Science had a pretty rough ride in 2017.

From flat-earthers (yes there are people who do not believe the planet to be a sphere) to the Trump administration's gutting of the US Environmental Protection Agency, banning of phrases such as "science-based" and "evidence-based" from official documents and rejection of climate science – well, let's call them bizarre times and leave it at that.

But the year was not a dead loss. Science remained very much alive and kicking. Here are five breakthroughs to have emerged from an otherwise turbulent year:

1.Artificial wombs are now a thing. In April US physicians successfully tested a bio-bag on a lamb. The artificial womb will soon be ready for human use and has the potential to save many lives.

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Science and medicine reached new heights in 2017 #NowThis2017

Posted by NowThis Future on Thursday, 28 December 2017


2.Genetically modified humans are no longer science fiction. In July US researchers genetically modified human embryos using gene editing tool CRISPR demonstrating that it's possible to safely and efficiently correct defective genes that carry heritable diseases.

3.Led by Chinese researchers communication technology took a giant leap forward thanks to quantum physics. The world of the very small is set to revolutionise the way we communicate.

4.SpaceX successfully ushered in the era of re-usable space rockets. Expect space tourism to become a real thing in the coming years and for commercial space flight to be many times less expensive as a result.


5.Last but not least artificial intelligence continued to evolve in leaps and bounds. Expect 2018 to be a year dominated by personal digital assistants, driverless cars and – ahem – the rise of machine intelligence in general.

Meanwhile perhaps ponder the damage ignorance can cause. Next time you meet a flat-earther please challenge them to go to the edge of the planet and return with a photo as proof – and for pity's sake never vote for them.

Happy new year.