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Expect some big scientific breakthroughs in 2015
Wednesday December 31, 2014 2:28 PM, IANS

While 2014 saw some marvellous discoveries like 3D-printed body parts and scientific breakthroughs like comet landing, 2015 too holds a great future for science, reports the prestigious journal Nature.

The first big news is expected to come with the reboot of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in March after a two-year shutdown.

The machine at CERN, Europe's particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, will restart with collisions at 13 trillion electronvolts - almost double the current record.

Scientists hope that the extra firepower will help the collider to unearth phenomena that fill in gaps in the standard model of particle physics.

The US and China, the world's biggest carbon emitters, made historic pledges in 2014 to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions.

"That could clear the way for a new global climate deal at United Nations talks in Paris in December where nations hope to finalise a legally binding post-2020 agreement," the report added.

Another important discovery can be to stop the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

That will require wider use of proven public-health measures - such as rapid detection and isolation of people with Ebola.

Trials of vaccines are planned for early in the year; results should come by June.

"Tests are already under way on several drugs, as are trials of treatments that use the antibody-rich blood of people who have survived Ebola. The blood treatments could be rolled out quickly and widely if proved effective," the Nature report read.

In March, NASA's Dawn probe will arrive at protoplanet Ceres, the most massive body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Ceres is thought to have water ice beneath its crust.

And after travelling five billion km, NASA's New Horizons craft will finally reach Pluto, making its closest approach July 14.

The encounter promises the first intimate look at that rocky world and its moons, and new data on Pluto's atmosphere.

Drug companies are racing to bring a new class of cholesterol drug to market, and some may cross the finish line this year.

The therapies, which reduce levels of low-density lipo-protein (LDL) cholesterol by targeting the protein PCSK9, have shown promise in clinical trials.

Palaeogeneticists hope to sequence the complete genome from the 400,000-year-old Sima de Los Huesos human, found in a deep cave in northern Spain.

Germany also gets a new research vessel, which shares its name with its predecessor: Sonne. Elsewhere on the seas, the Ocean Observatories Initiative, a US push to monitor the seas in real time, will be completed in late May.

Japan is also likely to restart "scientific" whaling in Antarctic waters after a hiatus imposed by the International Court of Justice.


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