2013 in science

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15 February 2013: a 10-ton meteoroid (atmospheric trail pictured) impacts Chelyabinsk, Russia, injuring over 1,200 people. At the time, it is the most destructive meteor to strike Earth since 1908.

A number of significant scientific events occurred in 2013, including the discovery of numerous Earthlike exoplanets, the development of viable lab-grown ears, teeth, livers and blood vessels, and the atmospheric entry of the most destructive meteor since 1908. The year has also seen successful new treatments for diseases such as HIV, Usher syndrome and leukodystrophy, and a major expansion in the use and capabilities of technologies such as 3D printing and autonomous cars.

The United Nations designated 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation.[1]

Events, discoveries and inventions[edit]

January[edit]

2 January 2013: astronomers estimate that every star in the Milky Way Galaxy (artist's rendering pictured) hosts at least one exoplanet.
  • 2 January
    • A study by Caltech astronomers reports that the Milky Way Galaxy contains at least one planet per star, resulting in approximately 100–400 billion exoplanets. The study, based on planets orbiting the star Kepler-32, suggests that planetary systems may be the norm around stars in our galaxy.[2]
    • Astronomers report the discovery of giant "geysers" of charged particles emanating from the core of the Milky Way Galaxy. These outflows, which extend as far as 50,000 light-years from the galactic plane, are thought to be fuelled by intense star formation.[3][4]
    • LG Electronics releases the first commercial OLED television. OLED screens are thinner, more efficient and capable of displaying images with greater definition than conventional LCD and plasma screens.[5]
  • 3 January
  • 4 January
  • 6 January
    • British researchers successfully cure blindness in mice using an injection of photosensitive cells. Following additional testing, the treatment could be used to heal human sufferers of retinitis pigmentosa.[15][16]
    • China is reported to be experiencing a rapid growth in the use of industrial robots, with robot installations increasing at over 10 percent a year.[17]
9 January 2013: scientists test a new cancer treatment that uses sickle cells (pictured) to kill off tumours by starving them of their blood supply.
20 January 2013: it is proven that quadruple-helix DNA (pictured) is present in humans.
  • 11 January
    • Manchester University chemists develop a functional molecular machine, only a few nanometers in size, that can assemble complex molecular structures in a fashion similar to DNA ribosomes. The invention could be used to precisely fashion new medicines or polymers.[43][44]
    • Astronomers discover a distant cluster of supermassive quasars that is both the largest and brightest structure in the known universe, spanning approximately four billion light-years.[45]
    • New high-precision observations of the asteroid 99942 Apophis reveal that it is almost certain that the asteroid will not strike the Earth in 2036, despite earlier scientific concern over its trajectory.[46]
    • Scientists develop a Breathalyzer-like breath test that could be used to quickly and accurately diagnose lung infections.[47][48]
  • 12 January – Official sources state that Beijing's air is now hazardous to human health, after years of mounting air pollution. The city's air contains as much as 20 times the World Health Organization's recommended amount of toxic particles.[49]
  • 13 January – Massachusetts doctors invent a pill-sized medical scanner that can be safely swallowed by patients, allowing the esophagus to be more easily scanned for diseases.[50]
  • 15 January – The first museum of 3D-printed artifacts opens in China.[51]
  • 17 January – NASA announces that the Kepler space observatory has developed a reaction wheel issue and will discontinue operation for 10 days in the interest of solving the problem. Three functional reaction wheels are needed to accurately aim the telescope; one of Kepler's original four reaction wheels failed in July 2012. If this second wheel issue is not resolved, NASA may be forced to end the long-running Kepler mission altogether.[52][53]
  • 18 January – Japanese researchers create a "privacy visor" which uses near-infrared light to render its wearer unrecognizable to facial recognition software.[54]
  • 20 January – Scientists prove that quadruple-helix DNA is present in human cells.[55]
  • 21 January – Architects begin preparations for constructing the world's first 3D-printed building. The building will be constructed of a high-strength artificial marble laid down by an industrial-scale 3D printer, and is planned for completion in 2014.[56]
  • 22 January
22 January 2013: a scientific study reveals that the glaciers of the Andes are melting at an unprecedented rate.
30 January 2013: South Korea conducts its first successful orbital launch with its indigenous Naro-1 rocket (replica pictured).
  • 29 January
  • 30 January – South Korea conducts its first successful orbital launch, using the Naro-1 rocket to place a satellite into orbit.[78]
  • 31 January
    • British scientists achieve a breakthrough in synthetic biology, developing microscopic biological "factories" that can be assembled in hours and which could be used to deliver medicines, produce biofuels and mine underground minerals.[79]
    • Scientists sequence the genome of the domestic pigeon, discovering that all modern pigeon breeds are descended from the wild rock dove.[80]
    • The ESA, in collaboration with a group of architectural firms, designs and tests a 3D-printed structure that can be built out of lunar regolith to serve as a Moon base.[81]
    • Japanese scientists genetically modify a transparent zebrafish specimen to produce a visible glow during periods of intense brain activity, allowing the fish's "thoughts" to be recorded as specific regions of its brain light up in response to external stimuli.[82]

February[edit]

