10 Scientific Discoveries in 2021 (2023)

December 17, 2021


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10 Scientific Discoveries in 2021 (1)

Last year, I compiled this list the night Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine became the first approved vaccine for SARS-CoV-2. Feeling excited and optimistic, I wrote, “Scientists did their work to figure out which treatments would work and which would not. And now, thanks to them, it finally feels like there is a light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel.” A year later, due to a myriad of reasons, that’s unfortunately not the case. However, 2021 did see a reluctant return to “normal” life, at least more so than the quarantine-filled year prior. Scientists like yourself returned to the lab, continued to take on SARS-CoV-2, and delved into so much more. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting scientific discoveries of this year.

10 Scientific Discoveries in 2021 (2)

1. World’s First Double Arm and Shoulder Transplant

An Icelandic man who lost both arms in a work accident 23 years ago became the world’s first recipient of a double arm and shoulder transplant in January. At the time, doctors said it would be “life-changing” if the patient, Felix Gretarsson, recovered the ability to actively bend his elbow. Nerves grow, on average, about 1 mm per day, meaning after about a year, Gretarsson’s nerves would be reaching the elbow, and in two years, may reach his hands. Less than 6 months after the surgery, Gretarsson could already flex his bicep and reported some nerve feeling in his forearms.

10 Scientific Discoveries in 2021 (3)

2. Researchers Sequence World’s Oldest DNA from 1-Million-Year-Old Mammoth

An international team led by Stockholm University researchers successfully analyzed the genomes from three ancient mammoths using DNA recovered from mammoth teeth that had been buried for 0.7 to 1.2 million years in the Siberian permafrost. Analysis showed the oldest specimen, which was approximately 1.2 million years old, belonged to a previously unknown genetic lineage of mammoth, now known as the Krestovka mammoth. The results show the Krestovka mammoth diverged from other Siberian mammoths more than 2 million years ago.

(Video) Top 10 Unbelievable Science Discoveries Of 2021

"One of the big questions now is how far back in time we can go,” said Anders Götherström, molecular archaeology professor and research leader at Stockholm University’s Centre for Palaeogenetics. “We haven’t reached the limit yet. An educated guess would be that we could recover DNA that is two million years old, and possibly go even as far back as 2.6 million.”

10 Scientific Discoveries in 2021 (4)

3. Irreversible Changes to the Climate

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first part of its Sixth Assessment Report, which summarizes the state of physical science on climate change based on over 14,000 papers and concludes that effects of human-caused climate change are now "widespread, rapid, and intensifying.” Overall, the Sixth Assessment Report indicates a faster warming Earth with every region facing changes beyond temperature, including some that are considered irreversible at this point.

“Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years,” reads the report.

Just a month prior to the release of the IPCC report, researchers from Sweden, Norway and Germany published a study that argued the current rate of global plastic pollution is nearing an irreversible tipping point. The study laid out a number of hypothetical examples of plastic pollution threats, including exacerbation of climate change because of disruption of the global carbon pump, biodiversity loss in the ocean where plastic pollution acts as additional stressor to overfishing, ongoing habitat loss caused by changes in water temperatures, nutrient supply and chemical exposure.

10 Scientific Discoveries in 2021 (5)

4. World’s First Malaria Vaccine Endorsed by WHO

Based on an ongoing pilot program of 800,000 children since 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions with moderate to high malaria transmission. The GSK-developed vaccine has limited efficacy, preventing 39% of malaria cases and 29% of severe malaria cases among small children in Africa over four years of trials. Still, if the full series of doses is given to all kids in countries with a high incidence of malaria, modeling studies suggest the vaccine could prevent the deaths of 23,000 children a year. In 2019, 409,000 people died from malaria—and more than 270,000 of those victims were children under five.

10 Scientific Discoveries in 2021 (6)

5. Supercomputers Outwit Antibiotic Resistance

(Video) 10 Most Controversial Recent Discoveries!

About 700,000 people die every year because of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and that number is projected to rise into the millions. Some studies predict that, without effective antibiotics, life expectancy will drop by 20 years. Researchers from the University of Portsmouth recently took a giant leap toward combatting this public health threat—they are the first to use a multi-pronged computer-guided strategy to make a new antibiotic from an existing one that bacteria have outwitted. Their best drug candidate, which is yet to undergo clinical trials, is up to 56 times more active for the tested bacterial strains than two antibiotics on the World Health Organisation’s list of essential medicines, erythromycin and clarithromycin.

