The journal Science chose 10 scientific breakthroughs of 2019

the Editors of the prestigious scientific publication Science published a list of the ten most important scientific achievements and discoveries of the year.

Staring into the abyss

In “space” the month of April was received the first ever image of a black hole and its shadow.

In many years of work that preceded the publication of the results, was attended by about 200 astronomers from different countries and 13 research centers. The eight radio telescopes located in Spain, Chile, USA and the South Pole, joined in a system called “Telescope event horizon”.

According to the resolution of this system approached the cyclopean instrument with the mirror diameter of a thousand kilometers. As a result, scientists were able to discern the details with an angular size of 20 arc microseconds.

every day during the entire observation period each of the tools has collected about 350 terabytes of data. They all flocked to highly specialized supercomputers, where he synthesized into a single image.

it was obtained “snapshot” of the Central black hole of galaxy M87. It is 55 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Virgo. The same picture was reproduced in several independent sessions of observation, so that it can be considered fairly reliable.

On the resulting “portrait” you can see a ring of hot gas falling into the black hole and the dark area in the center. This so-called shadow of the black hole. It is formed due to the impact of gravity “monster” of the surrounding particles of light (photons).

the shade Diameter is about 100 billion kilometers (for comparison: the distance from the earth to the Sun is insignificant against this background, 150 million kilometers). Itself black hole is in the center of the shadow. Radius it is less than the shadow of about 2.5 times.

So what are you, the Denisova

2019 year has been very fruitful for anthropologists, collecting facts about the Denisovsky person.

So, the experts first studied the remains of Denisova, detection sensitivitytary beyond the Altai. We are talking about the fragment of the lower jaw by the age of at least 160 thousand years.

the Researchers made a curious conclusion: it turns out some modern Asians have inherited the second lower molars with three roots is from the denisovans.

Explain that most people in the world can boast of only two roots of the second lower molars (and some do cost one). – Three rooted lower molar found among the inhabitants of Asia minor and of the rest of the population.

Scientists believe that this feature was inherited by sapiens as a result of interbreeding with the denisovans.

Meanwhile, genetics has helped anthropologists to recreate the appearance of the ancient “cousins” of our ancestors.

Experts have identified 56 anatomic features that denisovans differed from modern humans and/or Neanderthals, and 34 of them belonged to the skull structure.

it Turned out, the denisovans, and Neanderthals differed from us a wider rib cage and the pelvis, elongated face, low forehead. At the same time they seem to have bypassed our ancestors largest dental arch and the cranium.

the reconstruction of the appearance of the young women kind of Denisova genetic data.Illustration Maayan Harel.


In October 2019 Google engineers have stated that their quantum computer solved the problem, which the most powerful modern supercomputer would take ten years.

Quantum computer, which could, called Sycamore and has 53 qubit (quantum bit). Engineers randomly gave each qubit in a particular state. Repeating this process a million times, they calculated the probability for each observed state of the system just by its frequency. The whole process took about 200 seconds.

Regular computer contains qubits is not in hardware, so hhe would have to model it programmatically. As founders of Sycamore have a modern supercomputer this would take ten thousand years.

However, the authors deliberately chose a task that would be difficult for a conventional computer and is easy for quantum. However, formally, the condition for “quantum supremacy” is executed.

Quantum computers use subtle physical effects, potentially promising huge computing power.Illustration Pixabay.

“Rastishka” for the starving children

every year, millions of children suffer from acute malnutrition. Nutrient deficiency causes growth disorders and many diseases.

the Health of these children subsequently fails to improve with proper nutrition. The reason lies in the violation of the maturation of the intestinal microbiota (the community of intestinal bacteria).

Carefully studied this issue, an international team of scientists has developed supplements that stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut of malnourished children.

Experts have identified 15 types of bacteria, characteristic of the Mature healthy intestinal microbiota and blood markers that signal the recovery of the body after exhaustion.

