Four research projects in which Bristol University is closely involved have been included in TIME magazine’s Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs and Scientific Discoveries of the Year 2008.
Named at No 1 in the Top 10 Scientific Discoveries list is the largest scientific experiment in the world, the Large Hadron Collider. The experiment recreated conditions that existed just a billionth of a second after the Big Bang, and seeks to answer to some of the deepest mysteries of the origins and workings of our universe.
The experiment involved a worldwide team of experts, including scientists from the University’s Department of Physics, who designed and constructed crucial parts of the two detectors known as the CMS and LHC. They also focused on the interpretation of the vast amount of data produced by the LHC – enough to create a 20km high tower of CDs every year, and eagerly awaited by scientists around the world.
Named at No 2 in the Top 10 Scientific Discoveries list is NASA’s Phoenix probe mission to Mars, which completed its 422 million mile journey and landed safely on Mars where it began its search for water and life. UK scientists involved in the mission included Professor David Catling from the University’s Department of Earth Sciences, who was present at the University of Arizona’s Science Operations Centre for the landing. One of Phoenix’s objectives was to monitor the polar weather and the interaction of the atmosphere with the surface.
Named at No 10 in the Top 10 Scientific Discoveries list is research, led by the University of Adelaide and carried out by Dr Alistair Pike from the University’s Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, which revealed the earliest evidence of a nuclear family, dating back to the Stone Age.
The researchers dated remains from four multiple burials discovered in Germany in 2005. The 4,600-year-old graves contained groups of adults and children buried facing each other – an unusual practice in Neolithic culture.
This is the second year that Dr Pike’s research has made TIME magazine’s Top 10 Scientific Discoveries. His discovery of the first fossil evidence, which revealed that modern humans left Africa between 65,000 and 25,000 years, was named at No 8 in the magazine’s Top 10 Scientific Discoveries of 2007.
Dr Pike said: “I’m thrilled to have made TIME magazine’s Top 10 two years in a row. It shows the immense interest there is in archaeology and human origins, and how a scientific approach is essential in understating the past.”
Named at No 10 in the Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs list is stem cell research carried out by Professor Martin Birchall and Professor Anthony Hollander from the University’s Medical Science Faculty. Their work, together with the pan-European team from the universities of Barcelona, Padua and Milan, enabled the first tissue-engineered trachea (windpipe), utilising the patient’s own stem cells, to be successfully transplanted into a young woman with a failing airway. The bioengineered trachea immediately provided the patient with a normally functioning airway, thereby saving her life.
More information available here: TIME magazine‘s Top 10 Discoveries of the Year 2008