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102 COMMENTS

  1. The scientific advancement I’d like to see in 2014 is the detection of deceit in humans through neuroscience, some form of MRI technology that will surpass polygraphs by light years and turn our justice and political systems on their heads.

    • Sounds a bit like the precognition of Minority Report.

      In reply to #1 by delva:

      The scientific advancement I’d like to see in 2014 is the detection of deceit in humans through neuroscience, some form of MRI technology that will surpass polygraphs by light years and turn our justice and political systems on their heads.

      • In reply to #3 by Steven007:

        Sounds a bit like the precognition of Minority Report.

        In reply to #1 by delva:

        The scientific advancement I’d like to see in 2014 is the detection of deceit in humans through neuroscience, some form of MRI technology that will surpass polygraphs by light years and turn our justice and political s…

        Sounds like a dystopian nightmare.

  2. Decent, long-lasting batteries for iPhones, iPods, laptops etc so you don’t have to charge the feckin’ things up every five minutes. I don’t see the much anticipated iWatch being a success if you’re constantly having to plug it into the mains supply and stand there like a lemon waiting for it to recharge.

    • No re-charging required at all would be the ultimate goal. In reply to #4 by Katy Cordeth:

      Decent, long-lasting batteries for iPhones, iPods, laptops etc so you don’t have to charge the feckin’ things up every five minutes. I don’t see the much anticipated iWatch being a success if you’re constantly having to plug it into the mains supply and stand there like a lemon waiting for it to rec…

  3. With so much work going on in genetics, I will be very disappointed if there isn’t at least one significant announcement in 2014. Perhaps along the lines of a greater holistic understanding of larger collections of genes.

    More genetic clues to evolution should receive a boost this year.

    In medicine I will be hoping for something to emerge from AIDS research, and also neurobiology. In particular, I have my fingers crossed for a better understanding of the link between neurology and psychology.

    In space, the ESA has a very exciting project called Rosetta chasing a Comet called 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The results may not come through in 2014, but I’m hoping for good news.

    The Gingin Group in Australia look like they might at last have some success at finding gravity waves. Very exciting.

    Although the LHC is currently undergoing servicing, there is a mountain of data still largely unexplored. I’m hopeful that patient data miners will find at least some clues to unknown aspects of the Standard Model.

    As always though, the best science discoveries will be the unexpected ones.

    Finally, I’m very much hoping for a breakthrough in Hydrogen production from solar energy. The technology already works, but yields are very low.

    • In reply to #10 by rjohn19:

      A cure for dogma- whether religious, political, social or economic. It would be both soluble and undetectable in beer.

      Well y’know with the current arsenal of drugs I think that might already be possible… All we need to do is make enough of the stuff to be undetectable in a reasonably sized city reservoir… Then count the decreasing turnout at churches, polling stations and a huge move to crowdsourcing online banks….

  4. I would like to see better education of science and math. As an American, I would like to see education of creation instead of evolution taken out of public schools. I would like to see American students do better at mathematics.

    I would also like to see measures taken to make this planet more green (more gardens planted, the senseless killing of trees, more people taking public transportation, more people recycling). I would also like to see more American politicians acknowledge that there is a climate change.

    I agree that a better battery for Iphones would be great but I dare not expect miracles.

  5. The discovery of an extrasolar planet that gives a spectral analysis of water and a nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere. The presence of oxygen alone would be a clear indication of the presence of oxygen producing organic life. Ohh and the advent of an app for smartphones that vibrated when it detected a speaker was lying…..and advertised openly with free download on religious websites… That’d screw ‘em up nicely….lol

  6. Further progress in stem cell therapy, especially the making of body components for transplant. I’m thinking mainly of blood vessels here, for personal reasons, but I hope there will be significant progress in the repair, and possibly growing of, individual complete organs as well. The sooner we (humanity) can regenerate damaged, and possibly worn out, tissue the better.

    • In reply to #16 by SomersetJohn:

      Further progress in stem cell therapy, especially the making of body components for transplant. I’m thinking mainly of blood vessels here, for personal reasons, but I hope there will be significant progress in the repair, and possibly growing of, individual complete organs as well. The sooner we (humanity) can regenerate damaged, and possibly worn out, tissue the better.

      I have posted this before, but if you have not seen this article on organ regeneration, here it is:-

      http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/03/big-idea/organ-regeneration-text#close-modal
      >

      The bladder technique was developed by Anthony Atala of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Researchers take healthy cells from a patient’s diseased bladder, cause them to multiply profusely in petri dishes, then apply them to a balloon-shaped scaffold made partly of collagen, the protein found in cartilage. Muscle cells go on the outside, urothelial cells (which line the urinary tract) on the inside. “It’s like baking a layer cake,” says Atala. “You’re layering the cells one layer at a time, spreading these toppings.” The bladder-to-be is then incubated at body temperature until the cells form functioning tissue. The whole process takes six to eight weeks.

      Solid organs with lots of blood vessels, such as kidneys or livers, are harder to grow than hollow ones like bladders. But Atala’s group—which is working on 22 organs and tissues, including ears—recently made a functioning piece of human liver. One tool they use is similar to an ink-jet printer; it “prints” different types of cells and the organ scaffold one layer at a time.

      You may have to arrange a password and sign in to gain access.

      • In reply to #18 by mmurray:

        In reply to #17 by EricTheRed:

        An energy source that would leave all remaining fossil fuels in the ground.

        Solar, tidal, geothermal, thorium. How many more do you want?

        Michael

        Doesn’t Thorium count as a fossil fuel?

        • In reply to #20 by SomersetJohn:

          In reply to #18 by mmurray:

          In reply to #17 by EricTheRed:

          An energy source that would leave all remaining fossil fuels in the ground.

          Solar, tidal, geothermal, thorium. How many more do you want?

          Michael

          Doesn’t Thorium count as a fossil fuel?

          No it’s an element which can be used for safe nuclear power. Fossil fuel’s are formed from organic matter

          Fossil fuels are fuels formed by natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms. The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years, and sometimes exceeds 650 million years.[4]

          If you aren’t familiar with thorium based nuclear power it’s worth looking at its wiki page.

