2016 in science

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List of years in science (table)

A number of significant scientific events occurred in 2016. The United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses.[1]

Events[edit]

January[edit]

  • 1 January
    • Researchers at HRL Laboratories in Malibu, California, develop an entirely new way to 3D print near-flawless ceramics, including strongly heat-resistant varieties that were previously impossible.[2]
    • An article published in Science describes how human-machine superintelligence could solve the world's most dire problems.[3]
7 January: IDCS 1426, the most distant massive cluster of galaxies ever identified.[4]
20 January: 2015 – Warmest Global Year on Record (since 1880) – Colors indicate temperature anomalies (NASA/NOAA; 20 January 2016).[17]
  • 18 January
    • Man-made heat entering the oceans has doubled since 1997, according to a study in the journal Nature Climate Change.[18][19]
    • Light-activated nanoparticles able to kill over 90% of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are demonstrated at the University of Colorado Boulder.[20]
    • Researchers demonstrate a new class of small, thin electronic sensors that monitor temperature and pressure within the skull – crucial health parameters after a brain injury or surgery – then melt away when no longer needed. This eliminates the need for additional surgery to remove the monitors and reduces the risk of infection and hemorrhage.[21]
  • 19 January
    • A successful head transplant on a monkey by scientists in China is reported.[22]
    • DARPA announces a new program, Neural Engineering System Design (NESD), which aims to greatly improve the bandwidth and quality of neural interfaces, connecting up to a million neurons at a time.[23]
  • 20 January
  • 23 January – Lockheed Martin announces the "Segmented Planar Imaging Detector for Electro-optical Reconnaissance" (SPIDER), a new way of dramatically shrinking the size of telescopes, by using hundreds to thousands of tiny lenses. The diameter does not change, but the SPIDER system is thinner and does not need multiple mirrors.[28]
28 January: Studies suggest that a time reversal asymmetry may make the universe move forward in time.[29]
  • 25 January
  • 27 January – Google announces a breakthrough in artificial intelligence with a program able to beat the European champion of the board game Go.[34][35][36]
  • 28 January
    • Research into the nature of time by Griffith University's Centre for Quantum Dynamics shows how an asymmetry for time reversal might be responsible for making the universe move forward in time.[29]
    • Observations by the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, suggest that Smith's Cloud did not originate from intergalactic space, but was actually launched out of our own galaxy around 70 million years ago.[37]
  • 29 January
    • Researchers demonstrate that graphene can be successfully interfaced with neurons, while maintaining the integrity of these vital nerve cells. It is believed this could lead to much improved brain implants for restoring sensory functions.[38]
    • Proton beam therapy for cancer is as effective as other treatments and causes fewer side effects in children than conventional radiotherapy, according to research published by The Lancet.[39][40]
    • Research by UCLA provides further evidence that the Moon was formed by a violent, head-on collision between the early Earth and a “planetary embryo” called Theia, roughly 100 million years after the Earth formed.[41]

February[edit]

  • 1 February – Scientists in the United Kingdom are given the go-ahead by regulators to genetically modify human embryos by using CRISPR-Cas9 and related techniques.[42][43]
  • 2 February – The smallest ever lattice structure is created by the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT), with glassy carbon struts and braces less than 200 nm in diameter.[44]
  • 3 February – Following a helium plasma test in December 2015, the first hydrogen test is successfully conducted at the Wendelstein 7-X fusion device in Germany.[45][46]
11 February: Collision and merger of two black holes, resulting in the first direct observation of gravitational waves.[47][48][49][50]
24 February: Pancreatic cancer is found to have four sub-types.[63]
  • 23 February – Boston Dynamics reveals the latest version of its "Atlas" humanoid robot, featuring highly dynamic movements and reactions in both indoor and outdoor environments.[64]
  • 24 February – Pancreatic cancer is found to have four separate sub-types, each with a different cause and requiring a different treatment.[63][65]
  • 26 February – A solar cell so thin, flexible, and lightweight that it can be draped on a soap bubble is demonstrated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[66]

March[edit]

