2014 in science

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A number of significant scientific events have occurred or are scheduled to occur in 2014. The United Nations has declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming and Crystallography.[1]

Events, discoveries and inventions[edit]

January[edit]

1 January 2014: New computer models show that climate change is more sensitive to the effects of cloud formation than previously thought.
  • 1 January – A study published in Nature shows that the role of cloud formation in climate change has been underestimated. As a result, global temperatures could increase by 4 °C by 2100 and possibly 8 °C by 2200.[2][3]
  • 2 January
    • Researchers have shown in precise detail how a molecular defect is responsible for myotonic dystrophy type 2, then designed a potential drug candidate to reverse the disease.[4]
    • The asteroid 2014 AA impacts the Earth a few hours after it was first sighted. This was the second time an asteroid was observed before it impacted with Earth (the first being 2008 TC3).
  • 6 January – A new way to destroy metastasizing cancer cells traveling through the bloodstream has been discovered by researchers at Cornell University.[5]
  • 7 January – NASA releases the deepest image ever taken of a galaxy cluster not long after the Big Bang. The image includes Abell 2744, a galaxy cluster in the Sculptor constellation, and was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.[6]
  • 8 January
    • Using the Sloan Digital Telescope, astronomers have measured the distance to galaxies six billion light-years away – about halfway back to the Big Bang – to an accuracy of just 1 percent. This could aid in the understanding of dark energy, which is thought to be driving the expansion of the universe.[7]
    • A detailed survey of lion populations has revealed that in West Africa, their numbers have collapsed with less than 250 adults remaining.[8]
  • 13 January
    • New analysis of a Tiktaalik roseae fossil, dating back 375 million years, has revealed a key link in the evolution of hind limbs that challenges existing theories on how they first developed.[9]
    • Chemists have engineered a plastic artificial cell containing organelles capable of producing the various steps in a chemical reaction.[10]
  • 14 January
  • 16 January
"Mystery" rock? found by the Opportunity rover on the planet Mars – comparison of images: Sol 3528 and Sol 3540 (23 January 2014)[17][18](b/w) (solution).
  • 17 January – NASA reports that a Mars rock, named "Pinnacle Island", that was not in an Opportunity rover image taken on Sol 3528, "mysteriously" appeared 13 days later in a similar image taken on Sol 3540.[17][18] – UPDATE (14 February 2014): "Mystery" seems to have been solved – the location where the rock was dislodged by the rover has been found. (image)
  • 20 January – The ESA's Rosetta spacecraft "wakes up" from hibernation mode to monitor comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko for the next 16 months as the comet travels into, and then out of, the inner solar system. The spacecraft is expected to deploy the Philae lander on the comet's surface in November 2014.[19][20][21][22]
  • 21 January
    • Globally, 2013 was tied with 2003 as the fourth warmest year on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).[23]
    • One quarter of the world's cartilaginous fish, namely sharks and rays, face extinction within the next few decades, according to latest research.[24][25]
    • A new device created by the University of California enables real-time measurements of drug metabolism and concentration in the bloodstream, potentially improving the way doses are administered.[26]
    • Extreme air pollution in Asia and China in particular is having a clear impact on weather and climate patterns, according to a study of aerosols and meteorology over the past 30 years.[27]
  • 22 January
  • 23 January – A new microscopy technique can eliminate distortion from nano-scale images.[33]
  • 24 January – NASA reports that current studies on the planet Mars by the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers will now be searching for evidence of ancient life, including a biosphere based on autotrophic, chemotrophic and/or chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms, as well as ancient water, including fluvio-lacustrine environments (plains related to ancient rivers or lakes) that may have been habitable.[34][35][36][37] The search for evidence of habitability, taphonomy (related to fossils), and organic carbon on the planet Mars is now a primary NASA objective.[34]
  • 26 January – New research indicates that most of the Grand Canyon is much younger than previously thought, having formed as recently as 5 or 6 million years ago, compared to 70 million years as previously estimated.[38]
  • 27 January – Genetic analysis of a European male from 7,000 years ago has revealed he had dark skin, dark hair and blue eyes – suggesting that lighter skin colour evolved much later than was previously assumed.[39]
  • 28 January – A new study shows that living near a fracking site may increase the risk of some birth defects by as much as 30 percent.[40] As many as 15 million Americans may live within one mile of a drilling well.[41]
  • 29 January
    • The axolotl may have gone extinct in the wild. None were found in a recent survey of its only remaining natural habitat, Lake Xochimilco.[42]
    • Japanese researchers have developed a way of turning adult mice cells into stem cells by dipping them in acid. This could pave the way for routine use of stem cells in regenerative medicine with a technique that is cheaper, faster and more efficient than before.[43][44]
  • 31 January
    • A new way of electrochemically converting CO2 – a greenhouse gas – into carbon monoxide has been developed at the University of Delaware.[45]
    • The world's first monkeys with genes modified by CRISPR/Cas9, a new form of DNA engineering, have been created in a Chinese laboratory.[46]
    • Despite warnings from scientists about the ecological impact, Australia's government has approved plans to dump three million cubic metres of sediment near the Great Barrier Reef, as part of the world's largest coal port.[47]

February[edit]

First image by the Curiosity rover of the Earth and the Moon in the night sky of Mars (31 January 2014).[48]
New NASA database[78] tracks Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) which may comprise more than 20% of the carbon in the universe and may be starting materials for the formation of life.[79][80][81]
Disintegration of asteroid P/2013 R3 observed by the Hubble Space Telescope (6 March 2014).[101]

March[edit]

