What We Learned in 2017

that will’s impossible to say that will any particular scientific development was the most important in a given year. although if we had to choose some highlights, we’d opt for these unforgettable events in addition to also also findings.


We learned that will nothing brings people together like the sun hiding behind the moon.

Eclipse-watchers on Nye Beach in Newport, Ore., on Aug. 21.CreditToni Greaves for The fresh York Times

On Aug. 21, the country came to a pause as millions of Americans — even the president — put on eclipse glasses in addition to also also stopped to take from the first eclipse to cross the United States since 1918. Its path across the United States was a scientific bonanza for astronomers who were able to more easily point advanced equipment at the sun. that will’s not too soon to start creating your plans for the 2024 solar eclipse.


We learned that will you can never turn a wolf into a pet dog.

Scientists aren’t entirely sure how wolves evolved into dogs, although fresh research into the genetic in addition to also also social behavior of wolf pups may offer some clues.Published OnCreditImage by Renaud Philippe for The fresh York Times

James Gorman, a Times reporter, accompanied scientists who are trying to understand the genes that will identify dogs via wolves. Humans who raise wolf puppies must spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week with them in order to socialize these puppies for scientific study. in addition to also also while the pups may seem cute, they will grow to be predatory wolves, not humanity’s faithful companions. The researchers expect their work will help reveal the trigger that will made some ancient wolves into the dogs we know today.


We learned about fetal surgery’s potential to change lives.

Surgeons operating on a 24-week-old fetus at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.CreditBéatrice de Géa for The fresh York Times

A Times reporter, Denise Grady, went inside an operating room to observe an experimental technique to treat severe spina bifida in a 24-week-old fetus. The doctors performing the surgery expect that will will result in superior outcomes for children born with the disorder. Their first 28 surgeries have seen Great results so far. Jan. 14 is actually the due date for the mother who was the subject of the article.


We learned about the power of human ingenuity in our solar system’s deep reaches.

A composite view of Saturn made by the Cassini spacecraft.CreditNASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The Cassini spacecraft has been sending home images of Saturn, its rings in addition to also also its moons since arriving at the gas giant in 2004. The mission ended in September having a planned fiery crash into Saturn’s atmosphere. While that will studied the planet, Cassini explored moons — Titan in addition to also also Enceladus — that will could be home to extraterrestrial life. The probe also gave us great insight into our solar system, in addition to also also will continue to do so for years as scientists pore over the data that will collected.


We learned that will animals may make choices based on aesthetics.

Richard O. Prum birdwatching in Connecticut. CreditChristopher Capozziello for The fresh York Times

Why does beauty exist? To answer This particular question, Richard O. Prum, an ornithologist, is actually working to revive an idea advanced by Charles Darwin: the attractiveness of an animal to another of its species isn’t only tied to fitness in addition to also also Great genes. Rather, animals — especially birds in Dr. Prum’s work — are creating subjective decisions. He hopes that will evolutionary biologists will stop “explaining away desire.”

We learned that will there is actually fresh expect for Africans with treatable cancers.

A patient from the Cancer Institute of Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda.CreditCharlie Shoemaker for The fresh York Times

Major pharmaceutical companies, working with the American Cancer Society, will steeply discount cancer drugs for patients in African countries. Cancer kills 450,000 people across the continent each year, although many types here are among the most treatable: breast, cervical in addition to also also prostate tumors. The fresh initiative to provide medication is actually modeled on efforts to bring cheap AIDS drugs to Africa, although the effort also aims to help overcome the shortage of oncologists there.


We learned about the causes in addition to also also consequences of rising obesity around the globe.

Brazil’s obesity rate has nearly doubled to 20 percent over the last decade.CreditWilliam Daniels for The fresh York Times

Makers of processed food, soda in addition to also also fast food see markets from the developing world as their greatest growth opportunities. At the same time, obesity rates in addition to also also weight-related illnesses are on the rise in developing countries. An ongoing series of articles examined the interaction of these two trends, starting with cases in Brazil, Ghana in addition to also also Colombia. Taken together, these stories reveal “a fresh global food order, in addition to also also a fresh health crisis.”