  • 2 March – Climate change could kill more than 500,000 people a year globally by 2050 by making their diets less healthy, according to research published in the Lancet.[67][68]
  • 3 March
    • The most remote galaxy ever detected – GN-z11 – is confirmed by the Hubble Space Telescope at a distance of 13.4 billion light years.[69]
    • The global average temperature briefly spikes 2 degrees C above the pre-industrial average, considered by most countries to be the "dangerous" limit for climate change.[70][71]
  • 4 March – University of Cambridge scientists demonstrate that 'naïve' pluripotent stem cells can be derived from a human embryo. One of the most flexible types of stem cell, these can develop into all human tissue other than the placenta.[72]
  • 7 March – German researchers identify a specific gene mutation in humans that provides a 50 percent lower risk of suffering a heart attack.[73]
  • 9 March
14 March: ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter is launched.[77]

April[edit]

8 April: First stage of Falcon 9 rocket landed on floating autonomous droneship.[98]
    • A new quantum state of matter is discovered in a graphene-like magnetic material RuCl3 hosting curious magnetic quasiparticles called Majorana fermions which are their own antiparticles. It is a step forward in materials which will allow quantum computation.[99][100]
  • 7 April
    • A new analysis of clouds and their role in global warming reveals they contain more liquid water (as opposed to ice) than previously thought. This makes them less reflective and therefore results in more heat reaching the Earth's surface, meaning that future temperature increases may have been underestimated.[101]
    • A new method to produce transistors is presented, based on nanocrystal 'inks'. This allows them to be produced on flexible surfaces, possibly with 3D printers.[102]
  • 8 April – SpaceX successfully lands the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket (SpaceX CRS-8) on a floating drone ship for the first time.[98][103]
  • 9 April – By adding a one-atom thick layer of graphene to solar panels, Chinese scientists report that electricity can be generated from raindrops.[104]
  • 11 April – Scientists announce an updated biological "tree of life" summarizing the evolution of all known life forms, and find that the branches of the new overview, based on the latest genetic findings, are mainly composed of bacteria.[105][106][107]
  • 12 April – Scientists announce Breakthrough Starshot, a Breakthrough Initiatives program, to develop a proof-of-concept fleet of small centimeter-sized light sail spacecraft, named StarChip,[108] capable of making the journey to Alpha Centauri, the nearest extrasolar star system, at speeds of 20%[109][110] and 15%[111] of the speed of light, taking between 20 and 30 years to reach the star system, respectively, and about 4 years to notify Earth of a successful arrival.
  • 13 April
    • A quadriplegic man, Ian Burkhart from Ohio, is able to perform complex functional movements with his fingers after a chip was implanted in his brain.[112][113]
    • Astronomers report the discovery of Crater 2, the fourth largest satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, at a distance of 380,000 light years.[114][115]
    • An international team reports synthesising ultra-long carbyne inside double-walled nanotubes. This exotic form of carbon is even stronger than graphene.[116][117]
  • 14 April – The discovery of hormone asprosin is reported in Cell.[118]
22 April: Map showing an extensive reef system near the Amazon River.[119]
  • 21 April – BioViva USA reports the first successful use of gene therapy to extend the length of telomeres in a human patient.[120]
  • 22 April
  • 26 April – Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope report the discovery of a moon orbiting the remote dwarf planet Makemake.[122][123]
  • 28 April
    • Scientists identify a pair of molecular signals controlling skin and hair colour, which could be targeted by new drugs to treat skin pigment disorders like vitiligo.[124]
    • A new paper in Astrobiology suggests there could be a way to simplify the Drake equation, based on observations of exoplanets discovered in the last two decades.[125][126]
  • 29 April – A team at Stanford University reveals "OceanOne", a humanoid robot capable of moving around the seabed using thrusters.[127]

May[edit]

