There is still an unquantifiable lot that we do not know about the universe and everything it encompasses. Some facts are yet to be known. Researchers and scientists alike are working in think tanks and laboratories with an aim to decipher a better understanding of how things are.
2016 has made remarkable achievements in the world of science. From space exploration, to the human body, to renewable energy, to number theories and to states of matter, these bits of information are bound to be discovered.
1. Gravitational waves have been detected by physicists at Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), thereby proving they are real. They were the last major prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity which had to be confirmed. This discovery helps in understanding how the universe is shaped by mass.
2. One can live without a heart inside the body for more than a year. A 25-year-old man named Stan Larkin lived with an artificial heart in a backpack for 555 days straight that kept him alive.
3. One can also live without 90% of the brain, as evident by a French man who lived despite missing most of his brain. The unnamed lad went to the doctor about a mild weakness in his left leg, but a further scan of his brain showed that his skull was mostly filled with fluid.
4. A clean, unlimited energy might be provided by a new type of nuclear fusion machine called the Wendelstein 7-X (W 7-X) stellerator developed in Germany. It produces strong 3D magnetic fields with “unprecedented accuracy”, meaning it could trap hot balls of plasma long enough for nuclear fusion to occur.
5. An Earth-like planet exists 4.2 light-years away in the Alpha Centauri star system. A mission to visit the Proxima b, which has a breathable atmosphere, is already being rolled out.
6. Leonardo da Vinci has kept the first written record of the laws of friction in his “irrelevant” scribbles for the past 500 years. It was discovered by Ian Hutchings, a University of Cambridge professor, that a page from da Vinci’s scribbles in 1493 contains the friction laws.
7. The largest known prime number is known. It is 274,207,281– 1. Discovered early in 2016, the number is around 22 million digits in length, beating the previous record-holding prime number by 5 million digits more.
8. Artificial intelligence can be better players than humans in Go. For the first time, neural networks have beaten humans in the ancient Chinese board game Go. Google’s DeepMind came face to face with reigning three-time European Go champion, Fan Hui and trashed the human player with 5 wins to none.
9. There is not only one liquid state of water, but two. This happens when water is heated to between 40 and 60 degrees Celsius, hitting a ‘crossover temperature’. At that point, the water starts to switch between two different states of liquid.
10. Tanzania holds a 1.5-billion-cubic-meter field of precious helium gas, which is about seven times the total amount of helium consumed globally every year. According to the researchers, the new techniques used in this helium exploration are hoped to make similar finds in other locations.