          Michael

      • Hate to say it, but none of these sources of energy will put a dent into the demand for energy for transportation needs. At the moment only fossil fuels provide the required energy density for transportation needs.

        What we really need are better more efficient energy storage devices. jcw

        In reply to #18 by mmurray:

        In reply to #17 by EricTheRed:

        An energy source that would leave all remaining fossil fuels in the ground.

        Solar, tidal, geothermal, thorium. How many more do you want?

        Michael

        • In reply to #32 by kaiserkriss:

          Hate to say it, but none of these sources of energy will put a dent into the demand for energy for transportation needs. At the moment only fossil fuels provide the required energy density for transportation needs.

          What we really need are better more efficient energy storage devices. jcw

          This is partially correct, but grid electricity can have all fossil elements removed, and public transport systems such as trains and city trolley buses can also run on mains electricity.
          As far as internal combustion engines are concerned, substantial reductions in fossil fuels can be made by using bio-ethanol or bio-diesel, although those also have environmental and commercial implications.

          Ethanol-only and Flexible-fuel light vehicles manufactured in Brazil from 1979 to 2011

          Latest developments – Ethanol-powered diesel engine

          • In reply to #34 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #32 by kaiserkriss:

            Hate to say it, but none of these sources of energy will put a dent into the demand for energy for transportation needs. At the moment only fossil fuels provide the required energy density for transportation needs.

            What we really need are better more efficient energ…

            Allan: You are also only partially correct since you are only looking at things from an urban- developed world centric perspective. The majority of the world’s population has an energy deficit, and an infrastructure deficit. They can’t afford to think in lofty ideals of trains, and buses off mains electricity when there are constant power outages that last hours and days on end because the electrical grid is so weak and over stressed trying to keep a 25 watt light bulb going and charging the cell phone.

            Can we do more in the developed word- for sure, but converting public transport to electricity is a drop in the bucket and won’t power that jet to Majorca for your summer holidays. I still maintain we need better energy storage devices with higher energy concentrations. before we can wean ourselves off carbon based fuels. jcw

          • In reply to #44 by kaiserkriss:

            In reply to #34 by Alan4discussion:

            You are also only partially correct since you are only looking at things from an urban- developed world centric perspective.

            You are correct that green technologies need to move out of urban perspectives in remote areas.

            The majority of the world’s population has an energy deficit, and an infrastructure deficit. They can’t afford to think in lofty ideals of trains, and buses off mains electricity when there are constant power outages that last hours and days on end because the electrical grid is so weak and over stressed trying to keep a 25 watt light bulb going and charging the cell phone.

            In those situations they need photovoltaic panels on roofs and batteries – or things like clockwork radios.

            Solar thermal cookers are also useful in reducing long walks for fire-wood, protecting trees, and sterilising water by boiling.

            http://www.aidforafrica.org/member-charities/solar-cookers-international/

            https://www.solarcookers.org/

            Green technologies are very much about tailoring systems to local conditions.

            For industrial or city systems in sunny climes, heat storage power towers are a good answer.

            http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/how-it-works-solar-power-towers-with-integrated-storage-78892

            http://lisas.de/projects/alt-energy/sol-thermal/powertower.html

          • In reply to #44 by kaiserkriss:

            In reply to #34 by Alan4discussion:

            You are also only partially correct since you are only looking at things from an urban- developed world centric perspective. The majority of the world’s population has an energy deficit, and an infrastructure deficit.

            That is why local power-systems such as solar are important in remote tropical areas.

            They can’t afford to think in lofty ideals of trains, and buses off mains electricity when there are constant power outages that last hours and days on end because the electrical grid is so weak and over stressed trying to keep a 25 watt light bulb going and charging the cell phone.

            The use of photovoltaic and solar-thermal systems linked @46. provide cooking and low wattage electricity for individual families in remote villages.

            For cities the solar-thermal trough or tower systems with heat storage and steam turbines, need an initial capital set up, but this is likely to be much less than for the infrastructure for carbon based power generation.
            A field of heliostats is much simpler to set up than a road or rail system with heavy trucks, bridges etc. or pipelines, and it can be sited near a town to avoid the need for miles of pylons and high-voltage cables.

          • In reply to #50 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #44 by kaiserkriss:

            In reply to #34 by Alan4discussion:

            You are also only partially correct since you are only looking at things from an urban- developed world centric perspective. The majority of the world’s population has an energy deficit, and an infrastructure deficit.

            That is why…

            Allan: When travelling in less developed countries, I was amazed how rural communities have often made use of simple solar power devices to heat domestic water and use photovoltaic panels to supply electricity. Once again though, the # of watts available from solar panels is quite small despite efficiencies now running in the 20% range. What is required is another doubling of efficiency, and a reduction in the price per watt. On a large scale though, cleaning photo voltaic cells from dust and grime becomes a real issue- similar to the maintenance of large scale (10s of square miles) of photo bioreactors that is rehired to make a real difference.

            Overall though these are all baby steps- the real panacea still needs inventing. jcw

        • In reply to #32 by kaiserkriss:

          Hate to say it, but none of these sources of energy will put a dent into the demand for energy for transportation needs. At the moment only fossil fuels provide the required energy density for transportation needs.

          What we really need are better more efficient energy storage devices. jcw

          Biomass and algae sourced jet fuel, diesel and gasoline will be the way forward here, I’m betting. Though if Katy gets her wish and say graphene super duper ultra capacitor/batteries become viable, then electric cars, able to recharge in 2 minutes, may become the prevailing answer given a sufficiency of recharging points.

          I’ve chatted to some people working on diesel from algae and the fuel production plants they were creating were ideal for tagging onto the end of industrial plants that produce waste heat and CO2. Creating many such modules have the tripple whammy of low cost carbon capture (because of concentration in flue gasses or brewing processes) waste heat reuse in otherwise wasteful businesses, and the creation of the most concentrated form of chemical energy currently used.

          • Phil Rimmer :”I’ve chatted to some people working on diesel from algae and the fuel production plants they were creating were ideal for tagging onto the end of industrial plants that produce waste heat and CO2. Creating many such modules have the tripple whammy of low cost carbon capture.”

