Know The Top 9 Science News And Discoveries Of 2016

First Posted: Dec 20, 2016 03:20 AM EST

As 2016 comes to an end, Science World Report has compiled a list of the top events, news and discoveries related to science. The following headlines made the maximum impact among the scientific community.

1. Zika Virus Epidemic

2016 saw the devastation brought about in Brazil by the Zika virus endemic, an illness untreatable by vaccines or medication. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced in January 2016 that the virus could spread throughout most of the Americas by the end of the year. In February, WHO declared that Zika outbreak was a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, in the face of links to birth defects, microcephaly and neurological problems. However, in November 2016 WHO announced the end of the Zika epidemic.

2. Birth of Three-Parent Baby

This year saw the successful birth of a baby boy, who has the DNA from his mom, dad as well as the mitochondria donor, through a procedure that also prevents children from inheriting metabolic diseases caused by flaws in mitochondria. The three-parent baby technique, however, raised ethical and safety concerns.

3. Antarctic Ozone Hole is Healing

There was also some good news that came as a respite against all the dire news that made headlines regarding the ill effects of climate change, global warming and human-related harm caused to nature and environment. Researchers have confirmed that the Antarctic ozone hole is healing, a success attributed to new technologies and international cooperation.

4. Artificial Intelligence Beat Human Intelligence in a Game

In January this year, a world class human player was beat by a computer program for the first time in the game of Go. Furthermore, in March, the artificial intelligence called AlphaGo defeated Lee Sedol, who is counted among the world's top players of the game.

5. Four New Names Officially Added to the Periodic Table of Elements

The names of four elements were finally finalized this year and made their way into the periodic table. Called Nihonium, Moscovium, Tennessine and Oganesson, the heavy, highly reactive elements were synthesized between 2002 and 2010; however, they had the honor of being named only this year.

6. Humans Can Now Get CRISPR

CRISPR, the revolutionary gene-editing tool that promises to cure illnesses and solve environmental calamities, took a successful step forward in 2016. A team of Chinese researchers used CRISPR to treat a human patient with lung cancer for the very first time. Furthermore, researchers in the U.K. were given the green signal to genetically modify human embryos by taking the help of CRISPR-Cas9.

7. Obituary Printed for Australia's Great Barrier Reef

American magazine Outside published an obituary for the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The post, which was criticized for being premature, went viral on social media. However, 2016 saw the announcement by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies that some 67 percent of corals have died in the reef's worst-hit northern section due to higher water temperatures.

8. Paris Agreement Signed by 194 UNFCCC Members and Ratified by 118

The Paris Agreement  within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that deals with greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020 saw 194 UNFCCC members signing it in 2016, of whom 118 also ratified it. The agreement went into effect in November this year.

9. Giraffes Declared Vulnerable to Extinction Species

The International Union for Conservation of Nature declared a vulnerable status for giraffes in the latter part of the year, which means the long-necked-goofy-looking animal is at high risk of extinction. In the past few decades, the population of giraffes has seen a sharp 36 percent to 40 percent decline.

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