  • 1 February
    • Stanford University physicists discover that atom-thin sheets of graphene are 100 times more chemically reactive than thicker sheets. This reactivity may be crucial to developing new practical applications for graphene, which is already widely known for its immense strength and conductivity.[83]
    • Medical researchers develop a new method of efficiently detecting cancer using bioelectric signals. In addition, they were able to manipulate cellular electric charge levels to prevent certain cells from developing cancer.[84]
  • 2 February
  • 3 February
4 February 2013: British scientists use DNA testing to confirm that a newly unearthed skeleton is that of the medieval king Richard III (pictured).
  • 4 February
    • American researchers develop a new molecular therapy which can cross the blood-brain barrier to deliver medicines to the brain, potentially helping to treat neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease.[89]
    • A much-vaunted experimental vaccine for tuberculosis proves to be largely ineffective against the disease in human trials.[90]
    • After DNA testing, scientists confirm that a medieval skeleton unearthed in Leicester is that of the defeated Plantagenet king Richard III, who was killed in battle in 1485.[91]
    • Australian engineers build a "quantum microscope" which offers unprecedented levels of precision in measuring live biological systems.[92]
    • Sea urchins are discovered to be capable of efficiently converting carbon dioxide into raw material for their shells, potentially offering a new method of carbon capture for industrial purposes.[93]
  • 5 February
  • 6 February
    • Halley VI, a new British Antarctic research station, begins operation. The station, which is mounted on hydraulic ski-legs to allow it to be towed across the ice, features an advanced modular design and is expected to endure the Antarctic climate until 2050.[96]
    • In a series of separate developments, American and Japanese engineers create 3D printers that can produce edible meals with a range of flavours and textures on demand. These could both replace conventional ready meals and allow astronauts to enjoy a far more varied diet.[97]
    • Astronomers report that 6% of all dwarf stars – the most common stars in the known universe – may host Earthlike planets. Additionally, some such exoplanets may exist only 13 light-years from Earth.[98]
    • Scientists discover live bacteria in the subglacial Antarctic Lake Whillans.[99]
  • 8 February
  • 10 February
    • NASA's Curiosity Mars rover uses its onboard drill to obtain the first deep rock sample ever retrieved from the surface of another planet.[104]
    • A genetically engineered strain of the vaccinia virus is found to triple the average survival time of patients suffering from a severe form of liver cancer.[105]
  • 12 February – North Korea conducts its third nuclear test despite international sanctions and condemnation.[106]
  • 13 February
15 February 2013: a 10-ton meteoroid (atmospheric trail pictured) impacts Chelyabinsk, Russia, injuring over 1,200 people.
20 February 2013: NASA astronomers discover the smallest exoplanet to date, Kepler-37b (shown second from left).

March[edit]

1 March 2013: Boston Dynamics develops an advanced version of its BigDog heavy-lifting robot (2006 version pictured), featuring a powerful mechanical throwing arm.
  • 1 March – Boston Dynamics demonstrates an updated version of its BigDog military robot, a mule-sized heavy-lifting robot able to navigate rough terrain and equipped with an arm powerful enough to easily lift and throw breeze blocks.[144]
  • 3 March – American scientists report that they have cured HIV in an infant by giving the child a course of antiretroviral drugs very early in its life. The previously HIV-positive child has reportedly exhibited no HIV symptoms since its treatment, despite having no further medication for a year.[145]
  • 4 March
  • 5 March – The Human Connectome Project releases the most detailed scans of the human brain yet made, allowing neuroscientists to more accurately study the complexities of the brain's structure and identify the causes of neural disorders.[148]
  • 6 March
    • After studying the DNA of a modern African American, scientists estimate that the Y-chromosomal Adam – the most recent male common ancestor of human beings – lived much earlier than previously thought, over 338,000 years ago.[149]
    • Chinese and Israeli scientists develop a Breathalyzer-style breath test that can quickly and easily diagnose stomach cancer by analyzing exhaled chemicals, without the need for an intrusive endoscopy.[150]
  • 7 March
    • After an eight-year project involving the use of a pioneering cloning technique, Japanese researchers create 25 generations of healthy cloned mice with normal lifespans, demonstrating that clones are not intrinsically shorter-lived than naturally born animals.[151]
    • An international project known as Bedmap2 analyses 50 years of data to measure the volume of Antarctic ice, finding it to be 26,500,000 cubic kilometres (6,400,000 cu mi), which would raise global sea levels by 58 metres (190 ft) if it melted.[152]
    • Scientists from Oregon State University reconstruct the global temperature record since the end of the last Ice Age. Their data, taken from 73 sites around the world, shows a clear and rapid warming trend in the 20th and early 21st centuries.[153]
    • In a world first, researchers replace 75 percent of an injured patient's skull with a precision 3D-printed polymer replacement implant. In future, damaged bones may routinely be replaced with custom-manufactured implants.[154]
    • Tests on mice demonstrate conclusive proof that resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, improves health and longevity.[155]
  • 9 March
    • British dental researchers grow viable teeth from a combination of gingival cells and stem cells, potentially allowing future patients to receive living teeth to replace diseased or damaged ones.[156]
    • Roboticists launch an online database and cloud computing platform which can be accessed by robots worldwide, allowing them to more easily recognise unfamiliar objects and perform intensive computing tasks.[157]
  • 11 March
13 March 2013: the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (antennae pictured) becomes operational in Chile. At the time, it is the world's most powerful radio telescope.
19 March 2013: German scientists sequence the genome of the Neanderthal (skull pictured).
    • The Neanderthal genome is sequenced by German scientists from a toe bone found in southern Siberia.[179]
    • Scientists announce they can now illuminate up to 100 biomarkers, ten times more than the previous standard. This breakthrough may make it much easier to spot proteins in cancer cells – a vital diagnostic technique.[180]
    • NASA reports that a software computer problem on the Curiosity Mars rover is now repaired.[181][182]
    • Researchers at the University of Cambridge demonstrate a virtual "talking head" with realistic emotions, which could lead to more naturalistic human-computer interactions.[183]
    • Swiss scientists develop a medical scanner that can be implanted just under the skin and can monitor a range of blood-related conditions, providing instant results via mobile phone. They say it will be available to patients by 2017.[184]
  • 20 March – Gene therapy is used to cure leukaemia in three adult patients.[185]
  • 21 March
  • 22 March – At the 44th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, scientists announce the discovery of the first known meteorite to originate from Mercury. The green rock, known as NWA 7325, is thought to be 4.56 billion years old.[190]
  • 24 March
    • Supplementation of the protein SNX27 reverses the Down syndrome phenotype in mice, according to new research.[191]
    • Scientists discover mutations in 26 genes that are believed to be responsible for oesophageal cancer, a breakthrough that could lead to new drug treatments for the disease.[192]
  • 27 March – A potential new weight loss method is discovered, after a 20% weight reduction was achieved in mice simply by having their gut microbes altered.[193]
  • 28 March
  • 29 March – Scientists create a robotic ant colony that behaves like a real one. The tiny machines can be programmed to avoid obstacles and find the quickest route through a network or maze.[197]

April[edit]

3 April 2013: NASA reports that the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (pictured, center-left) has detected possible signs of the elusive phenomenon known as dark matter.
12 April 2013: scientists reconstruct the skeleton of the ancient hominid Australopithecus sediba (cranium pictured).
21 April 2013: the Antares commercial launch vehicle (pictured) is successfully launched on its maiden flight by Orbital Sciences Corporation.

