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Featured Vote for the Breakthrough of the Year

  1. Nov 28, 2018 #1

    Ygggdrasil

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    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 5, after which they will narrow the field to the top four choices for a second round of voting.

    You can vote here: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/11/choose-your-2018-breakthrough-year

    The choices are:
    • Neutrinos from a blazing galaxy (detection of neutrinos from a "blazar")
    • 500-million-year-old animals (discovery that Ediacara fossils represent the oldest known animals)
    • Development cell by cell (tracking gene expression in mouse and fish embryos throughout development)
    • An ancient human hybrid (discovery of a fossil derived from the mating of two ancient hominid species)
    • Forensic genealogy comes of age (police used DNA from genealogy databases to identify the Golden State Killer)
    • How cells marshal their contents (findings about how cells use biomolecular condensates to organize and regulate cellular functions)
    • An astronomical data trove (star maps generated by the Gaia space observatory)
    • An RNA drug enters the clinic (approval of the first drug based on RNA interference technology)
    • #MeToo makes a difference (addressing sexual harassment and discrimination in science)
    • Fly brain revealed (mapping all the neurons and their connections in the fruit fly brain)
    • Rapid chemical structures (a technique to determine the structure of small organic molecules using electron microscopy)
    • Ice age impact (discovery of an impact crater beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet)
    What is your choice for the biggest scientific breakthrough of 2018? Did the editors at Science not list your favorite scientific advancement?

    [Edit 12/6]: The four finalists have been chosen: fly brain revealed, an RNA drug enters the clinic, neutrinos from a blazing galaxy, and development cell-by-cell. Voting for the final round is open until Dec 12:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/12/finalists-are-vote-2018-people-s-choice-breakthrough-year
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
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  3. Nov 28, 2018 #2

    jim mcnamara

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    Chose the impact crater in Greenland.
     
  4. Nov 28, 2018 #3

    Klystron

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    Also chose the impact crater discovery. Data collection from spacecraft is spread over many years. Ditto the undersea neutrino detectors.
     
  5. Nov 29, 2018 #4
    • Fly brain revealed (mapping how all the neurons and their connections in the fruit fly brain)
     
  6. Nov 29, 2018 #5

    Bystander

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    Yup, none of the above.
     
  7. Nov 29, 2018 #6

    fresh_42

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    I'm not sure about its reliability, since I haven't considered it in detail, but I have read these days, that orangutans are capable of talking about the past. If this is true, then another border between "us" and "animals" has fallen. Definitely my choice.
     
  8. Nov 29, 2018 #7

    Ygggdrasil

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    What would you say is your favorite scientific breakthrough this year, then?
     
  9. Nov 29, 2018 #8
    Fly brain, with 'development cell by cell' as a close second.
    I think if it is 'breakthrough' then it should be something what opens new doors - the others were more like milestones instead.
     
  10. Nov 29, 2018 #9
    This is an astounding discovery. I had no idea that orangutans could communicate their history and feelings to humans. I would like to see a reference. Does this have anything to do with the #MeToo breakthroughs in science? If it does, I will definitely vote for that.
     
  11. Nov 29, 2018 #10
    To me it makes logical sense that there are no borders in biological life, just spectrum or gradient.
     
  12. Nov 29, 2018 #11

    fresh_42

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    All I have found was this, which I have no knowledge about its reputation:
    http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/11/eaau3401

    To me as well, but I'm not sure whether this attitude is already common sense. Maybe there are differences to non mammals, but most mammals have quite similar capabilities and emotions. (cp. https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/curious-ape-grooms-human.912176/#post-5745863)
     
  13. Nov 29, 2018 #12

    Bystander

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    :wink:
     
  14. Nov 29, 2018 #13

    BillTre

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    I would choose this one, based on the even larger applications of this new technology.

    Single transcriptnomics (detecting many, most, or all transcripts in a cell), in its various forms, is being used in many different situations and illuminating many complex aspects of biology.
    These include not only charting the course of development, but the definition of cell types (always contentious), the evolution of cell types, identifying new cells types and connecting them to specific functions. It is also now being applied to cancer cells.

    I feel it will have greater impact than PCR!
    To me, it seems to be, for biology, like the ability to detect gravitional waves is for physics.

    I have been wanting to find a not-behind-paywall article to post here, but have not found a good one yet.
     
  15. Nov 29, 2018 #14

    Ygggdrasil

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    This was my choice as well. The single cell information about gene expression throughout embryonic development is a really great resource for biologists studying development.

    New techniques are combining the single cell sequencing technology with new tools that allow lineage tracing, so not only do you get information about gene expression, but to associate those gene expression profiles with specific lineages of cells as they differentiate from stem cells to mature tissue. Here's a freely available preprint of one such study:

    Molecular recording of mammalian embryogenesis
    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/08/03/384925

    The single cell transcriptomic experiments in developing mice and zebrafish published earlier in the year are also freely available to read:

    The dynamics of gene expression in vertebrate embryogenesis at single-cell resolution
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6038144/

    Single-cell mapping of gene expression landscapes and lineage in the zebrafish embryo
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6083445/
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2018
  16. Nov 29, 2018 #15

    Buzz Bloom

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    Chose
    An RNA drug enters the clinic (approval of the first drug based on RNA interference technology) ​
     
  17. Nov 29, 2018 #16

    PAllen

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    Voted for cell by cell development, even though a hard core physics geek.
     
  18. Nov 29, 2018 #17

    BillTre

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    After thinking about this for a while, i think a more apt comparison for tracking of gene expression in development would be a comparison with sequencing of genomes.
    A complete genome sequence is getting down to the equivalent of a quantum level of genetic information. No smaller details are available.
    A complete transcriptonomic analysis of a cell is of a similar granularity of what that genetic information a cell is expressing.
    In addition, as @Ygggdrasil said this information can be combined other techniques to show the timecourse of a cell's expression.
     
  19. Nov 30, 2018 #18

    jambaugh

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    I'm sorry but I can't bring myself to participate in this. #MeToo? Are you kidding?!!!!
     
  20. Nov 30, 2018 #19

    Ygggdrasil

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    If efforts to reduce sexual harrasment and discrimination result in more women entering into and staying in the sciences, then this item would probably have a greater long term impact on the advancement of science than any other item on the list.
     
  21. Nov 30, 2018 #20

    jambaugh

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    "If.,.. if ... if", and this would be significant only if there was a very significant issue with sexual harassment in academia and industrial sciences which is demonstrably not the case. I am not, btw underselling the harm done by sexual harassment or any other form of uncivil behavior nor am I critical of the #MeToo movement itself in its stated goals. But the only reason this has been included in the list is bald-faced virtue signaling on the part of Science Mag. I assert such politicizing of the sciences has done and is doing much more harm than good.
     
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