10 Scientific Discoveries in 2021 (7)

6. Human Cells Can Write RNA Sequences into DNA

In a study published this summer, Thomas Jefferson University researchers provided the first evidence that RNA segments can be written back into DNA, which potentially challenges the central dogma in biology and could have wide implications affecting many fields of biology. In a series of experiments, the researchers tested polymerase theta against the reverse transcriptase from HIV, which is one of the best studied of its kind. They showed that polymerase theta was capable of converting RNA messages into DNA, which it did as well as HIV reverse transcriptase, and that it actually did a better job than when duplicating DNA to DNA. Polymerase theta was more efficient and introduced fewer errors when using an RNA template to write new DNA messages, than when duplicating DNA into DNA, suggesting that this function could be its primary purpose in the cell.

10 Scientific Discoveries in 2021 (8)

7. E.T. Phone Home?

For the first time ever, the U.S. government released a report on extraterrestrials, or the possibility of extraterrestrial life. In reviewing 144 sightings of aircraft or other devices apparently flying at mysterious speeds or trajectories, investigators did not find extraterrestrial links. But, they did highlight the need for better data collection. To that point, Harvard’s Avi Loeb launched the Galileo Project, to "bring the search for extraterrestrial technological signatures from accidental or anecdotal observations and legends to the mainstream of transparent, validated and systematic scientific research." The research group will aim to identify the nature of unidentified aerial phenomena and other interstellar objects using the standard scientific method based on an analysis of open scientific data collected using optimized instruments.

10 Scientific Discoveries in 2021 (9)

8. Green Coffee and Starch

Scientists at VTT in Finland successfully produced batches of coffee that smell and taste like the real thing using coffee cell cultures and bioreactors. Startup companies Compound Foods and Atomo are also working toward more sustainable coffee production. These synthetic versions of coffee use less water, generate less carbon emissions, require less labor, and—most importantly—cause no deforestation. Around the same time, scientists in China published a study on a novel technology that can turn CO2 into starch in a highly efficient manner. Essential for many products and the most common carbohydrate in human diets, sustainable production could reduce land, pesticide and water use, as well as greenhouse gas emissions, all while increasing food security.

10 Scientific Discoveries in 2021 (10)

(Video) Top 13 Scientific Breakthroughs Of 2022.Biggest Discoveries Science Ever Had lNew Innovation of 2022

9. First Sample from Another Planet

NASA’s Perseverance rover successfully completed the collection of the first sample of Martian rock, a core from Jezero Crater, slightly thicker than a pencil. The sample-taking process began when the rotary-percussive drill at the end of Perseverance’s robotic arm cored into a flat, briefcase-size Mars rock nicknamed “Rochette.” After completing the coring process, the arm maneuvered the corer, bit, and sample tube so the rover’s Mastcam-Z camera instrument could image the contents of the still-unsealed tube and transmit the results back to Earth. After mission controllers confirmed the cored rock’s presence in the tube, they sent a command to complete processing of the sample. Perseverance then transferred sample tube serial number 266 and its Martian cargo into the rover’s interior to measure and image the rock core. It then hermetically sealed the container, took another image, and stored the tube. These samples would be the first set of scientifically identified and selected materials returned to Earth from another planet.

10 Scientific Discoveries in 2021 (11)

10. Long-term COVID-19 Research, including Long COVID

Dogs have long been used for the detection of drugs and bombs, so why not turn to them again in a pandemic-driven time of need? Both Florida International University and the University of Pennsylvania launched successful programs to train dogs to detect the smell of COVID-19 on humans. FIU researchers demonstrated the dogs achieved greater than 90 percent accuracy with low false positives, while Penn researchers showed the dogs were even able to detect asymptomatic patients and those who already cleared the virus from their system. Additionally, start-up companies InsectSense and Wageningen Bioveterinary Research successfully trained bees to extend their tongues when they smell the coronavirus. Bees, like dogs, can learn to detect volatiles and odors, but with just a few minutes of training. The research was conducted with more than 150 bees with different training setups to determine the most optimum training protocol.

