The end of 2019: the 10 most important scientific people, according to the publication Nature

It’s time to sum up the year. At the end of each year, the Nature publishing traditionally publishes a list of people who, in the opinion of the magazine, has had the greatest impact on science in the past year. Of course, there are Greta Thunberg, but 2019 will be remembered not only because of her.

Photo by Micah B. Rubin for Nature.

topping the list is the 72-year-old physicist Ricardo Galvao (Ricardo Galvo) from the National Institute for space research in Sao Paulo (INPE), known by the scientific community defender of science.

July 19, the head of Brazil Air Bolsonaro (Jair Bolsonaro) criticized the report on the deforestation of the Amazon, prepared by a group of Galvao. As it turned out later, the latter almost fainted when I heard the accusations of the President.

Explain that the researchers recorded a sharp rise in deforestation in the Amazon, and was told in the report. Bolsonaro chided scientists in lies and distortion data, assuming that Galvao, who was the head of the Institute, could collude with environmentalists. These charges discourage the scientist.

“My wife had to bring me a glass of water,” says Galvao.

the Researcher did not hurry to answer, taking 12 hours to think. After a nearly sleepless night, he defended scientists INPE. Moreover, he accused the President of cowardice and invited him for a personal meeting. According to Galvao, he knew that after such a response will be followed by his dismissal, but did not expect that he will become a hero in the eyes of their colleagues and even people far from science.

By the way, Galvao has had problems with the administration of the President Bolsonaro. Officials have repeatedly questioned the accuracy of the data INPE, in the collection which used satellite images.

At the same time the President has questioned the objectivity of scientists and one of the leading research institutions in the country. Galvao bwas fired two weeks after his speech. It was in this period began the season of forest fires in the Amazon. The main reason for the disaster were the farmers who raised the fires to clear the land for agriculture.

the Latest figures INPE, published November 18, show that from August 2018 to July 2019 thus were cleared more land area of the state of Puerto Rico. By the way, is about 30% higher than in 2018, and more than two rows and more space, cleared in 2012.

According to scientists and conservationists, statements Bolsonaro showed the ranchers, farmers and “invaders” of land that they can continue with impunity to burn the forest.

as for Galvao, he returned to his previous position at the University of Sao Paulo, and decided to focus on his research. However, numerous messages from colleagues convinced him that he must continue to act to protect science and scientists from political pressure.

we Add that the Amazon forests are considered the lungs of the planet, in which there is a lot of unique processes. Scientists believe that a complete “inventory” of local trees will take some 300 years.

Photo by Christian Fleury for Nature.

the Second place of the list was given to the “celestial sleuth,” Victoria Kaspi (Victoria Kaspi) from McGill University, Canada.

the Last quarter-century astrophysicist Kaspi and her team have worked with the best telescopes in the world and made many fundamental discoveries in astronomy. In 2017 Kaspi had a hand in the creation of the CHIME telescope, which became the world’s best “hunter” for fast radio bursts. The authors of the project “Conduct.Science” ( told in details about what important information they carry about the world around us.

CHIME, located in the southern part of British Columbia, and spotted hundreds of such outbreaks – much more than any other telescope. With it help, astronomers hope to solve many of the mysteries of the origin of these signals.

Photo by Jesse Winter for Nature.

the Third member of the honour list – a neuroscientist from Yale University Nenad Sistan (Nenad Sestan).

In 2016, Sistan was in the office when I heard the laughter of the staff of the laboratory working with a microscope. According to the scientist, he immediately realized that something unusual.

it Turned out that the researchers found electrical activity in the brain of pigs that died four hours ago. About this study “News.Science” also told in detail.

However, the initial joy of the scientists quickly gave way to concern because the researchers thought that they see in the “dead” the brain coordinated electrical activity – the type of nervous activity, which may indicate the presence of consciousness.

Then the Sistan invited a neurologist, who determined that the assumptions scientists actually were wrong.

After that, Sistan did two things: ended the experiment and contacted the National institutes of health, which funded his research, and a specialist in bioethics from Yale University.

Sistan quickly realized that in trying to find the best way to preserve brain tissue, the team made a discovery that may change scientists ‘ ideas about life and death.

within a few months, the experts pondered the possible ethical implications of the opening. It turns out that it is now necessary to revise the method of determining the physicians of brain death.

in addition, the work group Sistina showed that oxygen starvation, which occurs during a stroke or severe head injury, may not be as destructive to brain cells as previously thought.

In the future, Sistan intends to focus its research on finding out whether andispolzovana technology to preserve other organs for transplant.

