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.
2016 • Science
We are all at the mercy of the Sun. Its glowing disc sustains nearly all life on Earth. But the Sun also holds a dark secret: someday, our aging, expanding star will bathe the Earth in a fiery holocaust. Everything we know will turn to hot, bubbling, plasma.
Comedian Jimmy Carr takes over Horizon for this one-off special programme, produced as part of BBC2's sitcom season. Jimmy turns venerable documentary strand Horizon into a chat show, with eminent laughter scientists as guests and a studio audience to use as guinea pigs. Jimmy and his guests try to get to the bottom of what laughter is, why we enjoy it so much and what, if anything, it has to do with comedy. Between them, and with the help of contributions from other scientists on film, Jimmy and guests discover that laughter is much older than our species, and may well have contributed to making us human. With professors Sophie Scott, Robin Dunbar and Peter McGraw.
Professor Robert Winston presents his top ten scientific breakthroughs of the past 50 years. Tracing these momentous and wide-ranging discoveries, he meets a real-life bionic woman, one of the first couples to test the male contraceptive pill, and even some of his early IVF patients. He explores the origins of the universe, probes the inner workings of the human mind and sees the most powerful laser in the world. To finish, Professor Winston reveals the breakthrough he thinks is most significant.
2010 • Science
In this episode of NOVA scienceNOW, journey back in time to the birth of our solar system to examine whether the key to our planet's existence might have been the explosive shockwave of an ancient supernova. Meet a chemist who has yielded a new kind of "recipe" for natural processes to assemble and create the building blocks of life. And see how the head louse, a creepy critter that's been sucking our blood for millions of years, is offering clues about our evolution. Finally, meet neuroscientist André Fenton, who is looking into erasing painful memories with an injection.