2016 was a year full of amazing scientific finds like space-time ripples and colliding black holes. Some of the discoveries are so impressive that we felt that they should be celebrated, so we collected some of the coolest scientific discoveries of 2016 to highlight all of the fantastic new things that science taught us last year.

Dinosaur Tail Trapped in Amber

One of the coolest scientific discoveries in 2016 is a 99-million-year-old dinosaur tail preserved in amber. This remarkable find has allowed scientists to analyze the tail’s bones, soft tissue, and feathers. The data is helping researchers learn more about the evolution and structure of dinosaur feathers.

Scientists believe that the tail belongs to a juvenile coelurosaur, which is part of the same group of dinosaurs that the tyrannosaurs belongs to. Researchers also believe that the feathers were used for regulating temperature or may have had a signaling function.

The planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Solar System.

Proxima b

A planet with about the same mass as Earth was found orbiting the red dwarf star called Proxima Centauri. The new planet, named Proxima b, is about 4.24 light years away and astronomers believe that its orbit may provide the right conditions for liquid water to be present on the planet’s surface. Scientists and engineers are working on a probe to send to the planet, unfortunately, it not be ready to launch until the end of the century. Also, the probe will take 20 years to reach Proxima b, and data will take 4.25 years to reach Earth. Although it may take us some time to get more information about Proxima b, the discovery itself is one of the coolest in 2016.

Cod Fish Have Regional Dialects

Marine biologist Stephen Simpson discovered that cod have dialects that are based on the area that they are raised in. Simpson states that ““The American sounds are deeper, short thumping sounds, while the European ones are higher in frequency and the growls are more prolonged.” This discovery may seem trivial, but scientists are concerned that cod migrating north due to warming waters may not be able to communicate with one another: this is very important since male cod create “love songs” to attract mates.

Octobot

This is the first autonomous, soft body robot that doesn’t need a rigid structure or batteries to operate. Octobot moves its arms with air pressure that is created by a chemical reaction between hydrogen peroxide and a platinum-based catalyst, and the movements are controlled by a logic circuit that directs where the fuel should be delivered to. Octobot’s movements are limited, but researchers are working on creating a swimming soft body robot that will be responsive to its environment.

5D Glass to Replace USB Drives

Researchers at the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Center have discovered a way to write 360 terabytes of data onto nanostructured glass. Data is written on a small disc, about the size of a quarter, using a high powered laser with each file written in three layers of nonostructured dots. Data is then read in five dimensions: the three dimensional position of the dots, their size and orientation. Another impressive aspect of 5D glass data storage is that the research team believes that the glass can last up to 13.8 billion years without degradation.

June 16, 2017

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