            So sorry to put a dent into your friend’s work, but the facts are your friends are idealists with little understanding of the principles of physics and biology. Why do I know more, because I work for a biofuels company and in association with a couple of Universities, we have attempted to commercialize similar ideas using the latest technology, based on realistic scientific principles into practise.

            To keep things simple, and as an example, it is well established it is nigh impossible to travel at the speed of light. Similarly there is an upper limit in the number of photons hitting the earth at any given moment over a given area which provides the energy algae converts into lipids ( photosynthesis ) which are then, after extraction of the lipids converted into biodiesel through a transesterification process. The amount of CO2 concentration in the solution “boosting” growth of the algae should be less than 18% or else you poison it. Extracting CO2 is also very costly and is not easily shipped because of its corrosive nature.

            Basically the photosynthetic limit is 3-10% efficient. Besides, algae perform poorly in temperate climates, they also can’t take sustained temperatures of above 45C, and as one goes further away from the equator, solar flux diminishes rapidly. Even fast growing algae species take an optimal time to grow and produce lipids. Here is a wiki link:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynthetic_efficiency

            to give you an overview of the problem. Basically the number of watts per annum per unit area ( be it acres, Hectares, square meters) is limited and quite small which means the amount of land that would have to be put aside to grow algae is unrealistically large, and the associated capital costs for photo bioreactors or ponds that have to be maintained, together with the water requirements, especially in hot climates with high evaporation rates further adds to the problem- even if the land was free! jcw

            (because of concentration in flue gasses or brewing processes) In reply to #35 by phil rimmer:*

            In reply to #32 by kaiserkriss:

            Hate to say it, but none of these sources of energy will put a dent into the demand for energy for transportation needs. At the moment only fossil fuels provide the required energy density for transportation needs.

            What we really need are better more efficient energ…

          • In reply to #41 by kaiserkriss:

            Phil Rimmer :”I’ve chatted to some people working on diesel from algae and the fuel production plants they were creating were ideal for tagging onto the end of industrial plants that produce waste heat and CO2. Creating many such modules have the tripple whammy of low cost carbon capture.”

            So sorry…

            Thanks for this executive summary. I looked here before posting to see how things were progressing. It all looked pretty upbeat to me. Perhaps I should have taken more head of the Exxon exec’s back peddling.

            To be clear, no additional concentration or transportation of CO2 was contemplated. That was the essence of his companies offering, that and the offering of the residues as an animal feedstock as I recall.

            This was all some four or five years ago. Where’s the future in biofuel now?

            Post oil, the cost of concentrated energy fuel may well be very much higher than it is now, which is why it should be reserved for transportation use (flying at least.) Energy efficiency will be more valuable an investment than ever.

          • In reply to #49 by phil rimmer:

            I should have taken more heed of the Exxon exec. not head…

            Either I was writing this in a thick Scottish accent or I feel I am owed by the oil industry.

          • In reply to #41 by kaiserkriss:

            Erm…

            Sorry, but the more I look, the more I think algal fuel production is in with a very good chance. Even if the Exxon exec is right that parity with oil might not be achieved until 2025, that is pretty darned soon in my view. The latest figures here look pretty hard headed to me. The approach my friend was taking really addressed all your concerns with optimally warm and stable environments and pre-concentrated CO2. Do all of the species of algae being considered demise at an 18% CO2 concentration (by volume?)?

            When I last did research on lamps for horticultural use (for an aeroponics client) I recalled photosynthetic energy efficiency figures for their particular plants ran at half the figures you were quoting so that is not an issue as far as I’m concerned. Are you saying algal efficiency is 3 to 10% and is that for high lipid micro or easy grow macro algae?

          • I’m well aware of the technology used by Solazyme and what they have achieved is quite remarkable, but it is still hype that doesn’t stand up to economic scrutiny, nor really addresses the huge amounts of land required to harvest photons for photosynthetic conversion. The project is next to impossible to scale up to the degree required to make an impact on the real world. Don’t forget, we currently consume around 90 million bbl/ day of fossil fuels! Even 1% represents 900,000 bbl/day. In 2010 Solazyme delivered a total of 503 bbl to the US Military (peanuts) and is currently working with Archer Daniels (Agricultural wholesalers) on a plant in Iowa with a nameplate capacity of- wait for it, 68bbl/day. The majority of the feed stock will in all likelihood be Soy oil and Canola oil.

            Yes, the leftover from algae can be used as animal fodder or used as fertilizer and cosmetics, but there is limited demand for high value food and cosmetics.

            Not wishing to put down magazines- they have their place, but they are NOT Scientific peer reviewed journals- which incidentally have their own problems. We have reviewed and tried to duplicate and independently verify the claims made in many “peer reviewed” journals in the lab and have found many of the claims made next to impossible to duplicate independently. So I’m a bit of a sceptic of claims made, not only by commercial enterprises and academic institutions that cannot be independently duplicated and verified.

            Call me a cynic, but Exon-Mobil funding research into algal oil production and mapping of algal genomes to the tune of $500mm a few years ago is nothing more than lip service while at the same time stuffing the pockets of Craig Ventner and his staff.

            The 3-10% numbers quoted are for average, and at the high end for quick growing high lipid content species. The time parameter- how long it takes to grow the algae before it starts to consume the stored lipid is an important optimization factor. Most common species take about 18-20 days before reaching optimal harvesting maturity. Fast growing albeit with lower lipid content can be harvested in 48 hours. No matter though, the conversion efficiency is low. After harvesting, the lipids have to be extracted from the algae, a complex and energy intensive process before being converted into biodiesel through transesterification, another energy intensive process.

            Careful with your terminology biofuel as you probably realize is a catch all phrase covering everything from ethanol produced from sugars (food), biodiesel and gasoline (petrol) produced from lipids (food in all cases except Jatropha) to bio-oil (a hodge-podge of complex hydrocarbons next to impossible to refine into a useful product usually derived from agricultural, or forrest product waste through pyrolysis). There are many complex technical issues that over time and given the right economic conditions can be solved.

