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Friday, December 8, 2023

5 issues we didn’t placed on our 2024 checklist of 10 Breakthrough Applied sciences


We haven’t at all times been proper (RIP, Baxter), however we’ve typically been early to identify essential areas of progress (we put natural-language processing on our very first checklist in 2001; right this moment this know-how underpins giant language fashions and generative AI instruments like ChatGPT).  

Yearly, our reporters and editors nominate applied sciences that they suppose deserve a spot, and we spend weeks debating which of them ought to make the minimize. Listed below are a number of the applied sciences we didn’t choose this time—and why we’ve left them off, for now. 

New medication for Alzheimer’s illness

Alzmeiher’s sufferers have lengthy lacked remedy choices. A number of new medication have now been proved to gradual cognitive decline, albeit modestly, by clearing out dangerous plaques within the mind. In July, the FDA authorised Leqembi by Eisai and Biogen, and Eli Lilly’s donanemab might quickly be subsequent. However the medication include critical negative effects, together with mind swelling and bleeding, which could be deadly in some circumstances. Plus, they’re arduous to manage—sufferers obtain doses through an IV and should obtain common MRIs to verify for mind swelling. These drawbacks gave us pause. 

Sustainable aviation gasoline 

Different jet fuels produced from cooking oil, leftover animal fat, or agricultural waste might scale back emissions from flying. They’ve been in growth for years, and scientists are making regular progress, with a number of current demonstration flights. However manufacturing and use might want to ramp up considerably for these fuels to make a significant local weather influence. Whereas they do look promising, there wasn’t a key second or “breakthrough” that merited a spot for sustainable aviation fuels on this 12 months’s checklist.  

Photo voltaic geoengineering

One solution to counteract international warming may very well be to launch particles into the stratosphere that replicate the solar’s power and funky the planet. That concept is very controversial inside the scientific group, however just a few researchers and firms have begun exploring whether or not it’s potential by launching a sequence of small-scale high-flying assessments. One such launch prompted Mexico to ban photo voltaic geoengineering experiments earlier this 12 months. It’s probably not clear the place geoengineering will go from right here or whether or not these early efforts will stall out. Amid that uncertainty, we determined to carry off for now. 

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