Vote for the 2019 Breakthrough of the Year

What is your choice for Breakthough of the Year?

  • An effective cystic fibrosis drug

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Mysterious archaic humans come into focus

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • A black hole made visible

    Votes: 6 60.0%
  • A keystone microbe cultured

    Votes: 1 10.0%
  • Ebola drugs show promise

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • A quantum milestone

    Votes: 2 20.0%
  • AI masters multiplayer poker

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Close-up of a far-out object

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • New fossil shakes our family tree

    Votes: 1 10.0%
  • Detailed portrait of a killer impact

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Malnutrition and gut microbes

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • A long-acting HIV treatment

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    10
Ygggdrasil
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2,939
2,115

Main Question or Discussion Point

Science Magazine is holding its annual vote for the people's choice for Breakthrough of the Year, which will accompany the editors' own choice. Voting is open until Dec 2, after which they will narrow the field to the top four choices for a second round of voting.

You can place your votes at: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/11/choose-your-2019-breakthrough-year

I have also added a poll to this thread to see how our community votes.

The nominees are (along with links to relevant PF threads where I could find them):
  • An effective cystic fibrosis drug (FDA approval of a new drug to treat cystic fibrosis).
  • Mysterious archaic humans come into focus (New studies shed new light on Denisovans).
  • A black hole made visible (Radio telescopes generate first image of a black hole).
  • A keystone microbe cultured (Microbiologists culture closest prokaryotic relative to eukaryotes).
  • Ebola drugs show promise (Trials show that two new Ebola drugs show dramatically increase survival).
  • A quantum milestone (Quantum computer performs a calculation that would overwhelm a conventional supercomputer)
  • AI masters multiplayer poker (An AI called Pluribus defeated professional poker players in no limit Texas Hold'em).
  • Close-up of a far-out object (The New Horizon's mission produces image of a Kuiper belt object).
  • New fossil shakes our family tree (Discovery of the oldest and most complete Australopithecus anamensis skull).
  • Detailed portrait of a killer impact (New studies provide a detailed picture of the event that wiped out the dinosaurs).
  • Malnutrition and gut microbes (Invention of nutritional supplements that help gut flora recover in severely malnourished children).
  • A long-acting HIV treatment (Preliminary trials of an implantable anti-HIV drug show effectiveness for > 1 year).

(if I have missed any relevant threads on these topics, please post a link in the thread.)

What is your choice for the biggest scientific breakthrough of 2019? Did the editors at Science not list your favorite scientific advancement?
 
Last edited:

Answers and Replies

BillTre
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2018 Award
1,205
2,175
I voted for the cultured archaean because finally visualizing its structure is actually a big advance. This to me (biological point of view) is a big deal.

I also liked the black hole image (not a visual picture as many have said!). but it seems to me to be, although very cool and interesting, more of a confirmation of things already known than a revelation of something new.

The Chicxulub impact (this PF thread, post #3, has several links to this issue), but it would have been (to me) more impactful (yes, that's intended) if it were grouped with other dino-impact information that has come up this year (such as the finding of the fossil graveyard from the day of the impact (PF thread here), sadly not yet really published) and an article showing volcanic events were probably not so important (PF thread here)to the dinosaur extinction as some thought. These tell an interesting and detailed story about what happened on earth millions of years ago.
 
Ygggdrasil
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2,939
2,115
Voting is now open for the four finalists:
  • Ebola drugs show promise
  • A black hole made visible
  • An effective cystic fibrosis drug
  • Mysterious archaic humans come into focus

Voting is open until Mon, Dec 9, and the winner will be announced on Dec 19: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/12/finalists-are-vote-2019-people-s-choice-breakthrough-year

My vote in the first round (a quantum milestone) did not advance to the finals, though PF's most popular choice (a black hole made visible) did. Even though Google's demonstration of quantum supremacy doesn't really have any practical applications yet, it is still a very important milestone in the development of quantum computing and the culmination of a lot of work in the field to get to this point. Given the potential importance of quantum computing, people in 50 years may celebrate the demonstration of quantum supremacy much in the same way we celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the first message sent on the ARPANET in 1969.

My vote for the finals will likely be for the Ebola drugs given that the drugs appear to be highly effective and developing drugs against Ebola was a huge unmet need.

Here are some other things that I thought were important breakthroughs during 2019 that were not nominated by the editors of Science:

Creation of an eight letter alphabet for DNA and RNA: https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/researchers-double-the-size-of-the-dna-alphabet.966698/
Development of an improved CRISPR for gene editing: https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/new-crispr-based-tool-for-find-and-replace-editing-of-dna.979322/
Successful treatment of sickle cell disease using CRISPR: https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/successful-crispr-treatment-of-a-sickle-cell-patient.980724/
Engineering of E. coli to eat CO2: https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/scientists-engineer-e-coli-that-eats-carbon-dioxide.981163/
 

Related Threads for: Vote for the 2019 Breakthrough of the Year

  • Last Post
2
Replies
33
Views
3K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
26
Views
3K
Replies
3
Views
717
Replies
17
Views
3K
Replies
22
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
22
Views
2K
  • Poll
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
3K
Replies
3
Views
862
Top