            In Europe, subsidies for the production of biofuels has been substantially reduced to the extent they are economically unviable for new comers to the industry. The same is true in Canada. The US still has incentives and legislation in place that supports renewables for certain parts of the industry, but the real issue is food vs fuel and the associated mono culture farming practices.

            As for LDCs, they will take whatever they can get, but given the wide scale corruption it becomes nigh on impossible for small businesses to establish themselves and still be economically viable. Hope that helped a little. jcw

            The 18% CO2 number I quoted earlier is an average value- some species can take more, but anything over 25% is deadly. In reply to #55 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #41 by kaiserkriss:

            Erm…

            Sorry, but the more I look, the more I think algal fuel production is in with a very good chance. Even if the Exxon exec is right that parity with oil might not be achieved until 2025, that is pretty darned soon in my view. The latest figures here look pretty…

          • In reply to #65 by kaiserkriss:

            I’m well aware of the technology used by Solazyme and what they have achieved is quite remarkable, but it is still hype that doesn’t stand up to economic scrutiny, nor really addresses the huge amounts of land required to harvest photons for photosynthetic conversion. The project is next to impossib…

            First rate input. Thanks!

      • In reply to #18 by mmurray:

        In reply to #17 by EricTheRed:

        An energy source that would leave all remaining fossil fuels in the ground.

        Solar, tidal, geothermal, thorium. How many more do you want?

        Michael

        don’t know how many more he wanted but we’ll all need an alternative hydrocarbon source for almost every other thing in the world. Sorry EricTheRed even if we find an energy source we will still need plastics and other materials from fossil fuels.

        • In reply to #71 by alaskansee:
          >

          don’t know how many more he wanted but we’ll all need an alternative hydrocarbon source for almost every other thing in the world. Sorry EricTheRed even if we find an energy source we will still need plastics and other materials from fossil fuels.

          We should of course, be conserving fossil carbon deposits for future generations to use in plastics, carbon fibres, carbon nano-tubes etc.

          As with many world problems, if the problem of human over-population was tackled, there would then be plenty of land and sea, to provide food, fuels, and wildlife habitats, on a sustainable basis.

  7. In reply to #23 by phil rimmer:

    Viable, general purpose 3D printers with stem cell ink.

    We will all benefit from having bespoke replacement parts, not just Somerset John.

    I would also like to see extensive developments of 3D printing, with printer manufacturing of custom designed components for space craft and bases using off Earth materials. (asteroids, comets, moons, etc)

    3D Printing In Zero-G Technology Demonstration (3D Printing In Zero-G) – 02.05.14

    The 3-D Printing In Zero-G technology demonstration experiment will show that a 3-D printer can work normally in space. A 3-D printer extrudes streams of heated plastic, metal or other material, building layer on top of layer to create three-dimensional objects. Testing a 3-D printer on the International Space Station is the first step towards establishing a working machine shop in space, a critical component for astronaut missions and in-space manufacturing.

    • In reply to #26 by Alan4discussion:

      In reply to #23 by phil rimmer:

      I would also like to see extensive developments of 3D printing, with printer manufacturing of custom designed components for space craft and bases using off Earth materials. (asteroids, comets, moons, etc)

      I’m a 3d printing obsessive. I use it a lot in my work, for fabricating mechanical models to prove designs. But latterly the range of materials and processes fits them for real use. I now create functioning optical parts and high strength, high temperature enclosures. The “elastomers” aren’t too good yet and I’m dying to try laser sintered metal parts. The US military are at the forefront here making spare parts in the field. Whilst the material choices are limited, “impossible to manufacture” interior shapes can make up for strength deficiencies (mimicking, say, the graded foam structure inside bones). Likewise, the porous structures of laser sintered parts can be filled with a suitable polymer (drawn in by cappiliary action) greatly increasing strength with little extra weight.

      I have proposed elsewhere the use of aeroponics in isolated and extra-terrestrial applications not only to produce food but feedstocks for 3D printing. Poly Lactic Acid is a fine material that can make fibres, transparent products and be a material to feed into Stereo-Lithographic Assembly machines. It can be made from sugar beet.

      (This was part of a mad plan of mine to build a new Epcot Centre in the centre of the Santorini archipelago, mostly floating. Sustainability was key, featuring solar power in every form and with a slow conveyor driven aeroponics farm in radiating conical poly tunnels, lit at night with red/blue LEDs and exploiting the very high local CO2 concentrations and high/stable temperatures from the hot springs at night to get triple yield growth rates. The tunnels and conveyor parts were to be made and 3D printed from the sugar beet.)

  8. I would tend to vote for advances in the use of thorium for reactors

    As the Economist ( Nov 11, 2013) put it ” Being plentiful and cheap, thorium is the only fuel that stands a chance of generating electricity as cheaply as burning coal. As such, it is the only fuel capable of weaning the world off the biggest single polluter of all.”

    However, for reasons I don’t quite understand , it also states that “” Today, the thorium reactor is a non-starter, at least in America and other countries that have invested heavily in light-water technology” This would seem a rather stupid attitude reminiscent of the Italians rejecting Marconi’s wireless communication system since they had just bought a huge stock of copper wires. Anyway ,others like Norway and India are going ahead.

  9. Stem cells advancement that can turn/grow an apple from an orange. That would itself refute the creationist idea that life is designed with an unchangeable or prescribed plan by the divine.

  10. any true gamechanger in energy production. nuclear fusion is getting close and would be awesome but what I’d really love to witness is renewable technology growing exponentially through innovation in a developing country that rips the rug from under the fossil fuel industry and all the oppressive governments and political organisations that hold power through it.

    It’s not impossible, we live in a global community that means when a good idea comes along it can be mass-produced in a very short time and some of the most interesting examples have come from small communities in developing countries. The benefit for the environment speaks for itself but from a purely personal point of view, I would love to see the look on all those anti-science republican wingnuts faces when the penny drops that no matter what they try and scare the public with, no one’s listening any more much less voting. and the huge shift in power among oil-rich nations that the UN is too scared to take to task on their human rights abuses.

