5 Scientific Discoveries That Will Change The World Within Our Lifetime
Lately, it’s felt like scientists have been cut off from voicing their opinions, but that doesn’t mean the scientific world has ground to a halt. Despite these uncertain times, many researchers are still doing some pretty amazing things that will change our lives forever—and sooner than you might think.
3D Printed Skin for Burn Victims
(image via PSFK)
3D printing has already revolutionized many fields. I mean, you can print guns and food, so what’s next?
Skin is apparently the next big thing.
One of Canada’s largest burn centers, Ross Tilley Burn Centre, began using 3D printers to create new human skin for burn victims. First, healthy skin cells are harvested from the patient and then multiplied. The printer imprints the different types of cells into a three-dimensional matrix that comes out, ready to be placed on the patient.
For now, this procedure is still in clinical trials. The process needs to be more precise, and there are still several questions that need to be answered, like how to get the cells to magnify, multiply, and grow faster than normal skin growth. However, if things work out, it could change everything about the grafting process—which is often slow and painful.
Autonomous Vehicles Saving Lives
(image via Newsweek)
By now, everyone has heard of self-driving cars and how they’re supposed to make the world safer. In 2015 alone, there were 35,092 motor vehicle deaths. That’s an extremely high number, but autonomous vehicles (AV) may be able to reduce that number dramatically—on a large scale, this could mean deaths related to car accidents are reduced to triple, double, or maybe even single digits.
A second huge benefit to autonomous vehicles is the decreased need for parking spaces. Right now, parking lots are designed to allow people to open their doors and exit the vehicle. At least, most parking lots are—I’ve been in a few where I barely made it out. Reports state that we can decrease the need for parking space by 5.7 billion square meters. How? In theory, the autonomous car will drop you off before finding a spot to park, so there's no need to make room for humans exiting.
Driverless cars are already popping up, but the biggest issue is that our cities aren’t designed for this technology. It can be difficult for some autonomous vehicles to make their way around obstacles most drivers can handle with a breeze. Plus, self-driving cars also have to make their way around other drivers, which everyone knows is the hardest (and most annoying) part of driving.
Hyperloop Rapid Transit System
(image via Independent)
In 2016, California began working on one of the best transportation ideas in American history. The aptly named Hyperloop Rapid Transit System is an eight-kilometer track that will carry people at nearly 750 miles per hour. The Hyperloop system was introduced by Elon Musk, who sold the idea to Dirk Ahlborn of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. Right now, it isn’t going to go very far, but there are hopes that in the future it will connect cities that are very far away. For example, a normal trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas takes around four hours, but the Hyperloop could get passengers there in just 30 minutes.
Ahlborn explains how it works: “Inside the tube, you create a low-pressure environment similar to an airplane. So now the capsule traveling inside the tubes doesn’t encounter as much resistance, and therefore can travel really fast with very little energy.” The cost of this Hyperloop system will cost around $10 billion.
The best part about the Hyperloop Rapid Transit System is the fact that it’s environmentally friendly. It’s 100% solar-powered meaning that it’s potentially the transportation of the future.
Chip Implants for Paralysis Victims
(image via The Japan Times)
Paralysis is easily one of the scariest things that can happen to a person, and approximately 5.4 million individuals live with this issue. After losing feeling in the legs, a person may lose the ability to walk, while losing feeling in the hands may prevent people from drinking, eating, and performing daily tasks many of us take for advantage.
However, new technology may be able to give people the ability to move again. The story of Mr. Burkhart is an example of this. After a freak accident, he broke his neck and lost feeling in his hands and legs. Mr. Burkhart used his chance to test new technology, which was a chip implanted into his brain. The chip implant communicates to a computer using a sleeve on his arm to give the patient the ability to relearn regular actions like stirring and pouring from a bottle. Mr. Burkhart can even play the game Guitar Hero.
Scientists urge that this is not a cure for paralysis, since patients can only use this technology when connected in a lab, but it’s a step toward incredible achievements. The system needs a lot of work before it can be used to provide significant mobile independence, but neural engineering is advancing quickly. Who knows what the future will bring?
Bowhead Whale Gene Mapping
(image via Whaleopedia)
At first, mapping the genome of bowhead whales may not seem like an awesome discovery, but it means more than you’d think. Bowhead whales are the longest-living mammals in the world and can survive for up to 200 years. How? Well, bowhead whales can resist cancer and repair damage done to their DNA, which leads to their increased longevity.
This is impressive enough, but scientists aren’t stopping there. Joao Pedro de Magalhaes is the lead researcher of the UK-based study that has been working toward using whale genes to increase the lifespans of humans. He’s quoted in saying, “my ideal next experiment is to take a gene from the bowhead whale and put it in a mouse and see if that mouse will live longer and be protected against cancer.”
The medical community is already making leaps and bounds to cure cancer, which increases our lifespan, but what if humans can resist cancer? What if the cells never grow and multiply in the first place? The bowhead whale could be the next step toward increasing our lifespan while improving our quality of life.