Despite the decadent sentiments, inventions and discoveries of science in the 21st century did not slow down and made significant progress in fundamental disciplines. Physics and biotechnology are developing most dynamically, where scientists have achieved successes that can claim the title of revolutionary.
In the long term, it can significantly affect the quality of life of every person. What is it worth only obtaining stem cells from the skin of an adult, which makes it possible to grow the vital organs without using embryonic cells!
The fundamental discovery of gravitational waves gives humanity hope for travel between the stars, and the new material, graphene, will soon be used to produce ultra-high-capacity batteries. However, first things first: in the ranking below, we have tried to systematize the most important scientific discoveries of the 21st century in terms of their significance for humanity.
Follow the technology road and learn about the important inventions of the 21st century.
New Inventions and Discoveries of Science in 21st Century
1. Hydrogen cars
Hydrogen cars are one of the most important inventions of the 21st century. This invention is great news for the fight against global warming. This fantastic creature does not consume any fuels, which means that carbon monoxide is never rereleased. These cars run on renewable fuel and do not emit anything but water vapor. The fuel for these cars is obtained by electrolysis, etc. The invention is expected to reduce the burning of fossil fuels in the world drastically. The 2015 Toyota Mirai is one of the first hydrogen-fueled vehicles commercially sold to this day. The Mirai concept is based on the Toyota FCV.
2. Genetic engineering
Genetic engineering is the manipulation of the DNA structure of an organism using biotechnology. It have benefited the fields of medicine, pharmacology, reproduction, technology, and more. Improved crops and modern drugs are some of the notable advances in genetic engineering.
3. Free energy
Energy, as we all know, is vital to human survival. People have been living on different forms of energy since they came into existence. In the past, fossil fuels have become the main source of energy. The development of technology has allowed us to use alternative energy sources. We can use wind, geothermal heat, water, and even the sun as a source of energy. Free energy or thermodynamic energy develops. She is expected to prove a necessary and most efficient form of energy for the future.
4. Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is evolving to establish connections between humans and technology. In today’s world, robots, toys, and computers follow human orders and respond to needs according to their wishes. Even the iPhone is equipped with artificial intelligence in the famous “SIRI” form.
5. Mind-reading device
Mind reading is a term used by psychologists to imply the subconscious detection and analysis of non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions or head movements. These signals help people understand each other’s emotional state. This invention is the brainchild of three scientists at the MIT Media Lab. A mind-reading machine scans the user’s brain signals and notifies those with whom they are communicating. The device can be used to work with artists.
Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter at the atomic, molecular, and supramolecular levels. The invention of nanotechnology allows us to transform complex technology into a simple, compact form. While there is still much potential for discovery, nanotechnology has undoubtedly added new chapters to human life. Nanotechnology permeates everything from DVDs to hotel pools to your sunglasses.
7. Human cloning
One of the most significant discoveries of the 21st century was creating genetically identical copies of humans. Human cloning was a groundbreaking discovery. With the application of this discovery, scientists now see the prospect of tackling life-threatening problems such as heart attack, cancer, treating or growing new organs, selectively selecting genes in newborns, and even eliminating diseases in infants ahead of time.
8. Bioprosthesis are designed, controlled by the power of thought
Until recently, lost limbs were replaced by plastic dummies or even hooks. In the past two years, science has made huge strides in creating bioprosthesis controlled by the power of thought and transmitting sensations from artificial fingers to the brain. In 2010, the British firm “RSL Steeper” presented a bioprosthetic arm, with which a person can open a door with a key, break eggs into a frying pan, withdraw money from an ATM and even hold a plastic cup. It can be crushed with excessive force, but scientists have achieved that the force of grip of the fingers can be varied.
In 2016, a prosthesis was created that can be controlled not only by the power of thought but the product is equipped with sensitivity sensors connected to the nerve endings of the stump. Thus, feedback is created, the patient can feel the warmth.
While such prostheses are pretty expensive, soon, we can count on their wider availability.
9. Tablet with a camera
With this pill, you can diagnose cancer at the earliest stages. The device was created to produce high-quality color images in confined spaces. The chamber pill can detect signs of esophageal cancer; its size is approximately equal to the width of an adult’s nail and twice as long.
The first person to be on the moon had an idea of antigravity. Others, however, perceived this as deception rather than reality. After years, scientists are now on the verge of making it a reality. Antigravity is the idea of creating a place free of gravity. Imagine traveling by air without going into slow traffic or seniors floating in the air regardless of their weight! Lifting heavy things in the construction industry will be more accessible, and life will be easier and faster with anti-gravity technology.
11. The world’s first synthetic bacterial cell was created.
In 2010, a team of scientists led by Craig Venter made a breakthrough in an ambitious project to create new life.
Biologists took the genome of the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium and systematically removed the genes from it to determine the minimum cell count required for life. It turned out that it must include 382 genes that make up the basis of life.
After that, they “from scratch” made an artificial genome, which was transplanted into the cell of the used bacteria, from which their DNA complexes were removed.