May[edit]

29 April 2013: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane (pictured with White Knight Two mothership) makes its first rocket-powered flight.
15 May 2013: researchers discover key cholesterol genes in baboons, potentially leading to new drugs to treat heart disease in humans.
  • 15 May
    • Human embryonic stem cells are created by cloning for the first time, with major implications for treating a wide range of diseases.[276]
    • NASA reports that a reaction wheel on the Kepler space observatory may be malfunctioning and may result in the premature termination of the observatory's search for Earth-like exoplanets.[277][278]
    • Four genes implicated in "bad" cholesterol have been identified in baboons, a finding that could pave the way for new drugs to prevent human heart disease.[279]
    • New fossils provide physical evidence that the evolutionary split between apes and monkeys may have occurred "25 to 30 million years ago", as long suggested by DNA findings.[280]
    • New evidence suggests that Mount Everest's glaciers are melting.[281]
    • Scientists release pictures of what they believe the lost city of La Ciudad Blanca in La Mosquitia, Honduras.[282]
    • A new study finds that the white blood cell levels in men decrease faster during aging than in women, possibly providing one clue as to why women have longer average lifespans.[283]
    • Fish have been migrating to the poles for decades, due to climate change, according to a new study.[284]
    • A team of Iranian researchers studies nanotechnology applications in neuroscience, reporting new results regarding medicine and drug delivery for the brain and nerves.[285]
  • 16 May
    • Water dating back 2.6 billion years, by far the oldest ever found, is discovered in a Canadian mine.[286]
    • A study suggests that marijuana may improve blood sugar levels by decreasing insulin resistance.[287]
    • Mild electric shock is shown to provide a lasting improvement to mathematical ability.[288]
    • A new world record has been achieved in wireless data transfer, with 40 Gbit/s transferred at 240 GHz over a distance of one kilometer.[289]
  • 21 May
    • Genetic samples from a museum specimen have revealed the pathogen that caused the 19th-century Irish potato famine. The strain is now thought to be extinct.[290]
    • By blocking a protein known as NF-kB that is secreted by the hypothalamus, researchers extend the lifespan of laboratory mice by 20 percent.[291]
  • 22 May
    • Plans are approved for the world's biggest wave farm in north-west Scotland, with an intended power-generation capacity of 40MW.[292]
    • In a significant move to address climate change, China announces that it will impose a cap on carbon emissions by 2016.[293]
    • Researchers at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, report that Earth is pushing the Moon away more quickly than it has done for most of the past 50 million years.[294]
    • Researchers in France confirm that atypical activation of different genes distinct to other tissues occur in all kinds of cancer. Tumor cells in lung cancer, for example, express genes, which should be silent, particular to male sperm production. According to the researchers, "The methodical recognition of ectopic gene activations in cancer cells could serve as a basis for gene signature–guided tumor stratification".[295][296]
  • 23 May – Very early symptoms of Huntington's disease, such as depression and anxiety, can be prevented in mice by switching off a protein, according to a new study.[297]
  • 25 May – A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs.[298]
  • 26 May – Using new algorithms, researchers generate accurate images of sub-cellular structures in milliseconds rather than minutes.[299]
27 May 2013: scientists successfully resurrect bryophyte specimens (Marchantia pictured) which had been frozen inert in glacial ice for 400 years.
31 May 2013: the asteroid (285263) 1998 QE2 (pictured) and its orbiting moon pass close to the Earth.

June[edit]

