewable Energy On Demand:  In order to store excess energy generated from part-time sources like wind and solar power, researchers have found a new promising tool using a "cobalt-phosphorus catalyst".
  7. The Video Embryo:  In 2008, researchers observed in unprecedented detail the dance of cells in a developing embryo, recording and analyzing movies that trace the movements of the roughly 16,000 cells that make up the zebrafish embryo by the end of its first day of development.
  8. "Good" Fat, Illuminated:  Scientists have been able to morph "good" brown fat, which burns "bad" white fat to generate heat for the body, into muscle and vice versa.  This has led to a new approach to treat obesity…
  9. Calculating The Weight Of The World:  Physicists have been successful in calculating the mass of proton and neutron from the standard model which describes most of the visible universe’s particles and their interactions.
  10. Faster, Cheaper Genome Sequencing: Researchers have been able to report a sequencing technology that is much cheaper and speedier.  The technique can be applied from woolly mammoths to human cancer patients.

For more information, check out the special section that report on the top breakthrough and nine runners-up.   Online extras include an online video presentation and a special Breakthrough edition of the Science Podcast.

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