Regulation of PT genetic edition, revisions to biosecurity management in the laboratory and the search for new mechanisms to reduce impacts climate change, are some scientific advancements that will star in 2019, according to the prestigious magazine Nature # 39.
During the following year, geneticists will continue to deal with the effects of statements made by Chinese researcher He Jiankui, because it has helped produce the world's first genetically modified babies. The researchers hope to confirm whether Jiankui modified the genes of two embryos that produced two twins. Following protests from the international scientific community, scientists will try to uncover the potential side effects of the process and create a framework to ensure that any future attempts to edit human hereditary DNA – ovules, sperm or embryos – carried out in a responsible and regulated manner.
By the middle of the year, the World Health Organization hopes to complete the main revision & # 39; Laboratory of Biosecurity Manual & # 39 ;, the first since 2004. Guidelines that are widely used describe best practices for the management of safe pathogens such as Ebola. The review will increase the focus on creating site-specific and experimental risk assessments, and on improving management, practice and training of laboratory staff.
Another worrying problem is Climate change When carbon emissions increase, 2019 can see the first experiment explicitly aimed at understanding how to cool the planet artificially using a practice called solar geoengineering. Scientists from Harvard University are behind the Stratospheric Control Control Disorder Experiment (SCoPEx), which they hope can spray 100 grams of particles in the stratosphere to observe how they scatter. Such particles can eventually cool the planet by reflecting some of the sunlight back into space.
In addition to genetic editing, biosecurity and climate change, & # 39; Nature & # 39; also included in the list polar project to Antarctica. In January, researchers from the United States and Britain will begin their biggest joint mission on the continent in more than 70 years. The aim of this five-year project is to understand whether remote and seemingly unstable Thwaites glaciers will begin to collapse in the coming decades. The mission includes a study of sea conditions using autonomous submarines and sensors mounted on seals.
European scientists also plan to begin drilling the ice sheet Small Dome C Antarctica, in an effort to restore 1.5 million years of ice core. If successful, the nucleus will produce weather records and the oldest atmospheric conditions.
Anglo-Saxon publications also focus on future findings that can reveal more details about origins ancient hominin species islands in Southeast Asia, an area that has attracted archaeologists since & # 39; hobbit & # 39; visible human beings were found on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003. Existing excavations can reveal more about the first human inhabitants in the region. The Philippine island of Luzon, even if it is isolated, causes small stature, similar to what appears to be happening on Flores.
Large scientific infrastructure
In the field of astronomy, the largest radio telescope in the world will stand out. Radio Round Opening Telescope 500 meters from China (FAST), which should be fully operational and available to researchers starting September. Since the beginning of its commissioning phase in 2016, mega telescopes have detected more than 50 new pulsars: dense dead stars that spin rapidly. Soon he will look for weak signals that emerge from phenomena such as rapid radio explosions and cosmic gas clouds.
Meanwhile, astronomers will decide whether to continue construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on the Hawaiian mountain Mauna Kea – a project that also fights the island of La Palma, in the Canary Islands.
In fact, China could emerge in 2019 as the largest research and development expenditure company in the world, after adjusting the purchasing power of its currency, once the country publishes its 2018 expenditure data by the end of 2019. Spending on science in China has increased since 2003, even though the country is still in behind the United States in terms of measures of quality in research.
For its part, Europe will try to reach an agreement on how to disburse 100 billion euros proposed through the next European Union (Horizon program) research funding program, which began in 2021. It is not clear how they can participate researchers from the UK, because uncertainty about Brexit is still in this country.
2019 can also be a decisive year for plans to build International Linear Collider (ILC), successor to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva (Switzerland). Physicists in Japan proposed to host this project in 2012, after scientists from the LHC announced the discovery of the Higgs boson, which will be studied in detail by new instruments. But a 2018 report commissioned by the Japanese government rejected the project because of its huge costs (around 7,000 million dollars), but Japan was the only country that showed interest in hosting the ILC. The government is expected to issue a statement whether to do so before March 7.
In October 2018, Canada legalized cannabis for all uses (the second country in the world, after Uruguay), which unexpectedly led to funding investigation on marijuana by the provincial and federal governments. At the end of 2019, researchers at the University of Guelph hope to launch the first academic center dedicated to cannabis research in Canada, which will learn everything from plant genetics to its health benefits.
Canádá legalizes marijuana for all uses.
With all the progress coming in 2019, subscription journals can change their business model to adapt to Plan S, an initiative to transform academic publications into a full open access model, a system that many journals are currently banning.