Then, the researchers tested different combinations of foods that are easy to find in developing countries, to understand how to react to their reception microbiota. The tests were conducted on model animals (mice and pigs), followed by a small clinical study.

According to the authors, supplements containing chickpeas, bananas, soy and peanut flour can best contribute to the maturation of the intestinal microbiota.

malnourished children receiving such supplements, saw an increase in the level of proteins and metabolites in the blood that are markers of normal growth.

currently, conducted more extensive clinical studies that show nasalKo effectively prevents the development of growth retardation and the recovery of children with already existing disorders.

According to the researchers, the experimental treatment will be affordable and accessible.

nutrient Deficiency leads to impaired growth and many diseases.Photo Global Look Press.

“the end of the world of dinosaurs” in detail

about 66 million years ago asteroid impact near the Yucatan Peninsula caused a critical climate change, which condemned to death prevalent at the time of the dinosaurs and many other ancient creatures.

this year, several research groups have described interesting details of this “Apocalypse”.

geologists have studied the rocks which filled the impact crater Chicxulub for the first 24 hours after the fall of the asteroid.

Based on the analysis of extracted samples and computer models, the researchers made most likely scenario of events.

it is Assumed that the power of the asteroid impact was equivalent to the explosion of ten billion (!) the atomic bombs that fell on Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

the Explosion, which was followed by the strike caused forest fires that spread for thousands of kilometers, and a powerful tsunami, pushed deep into continents.

the asteroid impact vaporized sulfur-containing minerals in the fall and sent them to the atmosphere. It changed the Earth’s climate: sulfur and other impurities like covered planet reflective blanket, which caused global cooling.

Thus, the fall of an asteroid led to the destruction of all life “at the local level”, and global climate change has caused the total disappearance of the dinosaurs.

Meanwhile, the paleontologists found the fossilized remains of ancient fish and other creatures that are thought to have been destroyed in less than an hour after the strike, that is, were the first victims of the cataclysm.

And the other scientific gwhere the group figured out how to restore the ecosystem of the planet in the first million years after the fall of the asteroid. All the authors have identified three of the burst of evolution of plants and mammals, which coincided with rises in temperature by about five degrees Celsius.

the asteroid Impact in the representation of the artist. In this interpretation, the size of a celestial body somewhat exaggerated.Illustration NASA/Don Davis.

Dossier on the asteroid

In 2019, the asteroid Aracot (previously known as Ultima Thule) became the most distant celestial body ever visited by a spacecraft.

January 1, the probe New horizons flew near the asteroid: the moment of closest approach the distance between them was only 3500 kilometers.

during the mission, the experts have obtained the most detailed pictures of an asteroid and estimated its size.

According to astronomers, the length of a celestial body is about 32 kilometers and a width of 16 kilometers.

Also new data allow to make an idea about the form of Arracacha. It was originally considered a kind of “snowman.” The resulting images were visible two spherical parts connected by a thin bridge.

However, pictures taken from a different angle, showed that in fact celestial body is a flat “pancake” connected with flattened “walnut”.

Later came the news and on the chemical composition of a distant asteroid. Based on the observations in the infrared rays, on its surface is present in the methanol and other organics.

This image of the asteroid combines advanced color information with detailed panchromatic high-resolution images.Photo by NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute//Roman Tkachenko.

Provocation yearand microbiologists

this year, microbiologists tried to resolve the dispute about the origin of eukaryotes – organisms whose cells contain a nucleus. This domain covers all fungi, plants and animals.

Scientists from Japan managed to cultivate and explore a mysterious organism from a group called Asgard.

Explain that its representatives are archaea (not bacteria and not eukaryotes, while a separate domain of organisms). They were known only from DNA fragments isolated from deep-sea sediments and other extreme environments.

oddly enough, these fragments were found genes that, as expected, are present only in eukaryotes. A comparative DNA analysis showed that the representatives of the “archaea Asgard” or their ancestors may be the ancestors of eukaryotes.