Photo by Diego Lima for Nature.

Another member of the honor list of Nature – the ecologist Sandra Diaz (Sandra Daz) from the National University of córdoba, known as the guardian of biodiversity.

4 may 2019 with 144 Dias colleagues made a loud statement. Scientists have completed the most comprehensive study of biodiversity in the world. The situation was worse than most scientists could ever imagine: one million species of creatures is on the brink of extinction due to human activities.

the Alarming findings were made by the members of the intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services (IPBES). Diaz is one of three co-chairs of the group. During the greater part of the past three years, she and her colleagues coordinated the work of experts from 51 countries.

In their final report, which amounts to 1,500 pages, it is stated that countries will not be able to achieve most of the global goals of biodiversity conservation, unless they make major changes. In particular, experts suggest to abandon the idea that the economy should continue to grow.

Photo by Samantha Reinders.

Fifth place went to the wrestler with the Ebola virus Jean-Jacques Mwamba Campea (Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum).

In 1976, he went deep into the rainforest of the modern Democratic Republic of the Congo to investigate an outbreak of an unknown disease that quickly killed the local inhabitants.

the Young scientist quickly realized that there is something wrong: the blood that he took patients for tests, not minimized.

“I started to measure the temperature every morning and every evening,” he says.

by Some miracle, researchVatel is not infected by the pathogen, later named the Ebola virus.

Now, after 43 years after the discovery of the disease, Jean-Jacques Mwamba of Tamtam heads work to prevent the spread of the virus in the Congo. From August 2018 the epidemic has killed more than 2,200 people in the North-East of the country.

since 1995, Muamba developed a key public health measures, which are still used by professionals worldwide to prevent the spread of the virus.

During one of the flares he took blood from survivors of the fever of man, and brought her eight infected people in the hope that antibodies will suppress the virus in their body. In the end, seven of them were able to cope with a serious illness. This work later helped other scientists in the development of effective treatment.

last month a study involving 680 people, conducted by a team of Moamba, showed 90% survival rate among newly infected patients who were treated with drugs based on antibodies.

Photo by Michael McElroy for Nature.

Paleontologist Johannes Haile-Selassie (Yohannes Haile-Selassie) took the sixth place ranking is critical for the science people in 2019.

In February 2016 during the study, one of the sites to the North of the desert of Ethiopia, Haile-Selassie stumbled upon the fragments of the skull. A few hours earlier, three meters from this location a shepherd discovered a lower jaw of a creature and reported it to scientists.

in the end, Found the fossils formed a remarkably complete skull of an ancient hominin age of 3.8 million years. It belonged to the species called Australopithecus anamensis, lived on Earth at least 4.2 million years ago and known only from fragmentary fossils: mainly teeth and jaws.

Most of entire skulls belong to a later species of Australopithecus (ageom 3.5 and 2.0 million years old).

a Unique discovery not only allowed us to reconstruct the appearance of our ancestor, but changed the presentation of experts on the pedigree of mankind. The authors of the project “Conduct.Science” has in detail told about the opening in your material.

Photo by Chris Stacey, Macquarie University.

the Seventh place was taken by Professor Wendy Rogers (Wendy Rogers) from Macquarie University, Australia. She went down in history as a fighter for the observance of ethical principles in science. More specifically, she found “gaps” in execution of the law concerning organ transplantation in China.

Explain that within two decades, experts had questions about the origin of some of the organs used for transplant in China. First, the government denied that their withdrawal from the prisoners, and then admitted it. Now authorities say that this practice is banned in 2015, and donor organs come from volunteers. But researchers questioned that information.

a specialist in the field of bioethics Rogers returned to this issue several years later and studied scientific publications of the Chinese medical transplant. Revealed the facts served as the stage for the biggest scandal, but about all under the order.

In 2015, Rogers showed the conference a documentary, which discussed the topic of forced organ donation political prisoners. A year later she became the unpaid President of the International Coalition for ending the abuse of transplants in China (ETAC). This non-profit human rights organization have settled in Sydney. In the same year she received an anonymous tip on the article, published in the journal Liver International, which found a lack of data on donors. As a result, in 2017 the publication was withdrawn.

But Rogers knew that this job is probably not the only one of its kind. To get an idea about the true scale of the problem, the researcher together with a group of volunteers began to address this issue at night and on weekends. After reviewing thousands of documents, the team concluded that more than 400 jobs could use the organs of prisoners.