  • 1 June – The New York Times reports that "the United States is far and away the world leader in medical spending, even though numerous studies have concluded that Americans do not get better care."[323]
  • 4 June
    • A new treatment to "reset" the immune system of multiple sclerosis patients is reported to reduce their reactivity to myelin by 50 to 75 percent.[324]
    • A newly discovered prehistoric lizard, Barbaturex morrisoni, is named after Doors singer Jim Morrison, who called himself "The Lizard King".[325]
    • Microchip maker Intel launches its Haswell series of processors, offering better graphics performance and battery efficiency over the previous processor generation.[326]
6 June 2013: an artificially grown blood vessel is transplanted into an American patient for the first time.
13 June 2013: in a landmark case, the United States Supreme Court rules that non-synthetic genes cannot be patented by medical companies.
  • 13 June
    • Sleep researchers state that natural sleep allows the brain to combine emotional memory, and also find that a popular sleeping drug heightens the recollection of and response to negative memories.[345]
    • The US Supreme Court rules that naturally occurring genes may not be patented, with significant implications for future medical research.[346][347]
  • 14 June
    • American researchers identitfy a key embryonic protein that, though usually deactivated shortly after birth, is reactivated in patients with advanced cancer. This breakthrough may allow for better treatment of advanced cancer cases, which typically respond poorly to currently available therapies. As a result of this discovery, scientists may be able to determine from the structure of the protein the fundamental process through which cancer cells seek out new tumor sites and create secondary tumors after leaving the primary tumor site.[348]
    • Scientists combine synchrotron X-rays with scanning tunneling microscopy to create highly detailed images of different materials at the atomic level. By combining the two methods, researchers are now able to not only see where individual atoms reside but also determine a material's chemical and magnetic properties. This discovery could have wide applications in accelerating discoveries in a number of fields, particularly in nanotechnology.[349]
    • Sharp Corporation achieves the highest solar cell energy conversion efficiency to date, of approximately 44.4%, using a concentrator triple-junction compound solar cell.[350]
  • 17 June
    • TOP500 reports that China's Tianhe-2 supercomputer is the world's most powerful computer, capable of performing over 33 quadrillion floating point operations per second.[351]
    • Physicists report the possible detection of a new subatomic particle, Zc(3900), a hadron which may be the first tetraquark to have been observed experimentally.[352]
    • Two separate teams independently develop prototype flying bicycles. British engineers construct a hybrid bicycle-paraglider capable of flying to an altitude of 4,000 feet (1,200 m), while a Czech team demonstrates a multi-rotor electric "hoverbike" that can hover like a helicopter at low altitudes.[353][354]
    • Engineers demonstrate a small quadrupedal "cheetah-cub" robot, with speed and agility approaching that of a real cat. The prototype is intended as the basis for future search-and-rescue robots with vastly greater speed and agility than human emergency workers.[355]
    • Weapons manufacturer MBDA Germany develops a high-powered laser weapon capable of targeting and destroying incoming rockets, artillery shells and UAVs.[356]
  • 18 June
    • Google launches a fleet of high-altitude balloons capable of beaming wireless internet to remote locations far more cheaply than satellites.[357]
    • American scientists use 3D printing to manufacture a new class of microscopic batteries, which may allow the easy production of extremely small medical devices, nanorobots and communications systems.[358]
    • British researchers develop high-resolution 3D holograms for the teaching of anatomy to medical students.[359]
  • 19 June – Scientists claim that "cancerproof" laboratory animals, such as naked mole rats, may not get cancer because they produce an "extremely high-molecular-mass hyaluronan", which is over "five times larger" than that in cancer-prone humans and cancer-susceptible laboratory animals.[360][361]
20 June 2013: silver particles are found to massively increase the effectiveness of antibiotics.
  • 20 June
    • Adding silver particles to antibiotics makes them 10 to 1,000 times more effective at fighting infections, research suggests.[362]
    • International neuroscientists produce a full-3D map of a human brain, scanning and digitizing thousands of ultrathin slices of the brain to determine its structure at extremely high resolution. The map will be made freely available to medical researchers worldwide.[363]
    • During the Shenzhou 10 mission, Chinese astronauts deliver the country's first public video broadcast from the orbiting Tiangong-1 space laboratory.[364]
    • The European Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV), an experimental spacecraft which is intended to make its first orbital launch in 2014, successfully conducts a parachute drop test over the Mediterranean Sea.[365]
    • Physicists develop a table-top particle accelerator with 2 gigaelectronvolts (GeV) of power, downsizing a conventional accelerator by a factor of 10,000.[366][367]
    • American engineers create a functional, rechargeable nanoscale battery out of wood. The conductive wooden fibers, coated with tin, are longer-lasting than any previous nanoscale battery.[368]
    • The Israeli-based company NeuroDerm reports good trial results for a new Parkinson's disease treatment, which involves dermal introduction of two separate drugs.[369]
  • 21 June – Following groundbreaking laboratory tests, researchers discover that plants make use of quantum effects to efficiently channel photons during photosynthesis.[370]
  • 23 June
  • 24 June
  • 25 June – In an unprecedented discovery, astronomers detect three potentially Earthlike exoplanets orbiting a single star in the Gliese 667 system.[378]
  • 26 June
    • China's Shenzhou 10 manned spacecraft returns safely to Earth, having conducted China's longest manned space mission to date.[379]
    • American scientists partially heal spinal cord injuries in paralyzed rats by transplanting nerve cells into the injury sites. These laboratory trials are hoped to be a precursor to human trials in the near future.[380]
    • Ancient horse bones dating back 700,000 years are found to contain by far the oldest preserved DNA sequence yet discovered, predating all previous finds by 500,000 years.[381]
27 June 2013: researchers induce "twisted light" beams in optical fibers, allowing for extremely high-bandwidth data transfer.
  • 27 June
    • Japanese scientists produce a healthy cloned mouse from cells contained in a single drop of blood.[382]
    • British geologists report that 1.3 quadrillion cubic feet of shale gas are present in shale formations in northern England, potentially heralding a transformation of the British energy market.[383]
    • Researchers create genetically engineered wheat strains resistant to the fungal disease stem rust, which is a constant threat to wheat crops in the developing world.[384]
    • Scientists demonstrate an optical fiber that uses "twisted light" to transmit massive amounts of information, potentially revolutionizing the field of data transfer. The prototype fiber was able to transmit data at rates of over one terabit per second.[385][386]
    • US and German scientists develop a simple and efficient new method for desalinating seawater, using a small electric field to separate salt from water without needing complex filter membranes.[387]
    • US and Swiss researchers develop a new form of telescopic contact lens designed to improve the vision of sufferers of age-related macular degeneration, which previously could not be ameliorated with contact lenses.[388]
    • Molecular biologists successfully trap a ribosome in the middle of its protein-forming state, allowing them to study the precise motions it uses to translate genetic code into functional proteins. This discovery sheds new light on the basic building-blocks of life, and may allow the development of new antibiotics.[389]
  • 28 June – MIT engineers invent a handheld "X-ray vision" device which allows users to detect movement through walls.[390]

July[edit]

