The journal Science recognized the discovery of physicists from Russia’s biggest breakthrough of the year

© NASA/JPL-CaltechПульсар and its orbiting planet through the eyes of the artistThe journal Science recognized the discovery of physicists from Russia’s biggest breakthrough of the year© NASA/JPL-Caltech

Detection of Russian and foreign physicists gravitational waves generated during the merger of neutron stars in the galaxy NGC 4993, became the main opening of the year by the magazine Science.

«If the discovery of gravitational waves in September 2015 was a note of triumph for science, the discovery of this year was a real Symphony for physicists and astronomers. Unlike black holes, the merger of which is «clean» and leaves no visible traces, the consequences of a collision of neutron stars studied more than 70 observatories in the world,» writes the staff of the prestigious international scientific journal.

This discovery occurred on August 17 this year, when the LIGO detector has recorded a burst of gravitational waves generated by two neutron stars in a relatively close galaxy NGC 4993 in the constellation Hydra, located 130 million light years from Earth. Simultaneously with LIGO for this event was observed by the gamma-telescope «Fermi», the x-ray Observatory «Chandra», the Russian network of automatic telescopes of the MASTER and about a quarter of all the astronomers of the Earth.

In the creation and operation of the LIGO detectors involved thousands of scientists from all over the world, including physicists from Russia. A big role in this discovery was played by the Russian physicists from Moscow state University. M. V. Lomonosov and the Nizhny Novgorod Institute of applied physics RAS, whose group in the LIGO until recently was headed by the late Professor Vladimir Borisovich Braginsky.

This discovery, as it was noted the physics of MSU, was another proof of the correctness of Einstein’s relativity theory and evidence that gravitational waves can be used as another channel observation of distant objects in the cosmos and explore the mysteries of the Universe.

Interestingly, this epoch-making discovery even missed the main scientific achievements of the year by the readers of the magazine – unconditional victory in this unofficial contest was won by the experiment of physicians from Children’s hospital of Columbus, cured 12 babies from atrophy of the muscles of the back, deadly disease, using gene therapy.

New relatives and ancient roots of human

In the «ten» most important discoveries of the year were two relatively unexpected findings related to the history of the evolution of our species and genus.

The first relates to modern Earth in November of this year, biologists from Switzerland said that they accidentally managed to find a third species of orangutans in Sumatra, analyzing DNA and the remains of a male of the recently deceased in the woods in the North of the island. The discovery of these orangutans, Pongo tapanuliensis, was the first discovery of a new species of anthropoid primates over the past 90 years.

The second discovery concerns the distant past of humanity. In June of this year, paleontologists from Germany said that the humanity has, there are at least 300 thousand years, and demonstrated the first proof of such a bold hypothesis, while the remains of the most ancient people of the Earth, found in the mine of Jebel Irwd in the North-West of Morocco.

How, then, said Jean-Jacques Hublin (Jean-Jacques Hublin), the head of the excavation, of such venerable age, his findings suggests that humanity did not originate in one point and then spread around the world, as previously thought, scientists, and evolved throughout Africa.

New, the wonderful world of DNA

Three discoveries from the world of molecular biology and genetics was recognized as the most important achievements of the year and Science editors, and readers. Among them, in addition to the successful application of gene therapy to combat the degeneration of the muscles of the back, got two other achievements that can completely change medicine in the coming years.

The first of these was the drug pembrolizumab, is able to deal with several types of cancer. It was developed by Merck about ten years ago and was officially approved by US regulators in may this year. Pembrolizumab is a specific antibody that attaches to immune cells and «off» the security system in them, forcing them to actively fight with cancer.

The same honour was awarded to the discovery of biologists from Harvard, who created a new editing system of DNA, able to correct single random mutation in genes and other parts of the genome. As scientists hope that their development will help to win about 65% of all hereditary diseases that exist today.

Chasing neutrinos

Another «Russian» discovery of the year was made by a group of domestic and foreign scientists, led by Professor Yuri Efremenko of the National laboratory in Oak ridge (USA). His team were the first to capture one of the rarest variants of the collisions of neutrinos with the nuclei of atoms, which scientists did not expect to see.

Physicists from the Kurchatov Institute, the Institute of theoretical and experimental physics of RAS and other scientific organizations have achieved «the impossible», making a kind of method «on the contrary» – they did not increase the size of the particle detector, and reduced him, and at the same time increased «accuracy» and the intensity of the source of neutrinos.

The mysteries of life

The other main scientific achievements of the year relate to various fields of physics and chemistry, but they are connected by one common theme – they helped scientists to discover a number of secrets how on Earth did life originate and what she looked like in the past.

The journal Science recognized the discovery of physicists from Russia’s biggest breakthrough of the year© RIA Novosti / Alexei Nikolskiye in photolanguage found in Antarctica ice that arose before the glacial periodperiod of them is the creation cryoelectron microscopes has been noted by the Nobel Committee this year. These machines have become serious competitors for particle accelerators that are used today to study the molecular structure of proteins and other «molecules of life», and has allowed scientists to uncover the many mysteries of those molecules, for which synchrotrons are simply not available.

The other thing that can be called a triumph of climate science and analytical chemistry. Thanks to the combination of their methods geologists from the United States found in the Antarctic ice deposits that formed 2.7 million years ago. The study of air bubbles trapped in these sediments has already been pointed out that modern ideas about the beginning of the glacial period can be fundamentally wrong.