Evidence of gravitational waves in the infant universe may have been uncovered by the microscopic examination of the focal plane of the BICEP2 radio telescope.[116]
  • 13 March – Researchers in Siberia state that they have access to good quality DNA that offers a "high chance" of cloning the woolly mammoth.[117]
  • 17 March
  • 19 March – A new record efficiency of 17 percent for thin-film solar is achieved.[125]
  • 20 March – A new method to obtain human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) from a single drop of finger-pricked blood is achieved.[126]
  • 23 March – Scientists demonstrate the distribution of three entangled photons at three different locations, several hundreds of metres apart. This could pave the way to multi-party quantum communication.[127]
  • 24 March
    • Researchers create a biodegradeable battery that could be used for medical implants inside the body.[128]
    • Rates of blindness and partial sight have plummeted in the developed world over the last 20 years, according to new research.[129]
  • 25 March – Paleontologists assemble giant turtle bone from fossil discoveries made 160 years apart. Atlantochelys mortoni, found in Cretaceous sediments dating back 75 million years, was possibly the largest turtle that ever lived.[130]
  • 26 March
  • 27 March
Evidence of an underground ocean of liquid water on Enceladus, moon of planet Saturn, reported (3 April 2014; artist image).[137][138]

April[edit]

  • 1 April
    • Eating seven or more portions (560 g) of fruit and vegetables a day reduces your risk of death at any point in time by 42 percent compared to eating less than one portion, reports a new study by University College London.[143][144]
    • RIKEN concludes that a recent study claiming to having produced stem cells via STAP techniques was partially falsified.[145]
  • 3 April – NASA reports that evidence for a large underground ocean of liquid water on Enceladus, moon of planet Saturn, has been found by the Cassini. According to the scientists, evidence of an underground ocean suggests that Enceladus is one of the most likely places in the solar system to "host microbial life".[137][138] (artist image)
  • 4 April – By manipulating the appropriate signaling, researchers have turned embryonic stem cells into a fish embryo, essentially controlling embryonic development. This breakthrough is a major step toward being able to grow whole organs from stem cells.[146]
  • 6 April – Samsung has developed a new method of growing large area, single crystal wafer scale graphene, a major development that will accelerate the commercialization of this material.[147]
  • 7 April
  • 8 April – A battery that can charge in under 30 seconds is demonstrated at a technology conference in Tel Aviv.[151]
  • 9 April – Scientists reconstruct a gigantic asteroid impact that occurred 3.26 billion years ago near the Barberton Greenstone Belt. The impactor was up to 58 km (36 miles) wide, leaving a hole almost 480 km (300 miles) across – two and a half times larger in diameter than the Chicxulub crater which killed off the dinosaurs.[152]
  • 10 April
Discovery of Kepler-186f - an Earth-sized exoplanet in the habitable zone of its host star (artist concept; 17 April 2014).[156][157]
Antibiotic resistance is now a major global threat, WHO reports. (30 April 2014).
  • 28 April
    • Stanford bioengineers have developed faster, more energy-efficient microchips based on the human brain – 9,000 times faster and using significantly less power than a typical PC.[176]
    • Levels of atmospheric methane – a powerful greenhouse gas – had been stable for a decade, but recently began rising again. This can be explained by emissions from northern wetlands and thawing permafrost, according to a major study.[177]
  • 29 April – An annular solar eclipse occurs.
  • 30 April

May[edit]

  • 1 May – Cancer researchers report that e-cigarettes "get so hot that they, too, can produce a handful of the carcinogens found in cigarettes and at similar levels".[181]
  • 5 May - The World Health Organization (WHO) announces that the spread of polio is a world health emergency - outbreaks of the disease in Asia, Africa and the Middle East are considered "extraordinary".[182][183]
  • 6 May – The third National Climate Assessment is released by the US government.[184]
  • 7 May
    • The first realistic "virtual universe" is created, simulating 13 billion years of cosmic evolution in a cube with 350 million light year long sides and unprecedented resolution.[185][186]
    • Researchers announce that they successfully introduced two artificial nucleotides, Unnatural Base Pairs (UBRs), into bacterial DNA, and by including the individual artificial nucleotides in the culture media, were able to passage the bacteria 24 times; they did not create mRNA or proteins able to use the artificial nucleotides. The artificial nucleotides featured two fused aromatic rings which formed a complex mimicking the natural (dG–dC) base pair.[187][188][189]
    • For the first time, researchers sequence the genome of the spider.[190]
    • Global scientific output doubles every nine years, according to a new analysis going back to the year 1650.[191]
  • 8 May – Scientists publish a comprehensive study of Comet ISON and its disintegration, reported to have occurred on 2 December 2013, suggesting that the comet fully disintegrated hours before perihelion.[192]
  • 9 May
    • The maximum theoretical limit of energy needed to control the magnetisation of a single atom is demonstrated, a finding that could improve nanotechnology devices and quantum computers.[193]
    • After eight years of development, a new hi-tech bionic arm becomes the first of its kind to gain FDA approval for mass production.[194]
  • 13 May – New research shows unlimited heat potential in graphene.[195]
Jupiter - Great Red Spot is decreasing in size (May 15, 2014).[196]

June[edit]

Hubble Ultra-Deep Field image (full range of UV to NIR light) includes galaxies existing shortly after the Big Bang (June 2014).[214]
The Curiosity rover completed its first Martian year (687 Earth days) on the planet Mars (24 June 2014).[223]

July[edit]

Predicted and scheduled events[edit]

Comet Siding Spring to pass near Mars on 19 October 2014 (Hubble; 11 March 2014).

October[edit]

December[edit]

  • 4 December - NASA will conduct the first unmanned test flight of its Orion manned spacecraft.[259]

Date unknown[edit]

Deaths[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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