  11. I would love science to discover what causes Migraine, and then, find ways to successfully treat the neurological disease. So far, they’ve been investigating issues with the brain’s vascular system and cortical spreading depression. Migraine is currently a diagnosis of exclusion. More information on the disease that identifies it and advances treatment would be amazing to see in my lifetime.

  12. To # 15:
    Cancer may be part of the whole human equation. Without it, the planet would certainly become over-populated and we (humans) would have to find other ways to level the playing field, i.e. murder, wars, etc. Many non-brights (religious folk) consider the Big C to be a punishment from god in one way or another, but I think it’s a part of our evolution (only the strong, cancer free genes survive). Going back as far as I can remember, most members of my family have smoked like freight trains till the day they died, and not one of them passed on from lung cancer. That gene just ain’t in our pool. The colon cancer gene is, but thanks to modern science and the colon exams they’ve come up with, my daddy will be the last one in our clan to fall from it (I get checked every 5 years), and yes, I smoke like hell (if there was such a place). And when we (scientific free-thinkers) finally do find the cure for said C, they will find a way to give god the credit. Catcha later fellow infidels, keep on writing.

  13. I’m hoping we can discover some form of life on a passing meteor or comet before I die so we can prove the bible-thumpers wrong. All religious people are ignorant people so the discovery of life elsewhere would be an awakening for them.

    Steve Westbrook
    Dunlap, California

  14. I was so wrapped up with my response to #15′s “Cancer Cure” idea that I forgot to leave my own hope for scientific advancement. Here goes:
    I read somewhere that we (not all of us, me for example) are ‘wired’ to believe in god. It would be nice if science could come up with a way to snip that wire. I would enjoy the direction the world would take. Enlightenment for all. Peace fellow infidels.

  15. Further Psychological research into the human trait of thought compartmentilisation wherein reason and logic are not applied to all facets of our lives, some compartments being insulated and often formed in the impressionable childhood years. I find it amazing how many highly intelligent people can exhibit this, Prof John Lennox being one example.

  16. I can think of lots (and folks have already listed a lot of good ones), but breakthroughs in stem cell research, carefully peer-reviewed and duplicated, would be well received. (I’d have added “significant advances in fusion technology research,” but that one’s hard to even hope for; that’s more of a “decade” hope.)

  17. Urgent prioritising of LFTR or similar nuclear technology. Probably the only practical counter to Climate Change available at this time. From initial studies it seems possible to use a reactor in spacecraft which indicates a high degree of ‘portability’, for use in shipping [certainly] and rail [very likely].

    Current renewables are stop-gap, costly and severely limited. Fusion is still a remote dream, with mostly unknown future engineering costs and problems.

  18. Several eminent scientists working in the field are predicting that the first Artificial General Intelligence machine will be built by the year 2024 and many more put it at 2034 at the latest. After that, and rapidly, will come ASI with the S standing for SuperHuman, self aware entities, able to self-evolve, that some experts believe will threaten humanity. It is inevitable that we will not understand what they will do to us, any more than an ant knows what we will do to it.

    This year therefore, I’d like to see an international project started to create enforcable, human friendly, auto-downloadable, invasive algorithms for advanced AI programs, especially for AGI applications, but essentially for ASI developments. Unfortunately for humanity, religious or not, it may already be too late, because many nations are already working flat out to develop AGI war machines, e.g. robots and drones. AI versions exist already and have killed people. I can provide several reference sources for this subject, if anyone is interested… and you all should be.

  19. I think it would be a major advancement if internet, cable and cell phone usage became affordable to more people in the US. Those bills are extortion, but those services are becoming more and more necessary.

    • In reply to #56 by notany:

      I think it would be a major advancement if internet, cable and cell phone usage became affordable to more people in the US. Those bills are extortion, but those services are becoming more and more necessary.

      But is this not what has been happening anyway and is likely to continue, under some variant of Moore’s law? An then why just in the US? Are the needs of , say , Bangladesh, any less?

  20. For the first time in recorded history, in 2013 obesity was a bigger problem globally than hunger. I’d like scientists to finally agree on why this is so we can take definitive steps against this disastrous development and redirect calories to those who need them.

    • In reply to #57 by andersemil:

      For the first time in recorded history, in 2013 obesity was a bigger problem globally than hunger. I’d like scientists to finally agree on why this is so we can take definitive steps against this disastrous development and redirect calories to those who need them.

      You mention a significant trend, although it strikes me that, in qualitative terms, the problems of the hungry may be more serious than those of the obese ( a value judgment, admittedly)

      But in any case the redirection of calories, if it is to be effected, is in the hands of politicians, business lobbies, etc…and hardly in those of scientists, or of “scientific advancement”, as commonly understood in the present context

    • In reply to #57 by andersemil:

      For the first time in recorded history, in 2013 obesity was a bigger problem globally than hunger. I’d like scientists to finally agree on why this is so we can take definitive steps against this disastrous development and redirect calories to those who need them.

      Or the sugar could be redirected from rotting teeth and obesity, to making biofuel to power tractors!

  21. Well, there are very many things, but if we take very near future, I wish scientists in the Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital to come up with something knew in any of their project, I also wish good luck to Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis, because I am patriot and viability of state is not determined by politicians, it is determined by scientists, because politics offer little chance to excell.

  22. Want scientific advancement are you hoping to see happen in 2014

    Although I don’t think it will ever happen, this is what I would like to happen, the sooner the better. Science and scientists are so much more advanced in the 21st century it may be the possible to discover if it’s in our gene’s.. is it a defective gene that can be destroyed to change the future of mankind’s behavior.
    We have evolved into very intelligent beings, finding cures for diseases , building machines that can look inside of our brain ..microscopes that made it possible for IVF which made it possible for gene therapy and bone marrow transplants to save lives.. Space exploration just to name a few things.. So many wonderful discoveries and interventions.. for the good of mankind and yet we also evolved to create things that have done nothing other than cause havoc and destruction across the world.
    When and where in our evolutionary growth did such intelligent beings want to create “religions” and all the crazy rules and regulations that go along with them… It was not in a cave, I know evolution doesn’t have choices, what ever evolves.. it is it what it is.
    So if science can discover when and where a faulty gene slipped in, maybe it can be fixed and that would change the future of the planet completely.. Nothing to argue about, who is right and who is wrong.. We will all be doing what is right, I guess I will not be around to see it , I do hope it happens.. Sorry Richard;) it will put you out of business.. Grin !!!
    I did not go to college so please don’t make fun of the simplicity of my question :-)

  23. Although I have little hope that this will take one year to accomplish, it would be nice to see us try to genetically engineer an animal to make it intelligent. Dolphins, chimpanzees, or bonobos would be a good place to start.

