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Top Science Stories of 2016
From the detection of gravitational waves generated in space over a billion years ago, to discoveries in genetics here on Earth, we've collected the most compelling science breakthroughs and advances of 2016. Thanks to magnificent, hard-working scientists and researchers around the world, science keeps marching ever forward. And this year saw some discoveries that are absolutely brimming with the promise of greater discoveries, breakthroughs and quality of life in the future.
Top Science Stories
Can We Make Life
'It's alive!' Since Dr. Frankenstein spoke those famous words, we've been alternately enthralled and terrified by the idea of creating life in the lab. Now, a revolution in genetic engineering and thrilling innovations in synthetic biology are bringing that dream—or nightmare, as the case may be—closer to reality. New tools allow researchers to use cells to create their own DNA and edit it into existing genomes with more ease and less cost than ever before.
Along with renewed hopes for treating some genetic diseases, there's serious talk of using the newest technologies to bring long-extinct animals back from the dead – like the team hoping to resurrect the woolly mammoth. Science fiction is quickly becoming science fact. Another daring genetic experiment to bioengineer animals could prevent Lyme disease. But the power to make life comes with deep ethical questions. What are the potential rewards—and dangers—of tinkering with nature? This films explores the benefits and the burden of risk surrounding the controversial new technology.
Some 65 million years ago, the dinosaurs were wiped out when their gene machines failed to cope with the cataclysmic changes that followed a comet's collision with Earth. But with extinction came new life, and surviving mammals evolved to seize the territory left vacant by the vanquished. The concluding episode explores the factors that make winners and losers in the game of life, and poses the question: Who will triumph in the long run?
Triumph of Life
The Genius of Charles Darwin: The Fifth Ape
Richard Dawkins deals with some of the philosophical and social ramifications of the theory of evolution. Dawkins starts out in Kenya, speaking with palaeontologist Richard Leakey. He then visits Christ is the Answer Ministries, Kenya's largest Pentecostal church, to interview Bishop Bonifes Adoyo. Adoyo has led the movement to press Kenya's national museum to sideline its collection of hominid bones pointing to man's evolution from ape to human. The collection includes the Turkana Boy discovered by Kamoya Kimeu, a member of a team led by Richard Leakey in 1984. Dawkins discusses social darwinism and eugenics, explaining how these are not versions of natural selection, and that 'Darwin has been wrongly tainted'. He then meets with evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker to discuss how morals can be compatible with natural selection. He goes on to explaining sexual selection, with peafowls as an example. To find out whether sexual selection plays a role for altruism and kindness among humans, he visits women who are looking for sperm donors, as well as a sperm bank manager. Dawkins also explains kin selection and selfish genes.
Is Poverty Genetic
Are the wealthy just born in the right place at the right time? Are the poor victims of a system designed to keep them down? Or do physics and biology determine who is rich and who is poor? Throughout history, distribution of wealth is governed by hidden forces: DNA, environmental stress, patterns of human migration and even the laws of thermodynamics! Nature seems to demand winners and losers in life. But does this mean greed is king, and the rich can take what they want? Or is cooperation – between microorganisms, monkeys, and humans – more essential to survival of a species?
Through the Wormhole Season 5
Barbarians: Secrets of the Dark Ages
Through the Wormhole
History of the Eagles
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