This year witnessed some truly revolutionary advancements in the field of technology and science. With the strong focus on science and technology, 2020 aimed to make people science and technology-centric.
The world has taken a leading role in launching satellites, spatial computing, and ultrasensitive sensors to exploit quantum processes for setting a stage for various technological applications that can disrupt the science and technology industry. As 2021 approaches let us take a glance at the top 10 global science and technology achievements of 2020.
1. Covid-19 Vaccines
The vaccines produced by Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer against coronavirus turned out to be the first vaccines produced by utilizing Messenger RNA. It is one of the quickest vaccine developments and approvals that only required 10 months.
The vaccine produced by Pfizer comes with an efficiency of 95% when it comes to preventing the symptomatic covid-19 infection due to coronavirus. On the other hand, the vaccine produced by Moderna is said to have shown 94.1% efficiency when it comes to inhibiting the symptomatic covid-19 infection.
2. Microneedles Enabling Painless Blood Draws and Injections
2020 witnessed a massive achievement in the field of medical science where barely visible needles help enable pain-free blood testing and injections. Whether connected to a patch or strange barely visible needles help prevent pain by avoiding contact with human nerve endings.
Microneedle patch and syringe applications are now available for administering vaccines, plus many remain within clinical trials for application in treating neuropathic pain, cancer, and diabetes. As these insert medicines directly within the epidermis, they deliver the doses much more effectively than usual transdermal patches, which happen to depend on the fusion with the skin.
In 2020, researchers found a new technique for treating skin problems like warts, psoriasis, and particular types of cancer. By mixing star-shaped microneedles within a therapeutic gel or cream, the gentle and temporary perforation of the skin improves the passage of therapeutic agents. Apart from these, various microneedle products move towards commercialization concerning painless and rapid draws of interstitial fluid or blood and for utilization in health monitoring or diagnostic testing. Small holes created by microneedles induce a change in pressure within the epidermis that forces blood or interstitial fluid into the collection device.
Microneedle devices can facilitate treatment and testing to be delivered in underserved areas as they do not need costly equipment or training. These painless needles are expected to rapidly expand diagnostics and drug delivery throughout the world, and more use cases will arise as researchers devise ways to utilize them in organs beyond the skin.
3. Water Found on the Moon
Traces of water found on the lunar surface is one of the top 10 global science and technology achievements of 2020. NASA declared for the first time that they have discovered water on the moon’s surface. The confirmed the presence of H2O, that is the water molecule, within sunlit regions of the surface of the moon.
It indicates that water happens to be widely distributed throughout the lunar surface. Water molecules have also been detected within the Clavius crater. The crater remained situated within the southern hemisphere of the moon and is within the biggest letters visible from the Earth.
4. Low Carbon Cement Combats Climate Change
In 2020, a variety of lower carbon cement approaches are being pursued, and some are already in practice. The process employs a chemical procedure that cuts 30% of carbon dioxide generally released in making cement.
This manufacturing process utilizes less limestone, more clay, and less heat than usual processes. Apart from this, utilizing alternative fuels from waste products intends to add carbon capture and storage technologies for removing emissions entirely by 2030.
5. Harvesting of Radish Plant in Space
An astronaut from NASA harvested radish plants for growing them in the advanced plant habitat aboard the International Space Station. NASA experimented first time with the plant harvesting process and has grown radishes on the orbiting laboratory in the advanced plant habitat.
The astronaut from NASA meticulously accumulated and wrapped each of the twenty radish plants in foil and placed them in cold storage for taking them back while on a return trip to earth in 2021.
6. Use of Quantum Sensors to Allow Autonomous Cars to See Around Corners
Being one of the top 10 global science and technology achievements in 2020, quantum sensors happen to reach extreme levels of precision by exploiting the quantum matter nature. They are equally transformative allowing autonomous vehicles to see around corners.
Apart from that, there are also utilized for early warning systems for volcanic activity, underwater navigation systems, early warning for earthquakes as well as portable scanners that help evaluate the brain activity of a person during daily life.
7. Existence of Aliens
The year 2020 can be considered as the biggest breakthrough for scientists. Scientists found one of the first hints concerning exoplanet detection in the radio realm. Researchers observed the first possible radio signal to emanate from a planet outside the solar system that is approximately 51 light-years away. Apart from that, the researchers additionally found other potential explanatory radio emission candidates within the constellation Cancer and Upsilon Andromedae systems.
8. Green Hydrogen Acts as a Zero Carbon Supplement to Solar and Wind Energy
Green hydrogen is produced through electrolysis. The discovery of green hydrogen is one of the biggest global science and technology achievements in 2020. In the process of producing green hydrogen, machines split water into oxygen and hydrogen with no additional by-products. Electrolysis historically required excess electricity. With that process, it made lessons to manufacture hydrogen.
The situation changed in 2020 for two reasons. First, notable amounts of excess renewable electricity have turned out to be available at the grid-scale. Other than storing the excess electricity in a range of cells, the additional electricity can be utilized for driving the electrolysis of water, thereby storing the electricity in the form of hydrogen. Secondly, as electrolysis is becoming more efficient, green hydrogen has come to the rescue.
Companies are looking forward to developing electrolyzers that can make green hydrogen as affordably as blue and grey hydrogen. analysts are expecting them to reach that goal within the upcoming decade. In the meantime, energy companies are looking forward to beginning the integration of electrolysis directly into renewable energy projects.
Present renewable technologies like wind and Solar can decarbonize the energy industry by as much as 85% by replacing coal and gas with clean electricity. Additional parts of the economy, such as manufacturing and shipping are challenging to electrify as they usually need fuel that remains high in power density or warmth at high temperatures. This is where green hydrogen comes with the maximum potential. Green hydrogen remains one of the four technologies required for meeting the Paris agreement goal of abating higher than 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year from the toughest industrial sectors, among them construction, chemicals, and mining.
9. Driverless Robotaxis
In 2020, a company became the initial organization to provide self-driving car services to the general public without the requirement of a human supervisor in Chandler, Arizona. While autonomous vehicle providers revealed an entirely functional autonomous and electric vehicle that is intended for urban and dense environments, the fact of removing the demand for human chauffeur led to the discovery of robotaxis, thereby making it a very affordable solution concerning customers.
10. Whole-genome Synthesis Transforms Cell Engineering
Being a great advancement in synthetic biology, whole-genome synthesis is one of the biggest discoveries in the field of science and technology achievements of 2020. Early in the coronavirus pandemic, Chinese scientists uploaded the coronavirus’s genetic sequence to the genetic databases for its production.
A group from Switzerland then synthesized the whole genome and created coronavirus from it, thereby teleporting coronavirus within the laboratory for study purposes without waiting for actual samples. This kind of speed happens to be one example of how whole-genome printing is developing the medical industry and other fields.
Whole-genome synthesis can be referred to as an extension of the booming industry of synthetic biology. Scientists utilize software to design genetic sequences that they produce. They further introduce it into a microbe, additionally reprogramming the microbe to perform desired work like creating new medicine.
As far as advancements are concerned, genomes primarily get light edits. However, advancements in synthetic biological technology and software are making it feasible for printing larger swaths of genetic material for altering genomes more rapidly.
As challenging as this year has been for all of us, this year has given birth to promising approaches and products for elucidating the complicated world of biology, construction, energy, science, and technology. Apart from that, this year has revealed that the technological and scientific community, when faced with a common problem, can develop solutions against the challenge and work collectively to innovate, research, and refocus.