We may never have our flying cars, but the future is here. From creating fully functioning artificial leaves to hacking the human brain, science made a lot of breakthroughs this year.
Quadriplegic Uses Her Mind to Control Her Robotic Arm
At the University of Pittsburgh, the neurobiology department worked with 52-year-old Jan Scheuermann over the course of 13 weeks to create a robotic arm controlled only by the power of Scheuermann's mind.
The team implanted her with two 96-channel intracortical microelectrodes. Placed in the motor cortex, which controls all limb movement, the integration process was faster than anyone expected. On the second day, Jan could use her new arm with a 3-D workspace. By the end of the 13 weeks, she was capable of performing complex tasks with seven-dimensional movement, just like a biological arm.
To date, there have been no negative side effects.
DARPA Robot Can Traverse an Obstacle Course
Once the robot figures out how to do that without all the wires, humanity is doomed.
Genetically Modified Silk Is Stronger Than Steel
Photo Courtesy of Indigo Moon Yarns.
At the University of Wyoming, scientists modified a group of silkworms to produce silk that is, weight for weight, stronger than steel. Different groups hope to benefit from the super-strength silk, including stronger sutures for the medical community, a biodegradable alternative to plastics, and even lightweight armor for military purposes.
DNA Was Photographed for the First Time
Using an electron microscope, Enzo di Fabrizio and his team at the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa snapped the first photos of the famous double helix.