  • 1 July
  • 2 July
    • Drinking several cups of coffee daily appears to reduce the risk of suicide in men and women by about 50%, according to a new study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers.[392][393]
    • Using computer modelling and solar data, Scottish scientists determine that the last living species on Earth in the distant future will be extremophile microbes able to survive harsh conditions.[394]
    • Microsoft develops a 3D touchscreen that uses force sensors and a robotic arm to allow users to "feel" objects that it displays.[395]
    • The first Maersk Triple E-class container ships, the largest and most energy-efficient cargo vessels yet constructed, begin sea trials.[396]
    • The two most recently discovered moons of Pluto are officially named Styx and Kerberos.[397][398]
3 July 2013: in a groundbreaking medical trial, bone marrow transplants are found to eliminate all traces of HIV (virus particles pictured) in two male patients.
  • 3 July
    • In a breakthrough for regenerative medicine, Japanese scientists grow functional livers from stem cells and successfully transplant them into mice.[399]
    • It is reported that naval sonar can seriously disrupt the behavior of whales, potentially causing them to fatally beach themselves.[400]
    • Bone marrow transplants are found to remove all traces of HIV from two test patients, in conjunction with antiretroviral treatments.[401][402]
    • A New Zealand student designs a "skeletal" 3D-printable orthopedic cast that offers far greater lightness, cleanliness and ventilation than conventional casts, and can be personalized to suit individual patients and specific injuries.[403]
  • 4 July
    • The London Array, at the time the world's largest offshore wind farm, opens in the UK.[404]
    • A US study reveals that remaining mentally and physically active in old age is key to slowing the onset of dementia.[405]
  • 5 July
    • European researchers create molecular nanowires which are ultra-sensitive to ambient magnetic fields, requiring no actual magnetic materials to change their electrical conductivity. The invention, which is similar to the system used for navigation by migratory birds, could have numerous applications in electronics, from improved magnetic sensors and hard disk drives to enhanced smartphones.[406]
    • Scientists record X-ray videos of bats in flight, revealing the highly efficient skeletal motion that allows them to fly. This data could be used to design new, more efficient flying robots.[407]
  • 6 July
    • The Solar Impulse aircraft completes the first cross-country flight over the United States powered entirely by solar energy.[408]
    • Scientists report that a wide variety of microbial life exists in the subglacial Antarctic Lake Vostok, which has been buried in ice for around 15 million years. Samples of the lake's water obtained by drilling were found to contain traces of DNA from over 3,000 tiny organisms.[409]
  • 8 July
    • Nanoparticles of rust could be used to efficiently generate hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water, according to a scientific study.[410]
    • Researchers state that the first baby conceived with a new, cheaper, more efficient form of IVF is born healthy.[411]
6 July 2013: the Solar Impulse aircraft (photographed above in 2011) becomes the first entirely solar-powered airplane to complete a flight across the United States.
  • 9 July
    • Scientists develop a blood test for babies that can reportedly predict a person's long-term health and rate of ageing in later life.[412]
    • A radical new theory of the composition of the Earth's core is published. It proposes that the shape of the solid iron core is determined by the atomic structure of the different forms of iron of which it consists.[413]
    • North Carolina State University researchers demonstrate a method of 3D printing liquid metal at room temperature, forming freestanding structures which maintain their shape despite initially remaining liquid. The invention, which uses an alloy of gallium and indium, could allow electronic circuitry and even flexible wiring to be printed on demand.[414][415]
  • 10 July
  • 11 July
  • 12 July – British engineers develop a high-velocity penetrator probe capable of surviving impact forces of 20,000 gravities. The probe could be used to punch through the icy surface of Jupiter's moon Europa to search for aquatic life.[422]
  • 15 July
10 July 2013: the Northrop Grumman X-47B (photographed above) becomes the first robotic aircraft to successfully land on an aircraft carrier at sea.
  • 16 July
    • NASA's Curiosity rover reaches a milestone in its journey across Mars, having travelled 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) since its landing in 2012.[427]
    • Researchers develop artificial peroxisomes that can reduce toxic oxygen compounds. This could lead to novel drugs that influence processes directly inside living cells.[428]
  • 17 July
    • American scientists develop a method of "switching off" the extra chromosome that causes Down's syndrome, potentially offering an entirely new treatment for the condition.[429]
    • British medical researchers create an "intelligent" surgical knife with a built-in mass spectrometer that can detect cancerous tissue during operations, allowing surgeons to more accurately and effectively excise tumors without damaging healthy tissue.[430]
    • Swedish scientists create a magnesium carbonate-based material with an unparalleled surface-area-to-volume ratio and excellent water absorption abilities. The new material, dubbed "Upsalite", could have applications in many fields, including electronics, toxic waste cleanup, sanitation and medical drug delivery.[431][432]
    • In an unprecedented discovery, astronomers directly observe the destruction of a gas cloud larger than Earth's solar system by the supermassive black hole at the galactic core.[433]
    • Based on 34 earlier studies, researchers identify remarkable similarities between the brains of birds and humans.[434]
  • 18 July – A "giant" new genus of virus, Pandoravirus, is announced, along with two recently identified species, Pandoravirus dulcis and Pandoravirus salinus.[435]
  • 19 July
    • Japan begins a clinical trial of stem cells harvested from patients' own bodies. The stem cells will be used to treat age-related macular degeneration.[436]
    • NASA scientists publish the results of a new analysis of the atmosphere of Mars, reporting a lack of methane around the landing site of the Curiosity rover. In addition, the scientists found evidence that Mars "has lost a good deal of its atmosphere over time", based on the abundance of isotopic compositions of gases, particularly those related to argon and carbon.[437][438][439]
    • Japanese researchers confirm that muon-type neutrinos can spontaneously flip to the electron type, potentially explaining the imbalance of matter and antimatter during the Big Bang.[440]
    • Harvard University medical experts report that a carefully targeted two-drug treatment could be tailored to successfully treat almost any form of cancer.[441]
    • For the third time in history, Earth is photographed from the outer solar system. NASA's Cassini spacecraft releases images of the Earth and Moon taken from the orbit of Saturn.[442]
19 July 2013: NASA's Cassini spacecraft photographs the Earth and Moon (visible bottom-right) from Saturn.
  • 21 July
    • British scientists successfully cure blindness in mice with infusions of stem cells that repaired damaged retinas. It is hoped that a similar treatment can be developed for humans.[443]
    • A private spaceflight venture announces plans to land a robotic observatory on the south pole of the Moon.[444]
    • American researchers develop a flexible, sensitive "electronic skin" that mimics real human skin by detecting and responding to different levels of pressure.[445]
  • 22 July
  • 23 July – Thor's hero shrew, the first known sister species to the armored shrew, is described.[448]
  • 24 July – A scientific study warns that a major release of methane from melting Arctic ice could have immense climatic and economic impacts worldwide.[449]
  • 25 July
    • British scientists discover the mechanism which causes human allergy to cats. A cure for the allergy may become commercially available within five years.[450]
    • Scientists successfully implant false memories into the brains of mice. This breakthrough could lead to a fuller understanding of human memory.[451]
  • 26 July – Scientists demonstrate a GM-free process that could dramatically reduce nitrogen pollution. It allows virtually all of the world’s crop species to automatically obtain up to 60% of their nitrogen requirements from air, as opposed to fertilisers.[452]
  • 28 July – A new DNA probe allows researchers to look for mutations in long sequences of up to 200 base pairs, compared to only 20 pairs using conventional methods.[453]
  • 29 July – Astronomers discover the first exoplanet orbiting a brown dwarf, 6,000 light years from Earth.[454]
  • 31 July