  24. In reply to #63 by Bob Springsteen:

    Can’t get satisfaction? Try Katy’s newly invented long-lasting batteries in your favourite toy.

    What with all the technological advances in recent years, it’s a puzzle why battery power remains essentially the same as it was decades ago. Your comment has made me wonder if there isn’t some conspiracy at work in the male-dominated technology industry.

    The release of the battery equivalent of Willy Wonka’s everlasting gobstopper could result in your half of the human species becoming entirely surplus to requirements in years to come, Bob. You might want to think about stocking up on a few of these, just in case the EGSB does appear on the market.

  25. You’re ALL wrong, there is only one scientific breakthrough that truly matters, and that is Fusion Energy. For only then we can stop burning fossil fuels, and stop burning up the planet. Unless anyone has a better idea, and so far they do not have a better idea.

    All the other ideas are great, but only this one guarantees life to most of your own grandchildren. What are your priorities – assuming you do in fact have children, or at least harbor hopes of a future for mankind after your own death?

    [BTW, I have to admit one thing: I do assume that if Fusion Energy actually became cheaply and widely available, that it would ACTUALLY BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN. The horrible, horrible fact is that it could be scuttled by competing political and economic factions, and "protesting" would become totally illegal. A good look at recent history only deepens my worries.]

  26. The scientific advancement of subconscious thought management. Personality and behavioural triggers are clearly defined within regions of the brain. These can be altered chemically aswell as physchologically. The mind can become healthier and stronger through positive intervention and management. This will advance the human purpose, happiness and remove the malicious intent that triggers so much harm.

    1. Cures for currently incurable diseases.

    2. Advancement in neuroscience to show us in more details how the brain works, and, hence, debunk the myth of the ‘soul.’

    3. Formulation of, at least, a hypothesis regarding what would happen if a black hole reaches a critical mass and explodes.

    4. The invention of a device that would enable parents to get their kids to finish homework in time.

  27. Putting to one side the obvious ones like clinical immortality or artificial sentience which we can hope will see an advancement in 2014 but almost certainly won’t, I’d go for:

    Commercially viable vat-grown meat for consumption.

    It could potentially remove the ecological harm caused by breeding for consumption and – more importantly – reduce the needless suffering of living creatures across the board.

  28. I dont care bastards will use science and god in their own ignorance they cannot even solve Elementary Algebra by hall and knight. and they talk about education. Fuck you. My children have better than cowards who cannot solve a silly math problem and make a god out of science. Really. Biology is for babies. My eight year olds are made to grill through Campbell Biology when they get tired of Hall and Knight. Really. Fuck your religion which you disguise as science.

  29. I am hoping for a breakthrough in science. A very major one. I am hoping that any scientist will be able to solve elementary algebra by Hall and Knight before the end of this century. I am also hoping that any scientist who cannot solve that book will be stoned to death. People like Richard Dawkins, e.g., who have turned science into a jokers paradise.

  30. In reply to #81 by 4as4is4:

    I think science should find out how magicians do that thing where they saw people in half and the people somehow do not die. (Yes. I have a very long list to contribute here.)

    That’s thaumaturgy, and has nothing to do with science. Non-overlapping magisteria. Stay away from it, 4as4is4; nothing good can come from meddling in the dark arts.

    • Or, for that matter, in the affairs of wizards…

      In reply to #82 by Katy Cordeth:

      In reply to #81 by 4as4is4:

      I think science should find out how magicians do that thing where they saw people in half and the people somehow do not die. (Yes. I have a very long list to contribute here.)

      That’s thaumaturgy, and has nothing to do with science. Non-overlapping magisteria. Stay away from it, 4as4is4; nothing good can come from meddling in the dark arts.

      • In reply to #83 by Zhap135:

        Or, for that matter, in the affairs of wizards…

        In reply to #82 by Katy Cordeth:

        In reply to #81 by 4as4is4:

        I think science should find out how magicians do that thing where they saw people in half and the people somehow do not die. (Yes. I have a very long list to contribute here.)

        That’s th…

        Indeed.

  31. What scientific advancement am I hoping to see happen in 2014? A scientifically plausible and complete biochemical pathway for abiogenesis, including the subsequent “scaffolding” required to get a basic RNA-driven cell going. And have the steps neatly demonstrated in the lab.

    That would shut ‘em up.

    • In reply to #88 by Mrs.Manning:

      I would like to see at least a blue print on devices we could use that will take in green house gases and output either clean energy or safer air for the atmosphere.

      I think they are called “plants”.

  32. howsabout a new communication system where you don’t have to type and hit send, just speak in to a machine and it then converts your voice so that another person can hear it. It will never happen.
    you could even connect it permanently to the house mains electricity supply, you would never have to recharge the device again.

    • In reply to #89 by jjbircham:

      howsabout a new communication system where you don’t have to type and hit send, just speak in to a machine and it then converts your voice so that another person can hear it. It will never happen. you could even connect it permanently to the house mains electricity supply, you would never have to recharge the device again.

      Ah! You mean voice-mail!

    • In reply to #89 by jjbircham:

      howsabout a new communication system where you don’t have to type and hit send, just speak in to a machine and it then converts your voice so that another person can hear it. It will never happen.
      you could even connect it permanently to the house mains electricity supply, you would never have to re…

      I’ve got one like that that does’t even need mains electricity.