  • 2 May
    • Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia calculate that in future decades, the Middle East and North Africa could become so hot that human habitability is compromised.[128]
    • Researchers at the University of Illinois and University of Puerto Rico announce they have sequenced the mitochondrial genome for the Hispaniolan solenodon, a venomous mammal found only on Hispaniola. Their findings confirm that the species diverged from all other living mammals about 78 million years ago, before dinosaurs went extinct.[129]
    • Astronomers discover three potentially Earth-like planets in the habitable zone of an ultracool brown dwarf star (TRAPPIST-1) just 40 light years away from Earth.[130]
    • A study in PNAS concludes that Earth may be home to 1 trillion species, with 99.999 percent remaining undiscovered.[131]
13 May: Synthesizing a human genome considered,[132] and later, 2 June, formally announced.[133][134]
  • 4 May – The most detailed ever study of leopard populations reveals that the animals have lost 75% of their historical habitat range since 1750.[135]
  • 9 May
  • 10 May
  • 13 May – Scientists consider extending the Human Genome Project to include creating a synthetic human genome.[132]
  • 16 May – NASA confirms that April 2016 was the hottest April ever recorded, beating the previous record set in 2010 by 0.24 °C, the largest margin ever.[141]
  • 17 May
    • Scientists at IBM Research announce a storage memory breakthrough by reliably storing three bits of data per cell using a new memory technology known as phase-change memory (PCM). The results could provide fast and easy storage to capture the exponential growth of data in the future.[142]
    • A detailed report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine finds no risk to human health from genetic modifications of food.[143][144]
    • Researchers at the University of Virginia Health System find that the Oct4 gene, once thought to be inactive in adults, actually plays a vital role in preventing heart attacks and strokes. The gene could delay at least some of the effects of aging.[145]
  • 18 May
    • At the I/O developer conference, Google reveals it has been working on a new chip, known as the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), which delivers "an order of magnitude higher performance per watt than all commercially available GPUs and FPGA."[146]
    • A study of Totten Glacier, East Antarctica's largest outlet of ice, reveals that its melting could pass a critical threshold within the next century, entering a period of irreversible retreat and ultimately adding nearly three metres to global sea levels.[147][148]
  • 19 May – Scientists in the US report evidence that tsunamis up to 120m high swept across Mars in the ancient past.[149][150]
23 May: Significant asteroid data from the WISE and NEOWISE missions questioned.[151]
  • 23 May
  • 24 May – A survey of 216,000 adolescents from all 50 US states finds the number of teens with marijuana-related problems is declining and marijuana use is falling, despite the fact that more US states are legalising or decriminalising the drug.[158]
  • 25 May – Researchers discover new evidence that amyloid-beta protein acts as a natural antibiotic in the brain: Alzheimer's-associated amyloid plaques may be a normal part of the immune system, and removing amyloid could actually be harmful.[159][160]
  • 26 May – Evidence of a recent, extreme ice age on Mars is published in the journal Science. Just 370,000 years ago, the planet would have appeared more white than red, the authors say.[161]
  • 27 May – Strimvelis, an ex-vivo stem cell gene therapy for adenosine deaminase deficiency, and the first gene therapy for children, is granted regulatory approval by the European Commission.[162]

June[edit]

14 June: Bramble Cay melomys, reported to be the first recorded mammal to become extinct due to anthropogenic climate change.[168]
15 June: Second gravitational wave (GW151226) detected.[178]

July[edit]

  • 1 July – A new family of tetraquark particles – named X(4140), X(4274), X(4500), and X(4700) – is announced by researchers at the Large Hadron Collider.[187]
  • 4 July – NASA scientists announce the arrival of the Juno spacecraft at the planet Jupiter.[188][189]
  • 5 July – China completes construction on the world's largest radio telescope.[190]
  • 11 July – Astronomers announce the discovery of 2015 RR245, a dwarf planet candidate in the Kuiper Belt with a highly elliptical 700-year orbit.[191][192]
  • 13 July – U.S. and Indian scientists report that graphene-infused packaging is a million times better at blocking moisture than typical plastic.[193]
25 July: 355 genes of LUCA found for all organisms living on Earth.[194]
  • 20 July
    • Using the Hubble telescope, scientists perform the first spectroscopy of the atmospheres of Earth-sized exoplanets (orbiting TRAPPIST-1).[195][196]
    • Scientists at Rice University announce a new titanium-gold alloy that is four times harder than most steels.[197]
  • 21 July – The hottest ever temperature in the Eastern Hemisphere is reported, with Mitribah, Kuwait reaching 54 °C (129.2 °F).[198] This is second only to Death Valley in California, which saw 56.7 °C (134.1 °F) in 1913.
  • 25 July
  • 26 July – Solar Impulse 2 becomes the first solar-powered aircraft to circumnavigate the Earth.[200]
  • 27 July
    • Neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used insecticide, are found to reduce bee sperm counts by almost 40%, as well as cutting the lifespan of bee drones by a third.[201]
    • Researchers in Germany discover that bacteria from the human nose produces a novel antibiotic which is effective against multiresistant pathogens.[202][203]
    • Current levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases already commit the planet to air temperatures over many land regions being eventually warmed by greater than 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to new research.[204][205]
  • 28 July – A new "vortex" laser that travels in a corkscrew pattern is shown to carry 10 times or more the information of conventional lasers, potentially offering a way to extend Moore's Law.[206]
  • 29 July – The seafloor in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone – an area in the Pacific Ocean being targeted for deep-sea mining – is found to contain an abundance and diversity of life, with more than half of the species collected being new to science.[207]

