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7 Research Breakthroughs This Year You May Have Missed

7 Research Breakthroughs This Year You May Have Missed

It's that time of year again.

b2ap3_thumbnail_deGraffenried700.jpgNo, I don't mean the time for mistletoe, reindeer and maxed-out credit cards. It's time for the annual "best of" lists. You can find lists of the year's best movies, books, songs, hairstyles, cars, wines … there are even lists of best of lists. Here at the University of Texas at Austin, we are complete geeks for science. So our contribution to the end of the year list frenzy is all about science breakthroughs—some you might have already seen, others you might have missed.

So sit back, pour a glass of eggnog, and cozy up to the fire to relive a few of those magical science moments from the past year, in no particular order:

b2ap3_thumbnail_suns-brother700.jpg1. Cancer researchers struck on several suprising findings in 2014, including a discovery that aspirin and ibuprofen can significantly reduce breast cancer recurrence rates for overweight women. Also, marine scientists detected a receptor in fish that could provide a chink in the armor of human cancer. And chemists created a "poison pill" that uses the components of table salt – sodium and chloride – to force cancer cells to self-destruct.

2. Scientists and engineers made a breakthrough that could prove helpful for clean energy, with the development of new class of energy-storage devices.

b2ap3_thumbnail_birdtree700.jpg3. Astronomers found a star in the constellation Hercules that appears to have formed in the same cloud of gas and dust as our sun, earning it the nickname "the sun's long-lost brother."

4. Neuroscientists created mutant worms that can't get drunk, gaining key insights that could eventually lead to drugs to treat alcoholism.

5. Computer scientists developed a new technique that led to the most accurate bird family tree ever developed, with some surprising results, including that flamingoes are more closely related to pigeons than to other water birds like pelicans.

b2ap3_thumbnail_majorana700.jpg6. Physicists finally caught a glimpse of a mysterious particle that had been predicted in the 1930s with the strange property that it is both matter and antimatter, which might make it useful in quantum computing.

7.  Biologists made several significant discoveries about gut microbes, which play a critical role in human health and disease, including: our gut microbes are much less diverse than those of our closest relatives, the African apes; a man's gut microbes react differently than a woman's to the same diet; and for a fish, the more diverse its diet, the less diverse its gut microbial community.

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Comments 1

Guest - Jimmy Jump on Saturday, 20 December 2014 11:20

Great Work UT Scientist!

Great Work UT Scientist!
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