News

    Discovery of Pre-Human Fossil Cited as Breakthrough of the Year

    Others include water on the Moon, gene therapy

    Discovery of Pre-Human Fossil Cited as Breakthrough of the Year
    Discovery of Pre-Human Fossil Cited as Breakthrough of the Year

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Art Chimes

    The prestigious journal Science is out with its top 10 breakthroughs of 2009. They include developments in anthropology, astronomy, and biology.

    The breakthrough of the year was 15 years in coming. That's how long it took for an international team of scientists to excavate and analyze the fossilized skeleton of a 4.4 million year old human ancestor, Ardipithecus ramidus, which was discovered in Ethiopia. Science magazine deputy news editor Robert Coontz said "Ardi," as the creature was nicknamed, was especially surprising to scientists because of how she walked.
     
    "The main thing was that it walked upright, just as we do. But what's unexpected about that is that our closest evolutionary relatives, chimpanzees and gorillas, don't do that. And so there was an assumption that our common ancestor with them would have been something that also walked that way. And it turns out that, no, Ardipithecus was designed for walking in trees or climbing trees."

    Several of Science magazine's notable breakthroughs of the past year focused on astronomy and space. The journal cited the astronauts' service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, which gave the orbiting observatory a new lease on life. And editor Robert Coontz says the top 10 breakthroughs also included the discovery of water on the moon by the LCROSS mission.

    "The poles of the moon have dark craters that never see. So if any ice were to wind up there, it really wouldn't go anywhere. So this year NASA sent up a spacecraft and sent the rocket stage right into the moon to 'bomb' the moon, basically, and see what came up. And they looked at it with a spectrometer and they found that the molecules that were coming up included water."

    In the life sciences, the journal's editors noted advances in gene therapy — something that has long seemed on the verge of a breakthrough.

    "This year, however, there were some very promising clinical results that indicate that it may be starting to work the way that people always hoped that it would. There was a form of inherited blindness, and some researchers in Britain injected patients with these viruses attached to genes. And it turns out that the patients actually did regain some of their sensitivity to light."

    Coontz says some of the children in the study actually regained enough eyesight to be able to play sports normally.

    Science magazine reports on these and the rest of its breakthroughs of the year online at ScienceMag.org. You'll have to register, but there's no cost.

    At the website you'll also get a hint about areas to watch for breakthroughs in the coming year, including America's human spaceflight program.

    "NASA is going to have to decide what it's going to do about the human space program. It will determine the whole direction that the future space program of the United States is going to take, and so that's something that we'll be looking at very closely."

    Science magazine editor Robert Coontz says other areas to watch in 2010 include stem cell research and possible new cancer treatments. 
     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.