August[edit]

  • 1 August – Using the DNA from over 450,000 customers of gene-testing company 23andMe, researchers identify for the first time 15 regions of the genome associated with depression.[208][209]
  • 3 August – Researchers pinpoint which of the more than 4,000 exoplanet candidates discovered by NASA's Kepler mission are most likely to be similar to Earth. Their research outlines 216 Kepler planets located within the 'habitable zone', of which 20 are the best candidates to be habitable rocky planets like Earth.[210][211]
  • 4 August – A team at the University of Oxford achieves a quantum logic gate with record-breaking 99.9% precision, reaching the benchmark required to build a quantum computer.[212]
  • 5 August
11 August: Greenland shark found to be the longest-lived vertebrate on Earth, capable of living nearly 400 years.[219]
  • 6 August – Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, create the first dust-sized wireless sensors that may be implanted within the body.[220]
  • 8 August – New research by Stanford University suggests that phase-change memory can be engineered to be 1,000 times faster, while using less energy and requiring less space.[221]
  • 11 August
    • Venus may have been habitable in the ancient past, with a shallow liquid-water ocean and much lower temperatures than today, according to NASA climate models.[222]
    • The Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus) is found to be the longest-lived vertebrate, able to reach a lifespan of nearly 400 years.[219]
  • 12 August – Researchers at University College London devise a software algorithm able to scan and replicate almost anyone's handwriting.[223][224]
  • 15 August
    • NASA reports that July 2016 was the hottest single month in recorded history (going back to 1880), at 1.51 degrees Fahrenheit (0.84 degrees Celsius) above the 1950-1980 global average.[225]
    • NASA confirms that fracking is responsible for a huge methane hot spot in the United States.[226][227]
    • A possible new subatomic particle could provide evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature, according to research published in Physical Review Letters by scientists at the University of California, Irvine.[228]
    • Replacing tropical lowland forests with palm oil plantations can damage 11 out of 14 functions of a healthy ecosystem, some of which will be irreparable, concludes a study by the Helmholtz Centre For Environmental Research.[229]
  • 16 August – MIT announces a breakthrough which can double lithium-ion battery capacity.[230]
  • 22 August – Researchers at Princeton demonstrate an open source 25-core chip that can easily be scaled to create a 200,000-core computer.[231][232]
24 August: Artist's impression of Proxima b, an Earth-sized exoplanet detected in the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun - possible destination of the StarChip spacecraft.[233]

September[edit]