      Michael

  33. No specific advancements, but might be worth looking for some in a more productive direction.

    Things seem stuck in places, so I’d like to see some retrogression towards a paradigm shift or reset in a 2 specific sciences: nutrition health & macroeconomics. Important research breakthroughs occurred many years ago, but perhaps the incumbent generation (and possibly the succeeding generation) hasn’t yet died out sufficiently, or retired from the relevant areas yet.

    A paradigm shift depends on 3 factors:

    1. Orthodoxy is increasingly obviously inadequate to explain reality.
    2. Alternative theories better explain apparently anomalous data, and are typically simpler, more elegant, and encompass and explain the errors and failures of the orthodoxy.
    3. A net shift in the balance of personal interests (typically generational) enabling a perspective change (assuming better theories are available plus sufficient reason to disregard orthodoxy), instead of pseudo-scientifically bolstering and immunising the orthodox.

    Many don’t think of nutrition or macroeconomics as relevant to real science. Yet they have a major negative impact on the general publics’ acceptance of all science. Which makes them very relevant. They are also atypical in departing from the temporal progression of scientific paradigm shifts. In nutrition and economics a pseudo-paradigm emerged (post WW2) which displaced rather than incorporated and explained earlier research. So perhaps there needs to be a backwards step towards resurrecting prematurely discarded paradigms.

    Which also implies carefully examining why the preceding paradigms were so readily discarded despite the inability of replacement theories to explain anomalies. Maintaining the illusion of rigorous, reliable, and relentless scientific progress by redefining uncomfortable areas as unscientific isn’t noticed by the general public. They just want results and aren’t interested in the processes, nature, and demarcation of science.

    All the ingredients of an impending paradigm shift seem to exist. But movement seems imperceptible. Problem being that there is no ‘newer’ paradigm to move forwards, only older paradigms which were prematurely discarded in the enthusiasm for sexier and better funded pseudo-scientific progress. So some scrutiny of the source and biasing impact of self-serving industry research funding might also represent a worthwhile scientific advance.

    The specific issues:

    1. The nutritional causes of heart disease.
      (i.e. cholesterol / saturated fat theory of disease). This may prove to partly result from an accident of history attributable to tobacco-related research investigating plausible diversionary epidemiological causes for the surge in heart disease following the general post-WW2 adoption of cigarette smoking in developed nations. Also related to the emerging obesity, alzheimers, cancer, NCD crisis where the impact has escalated despite orthodox measures advocated in response.

    2. Macroeconomics monetary policy.
      The theory that governments must continuously create new money and free credit to gift to the super rich as the mechanism to prevent recessions and so ensure perpetual economic booms. New money dilutes all existing value resulting in a net resource transfer from poor to rich (who are effectively overcompensated for the dilution, while the non-super rich aren’t). This has the effect of more than reversing all other net resource tax transfers ostensibly intended to promote greater social equality. (This theory of perpetual money printing was momentarily set aside following the great stagflation episode but has since resumed to orthodoxy.)

    Things might be moving now in the nutrition / health areas regarding NCDs. Though obviously a long way to go yet. I still see plenty of TV food ads still claiming ‘low in cholesterol’, ‘low fat’, or ‘low glycemic index’ etc. Plus we have recent Australian self-help diet books like ‘Don’t Give Up Sugar’ and peer-reviewed published university scientific research such as ‘The Australian Paradox’ demonstrating that eating sugar cannot be linked to obesity. Also most people seem to remain unaware that it has been long established that glucose may not be the default biofuel of human metabolic activity or brain function. (It only appears that way due to what ‘normal’ people usually eat – the flawed assumption being that what is ‘normal’ at any time is actually should be normal for all time.) There is also low awareness of the extraordinary cumulative impact of glycation on structural and function proteins, how the obesity response attempts to mitigate this impact, or how regular exercise and youthful vigour dramatically confounds the epidemiological relationship between ‘normal’ nutrition and population health.

    I’ve lost hope for macroeconomics. If WW1, reparations, the Great Depression, WW2, the cold war, stagflation, and the GFC wasn’t sufficient to demonstrate a paradigm failure then it seems unlikely that the impending much worse financial crisis will make much difference either. All the money is literally on the side of the orthodoxy. The outcome of the perpetual disconnect between theory and reality being simply that the general public will obtain further ongoing confirmation that science is mostly nonsense. Which doesn’t bode well for widespread political acceptance of climate change.

    Nutrition and macroeconomics really need to be fixed to enable general scientific credibility in the eye of the public. The value of these sciences has to make a material difference in people’s lives. If not then any old thing will suffice. E.g. the emerging retrospective paradigm reversal towards biblical creationism vying to replace orthodox biology.

    For the last half century or more every supermarket checkout in the world has been littered with womens’ magazines featuring diet fads and the bodies of attractive female celebrities. If the world was a sane place then these pictures would instead feature in men’s magazines. More recently just about every young male I come across through work seems to be eagerly consuming various legal or illegal nutritional and other supplements, sometimes even including cigarette smoking, in a vain attempt to maintain or modify their physical appearance. (In previous generations this approach was more typically associated with females.) This is prima facie evidence of a massive paradigm failure in nutrition and health sciences.

    My suggestion is all scientists become a little less tolerant of these areas of economics and nutrition and their obvious disconnect with reality. Learn about why these fields remain so off track instead of ignoring them or dissing them as beyond the pale.

  34. The appreciation among the general public that science won’t solve all their problems, that there are no fundamentally technological solutions to the ecological crisis, and that that the doctrine of continued economic growth is a stupid and corrosive idea. So long as there is an economic system that is predicated upon exponential growth, technological fixes can only mitigate and postpone, not ‘solve’, the crisis, as the system requires the extraction of resources from the living environment at a rate that steps beyond the abilty of that environment to buffer the resulting disturbances. Therefore, I hope that 2014 will be a year where science, rationality and humanity (as in ‘humaneness to one another’) are fused inseperably together. Remember, dumb ideas faciliated by a lot of brain power are still dumb ideas. We need to get the basics right, not dance around the issue and deluding ourselves into thinking that everything will be fine and dandy once we have a working fusion reactor going.

