Here at spiked, we like to celebrate the fruits of human endeavour. Such life-bettering changes are the result of ingenuity, toil and an unwillingness to accept our lot. They come from our unique determination to master our surroundings and conquer nature.
Many would have us believe that we should be lowering our horizons and limiting our expectations. The signal sent from world leaders gathering in Paris this month was clear: use less, do less, desire less. Thankfully, men and women across the planet are happy to give these trembling misanthropes the finger in the form of some incredible and inspiring technology and science.
In recognition of the onward and upward march of humankind, here are some of the innovations that stirred the spirit this year.
On the day before their daughter’s first birthday, the parents of Layla Richards were told that all treatments for her leukaemia had failed and she was going to die. Now she is in remission, thanks to an experimental treatment: gene-editing. Immune cells from another person were modified and then injected into Layla. These cells were made to kill the leukemia cells while allowing complimentary treatment to continue. This remarkable story is just one example of the life-saving possibility of gene-editing technologies. The result is the potential to tackle a huge range of conditions, from sickle-cell anemia to HIV. Many in the field expect a surge in the advance of this technology in the coming years. We certainly hope so.
The Pluto Flyby
After a near-decade long journey, the New Horizons spacecraft sped past Pluto at over 30,000mph. In order to be in position for the pass the piano-sized probe had to travel through a space 100km by 150km in size, and arrive in position within a margin of 100 seconds. Imagine the difficulty of getting this tiny probe to such a precise position in space, at exactly the right time. The results of this incredible journey are already evident in the captivating images now available of the surface of this dwarf planet. Data from the flyby will be sent back to Earth for months to come, and the aptly named craft now heads off to visit objects in the Kuiper Belt. New Horizons is the perfect analogy for the exploratory urges of humanity, and a prime example of our ingenuity.