14 September: Reddish north pole of Charon, moon of Pluto, made of tholins formed from atmospheric gases released from Pluto.[251]
  • 7 September – One-tenth of the world's wilderness is reported to have disappeared in the last 20 years – an area twice the size of Alaska – with the Amazon and Central Africa being the hardest hit regions.[252][253][254]
  • 8 September
    • DNA testing of skeletal remains in London confirms that Yersinia pestis was the bacteria responsible for the Great Plague of 1665.[255]
    • NASA launches the seven-year OSIRIS-REx mission, which aims to reach the 500m-wide asteroid Bennu and bring a sample back to Earth.[256][257][258][259]
    • A genetic analysis shows that the genus giraffe, previously thought to contain one extant species, actually consists of four.[260]
  • 10 September – The second largest meteorite ever found is exhumed near Gancedo, Argentina. It weighs 30 tonnes and fell to Earth around 2000 BC.[261]
  • 13 September – The European Space Agency releases the first batch of data from the Gaia space telescope, which has recorded the position and brightness of a billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy.[262][263]
  • 14 September – Astronomers announce that the reddish-brown cap of the north pole of Charon, the largest of five moons that orbit the dwarf planet Pluto, is composed of tholins, organic macromolecules produced from methane, nitrogen and related gases released from the atmosphere of Pluto and transferred over about 19,000 km (12,000 mi) distance to the orbiting moon.[251]
  • 16 September – The development of 1 terabit-per-second transmission rates over optical fiber is announced by Nokia Bell Labs, Deutsche Telekom T-Labs and the Technical University of Munich.[264]
  • 20 September
21 September: All non-African humans currently on Earth can be traced to a single group that exited Africa about 50,000 years ago.[268]

October[edit]

5 October: Upper age limit of human longevity is reported as 125 years old.[280][281]
13 October: The observable universe is found to contain at least 2 trillion galaxies, about 10 times more than previously thought.[292][293]
  • 10 October – A study by the Earth Institute at Columbia University finds that wildfires have doubled in area over the last 30 years due to climate change.[294]
  • 11 October
  • 12 October
  • 13 October – Using 3D imaging techniques on 20 years of photographs by the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers estimate there are 2 trillion galaxies in the observable universe, about 10 times more than previously thought.[292][293][302]
  • 17 October
    • A team at Australia's University of New South Wales create a new quantum bit that remains in a stable superposition for 10 times longer than previously achieved.[303]
    • NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) reports that September 2016 was the hottest September on record globally.[304]
  • 18 October
    • A new automated system that can achieve parity with humans in conversational speech recognition is announced by researchers at Microsoft.[305][306]
    • Researchers at the University of Warwick discover the physical location of depression in the human brain, which is found to affect the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, implicated in non-reward.[307]
24 October: Carbon CO2 levels expected to be above 400 ppm for the full 2016 year, just one year after this concentration was first reached.[308]
  • 19 October – ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter arrives at Mars; the accompanying Schiaparelli crashes on the surface after its parachute was jettisoned too early and its rockets fired for too short a time.[309][310] On 21 October 2016, NASA released a Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image showing what appears to be the Schiaparelli EDM lander crash site.[311]
  • 20 October – Researchers at James Cook University in Australia report that adding a type of dried seaweed (Asparagopsis taxiformis) to the diet of cattle could reduce their emissions of methane by 50-70%.[312]
  • 21 October – MIT announces a new record for plasma pressure in an Alcator C-Mod tokamak nuclear fusion reactor, achieving over 2 atmospheres of pressure for the first time.[313]
  • 24 October – The World Meteorological Organisation reports that 2016 will likely be the first full year when atmospheric CO2 stayed above 400ppm.[308]
  • 25 October – Receiving the last bit of data (of a total of 50 billion bits of data; or 6.25 gigabytes) from the New Horizons spacecraft, from its close encounter with the dwarf planet Pluto on 14 July 2015, ends at 05:48 pm, ET on 25 October 2016. New Horizons is currently on a journey to 2014 MU69, a classical Kuiper belt object (KBO), and is expected to swing closely past the object on 1 January 2019.[314]
  • 27 October
    • The Living Planet assessment, by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and WWF, reports that vertebrate wildlife populations have fallen by 58% globally since 1970, and suggests this figure may reach two-thirds among vertebrates by 2020.[315]
    • Researchers use "neighbour maps" to reveal the shape of a genome in 3-D.[316]
    • Researchers at UC Santa Barbara design a functional nanoscale computing element that could, in theory, be packed into a space no bigger than 50 nanometers on any side.[317]
    • Researchers in England identify the first known example of fossilised brain tissue in a dinosaur.[318]
  • 31 October
    • A study by the Nature Conservancy claims an estimated 6.2 million lives will be lost to particulate matter each year by 2050, but this pollution can be reduced by 7 to 24 percent near trees, while the cooling effect is up to 2 °C (3.6 °F).[319][320]
    • Researchers at Penn State report a 1,000-fold increase in the scanning speed for 3-D printing, using a space-charge-controlled KTN beam deflector with a large electro-optic effect.[321]

