The Null Device

Five big science moments of 2012

The five biggest moments in science in 2012:
Dinosaurs ain’t what they used to be when you were a kid. They’ve changed, or rather, our understanding of them has changed. Kids science books always have a dinosaur scene with a Triceratops, a Tyrannosaurus, a Brontosaurus and a Stegosaurus in a sylvan field, always one of each with the gentle eruptions of a volcano in the background. However, now we know of up to 500 species of dinosaurs that lived on most continents and in all kinds of climates and conditions. We’ve come to realise they weren’t solitary cold-blooded herbivores hunted by coldblooded carnivores. We now know they took care of their young and lived in groups. But while Michael Crichton, of Jurassic Park fame, may have changed your view of dinosaur behavior and lent credence to the old idea that the descendants of dinosaurs are birds, the most startling discovery in recent times is that many dinosaurs had feathers; not just the branch of them we thought were clearly related to birds.
Many scientists are working on trying to create scaffolds for cells to grown on with the view to create an artificial organ. This means sourcing materials which cells can grow on that is not toxic to cells or to the ultimate recipient. Late this year, scientists reported they were able to physically print cells in two dimensions and the cells survived. This means they determined where to print the cells and how many they could print. If we can print cells in 2D, then it follows that we can print cells in 3D. We have 3D printers. So we might, some day soon, with an emphasis on soon, actually be able to print cells using a 3D printer into some devices or as actual replacement organs or devices, using the patient’s own cells. We could generate these on demand, without having to wait for donors, or worry about organ rejection. The dream of organ generation is closer than ever.
Not to mention the Higgs-like boson, and the replication of the evolution of artificial RNA in a chemical “primordial soup”.

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