In his report, scientists have identified 17 publications that have published five or more articles describing the suspicious research. But only two of them reacted to the appeared information.

So, the journal PLoS ONE withdrew 19 of the 21 articles from the list of Rogers, a careful study of the two works continues.

the Publication of the Transplantation withdrew seven publications: five of the six present in the list of Rogers, two other works edition revealed itself.

In the notification of the withdrawal of the publications say that the authors of deleted articles either did not respond to requests for publications, or are unable to provide a satisfactory explanation where they took a donor organ.

Photo Gilles Sabri for Nature.

the Following list is Junkui Dan (Hongkui Deng).

a Chinese expert on stem cells from Peking University showed that editing of the genes can be safely used in adults with HIV.

the gene editing System CRISPR-Cas9 was developed less than ten years ago, but has already yielded many surprising results. This year it felt a person with HIV. The experiment was conducted in the laboratory Junqua Dan.

Recall that there is a phenomenon of the “Berlin patient”, and that the success of Timothy ray brown (Timothy Ray Brown) wanted to repeat scientists in China.

we Briefly recall that brown held a bone marrow transplant as part of treatment of another dangerous condition – leukemia. The bone marrow donor had a mutation in a gene called CCR5 that gives its bearer immunity to HIV. This gene determines slaveotoo receptor on the surface of leukocytes, which is dangerous virus is used as a “port” to penetrate into the cells. But in people with a mutation in both copies of the gene CCR5 receptor in this strain, with the result that certain strains of HIV can not get into cells. After transplantation of bone marrow, blood, brown showed no signs of HIV.

But speaking of bone marrow transplantation as the treatment method of HIV, it should be understood that it is very difficult to find a donor with a mutation so rare in the world only a small percentage of people have this “gift of nature”.

For this reason, Dan decided to try to edit the gene. It turned out that CRISPR helps to create an unlimited supply of immune cells that remain impervious to the introduction of HIV. What caused it, read our separate article.

Photo by Rocco Ceselin for Nature.

the second place was given to “quantum builders” John Martinis (John Martinis), University of California, Santa Barbara.

In the mid 1980-ies, when martinis were a graduate student, he came to the lecture, which determined the further course of his scientific activity. Then the famous physicist Richard Feynman discussed the idea of using the quantum characteristics of particles to create computers that could do the conventional machines.

“it was clear to Me that it is a great idea and it would be great to work on it,” recalls martinis.

In October of 2019, he took a big step toward the dream of Feynman (and not only), led a group of researchers inside of Google. Not so long ago, she announced “the achievement of quantum supremacy”. Allegedly, the company’s engineers have created a quantum computer that could perform calculations faster than ordinary machines.

“the Holding of this experiment was the culmination of my career,” said the martinis.

According to an article published by Google researchers in the journal Nature, they developed a 54-Cubana quantum system Sycamore for 200 seconds was calculated that the world’s fastest supercomputer would have left 10 thousand years.

However, there are those who argue that normal computer could cope with this task in just a few days. The views of opponents Martinis “Conduct.Science” ( described in this material.

By the way, the Martinis there are many more ideas which he hopes to bring to life.

“Physicists like me do not retire. We still have a lot of cases,” the scientist chuckles.

Photo Global Look Press.

the Last place a kind of ranking took Greta Thunberg (Greta Thunberg).

At the September hearings in the U.S. Congress on climate change 16-year-old girl from Sweden moved to the legislators a thin sheaf of papers. It was a special report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change predicts dire consequences of global warming in the world.

“I don’t want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to scientists, – said the girl. – I want you to unite around science, and I want you to take real action.”

the Researchers spent decades to formulate their ideas, and then to warn the world about the consequences of climate change, but are unable to draw attention to the problem as it did Thunberg.

“Some may wonder why a teenager has attracted more attention in public discussion of known issue, what the majority of climate researchers receive for years of hard work,” says climate scientist Sonia Seneviratne (Sonia Seneviratne) of ETH Zurich.

But Thunberg sincere, continues the scientist, and her indignation is hypocrisy.

“As scientists, we usually dare not expAsit the truth in such simplicity of heart”, adds Seneviratne.

Many researchers support the Greta, in particular, because it drew the world’s attention on climate change and its catastrophic consequences. Achieve Thunberg should motivate researchers climate to continue the work, said Seneviratne.

in July, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced radical measures to reduce carbon emissions and acknowledged that the protests Thunberg “forced to act”.

But perhaps an even greater impact on the teenager will have on the next generation who will have to compete with a lot of environmental problems of different nature.

Text: To.Science