November[edit]

  • 1 November – Scientists at Rockefeller University use a technique called "light sculpting" to view the neurons of a mouse brain firing in real-time in 3-D.[322]
  • 2 November – Construction of the James Webb Space Telescope primary mirror is completed, with launch due in 2018 following tests.[323][324]
4 November: Superwheat, a genetically modified grain, is reported to boost yields by 20 to 40 percent.[325]
  • 3 November
    • Scanning people’s brains with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is found to be significantly more effective at spotting lies than a traditional polygraph test.[326]
    • Scientists publish early human results of a potent BACE1 inhibitor for the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease.[327]
    • A study published in the journal Tobacco Control finds that graphic warnings on cigarette packs could prevent 652,000 deaths in the U.S. over the next 50 years.[328]
    • At a conference in San Diego, Adobe demonstrates audio software that accurately replicates any person's voice, thus potentially rewriting what an original speaker has actually said.[329]
  • 4 November – Researchers in the UK announce a genetically modified "superwheat" that increases the efficiency of photosynthesis to boost yields by 20 to 40 percent.[325] Field trials are expected in 2017.[330]
  • 5 November – The University of Oxford AI Lab presents "LipNet", a new AI algorithm capable of lip-reading up to 40% more accurately than a real person.[331][332]
  • 6 November – The International Astronomical Union approves the name Rigil Kentaurus for Alpha Centauri A. This follows the naming of Proxima Centauri for Alpha Centauri C on 21 August 2016.[333]
  • 8 November
    • New data released by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) shows that the five years from 2011 to 2015 were the warmest on record, largely due to human activities, with 2016 likely to be even hotter.[334][335][336]
    • Lab-grown mini lungs, developed from stem cells, are successfully transplanted into mice by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System.[337]
  • 9 November
    • The previous upper estimate of global warming by 2100 is raised from 4.8 °C to 7.36 °C, in a study published by the University of Hawaii.[338]
  • 11 November – Researchers at the University of Central Florida present research into solar nanotech-powered clothing.[339]
  • 13 November – The University of East Anglia reports that global emissions of CO2 did not grow in 2015 and are projected to rise only slightly in 2016, marking three years of almost no growth.[340]
  • 14 November – A supermoon occurs, as the full Moon comes closer to the Earth than at any time since 1948.[341]
  • 15 November – Scientists at Rockefeller University identify which genes in a microbe's genome ought to produce antibiotic compounds and then synthesize those compounds to discover two promising new antibiotics.[342]
22 November: Mars - Utopia Planitia - Scalloped terrain led to the discovery of a large amount of underground ice, equivalent to the amount of water in Lake Superior. (map)[343][344][345]
  • 16 November
    • The United States Geological Survey estimates there are 20 billion barrels of oil in Texas' Wolfcamp Shale Formation, the largest estimate of continuous oil that USGS has ever assessed in the United States.[346]
    • Researchers at the Salk Institute use a new gene-editing technology known as HITI, which is based on CRISPR, to partially restore vision in blind animals. Their technique is the first time a new gene has been inserted into a precise DNA location in adult cells that no longer divide, such as those of the eye, brain, pancreas or heart.[347][348]
  • 18 November – Researchers from Caltech and UCLA develop a technique to remove mutated DNA from mitochondria, which could help slow or reverse an important cause of aging.[349]
  • 21 November – Researchers use human pluripotent stem cells to grow human intestinal tissues with functioning nerves, then use these to recreate and study a severe intestinal nerve disorder called Hirschsprung’s disease.[350]
  • 22 November – NASA reports that its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found a huge deposit of water ice just under the surface of the planet Mars, in the region known as Utopia Planitia. The volume of water detected is equivalent to the volume of water in Lake Superior. (image) (map)[343][344][345]
  • 25 November
    • Researchers create the first living cells that form silicon-carbon bonds. The responsible protein does it more efficiently than any synthetic catalyst.[351]
    • Scientists behind a theory that the speed of light is variable – and not constant as Einstein suggested – produce a model with an exact figure on the spectral index that they say is testable.[352]
  • 28 November
  • 29 November – A study finds that higher water temperatures during 2016 caused the worst destruction of corals ever recorded on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, with 67% dying in the worst-hit northern section.[358][359]
  • 30 November
    • Thomas Crowther et al. report that increasing soil respiration alone will add between 0.45 and 0.71 parts per million of CO2 to the atmosphere every year until 2050. This will cause at least 55 gigatons of carbon to be lost from the soil by mid-century, equivalent to another industrialised country the size of the United States.[360][361][362]
    • Researchers calculate the weight of Earth's technosphere as 30 trillion tons, a mass greater than 50 kilos for every square metre of the planet's surface.[363]

