Top Science Stories of 2016

In a year in which it seems truth and science has been largely disregarded we feel it’s important to bring some of the more empirical evidence back into the limelight. From discovering the closest cousin to planet Earth to exploring the strangest suggestion of alien life that humanity has ever come across with Tabby’s star, it has been a year of remarkable wonders. We hope 2017 will be a continuation of this excitement and curiosity. Today there is more technology and advancement in the area of science than ever before, and this progress will undoubtedly lead to many more discoveries. Here are our top seven science stories of 2016.

First Ever Detection Of Gravitational Waves

2016 started with the exciting confirmation of the existence of gravitational waves. Eistein first predicted these ripples in space 100 years ago in his theory of gravity, and at last he has been proved right. The LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) started collecting data in 2002 but it wasn’t until this year that physicists were finally able to confirm the discovery of Einstein’s elusive gravitational waves. Rarely does mainstream media get excited about anything in science but this sent shock-waves around the world. Watch this space.

Discovery of Exoplanet Proxima b

In August this year the European Southern Observatory announced the discovery of an “earth like” planet 4.2 light-years away from Earth. Proxima Centauri b orbits the closest star to our Sun and could potentially hold atmospheric properties, such as liquid water.
Click the link above to read our interview with one of the original discoverers of the planet Guillem Anglada-Escuda.

AI Dominates Ancient Chinese Game ‘Go’

In March this year Google DeepMinds’s AlphaGo beaten the 18-time world champion Lee Se-dol in a five game match of the board game Go. This marked the first time that a computer had beaten such a skilled player and demonstrates the powerful potential of artificial intelligence.

Tabby’s Star Bizarre Saga Continues

KIC 8462852 (better known as Tabby’s Star) has been baffling astronomers and physicists since it’s discovery in September 2015. The structure’s bizarre fluctuations in light are unlike anything previously observed and there is still no consensus on what could be causing the irregular changes in brightness. All kinds of far fetched theories have emerged to try and explain the anomaly including the suggestion that it is in fact some kind of alien megastructure.
Click the link above to read our interview with the discoverer of the planet Tabetha S. Boyajian.

The Demise Of Theranos

The previously worshiped biotech start-up Theranos came crumbling down this year when its blood tests were shown to be inaccurate and “posed immediate jeopardy to patient health and safety.” The company’s founder Elizabeth Holmes saw her net worth fall from $4.5 billion to $0 almost overnight. Theranos was forced to close its laboratory operations in October.

ExoMars and SpaceX Fight it out for Mars

This year marked a mini space race in some respects. It looked like a two-way competition, between Space X and ExoMars. ExoMars was a Russian endeavour which arrived at it’s destination in October and has since been circling Mars and taking the most spectacular pictures we have ever seen of the planet. But the TGO is still at the beginning of its long mission. It will spend a further twelve months “aerobraking” and will then start studying gases in the Martian atmosphere. Space X is another Mars endeavor, one of Elon Musk’s projects which made history in April by landing its orbital Falcon 9 rocket on an autonomous drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. He has plans to start a Mars colony by 2022.

Ozone Hold In Antarctic Is Beginning To Heal Itself

This year saw some much needed good news for climate science. The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica seems to be on the mend. It has not vanished entirely but the breakthrough, which is the result of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, suggests that by 2060 we will see “almost no years with an ozone hole”