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(Video) Top 10 Biggest Scientific Discoveries of 2021


What are the 10 scientific discoveries? ›

Here we have a look at ten of the world's greatest accidental scientific discoveries.
  • Penicillin. One of the biggest medicinal breakthroughs in history came about entirely by accident. ...
  • Viagra. ...
  • Plastic. ...
  • The Microwave. ...
  • Vaseline. ...
  • Strikeable Match. ...
  • Gunpowder. ...
  • Mauve.
27 Sept 2022

What are the 10 greatest scientific discoveries and inventions of 21st century? ›

These are the 21st-century inventions that shape our day-to-day world.
  • Smartphones. We're practically attached to them, so it's hard to remember that the first iPhone came out just 15 years ago. ...
  • Social media. ...
  • Tokenization. ...
  • GPS Navigation. ...
  • Streaming. ...
  • E-Readers. ...
  • Human Genome Map. ...
  • Cryptocurrency.
1 Jul 2022

What is the biggest discovery of 2022? ›

The Most Important Discovery Of 2022: The James Webb Space Telescope.

Who is the scientist of the year 2021? ›

Dr Binoy Kumar Saikia, Scientist of Coal and Energy Research Group at North East Institute of Science and Technology (CSIR–NEIST), was awarded for his extraordinary contribution-Development of fluorescent "carbon quantum dots" (CQDs) from Indian coal.

What is the best scientific discovery? ›

Without the discovery of DNA, we wouldn't have all the ground-breaking studies going on right now in genome mapping and sequencing, so for that reason, DNA has to be my number one scientific discovery of all time.

What is a recent science discovery? ›

Discovery of World's Oldest DNA Breaks Record by One Million Years. Dec. 7, 2022 — Two-million-year-old DNA has been identified -- opening a 'game-changing' new chapter in the history of evolution. Microscopic fragments of environmental DNA were found in Ice Age sediment in ...

What is the latest discovery of science 2022? ›

Astronomers report the discovery of HD1, considered to be the earliest and most distant known galaxy yet identified in the observable universe, located only about 330 million years after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago, a light-travel distance of 13.5 billion light-years from Earth, and, due to the expansion of the ...

What are 10 scientific facts? ›

Some Amazing Science Facts
  • The oceans produce the majority of the oxygen on Earth. ...
  • Soil is full of life. ...
  • Bananas are radioactive. ...
  • Water can exist in three states at the same time. ...
  • Helium has the ability to work against gravity. ...
  • Humans have inherited genes from other species. ...
  • Human Body. ...
  • Animals and Insects.

What are the top 10 modern invention of world? ›

Jump to:
  • Compass.
  • Printing press.
  • Internal combustion engine.
  • Telephone.
  • Light bulb.
  • Penicillin.
  • Contraceptives.
  • Internet.
22 Dec 2021

What are the top 10 inventions of the 20th century? ›

Time Magazine's 20 Most Influential Inventions of the 20th Century
  • Radio.
  • Television.
  • Transistor.
  • Laser.
  • Electric refrigeration.
  • Personal computer.
  • Wireless technology.
  • Manned spaceflight.

What is the most important discovery of 21st century? ›

Cern scientists to celebrate breakthrough in our understanding of the universe. Monday, July 4, marks 10 years since one of the most celebrated scientific breakthroughs of the 21st century: the discovery of the Higgs boson, a particle that is key to understanding the universe.

What has been discovered in 2022? ›

It's been a landmark year for discovering new, fascinating worlds. In 2022, NASA surpassed 5,000 confirmed exoplanets, which are alien worlds beyond our solar system. These include a diversity of distant planets, including (perhaps rocky) super-Earths, gas giants like Jupiter, "ice giants" like Neptune, and beyond.

What is the invention of 2022? ›

ViraWarn, a COVID-19 detector and warning system for your personal space, is one of the most outstanding inventions of 2022. This tabletop device alerts you instantly and accurately if the virus and its variants are within your proximity.

What is the most recent planet discovery? ›

Proxima Centauri is the closest star to the Sun, lying just over four light-years away. The newly discovered planet, named Proxima d, orbits Proxima Centauri at a distance of about four million kilometres, less than a tenth of Mercury's distance from the Sun.