We learned that will there could be more solar systems with planets like ours.

These fresh Earth-size planets orbit a dwarf star named Trappist-1 about 40 light years via Earth. Some of them could have water on their surfaces.Published OnCreditImage by NASA/JPL-Caltech

The cool red dwarf star, Trappist-1, is actually 40 light years via Earth. Of its seven planets, three could be at the right distance to contain oceans of water in addition to also also may develop the right conditions for life. While astronomers have detected planets around many stars from the Milky Way, This particular system was the first known to host so many planets with possibilities for life.


We learned about a warehouse that will is actually like a mausoleum for endangered species.

A tiger’s head in addition to also also a stuffed macaque monkey.CreditTristan Spinski for The fresh York Times

When contraband goods made via prohibited wildlife are seized from the United States, they find their way to the National Wildlife Property Repository near Denver. Pictures taken by Tristan Spinski via inside the facility — shoes made of leopard skin, a lamp made with zebra hooves, a sea turtle’s skull, an elephant foot stool — “testify to the human appetite for different species,” Rachel Nuwer wrote for The Times in July.


We learned about the lingering toll of This particular frightening epidemic.

Vera Lúcia da Silva with her daughter, Sophia, who has microcephaly, brought on by Zika, in a hospital in Recife, Brazil.CreditAdriana Zehbrauskas for The fresh York Times

Late last year, the globe Health Organization declared that will Zika virus was no longer a global emergency. although the disease’s effects on babies who may live for decades are only beginning to be understood. In northeastern Brazil, where links between the virus in addition to also also birth defects like microcephaly were first detected, families struggle to give the best lives possible to stricken babies. Researchers expect to find clues about the virus’s effects on the fetus by studying pairs of twins in Brazil in which one was born with birth defects in addition to also also the different was not.


We learned that will we could see a source of ripples in space-time.

For once, astronomers have seen in addition to also also heard a pair of neutron stars collide in a crucible of cosmic alchemy.Published OnCreditImage by Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science

Astronomers confirmed a key of part of Einstein’s general theory of relativity in 2016 when they announced that will the LIGO array had detected gravitational waves released by the collision of two black holes. The researchers won a Nobel Prize for the discovery. although they’re not done: In October, scientists found two dead stars colliding — not only hearing the ripples in space-time they made, although confirming the event visually with powerful telescopes. Collisions of neutron stars are believed to be the source of all heavy metals from the universe, including gold in addition to also also silver, in addition to also also the detection by LIGO helps verify accepted explanations of how the chemistry of the universe formed.


We learned that will’s challenging to contain the spread of an old S.T.D.

Erinn Williams, a disease intervention specialist, filling out a report after drawing blood via a potential syphilis patient in her car in Oklahoma City.CreditNick Oxford for The fresh York Times

For decades, syphilis was considered a sexually transmitted disease of the past. although a fast-spreading outbreak in Oklahoma City confirmed public health data showing syphilis on the rise again from the United States, spreading as a consequence of the heroin in addition to also also methamphetamine epidemics. Investigators from the conservative state’s capital raced for months This particular year to contain the disease, turning to tools like Facebook to find infected people in addition to also also get them into treatment.


We learned that will even addicted mothers are needed by their newborns.

Left, Jamie Clay in addition to also also her oldest daughter, Jakiah Rayne Clay, watching one-day-old Jay’la Cy’Anne Clay, right, being fed from the nursery at a hospital in Richmond, Ky., in March. Ms. Clay sought treatment for opioid addiction when she found out she was pregnant with her second daughter.CreditTy Wright for The fresh York Times

In recent years there has been a sharp increase from the number of babies born dependent on drugs, especially opioids. Such babies are often taken via their mothers, who struggle to visit them as they wrestle with their addictions. although a growing body of evidence suggests that will separating these babies via their mothers slows the infants’ recovery. The difficulties of one mother in Kentucky, Jamie Clay, underscored the complicated balance of recovery for both mother in addition to also also child in America’s epidemic of opioid addiction.

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