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Breakthrough of the Year: The top 10 scientific achievements of 2014

Each year, Science’s editors choose a singular scientific achievement as Breakthrough of the Year. Past winners have included the discovery of the Higgs boson, cancer immunotherapy, and the first quantum machine. This year’s winner captured the world’s attention and reminded us of the immense scope of human scientific accomplishment—as well as how far we have yet to go. Below we briefly summarize the winner and runners-up and link to the expanded stories, with references, in the magazine, which are freely available.


The Rosetta mission lands on a comet

Europe’s most ambitious space mission captured the public's imagination with a series of hard-won pictures, beamed to Earth from a place beyond Mars. Rosetta’s continuous orbit around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is helping scientists figure out how life began on Earth—and heralds a new age of comet science.


The birth of birds

It took a lot to turn lumbering cousins of Tyrannosaurus rex into agile hummingbirds and graceful swans. This year, evolutionary biologists figured out the mode and tempo of this spectacular evolutionary transition.*

Using young blood to fight old age

In work with profound implications for aging, researchers showed that blood from a young mouse can rejuvenate an old mouse's muscles and brain. If the results hold up in people—an idea already in testing—factors in young blood could help fight the ravages of aging in people.

Robots that cooperate

Robots are getting better all the time at working with humans, but this year several teams demonstrated that these machines can also work together without our supervision, an important first step in their path to eventual world domination.

Chips that mimic the brain

Computer engineers rolled out the first large-scale “neuromorphic” chips, designed to process information similarly to living brains. Why? Unlike computers, human brains are good at tackling tasks that integrate massive amounts of data, like vision. These brainlike chips could transform the way computers handle complex jobs, revolutionizing machine vision and environmental monitoring.

The world’s oldest cave art

Scientists discovered prehistoric graffiti on Sulawesi Island in Indonesia that's at least 40,000 years old, potentially usurping Europe as the location of the world’s oldest cave art. The finding could rewrite the history of a key stage in the development of the human mind.  

Cells that might cure diabetes

Researchers have reported a significant step toward finding a cure for diabetes. They’ve figured out how to turn human stem cells into functional pancreatic β cells—the same cells that are destroyed by the body’s own immune system in type 1 diabetes patients.

Manipulating memories

If you think you can rely on your memories, think again. Last year, scientists figured out how to manipulate specific memories in mice by zapping their brains with laser beams. This year, they managed to change the actual emotional content of memories, turning good memories bad, and vice versa.

Rise of the CubeSat

A decade ago, CubeSats were just educational tools. Now, a record-breaking number of these 10-centimeter boxes, built with off-the-shelf technology and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars rather than hundreds of millions, have been launched into space—and they’re starting to do real science.

Giving life a bigger genetic alphabet

All life on Earth as we know it encodes genetic information using four DNA letters: A, T, G, and C. Not anymore! Researchers have created new DNA bases in the lab, expanding life’s genetic code and opening the door to creating new kinds of microbes.

People’s choice

From (lots of) official meetings to a suggestion jar in the office kitchen, Science spends a lot of time choosing each year’s Breakthrough. This year, we wanted to give you a say, too! After 35,676 total votes and two rounds of voting, “Giving life a bigger genetic alphabet” won the people’s choice for Breakthrough of the Year! Click through to see the rest of the results.

To read more about the biggest scientific achievements of 2014, as well as the see the biggest breakdowns of the year, find out about exciting areas to watch in 2015, and judge us on last year’s predictions, check out our full Breakthrough of the Year special issue.

*Correction: The summary of "The birth of birds" originally linked to a recent news story and slideshow on avian genomes that is not the specific work recognized as a runner-up. We have changed that to a link to some of the relevant research.

Posted in Scientific Community

Source: http://news.sciencemag.org/scientific-community/2014/12/breakthrough-year-top-10-scientific-achievements-2014

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Founded by Russian entrepreneur Dmitry Itskov in February 2011 with the participation of leading Russian specialists in the field of neural interfaces, robotics, artificial organs and systems.

The main goals of the 2045 Initiative: the creation and realization of a new strategy for the development of humanity which meets global civilization challenges; the creation of optimale conditions promoting the spiritual enlightenment of humanity; and the realization of a new futuristic reality based on 5 principles: high spirituality, high culture, high ethics, high science and high technologies. 

The main science mega-project of the 2045 Initiative aims to create technologies enabling the transfer of a individual’s personality to a more advanced non-biological carrier, and extending life, including to the point of immortality. We devote particular attention to enabling the fullest possible dialogue between the world’s major spiritual traditions, science and society.

A large-scale transformation of humanity, comparable to some of the major spiritual and sci-tech revolutions in history, will require a new strategy. We believe this to be necessary to overcome existing crises, which threaten our planetary habitat and the continued existence of humanity as a species. With the 2045 Initiative, we hope to realize a new strategy for humanity's development, and in so doing, create a more productive, fulfilling, and satisfying future.

The "2045" team is working towards creating an international research center where leading scientists will be engaged in research and development in the fields of anthropomorphic robotics, living systems modeling and brain and consciousness modeling with the goal of transferring one’s individual consciousness to an artificial carrier and achieving cybernetic immortality.

An annual congress "The Global Future 2045" is organized by the Initiative to give platform for discussing mankind's evolutionary strategy based on technologies of cybernetic immortality as well as the possible impact of such technologies on global society, politics and economies of the future.


Future prospects of "2045" Initiative for society


The emergence and widespread use of affordable android "avatars" controlled by a "brain-computer" interface. Coupled with related technologies “avatars’ will give people a number of new features: ability to work in dangerous environments, perform rescue operations, travel in extreme situations etc.
Avatar components will be used in medicine for the rehabilitation of fully or partially disabled patients giving them prosthetic limbs or recover lost senses.


Creation of an autonomous life-support system for the human brain linked to a robot, ‘avatar’, will save people whose body is completely worn out or irreversibly damaged. Any patient with an intact brain will be able to return to a fully functioning  bodily life. Such technologies will  greatly enlarge  the possibility of hybrid bio-electronic devices, thus creating a new IT revolution and will make  all  kinds of superimpositions of electronic and biological systems possible.


Creation of a computer model of the brain and human consciousness  with the subsequent development of means to transfer individual consciousness  onto an artificial carrier. This development will profoundly change the world, it will not only give everyone the possibility of  cybernetic immortality but will also create a friendly artificial intelligence,  expand human capabilities  and provide opportunities for ordinary people to restore or modify their own brain multiple times.  The final result  at this stage can be a real revolution in the understanding of human nature that will completely change the human and technical prospects for humanity.


This is the time when substance-independent minds will receive new bodies with capacities far exceeding those of ordinary humans. A new era for humanity will arrive!  Changes will occur in all spheres of human activity – energy generation, transportation, politics, medicine, psychology, sciences, and so on.

Today it is hard to imagine a future when bodies consisting of nanorobots  will become affordable  and capable of taking any form. It is also hard to imagine body holograms featuring controlled matter. One thing is clear however:  humanity, for the first time in its history, will make a fully managed evolutionary transition and eventually become a new species. Moreover,  prerequisites for a large-scale  expansion into outer space will be created as well.


Key elements of the project in the future

• International social movement
• social network immortal.me
• charitable foundation "Global Future 2045" (Foundation 2045)
• scientific research centre "Immortality"
• business incubator
• University of "Immortality"
• annual award for contribution to the realization of  the project of "Immortality”.

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