August[edit]

  • 1 August
  • 2 August
  • 5 August
    • The world's first hamburger made entirely of lab-grown in-vitro meat is eaten in London.[461]
    • A Japanese company develops a reusable skin patch which can treat chronic high blood pressure by constantly releasing bisoprolol into the bloodstream. It is reported to be safer than conventional blood pressure medication, and is easier to use for patients with swallowing problems.[462]
    • Full-colour, 3D infrared images have been created by researchers, giving molecular-level chemical information of specimens in unprecedented detail.[463]
  • 7 August
    • A new study of the cosmic microwave background has looked back to within 100,000 years of the Big Bang, the furthest that has yet been observed.[464]
    • A new deep brain stimulation device can simultaneously record brain activity while delivering therapy. It is hoped the automated system could reveal major insights into a range of neurological and psychological diseases.[465][466]
  • 8 August
    • In its latest trial, a new malaria vaccine has been shown to be 100 percent effective.[467]
    • A breakthrough in tissue engineering has allowed scientists to 'grow' the first true cartilage. The researchers believe entire organs may be possible by 2025.[468]
  • 12 August – A gene linked to idiopathic focal epilepsy (IFE) has been identified by MedUni Vienna researchers.[469]
  • 14 August
    • In the largest-ever analysis of cancer genomes, researchers have discovered the genetic imprints and signatures left by DNA-damaging processes that lead to cancer.[470]
    • Scientists have built a fully functional mouse heart from human tissues.[471]
    • Seagrass is 35 times more efficient at absorbing carbon than rainforests, according to research by the University of Technology, Sydney.
  • 15 August
    • For the first time in 35 years, a new carnivorous mammal species – the Olinguito – has been discovered in the Western Hemisphere.[472]
    • NASA announces that the failing Kepler space observatory may never fully recover. New missions are being considered.[473][474][475]
    • Extreme heat waves are likely to quadruple by 2040, according to new research.[476]
    • Biologists from Tel Aviv University publish a, first of its kind, study on homosexual behavior among insect species.[477]
  • 17 August – In an unprecedented effort by ETH Zurich Laboratories, computational quantum teleportation has been achieved in solid-state circuit. Using quantum entanglement methods, researchers have teleported approximately 10,000 qubits (quantum bits) per second on a specially designed chip.[478]
  • 21 August – The lowest temperature at which single-celled organisms can live and grow is -20°C, according to new research.[479]
  • 22 August
    • A study has found more evidence that nanoparticles may be entering the human food supply, with potentially harmful effects.[480]
    • A study has found that urban environments may cause increased brain size in animals.[481]
    • NASA has released new images and a video of its planned asteroid capture mission.[482]
  • 27 August
    • The previous discovery of a new chemical element with atomic number 115 (temporarily named Ununpentium, symbol Uup) has been confirmed at GSI by researchers from Lund University in Sweden.[483][484]
    • NASA reports that the Mars Curiosity rover used an Autonomous Navigation System (or "autonav" - the ability of the rover to decide for itself how to drive safely) over unknown ground for the first time.[485]
    • University of Washington researchers have performed what they believe is the first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface, with one researcher able to send a brain signal via the Internet to control the hand motions of a fellow researcher.[486]
  • 28 August
    • Miniature, pea-sized human brains have been grown in the laboratory from stem cells.[487][488]
    • Cooling waters in the tropical Pacific Ocean appear to be a major factor in dampening global warming in recent years, scientists say.[489]
    • UK researchers have created the world's fastest spinning man-made object, achieving 600 million revolutions per minute.[490]
  • 29 August
    • By reducing the action of a single gene, mTor, researchers have increased the average lifespan of mice by 20 percent. Their research also shows that the effects of aging are not uniform.[491]
    • The East Antarctic Ice Sheet could be more vulnerable to climate change than previously thought, based on a new analysis of satellite imagery going back 50 years.[492]
    • A NASA mission has revealed a new canyon – 460 miles (750 km) long and 2,600 feet (800 meters) deep in places – hidden below Greenland's ice sheet. This is longer than the Grand Canyon.[493]

September[edit]

