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Digital Journal’s top science articles of the year

Posted Dec 21, 2017 by Tim Sandle
From super-fast 3D printers to a major leap forwards with gene editing to address genetic diseases, Digital Journal continues to provide cutting-edge science and technology features. We present the pick of 2017.
220 miles above Earth  this is a broad area view of Sendai  Japan. The end of the shuttle vertical s...
220 miles above Earth, this is a broad area view of Sendai, Japan. The end of the shuttle vertical stabilizer points to Sendai.
NASA
As we do this time each year, Digital Journal takes a look back at the most interesting science and science related technology news that we’ve reported on during the course of the year. This year Digital Journal’s science editor has selected one article of interest from each month of 2017.
Creating an artificial human stomach
The device allows people to pump as much as a third of each meal out of their stomach.
The device allows people to pump as much as a third of each meal out of their stomach.
AspireAssist
In January we reported on how researchers from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center had successfully created a functional stomach and intestinal tissues. The biological construct was developed in order to study diseases and new drugs, and looking at the interactions between health and disease. Here a key focus is with finding new treatments for genetic forms of diseases.
New way to measure skin hydration for athletes
Marathon runners in Paris
Marathon runners in Paris
Josiah Mackenzie
Dehydration is an overlooked but significant health issue and it can result in death. Athletes in particular are affected by the physiological condition. A risk with dehydration is that the body reacts before a person is fully aware.
To assist with early detection, North Carolina State University technologists devised a wearable, low-cost sensor to measure skin hydration. The sensor reliably informs the wearer when they need to drink more water, making it ideal for those who exercise or who are worried about becoming dehydrated.
Nuclear fusion
In nuclear physics  nuclear fusion is a reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei come close enoug...
In nuclear physics, nuclear fusion is a reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei come close enough to form one or more different atomic nuclei and subatomic particles (neutrons and/or protons). The difference in mass between the products and reactants is manifested as the release of large amounts of energy.
Kjerish
One of the most popular science articles during 2017 looked into nuclear fusion – the ideal of low cost, clean energy. In a significant development a collaboration between Rice University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Chile scientists reported on how atoms can be ‘nudged’ to fuse through the use of shaped laser pulses. These are so-called ultrashort, tuned bursts of coherent light, and controlling this could be the key to controlling the nuclear fusion process.
Scanning for food poisoning using a smart phone
E. coli magnified 10 000 times using an electron microscope.
E. coli magnified 10,000 times using an electron microscope.
Brian0918
A smartphone has been successfully adapted to screen food samples for the pathogen Escherichia coli 0517 is the April pick. It is hoped the speed and portability of the application will soon enhance food safety.
Bipolar disorder linked to gray matter loss
On the left is the brain activation pattern for  death  in participants who had made a suicide attem...
On the left is the brain activation pattern for "death" in participants who had made a suicide attempt. The image in the right depicts the activation pattern for "death" in control participants.
Carnegie Mellon University
A connection between the thinning of gray matter in the brain regions responsible for inhibition and emotion and the development of bipolar disorder was one of the most popular science reads in May. The news into this development in psychiatric medicine came from the University of Oslo’s Faculty of Medicine.
World’s largest aircraft
For the first time ever  the Stratolaunch aircraft moved out of the hangar to conduct aircraft fueli...
For the first time ever, the Stratolaunch aircraft moved out of the hangar to conduct aircraft fueling tests. This marks the completion of the initial aircraft construction phase and transition into the aircraft ground and flight testing phase.
Stratolaunch Systems Corp.
June’s jumbo story was about the Stratolaunch, which is the largest aircraft yet built. The aircraft weighs about 500,000 pounds (227,000 kilograms) and it is powered by six 205–296 kN (46,000–66,500 lbf) thrust-range jet engines. The aircraft is the brainchild of billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and it has been built by his private spaceflight company.
Deepwater still needs cleaning up
Platform supply vessels battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon.
Platform supply vessels battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon.
US Coast Guard
The infamous Deepwater Horizon environmental disaster still poses an ecological problem, although part of the remediation efforts appears effective: the use of microorganisms. A study from the U.S. Department of the Environment and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggests a complex community microbes that specialize as hydrocarbon-degrader are effective at degrading oil deposits.
Poor sleep is as damaging as binge drinking
Some tired tourists pause by a fountain at Topkapi Palace
Some tired tourists pause by a fountain at Topkapi Palace
Be sure to get sufficient sleep or else the long-term effects on the brain are as bad as excessive alcohol consumption, according to research we highlighted in August. This came finding came from Dr. Adrian Owen who has worked with the digital health company Medisys Preventive Health. The health consequences include an elevated risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke. In other words, the effects of sleep deprivation negatively affect the whole body.
Artificial intelligence aids medicine
Microsoft continues to introduce new resources for enabling unique Kinect features in your UWP apps.
Microsoft continues to introduce new resources for enabling unique Kinect features in your UWP apps.
Microsoft
Artificial intelligence, seen as pivotal for many business developments through predictive analytics, can also aid science and medicine. In September we looked at an application of AI for pathology services. Image analysis is the most important tool for the pathologist and here the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning enable the deep neural networks of a new generation of diagnostic machines to be trained to recognize broad or specific patterns on a whole slide image.
Gene editing addresses genetic diseases
CRISPR -  revolutionary new tool to cut and splice DNA.
CRISPR - revolutionary new tool to cut and splice DNA.
UC Berkeley
A new way to deliver gene-editing technology from University of California, Berkeley has repaired the mutation that causes Duchenne muscular dystrophy (a severe muscle-wasting disease). This is based on preliminary studies in in mice. The delivery system is CRISPR-Gold. CRISPR is an acronym for “Clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeats” and it is a genome editing tool that functions much like molecular scissors.
Electric bandage fights infection
A wound dressing using a hydrogel containing florescent dye that is released in the presence of path...
A wound dressing using a hydrogel containing florescent dye that is released in the presence of pathogenic biofilms.
University of Brighton
Sticking with the medical theme, our November pick is a special electric bandage that can help to fight infections during the healing process. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center technology centers on the generation of weak electric fields. These electrical pulses can disrupt bacterial biofilm infections (communities of bacteria). Remarkably the bandage works when bodily fluids are produced (such as a weep from a wound).
Super-fast 3D printing
A 3-D printer  this futuristic device is here already and will change our lives for the better  if w...
A 3-D printer, this futuristic device is here already and will change our lives for the better, if we allow it.
Creative Commons
Out final selection of this year’s articles is with 3D printing, a process that has revolutionized the production of complex materials. The new development is about an algorithm that enables 3D printers to work at twice the current speed. This is without sacrificing the quality of the end-product. Given that 3D printers are hampered by vibrations, the algorithm has led to lower shaking of printers.
Digital Journal will continue to report on science and technology news. Please continue to visit our science and technology page.