Top 3 this year

Elena Trayanova looks into the top 3 scientific breakthroughs of the year

Elena Trayanova
15th May 2017

When it comes to space and other planets in the universe, there’s been one question that has forever been bothering the more curious of us and that question is “are we alone in the universe?” While there still isn’t any proof that life outside our planet Earth exists, scientists are getting further with their research and are now significantly closer to discovering extraterrestrial life. In February this year, NASA announced that space scientists have discovered seven earth-sized planets orbiting a single star in the constellation Aquarius. The fact that they are located significantly close to Earth makes this information exciting and relevant to us but the most interesting thing about this discovery is another fact. It has been confirmed that three of the planets in that system are located in the ‘habitable zone’ and therefore are likely to have liquid water which makes their being conductive to life more promising. Even though further explorations are yet to be conducted, scientists believe that this discovery could be of extreme significance to their endeavour to find habitable environments. With deep explorations and a little hope this could possibly be the first step to satisfying our unbounded curiosity.

One of the first official scientific announcements for this academic year as of September 2016 has great news for people like me who happen to be full-time panda admirers. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature revealed that the giant panda is no longer classified as an endangered species but is now rather just labelled as ‘vulnerable’. We have the Chinese government to thank for this great news as their efforts to protect the habitat have evidently paid off as they have resulted in numbers of giant pandas in the wild rising by 17 percent. This awesome news is not only a reason to celebrate but is also very encouraging. It shows that with enough enthusiasm and united efforts, a lot more endanger species could be saved and the work towards this progress should not stop because of this happy announcement but rather the opposite. The IUCN has stated that climate change is putting the panda’s bamboo habitat in danger and that could result in turning the statistics around and getting back to the starting point in the future. This shows that actions must be taken in order to save the rest of the endangered animals and keep the pandas safe.

Binge drinking is a serious problem that we as university students observe on an almost daily basis within and outside of our friends group –it’s there on every single house party,night out and both before and after exams. Some people seem to have turned it into a coping mechanism and others, into a lifestyle. While a lot of people manage to get out of the drinking cycle, there are still some who let it progress into severe alcoholism and therefore, the not-so-pretty statistics. In the United Kingdom, 38 percent of men and 29 percent of women are said to consume excessive amounts of alcohol regularly. This has resulted in more than six thousand deaths caused by alcoholism in one year. Luckily, a recent discovery by researchers from the UT Southwestern Medical Centre could be a key in overcoming binge drinking and eventually alcoholism. After a lot of experiments on mice they have managed to develop a drug that could regulate alcohol consumption and are currently working on creating a pill that would be safe for people to take as well as effective. Hopefully, this newly developed method could take us a step closer to overcoming one of the main public health problems in the world.

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