  • 1 September – Rising global temperatures are driving crop pests to higher and lower latitudes at nearly 3 kilometres per year, threatening global food security.[494]
  • 2 September – A team of international scientists has achieved a major breakthrough in nanosensing.[495]
  • 3 September
    • A new analysis indicates the amount of raw materials used to produce goods is far higher than previously thought.[496]
    • Phase I clinical trials of SAV001 – the first and only preventative HIV vaccine – have been successfully completed with no adverse effects in all patients. Antibody production was greatly boosted after vaccination.[497]
  • 5 September
    • It has been confirmed that an undersea volcano in the northern Pacific is not a group of several volcanos. This makes it the largest confirmed volcano on Earth.[498]
    • Stanford researchers use DNA to assemble a transistor from graphene.[499]
    • Two leading neurology researchers claim that prion-like proteins that misfold and aggregate into harmful "seeds" are responsible for brain diseases associated with aging.[500]
  • 6 September
    • The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is launched by NASA. It will measure the extremely thin atmosphere that surrounds the Moon.[501]
    • Researchers have developed a new method for improving the connections between stacked solar cells. It allows them to operate at concentrations of 70,000 suns worth of energy without losing much voltage as "wasted energy" or heat.[502]
    • Phase 1 clinical trials of an implantable vaccine to treat melanoma have been initiated.[503]
    • The National Institutes of Health has awarded grants of $17 million to eight research teams, with a focus on nanopore technology aimed at more accurate and efficient DNA sequencing.[504]
  • 11 September
    • Three ancient rivers may once have crossed the Sahara, allowing early humans to cross from Africa into the Mediterranean about 100,000 years ago, based on a new study.[505]
    • Huge new reserves of groundwater have been found in Turkana County, northern Kenya.[506][507]
    • Trees are speeding up their life cycles in response to climate change, backing up the results of an earlier study.[508]
    • Rapidly melting sea ice is causing ocean acidification in the Arctic to occur at faster rates than previously forecast, with serious implications for the food web, according to new research.[509]
  • 12 September
    • NASA announces that Voyager I has officially left the Solar System, having travelled since 1977.[510][511][512]
    • Americans are living longer and more healthily than ever before, according to one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind. There was a 3.8 year increase in average life expectancy during the previous two decades, with quality-adjusted life expectancy (QALE) also increasing. However, there was a notable rise in anxiety among young and middle-aged people beginning in 2001.[513]
  • 14 September – The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has launched its first Epsilon rocket, a new generation of smaller and cheaper launch vehicles.[514]
  • 18 September – Orbital Sciences launches the first Cygnus spacecraft. It is designed to transport supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).[515]
  • 19 September – Scientists working with the Curiosity rover on the planet Mars report "no detection of atmospheric methane with a measured value of 0.18±0.67 ppbv corresponding to an upper limit of only 1.3 ppbv (95% confidence limit)" and, as a result, conclude that the probability of "current methanogenic microbial activity on Mars" is reduced.[516][517][518]
  • 20 September
    • Researchers from Cambridge University in England have developed a new technique allowing carbon nanotube "forests" to be grown at five times the density of previous methods.[519]
    • Researchers have identified a protein involved in the spread of brain tumours.[520]
  • 22 September – Researchers have created a "blueprint" for a universal flu vaccine which they say could be available within five years.[521]
  • 23 September – A new world record solar cell efficiency of 44.7% has been achieved.[522]
  • 24 September
    • The first evidence of whisper-like behavior in non-human primates has been observed.[523]
    • Astronomers have discovered the densest known galaxy, with over 10,000 stars packed into four light years.[524]
    • Long-term data shows that the Greenland Sea is warming 10 times faster than the global ocean.[525]
    • A new genetic analysis shows that the first rapid population growth of humans occurred in the Paleolithic (60,000-80,000 years ago), rather than the more recent Neolithic as previously thought.[526]
    • The Late Cretaceous period was likely ice-free, with implications for Earth's future climate, based on new research.[527]
  • 25 September
    • The first mind-controlled prosthetic leg has been created.[528]
    • A new form of matter has been created that induces photons to behave like a Star Wars light-sabre.[529]
    • The first computer made entirely of carbon nanotubes has been created by Stanford University engineers. It has a 1 bit processor, runs at 1 kHz and features 178 transistors, with 10-200 nanotubes per transistor.[530]
  • 26 September
  • 27 September
    • The FDA approves the first artificial pancreas.[540]
    • Nanoscale resolution MRI has been experimentally achieved.[541]
    • The first document from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report – Working Group I's summary for policymakers – is released. It states that warming of the global climate system is "unequivocal", with a 95% probability that humans are the main cause.[542]
  • 30 September

October[edit]

  • 1 October – New fossils of pollen grains show that flowering plants evolved 100 million years earlier than previously thought, in the Early Triassic (252 to 247 million years ago) or even earlier.[548]
  • 3 October
  • 4 October – Researchers from MIT have created self-assembling robots, based on small cubes that can propel themselves and snap together to form shapes.[552]
  • 6 October – Giant channels up to 250m tall have been discovered beneath Antarctica, stretching for hundreds of kilometres. Researchers say these will help in modelling the future stability and dynamics of the ice sheet.[553]
  • 7 October
  • 8 October
    • The Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to François Englert and Peter Higgs "for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider".[557]
    • Researchers in Germany have taken a major step towards using graphene in solar cells, which could boost their efficiency. The material was found to retain its properties even when coated with silicon.[558]
  • 9 October
  • 10 October – Researchers have discovered the first chemical to prevent all brain cell death from prion disease in mice. This could lead to drug targets for a range of neurodegenerative conditions in humans - including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's disease.[562][563]
  • 11 October
  • 14 October – The first fossil of a mosquito with definitive evidence of blood has been discovered in northwestern Montana. The find dates back to the Eocene, some 46 million years ago (the fossil provides only evidence of blood, but not blood itself, so there is no DNA or anything cloneable).[566]
  • 15 October – Red Bull Stratos releases POV video of Felix Baumgartner skydiving jump from the stratosphere (127,851 ft) on 14 October 2012.[567]
  • 16 October
  • 17 October
    • A new fossil discovery suggests that Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis and Homo erectus may all have been part of a single species that later evolved into humans.[571]
    • Researchers have shown that a fundamental reason for sleep is to clean the brain of toxins. This is achieved by brain cells shrinking to create gaps between neurons, allowing fluid to wash through.[572]
    • Using data accumulated over 10 years, researchers have estimated there are 390 billion trees in the Amazon rainforest, divided into 16,000 different species.[573]
    • Geneticist Bryan Sykes and his team at Oxford University report that DNA analysis of presumed Yeti (or "Abominable Snowman") samples may have come from a hybrid species of bear produced from a mating between a brown bear and a polar bear. According to Sykes, "I think this bear, which nobody has seen alive, may still be there and may have quite a lot of polar bear in it. It may be some sort of hybrid and if its behaviour is different from normal bears, which is what eyewitnesses report, then I think that may well be the source of the mystery and the source of the legend."[574][575]
  • 18 October – Researchers have discovered a source of gut stem cells that can repair a type of inflammatory bowel disease when transplanted into mice.[576]
  • 21 October – In the Amazon, droughts like that of 2005 may become the norm by 2100, according to a new study that claims the IPCC has underestimated the impacts on the southern part of the rainforest.[577]
  • 22 October – Astronomers have discovered the 1,000th known exoplanet.[578]
  • 23 October
    • A new way of locating metal desposits including gold has been discovered by researchers in Australia. The presence of tiny particles in a eucalyptus tree's foliage can indicate that these resources are present deep underground.[579]
    • Astronomers have discovered the most distant galaxy to date.[580]
  • 25 October
    • The New Horizons probe is now within 5 AU of Pluto.[581]
    • Temperatures in the Eastern Arctic are now the highest since the beginning of the last ice age 120,000 years ago, lying "well outside the range of natural variability", according to US researchers.[582]
  • 27 October
  • 28 October – The commercial viability of shale oil and gas has been questioned at a conference organised by the Geological Society of America.[585]
  • 30 October – Doctors in China have regrown the face of a 17 year old girl with burn injuries, using tissue from her chest.[586]
  • 31 October – A new study adds weight to the idea that the oceans have absorbed some of the excess heat from recent global warming.[587]

