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by Billy Kirk January 08, 2018

You asked for it, so we’re delivering… the Dopest Scientific Breakthroughs of 2017!

(Actually, you may or may not have asked for it. We can’t remember. NYE did a number on us.)

But hey, regardless, a lot went down in 2017, and we want to cover some of the most killer breakthroughs as a tip of the hat to the good work performed by our world’s foremost scientists. And even though we know we say we’re ranking these, we’re really not, because how can you choose between something called a CRISPR making better babies and a monkey-tested male birth control invention that makes for no babies at all?

Yup, we just can’t play favorites like that. So, here’s our list of dopest breakthroughs, in no particular order as per usual. Enjoy!

1. U.S. Scientists Edit Human Embryos for First Time

A.K.A. Something Called a CRISPR Will Make Better Babies



No, it’s not some hip new dating app, nor is it the compartment at the bottom of your refrigerator for storing fresh fruits and vegetables. CRISPR is here to make better babies!

A group of brilliant United States cats (“cats” as in slang, not, ugh, actual cats) have successfully edited human embryo DNA for the first time. Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, a.k.a definitely-not-a-dating-app CRISPR, corrected a genetic mutation that causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart condition. The successful “edit” was performed in developed embryos that had not yet been implanted.

The implications are huge. The experiment suggests that in the future, diseases in babies can largely be eliminated before birth even takes place, leading to “better babies.” However, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine are on record as only wanting CRISPR to be used to wipe out serious diseases.

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2. Harvard Smartypants Turn Hydrogen Into Metal

And Then Lose the Only Sample?!!



Turning hydrogen into metal has been a fever dream of scientists and would-be alchemists for a century. And earlier in 2017, it apparently finally came to fruition.

Two Harvard University folks made the journal Science for their experiment that claimed to create metallic hydrogen. If produced in mass quantities, it could revolutionize space travel, usher in a new supercomputer age, and legitimately transform anything involving electricity.

Tiny problem, though: They lost the only sample they produced. 

GOOD JOB, YOU GUYS!!

On a serious note, the whole “hey, we totally misplaced it” kinda puts a damper on the likelihood of their discovery, but we can’t rule it out yet.

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3. Baby Lambs Can Now Develop Outside the Womb

… And Human Babies Are Next!



Image Source: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

In April, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia physicians actually used a synthetic device to “step in” and act as a uterus to incubate a baby lamb. The breakthrough could lead to the outside-the-womb development of premature human children born at an age younger than 37 weeks.

No snark here—that’s pretty awesome!

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4. Cosmic Rays Reveal Previously Unknown Giza Void

We’re Officially Guessing “Ancient Egyptian Man Cave” or Something Equally Unlikely



The Great Pyramid of Giza was constructed roughly 4,500 years ago. It’s a big motherf***er, and as such, we’re not sure of all that’s hidden inside. What secret chambers may yet lie within its 2.3 million stone blocks?

We’re only now starting to gather an understanding as to the above. In 2017, archaeologists turned to muons, subatomic byproducts of cosmic space rays that emerge when atomic nuclei hit our atmosphere. Using these muons for imaging, the scientists have discovered a new void within Giza that’s eight meters high, two meters wide, and at least 30 meters in length. All we know is it’s unlikely to be a burial chamber… so what is it?


Place your bets now.

 

5. New Male Birth Control Method Shows 100-Percent Success Rate (In Monkeys)

Monkey Tested, Monkey Approved!



Get ready to low-key freakout, guys. French scientists have developed a new male contraceptive following vigorous monkey testing (and we mean vigorous). “Vasalgel” stops sperm from infiltrating seminal fluid—and in monkey medical trials, the sperm was blocked literally 100% of the time.

Unlike a vasectomy, the sperm blockage would not be permanent. However, it still needs to be injected directly into the tubes between the penis and testicles. And there probably wasn’t a single guy that read that last line without wincing and grabbing themselves defensively.

Regardless, human trials are set to begin this year or next.

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Billy Kirk
Billy Kirk