What are the biggest discoveries? ›

What is the greatest scientific discovery of all time?
  • The Copernicum System. ...
  • Gravity. ...
  • Electricity. ...
  • Evolution. ...
  • Louis Pasteur. ...
  • Theory of Relativity. ...
  • The Big Bang Theory. ...
  • Penicillin.
31 Dec 2021

What are the main discoveries? ›

  • Stereochemistry.
  • Organic Compounds.
  • Quantum Numbers.
  • Atomic Mass of Elements.
  • Periodic Properties of Elements.
  • 118 Elements and Their Symbols.
  • Balancing Chemical Equations.
  • Salt Analysis.

What is the most important discovery in the last 10 years? ›

1. Higgs boson. It took four years, thousands of people and the world's biggest machine, but, in 2012, particle physicists at CERN announced the discovery of the Higgs boson. The particle helps explain why all other particles in the universe have mass, and its discovery completed the standard model of particle physics.

Who is the scientist of the year 2022? ›

It's fair to say Kevin Kittle, our 2022 Scientist of the Year, has a proud history with AkzoNobel.

Who is the number one scientist in 2022? ›

Peter Reich, director of the Institute for Global Change Biology at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability, has been ranked the No.

Who is No 1 scientist ever? ›

Albert Einstein is one of the most famous scientists in the world. He used to be an eccentric person who was perhaps the only scientist in the world who has become such a household name. His theories of relativity, gravitation and his understanding of molecules have defined new approaches in science.

What discovery has changed the world? ›

Some important scientific and cultural discoveries that changed the world. Includes very basic discoveries such as fire, wheel and writing and also later scientific discoveries such as gravity, the theory of evolution and the theory relativity.

What was the first discovery in science? ›

He was the one who discovered the motion of uniformly accelerated objects that the objects of different masses fall at the same time. On August 21, 1609, Galileo introduced his first scientific discovery of the telescope that amazed the whole world.

Which 11 discoveries changed the world? ›

From pioneering inventions to bold scientific and medical advancements, find out more about 11 innovations that changed the course of human history.
  • The Printing Press. ...
  • The Compass. ...
  • Paper Currency. ...
  • Steel. ...
  • The Electric Light. ...
  • Domestication of the Horse. ...
  • 9 Groundbreaking Inventions by Women.
  • Transistors.
18 Feb 2021

What are some current science events? ›

Science News
  • The ancestor to modern brewing yeast has been found hiding in Ireland. ...
  • Homo naledi may have lit fires in underground caves at least 236,000 years ago. ...
  • Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano is erupting. ...
  • A bizarre gamma-ray burst breaks the rules for these cosmic eruptions.

How old is the earth? ›

Earth is estimated to be 4.54 billion years old, plus or minus about 50 million years. Scientists have scoured the Earth searching for the oldest rocks to radiometrically date. In northwestern Canada, they discovered rocks about 4.03 billion years old.

Who is the youngest scientist in the world 2022? ›

(Wednesday, October 19, 2022) – 3M (@3M) and Discovery Education (@DiscoveryEd) have named Leanne Fan, a 9th grader at Westville High School in Poway Unified School District in San Diego, Calif., the winner of the 2022 3M Young Scientist Challenge (#YoungScientist), the nation's premier middle school science ...

Who is the scientist of India in 2022? ›

Homi Jehangir Bhabha, born in Bombay, is best known for his theory on point particles. He also developed the Bhabha scattering in quantum electrodynamics. But his work on India's nuclear program is the most famous.

What are 5 amazing facts? ›

5 amazing science facts that will blow your mind
  • A teaspoonful of neutron star. ...
  • Metals that explode when in contact with water. ...
  • Hawaii is moving closer to Alaska by 7.5cm every year. ...
  • Sunflowers are known as hyperaccumulators. ...
  • A cockroach can live for up to one week without its head.
15 Nov 2021

What are 5 science examples? ›

The physical sciences include physics (the study of matter and forces), chemistry (the study of chemicals) and astronomy (the study of outer space). Life sciences deal with living things and include botany (the study of plants), zoology (the study of animals) and paleontology (the study of fossils).