December[edit]

8 December: Giraffes are listed as "vulnerable" after a huge population decline.[364]
  • 5 December – Researchers at Harvard discover a causal link between RNA splicing and aging.[365]
  • 6 December
    • Researchers at UC Berkeley design a wall-jumping robot known as Salto, which is described as the most vertically agile robot ever built.[366]
    • The National Snow and Ice Data Center announces record low sea ice extents for both the Arctic and Antarctic, with "exceptionally low" sea ice cover for the globe as a whole.[367]
  • 8 December
  • 9 December – Researchers at Tohoku University in Japan demonstrate a super flexible liquid crystal (LC) device, which could make electronic displays and devices more flexible, increasing their portability and versatility.[372]
  • 12 December
    • Harvard researchers identify an aerosol that could, in theory, be injected into the stratosphere to cool the planet from greenhouse gases, while also repairing ozone damage.[373]
    • A study of 37 mountain glaciers around the world is published, concluding with 99% certainty that climate change is driving their retreat.[374][375]
  • 13 December – The world's largest wild reindeer herd is reported to have fallen in population by 40% since 2000, due to rising temperatures and human activity, causing the animals to change their annual migration patterns.[376] A separate study reveals that reindeer on Svalbard have got smaller and lighter, by around 12%, due to diminishing food supplies.[377]
  • 14 December – A study published in Nature finds the seahorse genome to be the most rapidly evolving fish genome studied so far.[378]
22 December: Ebola virus disease found to be 70–100% prevented by rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine, making it the first proven vaccine against the disease.[379][380]
  • 15 December – Scientists use a new form of gene therapy to partially reverse aging in mice. After six weeks of treatment, the animals looked younger, had straighter spines and better cardiovascular health, healed quicker when injured, and lived 30% longer.[381][382]
  • 19 December
    • An iron 'jet stream' is detected in Earth's outer core, moving westwards under Alaska and Siberia, inferred from measurements made by Europe’s Swarm satellites.[383]
    • Scientists warn that deep sea mining threatens a newly discovered species of octopod, nicknamed 'Casper'.[384][385]
    • The ALPHA experiment at CERN observes the light spectrum of antimatter for the first time.[386]
  • 22 December
  • 26 December
    • The genome of the common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is sequenced for the first time.[389]
    • Cheetah populations are reported to be crashing, with just 7,100 left in the wild. The study authors warn that the animals are "much more vulnerable to extinction than was previously thought" and recommend a "paradigm shift in conservation".[390]
    • Researchers at Tufts University create programmable silk-based materials with embedded, pre-designed functions.[391]
  • 29 December
    • NASA astronomers report the detection of two new objects which are both expected to pass safely by the Earth in January and February 2017: a "relatively large" asteroid named 2016 WF9 and a comet named C/2016 U1 (NEOWISE).[392]
    • NASA reveals a potential habitat design for colonists on Mars, which offers shielding from extreme temperatures and radiation by using inflatable domes covered in ice.[393]

Deaths[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Breakthrough achieved in Ceramics 3D Printing Technology". HRL. 1 January 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2016. 
  3. ^ "Human-machine superintelligence can solve the world's most dire problems". EurekAlert!. 1 January 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "Most distant massive galaxy cluster identified". MIT. 7 January 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  5. ^ Zimmer, Carl (7 January 2016). "Genetic Flip Helped Organisms Go From One Cell to Many". New York Times. Retrieved 7 January 2016. 
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External links[edit]