Published on May 31st, 2014 | by Fiona McLean


Looking Back to the Future

With half the crew struggling with exams, here at the Au blog we decided to feature one of the articles from our latest issue, Ten! (You do know you can read the issue online right? But if you still prefer that glossy look and paper feel, the printed versions are available all through campus!) Fiona McLean, a postgraduate in neuroscience and nutrition, regales us with a look back to what the past 10 years of science have brought us.

On the 21st October 2015, fans of the Back to the Future Trilogy will wait with bated breath to see if the DeLorean comes crashing down with a cry of ‘Great Scott’ from 1985. Whilst we all know that Back to the Future II was just a film, there are a few technologies the film correctly predicted the future would have, including hand-held tablet computers and wall-mounted wide screen televisions. It is truly amazing how much science and technology has progressed even in a single decade. Let’s have a look at some of the highlights of the last ten years and what 2014 might hold in store.

  • 2004: Whilst listening to Michelle McManus on our MP3 players, we were introduced to a form of social media which would completely revolutionise the way in which we communicated and gave us the ability to stalk people without getting a restraining order. Facebook came into our lives on the 4th February 2004, and now in 2014 it allows millions of people all over the world to show everyone else what their face looks like when taking a picture in a bathroom mirror.
  • 2005: On April 23rd another social media mammoth appeared with the first ever videos being uploaded to YouTube. It debuted with some exciting videos such as “Me at the zoo”, where a man at the zoo tells us that elephants have really long trunks.
  • 2006: After 16 years, the Human Genome Project came to a close with the publication of the last chromosomal sequence.
  • 2007: Apple unveiled the first ever iPhone on the 9th January. It was secretly created under the code name “Project Purple” and there was apparently a sign on the door to the design room that said “Fight Club” in reference to the first rule from the film. Hopefully the other rules did not apply because I cannot imagine it being particularly easy to work with no shirts or shoes (I think I just broke the first rule).
  • 2008: The Large Hadron Collider at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (otherwise known as CERN) started proton beam tests on the 10th September. However, it then broke 9 days later…
  • 2009: The beginning of 2009 kicks off the year by celebrating the birth of Charles Darwin 200 years previously. In January, the first extinct animal was cloned and born alive, however died seven minutes later due to a lung defect. The animal was a Pyrenean ibex, a type of wild mountain goat, which was found to be extinct in 2000. This research gives hope that extinct animals will not be lost forever. This is great news, as long as scientists do not try and clone dinosaurs. We have all seen what happened in Jurassic Park.
  • 2010: Scientists discovered the first animals that can survive completely without oxygen deep in the Mediterranean Sea, Sony retired its cassette Walkman after 30 years on the market and one of Jupiter’s stripes went missing! These stripes are actually cloud belts and go missing from time to time but usually turn up again at some point. Sort of like ‘that friend’ who can be a bit wayward on a night out. Or a cat.
  • 2011: In January researchers examined seventeen different species of shark in Australia and they were all found to be colour blind. Also this year, scientists were able to manipulate light waves to create invisibility whilst others produced a bulletproof skin prototype from genetically modified silkworm thread. So basically, 2011 was the year that you could become a real superhero.
  • 2012: Physical feats of humankind were taken to a whole new level (quite literally) as Felix Baumgartner jumped from the Earth’s stratosphere and broke the world record for the highest jump at 38,969.3 metres. He became the first ever man to break the sound barrier without the use of a vehicle.
  • 2013: Scientists revealed they had stored large quantities of information on a single strand of synthetic DNA including an MP3 music file, a JPEG image and every single one of Williams Shakespeare’s sonnets! However, one of the biggest findings that happened in 2013 was the discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN.

But let’s get back to the future…

2483708561_8fb44c5ce0_bSince the early months of 2014 there had already been many achievements in science and technology; Google announced the development of a glucose monitor in the form of a contact lens, an ancient mountain range was found in Antarctica under several kilometres of ice, and a Dutch man who had lost his hand was given a robotic replacement that allows him to feel varying pressures. So who knows where we will be in another ten years?! Here’s hoping with a hover board! But maybe not surrounded by dinosaurs…

Featured image of DeLorean by Lee Jordan at Flickr.
Hover board image by JD Hancock at Flickr.

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