What are 5 cool facts? ›

Interesting Unknown Facts
  • Hot water will turn into ice faster than cold water. ...
  • The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows. ...
  • The strongest muscle in the body is the tongue. ...
  • Ants take rest for around 8 Minutes in 12-hour period. ...
  • "I Am" is the shortest complete sentence in the English language. ...
  • Coca-Cola was originally green.

What are the 7 steps to a science experiment? ›

The scientific method
  • Make an observation.
  • Ask a question.
  • Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation.
  • Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.
  • Test the prediction.
  • Iterate: use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions.

What are the 4 types of experiments? ›

Four major design types with relevance to user research are experimental, quasi-experimental, correlational and single subject. These research designs proceed from a level of high validity and generalizability to ones with lower validity and generalizability.

What are the 3 experiments? ›

The three main types of scientific experiments are experimental, quasi-experimental, and observational (non-experimental).

What are the 4 greatest inventions? ›

They are the compass, gunpowder, papermaking and printing. China held the world's leading position in many fields in the study of nature from the 1st century BC to the 15th century AD, with the four great inventions having the greatest global significance.

What will be invented in the next 20 years? ›

They can carry out the mathematical computations needed for AI and machine learning at the speed of light. That's up to 5 to 10 times faster than electricity-based AI chips.
Technologies that process data using light include:
  • Self-driving cars.
  • Advanced robots.
  • Quantum computers.
  • VR glasses.
  • Brain-computer interfaces.
9 Jan 2022

What are the 3 greatest innovations of All Time? ›

The Greatest Inventions In The Past 1000 Years
1Printing PressJohannes Gutenberg
2Electric LightThomas Edison
3AutomobileKarl Benz
4TelephoneAlexander Graham Bell
6 more rows

What are the top 10 inventions of the 19th century? ›

Inventions from the 1800s:
  • Winchester Repeating Rifle. Phonograph.
  • Sewing machine (Isaac Singer) Telegraph.
  • Telephone. Steam Locomotive.
  • Electricity/Light bulb. Photography.
  • Typewriter. Barbed wire.

What scientific events happened in 2012? ›

The year 2012 involved many significant scientific events and discoveries, including the first orbital rendezvous by a commercial spacecraft, the discovery of a particle highly similar to the long-sought Higgs boson, and the near-eradication of guinea worm disease.

What is an example of a scientific discovery? ›

Penicillin. Antibiotics are powerful drugs that kill dangerous bacteria in our bodies that make us sick. In 1928, Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic, penicillin, which he grew in his lab using mold and fungi. Without antibiotics, infections like strep throat could be deadly.

What are the best and the most useful inventions of mankind in the 20th and 21st centuries? ›

I will start with the top ten of the 20th century and then the top ten of the current century.
  • Radio. Not many people can appreciate the impact the advent of radio had on 20th century. ...
  • Internet. ► Inventions. ...
  • Television. ...
  • Antibiotics. ...
  • The Submarine. ...
  • Rocketry. ...
  • Automobile. ...
  • Airplane.
11 Feb 2016

What was the best invention of 2021? ›

The global award-winning, handheld OrCam Read device is the most advanced personal AI solution that helps people with reading challenges read text from any surface.

What is the newest technology in 2022? ›

Top 10 New Trending Technologies in 2022
  • Blockchain. ...
  • Edge Computing. ...
  • Internet of Behaviors. ...
  • Predictive analytics. ...
  • Snowflake. ...
  • DevOps. ...
  • Robotics. ...
  • AI as a Service. The term "AI as a Service" refers to a cloud-based service that provides artificial intelligence capabilities.
8 Jun 2022

What is the newest technology in 2021? ›

Here is the list of Top 20 Trending Technologies in 2021:
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
  • Data Science.
  • Full Stack Development.
  • Robotic Process Automation.
  • Edge Computing.
  • Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.
  • 5G.

What was invented in 2022? ›

Here are nine tech inventions these founders picked as their best in 2022: ViraWarn COVID-19 Warning System for Personal Spaces. The Extended-Use Grid Battery. The Foldable Screen Tablet.

What was invented in year 2021? ›

Dolfi. Meet Dolfi, one of the most advanced scientific inventions in 2021 that can remove soap from the washing process. Dolfi uses loud noises to remove dirt from your clothes while you wash them in a washing machine.


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