The artificial cell, which received its name Cynthia, became viable and began to divide actively.
This makes it possible to create more complex organisms with given parameters (production of vaccines, even fuel for cars); in the future, creating a cell that absorbs carbon dioxide.
Automation was discovered during the development of robots. There is still room for significant improvement. Automation has propelled the manufacturing industry forward by facilitating assembly processes. Home automation is also a part of our daily life, like district heating, cooling, and safe locks for doors and gates. Automation has made it easier for people to work and can bring great benefits to humanity.
13. Stem cells are obtained not from embryos, but from mature tissues
In 2012, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to the English biologist John Gordon and his Japanese colleague Sina Yamanaka. They made a splash among biotechnologists, creating stem cells from ordinary cells, i.e., capable of constituting any organs. To do this, scientists introduced only 4 genes into the cells of the connective tissue of the mouse, and as a result, fibroblasts turned into immature stem cells with all the properties of embryonic ones. Any organ can be grown from such material – from the liver to the heart.
Thus, researchers theoretically and practically proved the reversibility of cell specialization, which cannot be overestimated.
Until recently, it was believed that stem cells could only be obtained from embryos or umbilical cord blood. The first is ethically questionable, and the second forced people (mostly wealthy) to make a stem cell bank immediately after the birth of a child so that they could use it for treatment in the future. The discovery of physiologists has removed these restrictions, and now every person (at least theoretically) has access to stem cell treatment and cloning of organs containing the body’s “native” DNA.
Robotics is a branch of science developing in the 21st century. The biggest contribution it has made is the human-shaped machine commonly known as the “Robot.” The device operates according to its programmed intelligence and thoughts artificially implanted in it and performs automatic functions. Robots are used in manufacturing, defense, services, intelligence, and security. The difference between robots and humans is blurring at a rapid pace as robots further develop and improve. One of the best robots was ASIMO. HONDA developed it. ASIMO can differentiate and interact with people and is currently featured at Disneyland.
15. Hypersonic transport
Scientists have put a lot of time and effort into achieving time efficiency. They have developed technologies that provide the least time consumption with more productivity. Hypersonic transportation is one of the greatest inventions of the 21st century towards efficiency. Hypersonic transport has enabled mobility at an incredible pace. These vehicles are capable of covering long distances at speed 4 times faster than sound.
16. Eye painter
This device is designed to help people who are bedridden in communication. The Eye Recorder is a joint creation of researchers from the Ebeling Group, Not Impossible Foundation, and Graffiti Research Lab. The technology is based on cheap, eye-tracking glasses equipped with open-source software. These glasses allow people with the neuromuscular syndrome to communicate by drawing or recording on the screen by capturing eye movements and converting them into lines on the display.
17. Exoskeleton eLEGS
The eLEGS exoskeleton is one of the most impressive inventions of the 21st century. It is easy to use and can be worn by patients in the hospital and at home. The device allows you to stand, walk and even climb stairs. The exoskeleton is suitable for people with a height of 157 cm to 193 cm and weighing 100 kg.
18. Chemists have developed prototypes of batteries for vehicles that will replace lithium.
Scientists have presented the prototypes of sodium-ion batteries, which promise to become an alternative to more expensive lithium-ion batteries and lead-acid batteries due to their greater energy intensity. If this technology is introduced, developers will not have to buy batteries abroad for electric vehicles, industrial robots, and energy storage systems.
Sodium is easy to mine, unlike lithium, and its salts cost less than lithium. Although the first work in sodium-ion batteries appeared at about the same time as lithium, the latter were distinguished by higher capacity and power, so scientists and manufacturers focused on them. However, studies in recent years have demonstrated the possibility of obtaining characteristics of sodium-ion batteries, which are almost as good as lithium “competitors.”
Researchers investigated many materials for the cathode and anode of sodium-ion batteries. They found that many of them show capacities comparable to those of materials of lithium-ion batteries, and sodium cations in them were more mobile than lithium.
In addition, scientists have found that it is possible to replace the heavy and expensive copper collector with a cheaper and lighter aluminum one, which will help reduce the cost of batteries and improve their safety.
Now researchers are optimizing the composition of the main components of sodium-ion batteries, studying the performance of prototype batteries, their safety, and frost resistance. Several chemical and energy companies became interested in the development and acted as co-investor of the project.
19. Scale model developed for studying climate and weather prediction.
Scientists have created a unique three-dimensional dataset on the state of the atmosphere in the North Atlantic for over 40 years. The model based on which this array was created allows reproducing about 200 basic atmospheric parameters with high resolution, making it possible to observe extreme atmospheric events, such as thunderstorms and typhoons, and assess their role in Earth’s global climate system. Scientists plan to “expand the geography” of their model so that such phenomena can be studied worldwide and even forecast the weather for a longer period than now.
