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The most important scientific breakthroughs of the year: Higgs Boson tops the list

The U.S. Journal of Science has released their annual list of the most important scientific discoveries of 2012. At the top of the list was the discovery of the invisible particle named Higgs Boson, which helps explain mass.

Higgs Boson, also referred to as the God Particle, was named after Peter Higgs, an 83-year-old British scientists who first started studying the particle. Francois Englert, a 79-year-old Belgain physicist, has also played a part in the discovery and examination of the Higgs Boson particle.

It is believed by the scientific community that Higgs Boson is essential for all things that contain mass. Without the particle, it is hypothesized that all object made of many atoms, such as humans, animals, and materials, would cease to exist.

The US Journal of Science also mentioned other important scientific studies of the past year. Among them was a study by German scientists who sequenced the entire genome of the mysterious Denisovans, a missing link between humans and Neanderthals. The researchers were able to extract the genome from a finger bone found in Siberia that was at least 80,000 years old.

In Japan, a team of researchers were able to create viable egg cells from the embryonic stem cells of adult mice. The US Journal of Science likely chose to highlight the study because of its immense application to fertility medicine. If the method is successful for human women, it could create viable eggs for women who are not able to naturally produce them.

One of the biggest science stories of 2012 was the NASA-built Mars rover Curiosity. The US Journal of Science decided to highlight the one of a kind landing system that could help further Curiosity’s preliminary scan of the Red Planet. Yet another study developed an innovative X-ray laser that is a billion times brighter than regular X-rays. The scientists involved in the study used the laser to find the structure of an important protein in the passing of African sleeping sickness.

The US Journal of Science article also highlighted the development of a tool that allows scientists to modify and deactivation certain gene in lab animals, which is more efficient and cheaper than traditional methods and may help with clinical human trials. In addition, researchers discovered that Majorana fermions do, indeed, exist. The particles, which act as antimatter and incinerate themselves, may help store computer data more efficiently.

Also included in the article was the ENCODE Project, which demonstrated that more than 80 percent of the human genome is not “junk” as previously thought, but active in turning genes off and on. The article also discussed a brain-machine that was built to help paralyzed patients move a mechanical arm and perform movements with their minds. In addition, a study by Chinese scientists was mentioned, which found the final unknown part of a model that explains how particles named neutrinos evolve as they travel close to the speed of light.

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