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Most significant discoveries and inventions of the modern world.

Updated on June 28, 2016

The pharmaceutical printer.

Essemblix 'drag-and-drop' Medicine Making.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could "drag-and-drop" drugs like we insert photos into emails? The Parabon Essemblix Drug Development Platform uses a "drag and drop computer interface" to arrange compounds at atomic levels. The National Science Foundation believes that it could exponentially reduce the time required to create and test medications.

Just how exponentially are we talking about? Well, without Essemblix, the pharmaceutical industry uses a lock and key mechanism built by a slow and expensive process of trial and error. It’s slow and expensive enough that the industrial process of even one successful drug usually puts up a hefty price of $800 million dollars and 15 years. Most of that money, and most of that time, is rarely invested on clinical trials and FDA approval either-most is freckled simply on design and synthesis of new, testable drugs.

But with Essemblix, arrangement and synthesis of medicines as robust procedures are a thing of the past; Essemblix drugs, says the National Science Foundation, could be conceived and produced "in weeks, or even days." . The Essemblix has already been used to produce drugs such as P24RDN, a brain-cancer medication produced by Parabon. It has already been approved as "safe and effective’ by preclinical trials.

Mind-controlled Cybernetic Limbs.

The best of minds at UC Irvine are on the verge of a scientific breakthrough soon to accommodate disabled people. A team of engineers at the university have created a pair of mind-controlled robotic legs that respond in merely by electrical impulses generated by a person’s thoughts. The mechanical appendages have been tested on both able bodied and disabled people.

But this is merely the beginning of brain-reading technologies invented this year. Besides the mind-controlled legs from UC Irvine, mind-controlled robotic cat ears and (perhaps less complicated) the crazy mind-reading binoculars from DARPA that pin-point enemies in unbelievable ways also are intriguing additions to such technology.


Grasshopper Reusable Rocket.

Humans have pioneered space aviation ever since the 1960s, but it always has left a deep hole in our pockets. Every rocket made so far has been at least partially reusable and mostly disposable. This means that every rocket ever built leaves remnants in space and has to be partially rebuilt for future launches.

Elon Musk, the billionaire PayPal founder who had a firm initiative to go to Mars, after many years of work have created the first reusable rocket, which took its first test flight in September 2012.

The rocket, known as the Grasshopper, is as tall as a 10-story building and has thus far flown twice, once to the height of 6 feet and once to the height of 17.7 feet. Don’t let the distances dissuade you, but both test flights landed safely, the rocket was reused, and the flights substantiated that the Grasshopper is capable of vertical take-off and landing-a crucial part of aviation when travelling to planets without runways.

Green Plastic.

Don’t think of this as an environment-friendly plastic that is useful - this one's actually a life saver. Developed by a group of researchers in California, this inexpensive plastic is enabled with the ability of trapping atmospheric carbon content especially carbon dioxide.

The implications are totally clear here - if optimally tapped, not only can this material prevent further environmental damage but it can also reduce the existing carbon dioxide excess dramatically. This could be one of humanity’s most viable means of cutting down on global carbon footprints and possibly inhibit the onset of preventable global catastrophes.


The Higgs-boson.

Touted by many as the biggest scientific discovery of the 21st century, the Higgs Boson has glued scientists to their results for energetic particle collisions, looking for data bumps.

What is the Higgs Boson? An elusive team of particle scientists have been searching for the last 40 years, that many believe will prove that the Standard Model is indeed, correct. If properly proven and validated, it would lend a lot of explanation as to why other elementary particles, like quarks and electrons, have mass, and what constitutes dark matter and dark energy that rules the larger Universe. In accordance with Einstein’s theory, if scientists are able to convert it into energy, then it will spark a new dawn of never before seen types of matter.

The Large Hadron Collider, which accelerates protons to energies of 7 trillion electron volts, around a 17-mile underground racetrack at CERN, was designed to get enough data to prove the Higgs-Boson theory.

A New Link Between Aging Cells and Aging People.

The ageing of organism has always been believed to be source of cellular reactions. Now gerontologists have shown that, by removing old, broken-down cells from the bodies of mice, their vulnerability to ageing was indeed reduced.

These several experimentation have given some light to develop technologies that would benefit the elderly. As of yet, the experiment cannot be performed in humans, but the findings will no doubt lead to a whole new generation of aging research ahead-and not just for certain privileged rodents.


Hydrogen As a Fuel.

Since the early 19th century, scientists have looked towards hydrogen as a potential source of fuel. The light gas occupies an important part of industrial processes, rocket fuel, and spacecraft propulsion. With further research and development, this fuel could also serve as an alternative source of energy for domestic purposes such as heating,lighting, generating electricity, and fueling motor vehicles. When produced from renewable resources and technologies, such as hydro, solar, and wind energy, hydrogen becomes a renewable fuel.

Hydrogen cannot be produced directly by digging a mine or drilling a well like most fuels. It must be extracted chemically from hydrogen-rich materials such as natural gas, water, coal, or plant matter. Production techniques now used include steam reforming of natural gas, cleanup of industrial by-product gases, and water electrolysis. A number of other technologies are being studied, including several that produce hydrogen from water or biomass using solar or other renewable energy. Hydrogen is the most abundant of all the elements in the universe, and makes up more than three-quarters of the mass of the universe. Based on the "Big Bang" theory, it is believed that all other elements are composed of hydrogen and helium(a process which is still going on).

Hydrogen ranks ninth of all the elements in order of abundance on Earth, and makes up about 0.76% of the weight of the Earth's crust. The most important naturally occurring compound of hydrogen is water, which is its primary source. In the search for new and improved energy sources and uses, interest has been generated in employing hydrogen as an energy currency. The hydrogen would be stored as a compressed gas or liquid and subsequently utilized in a fuel cell, or combusted to return the stored energy when needed. This is the basis for the hydrogen economy, or hydrogen energy research carried out throughout the world.


A New Way to Desalinate Seawater.

With world populations expected to outnumber the rate of resource replenishment, potable(drinkable) water is projected to grow more scarce over the coming century. This necessitates the need of a practical and cheap means of desalinating sea water. In July, MIT researchers announced the development of a new method of desalinization using one-atom-thick sheets of graphene, a pure carbon substance. Their method could be far cheaper and less energy-intensive than existing systems-potentially providing a way to put an end to all water related miseries that have plagued the third world.

Nanometer-scale pores in single-layer freestanding graphene can effectively filter salts from water. The membrane’s ability to prevent the salt passage depends immensely on pore diameter and only adequately sized pores permit water to flow while blocking ions. Further, an investigation into the role of chemical functional groups bonded to the edges of graphene , pores suggests that hydroxyl groups can double the water flux(flow rate) thanks to their hydrophilic(water-attracting) character.

The increase in water flux comes, however, reduces consistent salt rejection performance. The water permeability of such materials is several orders of magnitude higher than conventional reverse osmosis membranes, and that nanoporous graphene may have an indispensable role to play for water purification.


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