    Alan4discussion said:

    As with many other world problems, if the problem of human over-population was tackled, there would then be plenty of land and sea, to provide food, fuels, and wildlife habitats, on a sustainable basis.

    Sure, if you couple that with an econimics based on contentment, quality of life and respect for the natural environment rather than accumulation. Without the latter, ‘tackling’ over-population (which has been ‘tackled’, by the way. Note China’s one-child policy, for just one vivid example) won’t do very much. Sorry to say, but focusing on population is really a convenient dodge that a lot of people in well-off parts of the world use to fool themselves so that they can continue to believe that their lifestyle is in some way sustainable and something worthy of being emulated. There is also an element of national chauvinism in prescribing population control as ‘the main solution’: we can blame the world’s environmental mess on the hoardes of brown people in the ‘uncivilised’ countries, while quietly forgetting that 1) per capita, people in the first world consume far more than people in the third world, but also find it far easier to pontificate about the evils of over-population before actually doing anything substantive to change their own patterns of consumption or the ideological assumptions that underpin it; 2) the pollution caused in the third world is very often the result of first world industries setting up shop for the cheap labour and lax environmental regulations. This then allows countries like Britain to brag about having reduced their carbon footprint when in fact they’ve done nothing of the sort, only rellocated their industries to China and India. 3) people in the third world are being encouraged to ‘aspire’ to our destructive lifestyle. I don’t prescribe a return to ancient values; I prescribe a return to PRE-ancient values (many of them, anyway. It’s not an all-or-nothing thing).

  35. I would like to see our scientists prove beyond a shadow of doubt God does NOT exist and never did. And also prove beyond a shadow of any doubt the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, and the rest of the cast of made-up characters are just that; made up.

    Recently I have talked to several VERY religious people who got real irate when I asked them how they know God exists. They immediately said “you’re obviously interested in the sciences and not truth” so I knew right there I could never win any argument with them as it’s impossible to win an argument with an idiot.

    So I want our scientists to wipe that smug grin off their ignorant faces once and for all and put an end to this phony religious crap.

    Steve Westbrook
    Dunlap, California

  36. I am really hoping our brilliant scientists can find life on planet outside of our solar system to prove our earth alone isn’t the only home to life. I would also like to see all “faith” schools outlawed and only evolution be taught in science classes and I think science should be taught in every year from 1st grade thru 12th grade. There has to be some legal way to stop the infection of religions from spreading any further.

  37. Or, for that matter, in the affairs of wizards…

    In reply to #82 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #81 by 4as4is4:

    I think science should find out how magicians do that thing where they saw people in half and the people somehow do not die. (Yes. I have a very long list to contribute here.)

    That’s thaumaturgy, and has nothing to do with science. Non-overlapping magisteria. Stay away from it, 4as4is4; nothing good can come from meddling in the dark arts.

  38. In reply to #54 by tonythorne:

    Several eminent scientists working in the field are predicting that the first Artificial General Intelligence machine will be built by the year 2024 and many more put it at 2034 at the latest. After that, and rapidly, will come ASI with the S standing for SuperHuman, self aware entities, able to se…

    As predicted by the scientists involved in this subject, nobody seems to be interested, let alone accept the facts…this is a serious mistake, and the reason why it’ll probably happen. Have a look at OUR ‘FINAL INVENTION by James Barrat. from Kindle, $17.81

  39. In reply to #95 by Promethean Entity:

    As with many other world problems, if the problem of human over-population was tackled, there would then be plenty of land and sea, to provide food, fuels, and wildlife habitats, on a sustainable basis.

    Sure, if you couple that with an econimics based on contentment, quality of life and respect for the natural environment rather than accumulation.

    I agree there can be no one-dimensional magic fixes.
    Population management and sustainable resource management have to go together.

    This then allows countries like Britain to brag about having reduced their carbon footprint when in fact they’ve done nothing of the sort, only rellocated their industries to China and India. 3) people in the third world are being encouraged to ‘aspire’ to our destructive lifestyle.

    Unfortunately this is Carbonaceous Cameron and Co. mouthing hype as a smoke-screen for pandering to their bonus collecting pals.

    You may recall, that while insisting that a European cap of 200% of the salary on executive bonuses for those poor deprived bankers, must be resisted by the UK, he has just decided that a 1% pay rise is far too excessive for NHS doctors and salaried medical staff!

  40. In reply to #101 by Alan4discussion:

    I agree there can be no one-dimensional magic fixes.
    Population management and sustainable resource management have to go together.

    While management should be part of the solution, the problem is much deeper and more serious even than that. For such management to be truly effective, there needs to be the social organisation that makes it possible to really take advantage of this management (as well as of changed consumption habits). And unfortunately, given the imperatives of capitalist accumulation, this just isn’t possible under capitalism.

    The solutions offered up under capitalism are either technological (more efficient cars, better electricity grids, solar energy, carbon sequestration etc) or consumer focused (use more efficient light bulbs, recycle, don’t use plastic bags, drive less often).

    The problem is that, during boom periods, economies grow, which means that the material throughput in the system increases. Even if there is a net decrease in, say, the amount of carbon dioxide being emitted, the demands of capital accumulation mean that extraction of materials will continue, with all sorts of horrible and even unforeseen effects accruing. Added to that is the fact that ‘green technologies’ have very severe limitations that are subject to all kinds of rebound effects, hidden costs, difficult-to-predict consequences, and a continued reliance on fossil-fuel infrastructure (again, largely as a result of their placement within the existing capitalist system). As long as the economy remains oriented towards the accumulation of capital and the maximisation of exchange-value, there can be no genuine solution to the ecological crisis. It seems clear, just from the standpoint of this crisis, that capitalism is totally unsustainable and needs to be replaced with an alternative economic and social system (rather than being simply reformed and made ‘less bad’) before capitalism’s accumulation dynamics and its intrinsic compulsion to expand or die end up destroying humanity in a world war or an envirommental catastrophe. What this new system will be isn’t clear, but I suspect that it could be broadly categorised as democratic ecosocialism. If there is to be an element of private enterprise left over, it will need to be highly restricted, regulated, downsized, and certainly democratised.

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