It seems like there’s so much technological advancement today and yet nothing absolutely groundbreaking reaches the news even if you dig for it.
The mainstream news are full of covid and the ways to tackle it or its effects on the economy, with a few politically correct debates here and there. The only space I see changing at a lightning speed is crypto. New assets, regulation attempts, unprofitable pools, metaverse strategies being devised by everyone and their grandma …
So I’m listing the most impressive scientific moments of 2021 outside the crypto sphere.
Here is my top 5 breakdown. It’s subjective, of course, and there might be other really cool stuff out there that I missed, so please feel free to share it in the comments if you know of any.
Restoring speech in a paralysed person
The researchers at the University of California San Francisco developed a speech neuroprosthesis that enabled a man with severe paralysis to communicate in sentences, by translating his brain signals directly into words on a screen.
Artificial hearts are very close to full human implementation
An Australian team of researchers is planning long term implementation of an artificial heart design on humans. It works a bit differently than a human heart, using spinning disc technology, with a circular pump suspended between magnets in an artificial heart made of titanium. Till now, it has only been tested in animals and temporarily in heart transplant patients, but a full human trial is planned soon. It could be real game changer – with about 25% of all deaths in the West resulting from heart disease.
Machine learned language generator can produce impressive texts
GPT-3 is by far the most literate language generator to date. This AI-based tool is trained on the text of thousands of books and most of the internet. It can write mimicking human-written text and it might make copywriters obsolete sooner rather than later. If you’re interested in AI and machine learning, I suggest that you check out the podcasts of Lex Fridman from MIT.
Treating depression with magic mushrooms works better than meds
The Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London found that psilocybin, a substance derived from magic mushrooms, offers better outcomes for patients with clinical depression than escitalopram, which is one of the most commonly prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. This was a randomised, controlled, double-blind study. “On almost all measures, psilocybin worked significantly better and faster than escitalopram and was at least as well tolerated,” said Prof David Nutt, one of the study authors. Of course this comes with a “Don’t try this at home” disclaimer as it’s still punishable by law and can send you to prison in many, if not most parts of the world, but scientific progress might eventually normalize it.
A higher and more diverse intake of dietary fiber lowers inflammation and heart disease
Everyone says fiber is good for you but this year the resarch found that eating not only more, but actually more types of fiber from various plants significantly boosts gut microbial diversity which is associated with a decreased risk of chronic inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
What’s your top scientific advancement of the year?