If this provocative hypothesis was confirmed, the number of domains in biological systematics would be reduced from three (archaea, eukaryotes and bacteria) to two (bacteria and archaea).

But given the scant evidence, many researchers were skeptical.

Now, however, Japanese scientists were able to cultivate these archaea-the extremophiles (view Prometheoarchaeum syntrophicum, strain MK-D1). The authors have streamlined their genome and confirmed the presence of eukaryotic genes.

moreover, other research groups identified eukaryotic genes in fragments of DNA of other members of Asgard. And data about the metabolism of these archaea also support “dvuhtonnoy hypothesis”.

it took Scientists 12 years to finally cultivate the mysterious body (with the photo a lighter color).Photo Imachi, Nobu et al.

another victory for gene therapy

this Autumn Management on sanitary inspection behind quality of foodstuff and medicines of the USA approved the experimental treatment of a hereditary disease called cystic fibrosis (or cystic fibrosis).

The basis of the therapy was a combination of three drugs called “Trikatu” (Trikafta).

Innovative treatment eliminates severe dysfunction of the respiratory system caused by the most common mutation (found in 90% of patients).

Thanks to the drug is rapidly progressive disease becomes controlled. The developers hope that “Trikata” prolong the life of patients with cystic fibrosis, which today averages about 40 years.

Clinical trials have proven the efficacy and safety of a new triple drug. While it is approved for patients 12 years of age. Further studies will show whether it is possible to start therapy sooner.

the Patients with cystic fibrosis in the special jackets, which make breathing easier and reduce the daily accumulation of mucus in the lungs.Photo Global Look Press.

Escape from Ebola

In the list of the top ten achievements of the year included the development of two breakthrough drugs against the deadly Ebola virus.

the basis of first resort – antibodies isolated from a patient who survived an Ebola outbreak in 1996. In the other, a cocktail of antibodies produced by the organisms of mice with “humanized” immune system.

In a clinical trial, which was conducted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, both drugs showed such good results that the study was stopped prematurely.

by the Way, in 2019, the specialists provided another experimental drug. It is based on a combination of several antibodies able to neutralize three lethal Ebola Zaire.

Antibodies were detected in the blood of patients who survived the epidemic 2013-2016 in West Africa. Injection medication Guinea pigs infected with the Sudan species of Ebola Zaire, has shown that in this way you can quickly block the spread of the virus in the organism of animals.

Further experiments on primates showed that the drug gives them resistance to the three main types of ebolaviruses.

the Image of the Ebola virus obtained by transmission electron microscopy.Photo Cynthia Goldsmith/Wikimedia Commons.

AI gambler

Poker is an incredibly complex game for a computer. But in 2019, artificial intelligence and took this height, for the first time after defeating the Champions in poker for six people (Texas hold’em).

artificial intelligence System that has fought against the best players on the planet, is called the Pluribus.

one round of testing in each of the party involved Pluribus and five people. In total, this phase of the experiment showed their skills 13 professionals, each of whom at the time did you win at poker more than a million dollars. The computer played a total of ten thousand hands and became the most successful of players.

In another part of the study, the game was conducted according to the scheme “five copies Pluribus against man.” Two master (the record for most awards in the World poker tour and the winner of six tournaments World series of poker) played with copies of artificial intelligence five thousand parties each and in total lost computer mind.

As explained by the developers Pluribus, in the course of the game, the program calculated six start strategies and chose the best. After the first betting round she was doing more detailed calculations. Machine calculate the situation several moves ahead and looked at five strategies that can be used by each player.

Artificial intelligence have often used some of the techniques that professionals avoid, considering them meaningless and ineffective.Photo Global Look Press.

we Add that the journal Science has also launched onnlin voting among its readers. In this rating the absolute leader was “Denisovskaya research.” Second place readers gave the development of drugs against Ebola virus. Closes the three leaders of the image of a black hole.

Another rating for this year, which is a shame not to know the ten most important scientific people by Nature – was represented “Conduct.Science” ( a few days earlier.

Text: To.Science