Over the past few decades, numerical modeling has helped predict the weather, study the climate and its changes. Global models of the general circulation of the atmosphere and ocean cover the entire planet with a “network,” at each node of which parameters are known – pressure, temperature, air humidity, wind speed, and others. They allow you to study past events and make predictions of the future.
But these models do not show small-scale phenomena, which, nevertheless, make a significant contribution to the dynamics of both the atmosphere and the ocean. To study them, you have to build separate local “maps.” The researchers’ new model overcomes this obstacle and sees all events in the ocean – the spatial resolution reaches 14 kilometers, making it possible to “detect” small cyclones, intense atmospheric fronts, showers, typhoons, etc.
The data makes it possible to analyze about 200 parameters of the surface and the free atmosphere – pressure, temperature, air humidity, electrical indicators, and others – every 3 hours from 1979 to the present.
A database of atmospheric reanalyses was used to build such a model – combined observations of the atmosphere collected from satellites, aircraft, and ground and water weather stations worldwide.
The model now shows the situation over the North Atlantic over the past 40+ years. This region is considered the “kitchen of the weather” for the entire Northern Hemisphere, and the processes occurring at the boundary between the ocean and the atmosphere affect, among other things, the climate over the continents. However, in the future, scientists plan to expand the “geography” of their model and study in detail how it can contribute to the prediction of local processes of interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere in the formation of the Earth’s climate.
20. Proteins found in plants will help create more nutritious and hypoallergenic varieties.
Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and a host of other conditions are associated with the abnormal production of amyloid proteins. However, humans, animals, fungi, and bacteria also have amyloids involved in vital processes in the cell. Recently, scientists first discovered such proteins in plants and found that they are responsible for the “conservation” of nutrients inside the seeds. This discovery could help create varieties of legumes with less allergenic seeds. Already, researchers are working to develop more nutritious plant varieties that have fewer amyloids.
So, one of the most powerful food allergens for humans is vicilin. Various legumes have it, including peanuts and peas. A study showed that this protein forms most of the amyloids in pea seeds, explaining their allergenic properties. Amyloids are incredibly stable: they are preserved when the seeds are preserved and heat treated. In this case, plants, in turn, need amyloids for nutrition and protection against pathogens. The extreme stability of amyloids also explains the ability of seeds to survive various adverse conditions and germinate after many years.
In the future, the study of the molecular mechanisms of the formation of amyloids in seeds, which is being carried out now, will help create more nutritious varieties of various plants, including peas and peanuts.
Researchers have already begun work to create plant varieties with fewer amyloids.
Scientists today are striving to make the design more compact and train it to recognize more substances.
21. Memories are recorded and rewritten in the brain for the first time.
In 2014, researchers from the University of Massachusetts succeeded in implanting false memories into the memory of experimental mice. They were implanted in their heads with fiber optic wires connected to the brain regions responsible for memory formation. Scientists used them to send laser signals that affected certain areas of neurons. As a result, it was possible to achieve both the erasure of some of the memories of the mice and the formation of false ones. For example, rodents forgot that they once had pleasant meetings with females in a particular part of the cage and no longer wanted to go there. At the same time, scientists managed to create new memories that the “dangerous” cell compartment is attractive, and the mice tried to be there.
At first glance, these results look like child’s play, and even with dubious ethical implications. Meanwhile, neurophysiologists found the parts of the brain responsible for memory (hippocampus and prefrontal cortex) and created, albeit primitive, methods of influencing them. This provides broad prospects for improving the ways of affecting the brain, and in the future, it will allow the treatment of phobias and mental disorders. It is not excluded that in the foreseeable future, it will be possible to create devices for batch uploading data into the human brain for rapid learning of sciences that require memorizing a large amount of data; for example, it will be possible to master a foreign language in the shortest possible time.
22. Ultra-durable graphene material created.
Graphene is a unique material in strength and many other properties, which Russian physicists first obtained (working in Britain) Konstantin Novoselov and Andrei Geim in 2004. 6 years later, scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize for this, and today graphene is actively studied and already used in some products. The uncommonness of the material lies in several of its features at once. First, it is the second strongest (after carbine) of the currently known materials. Secondly, graphene is an excellent conductor with which unique electronic effects can be achieved. Thirdly, the material has the highest thermal conductivity, which allows it to be used in semiconductor electronics without fear of overheating.
Particular hopes are pinned on graphene in its use in super-capacity batteries, which are lacking in electric vehicles.
In 2017, Samsung introduced one of the first graphene-based batteries with 45% more capacity than its comparable lithium-ion counterpart. But the most important thing is that the new battery charges and delivers a charge 5 times faster than usual. It is noteworthy that this is not a complete graphene battery but a hybrid battery, where an innovative material is used as an auxiliary one. More precisely, when developers create a complete graphene battery, it will become a real revolution in energy. The main problem in the widespread use of graphene is the high cost of its production and drawbacks in technologies that do not yet allow obtaining a homogeneous material. However, already now, the number of applications for patents using graphene has gone off-scale for 50 thousand, so there is no doubt that.