From discovering two neutron stars colliding and a new form of matter called excitonium to creating trees that glow and using magnetic fields to control physical movements in mice, 2017 unquestionably has been an amazing year for Science.
We don’t know for sure where science will take us in 2018, but wherever it takes us – it will be even more exciting than 2017 for scientists and science enthusiasts alike. Here’s SciShow’s look back at the toughest, biggest and hottest science of 2017. [Scroll down for video]
The Toughest Animal On the Planet: Wax Worms (Galleria mellonella)
In April, 2017 researchers discovered that wax worms (Galleria mellonella), a type of caterpillar that usually feeds on honeycombs, has the ability to degrade plastic.
40 percent of the plastics bags or plastic products we use are made of plastic called polyethylene that takes decades and even centuries to break down. But it was found that wax worms can break down the polyethylene into ethylene glycol – and they can do it in a matter of minutes.
The Biggest Dinosaur Ever Lived: Patagotitan mayorum
Scientists have known about this dinosaur for years, but its description and name were published this August in the journal the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. It’s called Patagotitan mayorum and it is the biggest dinosaur ever to walk on earth.
Patagotitan mayorum belonged to a group of sauropods – large herbivorous dinosaurs of the Jurassic and Cretaceous with long necks and tails, thick legs and small heads – called titanosaurs. The femur alone is 2.4 meters (8 feet) long – the longest of any vertebrate yet. Paleontologists estimate P. mayorum to be about 37 meters long and weighed around 62 metric tons, or as much as about 12 African elephants. Researchers say the dino was too big and it sort of goes against physiological physics.
The Hottest (non-El Niño) Year Ever Recorded: 2017
Scientists say 2017 will be the hottest non-El Niño year on record, and it will among the top three hottest years overall.
El Niño is a widespread weather disruption that happens when ocean currents shift in the equatorial Pacific regions, pushing huge mass of warm water eastwards towards the southern USA. El Niño tends to make the regions it affects warmer on average, which is why most of the hottest years ever recorded were during El Niño years.
But scientists say 2017, although a non-El Niño year, will likely rank as either the second or third hottest year ever.