2016 into 2017 has been an insane time, with too many significant global events to mention – many good, many terrible and many just downright surprising. When it comes to discoveries, it’s pretty much the same. Some good, some terrible and some just downright surprising!
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9 - Mystery Solved
Lucy is a 3.2 million-year-old Australopithecus afarensis skeleton, who was discovered in 1974 in Ethiopia. She’s a remarkable find as she bridges the gap between apes and humans. It’s believed that she would have lived in the trees, but also able to walk like we do today. She’s been studied extensively for decades, but her death has only been confirmed in 2016. Judging how her bones were broken, it’s concluded that she fell down from around 40-feet and died when she hit the ground. Whether she was pushed or fell accidentally, that we will ever know. It was gleaned from her arms, and in the same way we would put our arms out to try save ourselves from impact, is exactly how Lucy had broken those bones in her arms and hands.
8 - Money-saver
This could potentially save millions of dollars every year – landing a rocket successfully on a drone ship! In the past, rocket boosters would just land in the ocean, but in April of 2016 – Falcon 9 landed on a floating drone, allowing researchers to reuse the rocket booster. Each space flight has altered from costing around $60 million each time to around $600,000, according to researchers.
7 – Not one but two!
2016 was a busy one for NASA, and now their scientists have found an asteroid that is a constant near-earth companion. They say there’s a lot of junk circulating this asteroid, which has been dubbed a second moon. Its real description is a quasi-satellite, with the name 2016 HO3. They do add to not get excited though, we’ll not be walking on this one anytime soon and it will depart within a few centuries.
6 - Not just a feeling
This strange discovery has been called an Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, but you can just refer to it as ASMR. It’s that tingling sensation you get at the back of your head or neck when you hear plastic crinkling or someone whispering in your ear. The results of this bizarre study were published in 2016 and it’s thanks to a psychology student at Swansea University that it was officially recognized. Scientists had for years just classed the sensation as goosebumps, but now it’s officially recognized as ASMR.
5 - Keeping it in the family
Let’s hope they do, because a group of red squirrels over in the UK have been found to carry a strain of leprosy that was found in people living in the middle ages.
4 - It’s a match
When you think of ducks, you don’t really see them as being super intelligent animals – but further research into mallards have shown that they are capable of recognizing if objects are exactly the same or completely different. To put it in the exact words of the people behind this 2016 discovery, “The brain operates with abstract conceptual reasoning, a faculty often assumed to be reserved to highly intelligent organisms.”
3 - A new kind of super-hero!
Discovered in 2016, this millimeter long roundworm has been dubbed a little superhero. It’s tiny, eyeless and nothing much to look at – but wait until you hear about its light-detecting capabilities. The worm has photoreceptors that allow it to capture 50% more light than that of a human eye. Scientists are trying to figure out why this little super worm needs that ability, and when they do – they’re hoping to genetically engineer similar photoreceptors.
2 - Excuse Me
For a number of years, scientists have wondered where the hum in the middle of the Pacific Ocean comes from… and finally in the last few months, we have a more conclusive answer… but I won’t lie – it’s truly weird! The noise was loudest at sunrise and sunset, and that’s the time when small fish and crustaceans come out from hiding to eat. So their first option was that it was the sudden movement of a large number of sea animals, and the other, more unusual option, was the fish actually let off gases which helps keep them bouncy and floaty. Research continues
1 - Journey of a different kind
Many stories have been told by people who have had out of body experiences, or astral trips – and it’s been something that has been studied for as long as anyone can remember, although it has also had its fair share of sceptics. Volunteers had a series of tests run on them, and scientists confirmed that the out of body experience was indeed real. The subjects experienced a kind of hallucination which was triggered by a neurological mechanism, and even stranger, that it was possible to train yourself to activate it.