"Artificial life" topped a list of the top 10 science stories of 2007 in the latest edition of Scientific American's Chinese edition.
Artificial life is born
NO.1 Artificial life was born
On 21 June 2007, Craig Venter, an American biologist, reported in the journal Science that his team had for the first time transplanted an entire genome from one species to another, taking a key step towards building a simple genome from scratch. In early October, Dr. Venter again announced that his team had chemically synthesized Artificial chromosomes and successfully transplanted them into another cell-free cell, creating the first ever Artificial Life. Researchers can customize artificial chromosomes to make these artificial microbes useful for everything from making biofuels to cleaning up toxic waste to cleaning up carbon dioxide. The emergence of artificial microorganism is a milestone in the development of bioengineering.
NO.2 Creating 'embryonic-like' stem cells from human skin Cells
On November 20th Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University and James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin announced in the online edition of The journals Cell and Science that their respective teams had successfully transformed human skin cells, Engineered into "master cells" that resemble embryonic stem cells. Using the same genetic recombination technique, the two research teams transformed skin cells into so-called iPS cells by inserting four genes into them. These cells function much like embryonic stem cells and can grow into all kinds of body tissues and organs. Not only could the technique avoid ethical controversies over stem cell research using human embryos, but its efficiency and convenience could also open the door to further medical applications. The scientific community hailed the breakthrough as a milestone in biological science and a possible end to the popular cloning of embryonic stem cells.
Chang 'e-1 lifts off, Asia marches on moon
On October 24, 2007, Chang 'e I, China's first lunar exploration satellite, was launched. The first image of the moon taken by chang 'e-1 in lunar orbit was released on November 26, showing that the satellite's scientific equipment was working normally. Chang 'e I will carry out scientific exploration in lunar orbit for one year, observing and studying the topography of the lunar surface, the distribution of lunar material, the thickness of lunar soil and the earth-Moon space environment. Prior to this, The Japanese "Kaguya" probe was successfully launched on September 14, and smoothly entered the orbit around the moon. The two lunar missions mark the beginning of Asia's march to the moon to participate in the global lunar exploration boom.
No.4 'Second Earth' found outside solar System
On April 24, 2007, astronomers at the European southern observatory announced the discovery of the most earth-like exoplanet ever found around the red dwarf star Gliese581, 20.5 light-years from earth. The planet has about five times the mass of Earth and may have a surface temperature between 0℃ and 40℃, just enough to allow liquid water to exist on its surface. This is the first time scientists have found a potentially habitable planet outside our solar system.
On July 12, astronomers from the European Space Agency (ESA) and University College London (UCL) announced that they had found traces of water vapor in the atmosphere of another planet more than 60 light-years away, but the surface temperatures on the planet's sunny side are above 2,000 DEGREES Celsius, making it inhospitable to human life. This is the first time astronomers have confirmed the existence of water on a planet outside our solar system. The findings give hope to scientists looking for extraterrestrial life.
NO.5 IPCC confirms that climate change is caused by human beings, and countries formulate countermeasures
On February 2, 2007, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its fourth assessment report on global climate change in Paris, France, saying that climate change has become an "indisputable" fact. Scientists are more certain than ever that humans affect the climate and that human-induced climate change is on the rise. But humanity's future is still very much in our own hands -- and the extent of change depends on how we treat greenhouse gas emissions.
On December 15, the UN Climate Change Conference adopted a resolution to draw up the "Bali Road Map" and decided to hold negotiations on new arrangements to address climate change by 2009. The Roadmap also sets out a clear agenda for negotiations, including actions to adapt to the negative consequences of climate change, ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ways to make widespread use of climate-friendly technologies, and financing for adaptation and mitigation measures.
No.6 discovered the sixth element that makes up DNA
On August 26, 2007, the Key Laboratory of Microbial Metabolism at Shanghai Jiao Tong University announced that they had discovered the presence of a sixth element in DNA, sulfur. DNA, the physical basis of life, was previously thought to be made up of five elements -- carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus. Scientists at the lab have found that many microbes that make DNA also perform a process called sulfur modification, which relies on sulfur in their genomes to alter genetic characteristics. This discovery opened up a new field of molecular biology -- the research of SULFUR modification of DNA, which attracted great attention from the international community. If this sulfur modification can be interfered with, it might be possible to engineer the bacteria to neutralize their harmful effects on the human body. The research and development of drugs can also learn from the process of sulfur modification in nature. Through genetic drugs, the DNA of cancer and AIDS patients can be artificially modified to treat diseases.
NO.7 Human Cancer Genome Project launched
On March 8, 2007, scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in The UK reported in The journal Nature that they had launched a massive project to decode cancer genes, targeting tumours with the highest death rates. According to past studies, the occurrence of tumors is mostly related to genetic changes, but there are so many genes that affect the activity of proteins that it is difficult to find these large but small changes without in-depth sequence analysis. The project will start by analyzing 500 target genes associated with 200 specific tumors.
Scientists believe that it is not difficult to sequence tumor genes, but identifying the key genetic changes that actually cause cancer is a difficult task. They hope that sequencing projects like this will provide more useful clues for identifying key genetic changes at the start in the future.
NO.8 The age of the human genome
On May 31, 2007, 454 Life Sciences presented Watson, the father of DNA, with a DVD containing all the information of Watson's genome, making him the first person in the world to obtain his own genome map. Watson's genome was created using a new sequencing technology that was vastly more efficient and cost less than $2 million. As the price of sequencing falls further, the era of the personal genome will be in full swing.
Beijing genomics Institute (BGI) in Shenzhen, China, announced at a press conference on Oct. 11 that they have successfully drawn the first complete genome map of a Chinese person, which is the first complete genome sequence of an Asian person. Scientists believe that this landmark scientific achievement in the field of genome science will play an important role in the research of DNA, invisible disease genes and epidemic prediction of Chinese and Even Asian people.
No.9 Found liquid lakes on Titan
On January 4, 2007, the cover article of Nature published credible evidence of liquid methane oceans or lakes on Titan. Scientists have predicted for more than 20 years that methane could exist in liquid form on Titan's surface. On July 22, 2006, NASA's Cassini spacecraft flew by Titan and obtained radar imaging data that provided credible evidence for the presence of large amounts of liquid on the moon. The liquid pooled to form lakes and oceans on Titan's surface, making it the only object discovered outside Earth that still has an active liquid cycle. The discovery extends our understanding of climate and fluid circulation beyond earth, helping to shed light on the evolution of the early Earth and even the origin of life.
The world's first molecular machine is born
On January 21, 2007, scientists at the Research Center for Materials Design and Structure in Toulouse, France, and the University of Berlin, Germany, announced in nature Nanotechnology that they had successfully assembled the first truly molecular machine. The main components of molecular machines are biological molecules such as proteins, which can perform certain processing functions. It is the focus of nano research in recent years. They have a wide range of uses, including clearing lesions in human cells, acting as artificial vectors for drug delivery, and forming molecular valves. The researchers are confident that their "molecular wheel" will play an important role in complex nanomachines, such as molecular trucks and molecular nanorobots.