Did you know that scientists invented a completely new state of matter called the time crystals? Or that pugs’ adorable faces are the result of a genetic mutation?
Here are some of the impressive science facts we learned in 2017:
1. A human organ that no-one knew about has been hiding in plain sight all this time. Called mesentery, it connects the intestine to the abdomen and is believed to perform important functions for the body ranging from helping the heart to aiding the immune system.
2. The Earth appears to have a whole new underground continent called Zealandia. The discovery itself isn’t new – some geologists have been arguing for its existence for many years. However, in 2017 a team of scientists concluded Zealandia fulfils all the requirements to be considered a drowned continent.
3. Pugs’ cute little flat faces are the result of a genetic mutation. Their features have been strongly linked to a gene variant called SMOC2.
4. For the first time in human history, gene-editing has been performed to fix a mutation for an inherited disease in embryos. Using a powerful tool called Crispr-Cas9, scientists successfully altered the DNA in defective embryos so they were no longer programmed to develop congenital heart failure.
5. Your appendix might not be a useless organ after all. Research suggests it might play a role in the immune system as a secondary defensive organ, acting as a “safe house” for helpful gut bacteria.
6. Giant penguins about the size of a grown man waddled around New Zealand about 59 million years ago.
7. The world’s smallest fidget spinner is 100 microns wide. It is smaller than the width of a human hair and is barely visible to the naked eye.
8. Lungs do more than help us breathe – a surprising discovery has found they also make blood. The organ, present in mammals, is believed to produce more than 10 million platelets (tiny blood cells) per hour.
9. A new state of matter exists (alongside solid, liquid and gaseous states) and it is known as time crystals. Created in the lab, the outrageously hard-to-grasp time crystals are structures that repeat periodically in time rather than space, potentially defying the laws of physics.