November[edit]

  • 3 November – A total solar eclipse occurs.
  • 4 November - Astronomers report, based on Kepler space mission data, that there could be as many as 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of sun-like stars and red dwarf stars within the Milky Way Galaxy.[588][589] 11 billion of these estimated planets may be orbiting sun-like stars.[590] The nearest such planet may be 12 light-years away, according to the scientists.[588][589]
  • 5 November – India launches its first Mars probe, Mangalyaan.[591]
  • 6 November
    • Researchers have found a way to shrink the volume of nuclear waste by 90 percent.[592]
    • Japanese researchers have demonstrated multi-component nanoparticles that combine the properties of different materials.[593]
    • People care more about the longer term when they make decisions in natural environments as opposed to urban, according to research by VU University Amsterdam.[594]
  • 8 November – Scientists report the discovery of what may be the oldest complete fossils on Earth - a tiny microbial mat associated with sandstone rock in western Australia estimated to be 3.48 billion years old.[595][596]
  • 9 November – A major iceberg measuring 700 square kilometers, roughly the size of Singapore, has broken away from West Antarctica.[597]
  • 11 November
    • A new imaging technique can help to identify people at high risk of a heart attack.[598]
    • Using nanotechnology, researchers at Columbia University have created the world's smallest FM radio.[599]
  • 13 November
  • 14 November – Globally, there was a net loss of 1.5 million sq ft of forest between 2000 and 2012, based on 650,000 high-resolution satellite images.[603]
  • 15 November – A fragile quantum memory state has been held stable at room temperature for a "world record" 39 minutes, 100 times longer than ever before.[604]
  • 17 November
    • Researchers have made the first battery electrode that heals itself, repairing imperfections within a few hours.[605]
    • The first "mini-kidneys" have been grown from human stem cells.[606]
  • 18 November
    • The MAVEN spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars Scout Program, is launched successfully.[607]
    • Global CO2 emissions are on track to reach 36 billion tonnes in 2013, according to the Global Carbon Project.[608]
  • 20 November
    • A new 3D printing process developed at the University of Southern California could reduce production time from hours to minutes.[609]
Islands Nishino-shima and Niijima
  • 21 November
  • 22 November
    • The Swarm mission is launched by ESA. It will map the Earth's magnetic field in unprecedented detail.[616]
    • Researchers at Bonn University have identified an immune gene in humans that originated from Neanderthals.[617]
    • Paleontologists have described a newly found dinosaur, Siats meekerorum, that lived 98 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous. Based on analysis of a juvenile 30 ft specimen, the researchers say the adult version could have reached 40 ft (12 meters) in length – second only to Tyrannosaurus Rex in size, and holding back the dominance of that species until later in the epoch.[618]
  • 24 November
    • Even if CO2 emissions stop, global warming will continue for centuries, according to a study by Princeton University.[619]
    • Methane release from the Arctic seafloor is double previous estimates, new research has shown.[620]
  • 25 November – NASA reports that the Curiosity rover on Mars has resumed full science operations, with no apparent loss of capability, after completing the diagnosis of an electrical problem first observed on 17 November. Apparently, an internal short in the rover's power source, the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator, caused an unusual and intermittent decrease in a voltage indicator on the rover.[621][622]
  • 28 November – The comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) passed roughly 1,100,000 kilometres (680,000 miles) above the Sun's surface. Though it was highly anticipated that the comet would be visible to the naked eye on Earth once it orbited the sun,[623][624] it became increasingly evident that it had vaporized as it made its approach. Hours after it passed behind the sun, a part of the comet re-emerged, though significantly smaller. Over the next 24 hours, it too, faded.
  • 29 November – Scientists report Comet ISON may have survived its trip around the sun.[625]

December[edit]

Prizes won[edit]

Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences[edit]

UNESCO Young Scientist Awards/Michel Batisse Award[edit]

  • 2013 UNESCO Young Scientist Awards and Michel Batisse Award for Biosphere Reserve Management: Julio Blas Garcia, Angela Camargo, Bilal Habib, Hilaire Kouakou, Atieh Kazemi Mojarad and Claudia Munera[680][681]

Nobel Prize[edit]

Other[edit]

Deaths[edit]

January[edit]

9 January 2013: Brigitte Askonas, a leading British immunologist, dies aged 89.

February[edit]

28 February 2013: Donald A. Glaser, a Nobel Prize-winning American physicist, dies aged 86.

March[edit]

24 March 2013: Gury Marchuk, a prominent Russian mathematician and physicist, dies aged 87.

April[edit]

19 April 2013: François Jacob, a Nobel Prize-winning French biologist, dies aged 92.

May[edit]

June[edit]

2 July 2013: Douglas Engelbart, an American computer technology pioneer and inventor of the computer mouse, dies aged 88.

July[edit]

August[edit]

September[edit]

October[edit]

November[edit]


See also[edit]

References[edit]

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