What lies ahead for 2019 in science? No one can predict with certainty, but here’s what’s buzzing about in the world of science. In no particular order, here are the top stories to keep an eye out for this year:
1. News from outer space, the advanced telescope Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, LIGO, will be observing in February. It’s forecasted that LIGO may detect many more black holes and their mergers. It is also forecast that NASA’s Event Horizon Telescope will be able to capture images of Sagittarius A, a black hole at the center of our galaxy. Our moon is also going to be the center of attention this year, as China expects contribute to moon science with its first sample-return mission to the moon since 1976. Also, India is planning to send a lander sometime this summer to the moon’s south pole in addition to the Israeli company SpaceIL sending its own spacecraft.
2. Self-driving cars and new technology are predicted to make headlines this year. Companies such as General Motors, Waymo and others forecast 2019 as a pivotal year for this industry. Keep your eyes out on the road for this!
3. And there is Gene-editing technology such as CRISPR have regulatory bodies more concerned. In 2018, the European Union set strict rules on gene-edited crops and there is increasing concern over the announcement that gene-edited babies were born in China – what will be the fall-out?
4. Mass redefined – the kilogram gets a new standard. In late 2018, scientists around the world voted to take the kilogram – the only SI unit of measure based on a manufactured object – off if its old standard. In 1889, scientists created a platinum alloy cylinder to define the kilogram which is currently thought as a problem, as this alloy cylinder can slightly change over time due to corrosion and moisture for example. In May 2019, the new standard ties in fundamental properties of physics that are constant throughout the universe, assuring a common universal frame of reference.
5. Climate change will continue to be dominant in science media, as last year brought studies connecting climate change to extreme weather events like the California fires. To limit global warming, more technologies are emerging -- keep an eye out for ones like reflective aerosols actually reflect the sun’s light back out into space -- in theory cooling our planet.
Either way, science in 2019 will take us from microbiology innovations to the frontiers of the solar system and beyond. Either way, this year is guaranteed to inspire new questions!