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Keeping track of cutting-edge science today helps understand where research is going. Things that are hot in 2005 will lead to important technological applications in a few years and will shape the future in 2010-2015.
From Science's top 10 list of major scientific achievements of 2005 :
- Winner: Evolution in action. Genome sequencing and painstaking field observations shed light on the intricacies of how evolution works. — this illustrates significant developments in genetics, leading to extremely wide applications in genetic engineering
- Miswiring the brain. Researchers gained clues about the mechanisms of disorders such as schizophrenia, dyslexia and Tourrete's syndrome. — progress in this field will eventually lead to understanding of how the brain works, to brain-computer interfaces, better AI and uploading
- Protein portrait. Scientists got their best look yet at the molecular structure of a voltage-gated potassium channel. — as well as being an important development for understanding the nervious system (and the brain), this is another significant step for understanding protein chemistry.
- Systems biology. Molecular biologists are looking to engineering in order to understand the behaviour of complex systems. — this absolutely is a key development. There are 60 million organic molecules in an E. coli, there are about ten trillion cells in a human body (and 90 trillion cells more belong to bacteria living there). The complexity is staggering and yet science only knows how to move forward. :)
- Bienvenue Iter. After 18 months of wrangling, the $12bn International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) got a home: Cadarache in France. — while not as "sexy" as nanotech, fusion power is quite important for the future of human civilization. Just like with taming the fire, we have to tame nuclear fusion before we can move up on the Kardashev scale. :)