From the return to the moon to the development of artificial intelligence: the science of 2024


If many aspects of 2024 are still unknown, we can now look forward to a series of meetings with science already scheduled for the new year, as they have been in the works for some time. As the article published on NatureThe 12 months about to begin bring important developments for fans of space, artificial intelligence, physics and public health. Prepare your program and sit back and taste the science of 2024.

Return to the Moon. Perhaps the most anticipated event is the one coming up in November with the departure of the Artemis II mission, which will take four astronauts, three men and a woman, on a 10-day flyby of the moon aboard the Orion capsule. It will be the first launch of a human mission to the moon since the 1970s and a dress rehearsal for Artemis III, which is expected to land the first man and the first woman on the moon in 2025. China’s unmanned Chang’ lunar mission is also expected to launch in 2024 e-6, the first to collect rock samples from the far side of the Moon.

Also waiting is the launch of the NASA Clipper probe, which will fly to another moon next October: Europa, a satellite of Jupiter. While Japan’s Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission will visit Mars’ moons Phobos and Deimos in 2024, then land on the former.

AI development. In 2024, we will see the release of GPT-5, a new generation of chatbots from OpenAI’s ChatGPT family, and its antagonist Gemini, created by Google and designed to be multimodal, that is, it will work with different types of information, including text, code. , audio, video and images. There will also be a new version of AlphaFold, Google DeepMind’s artificial intelligence specialized in predicting the three-dimensional shape of proteins, which could open up new possibilities in drug discovery. New international AI rules issued by the United States are also expected to be finalized by mid-year, following the latest steps forward in the AI ​​Act in Europe.

Against dengue mosquitoes. Mosquitoes Aedes aegypti infected with a specific strain of bacteria Wolbachia, which prevents the transmission of viruses and threatens the reproductive capabilities of insects, will be mass-released in Brazil to counter the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and Zika and protect 70 million citizens. The World Mosquito Program initiative will be boosted by the opening of a factory for these bioengineered mosquitoes in 2024, aiming to release five billion infected mosquitoes each year for the first decade.

Intranasal vaccines. The next generation of covid vaccines will probably be intranasal, given the advantages that fighting the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus directly in the upper respiratory tract seems to offer. Two of these vaccines will undergo the bulk of the testing process in the United States in 2024. In the most optimistic scenario, they could be ready by the end of 2024. In May 2024, the WHO is also expected to publish a draft of its Pandemic contractan international agreement to be better prepared for the next pandemic and guarantee fairer management of resources, starting with vaccines.

Eyes focused on space. In late 2024, Chile’s Vera Rubin Observatory, a telescope with an 8.4-meter mirror and 3,200-megapixel camera, is set to begin its ten-year survey of the entire Southern Hemisphere sky. Designed to observe the “dynamic” universe, it will record decades of evolution of stars, galaxies, clusters and asteroids as they change from night to night. Also in Chile, in the Atacama desert, the Simons Observatory, a hunter of primordial gravitational waves in the cosmic background radiation, will be completed in mid-2024.

More light on dark matter. The results of an important experiment on axions, which are among the main candidates for the role of dark matter components, are also expected in 2024. These are particles produced in extreme environments such as the cores of stars, including our Sun. The BabyIAXO experiment at Germany’s Electron Synchrotron in Hamburg aims to capture the moment when axions in the Sun are transformed into photons. 2024 could also be the year we finally determine the mass of the neutrino, the most mysterious particle in the standard model of physics.

To defend the planet. In the second half of 2024, the Court of Justice in The Hague will rule on the legal obligations of nations to combat climate change and the consequences for those who fail to comply with this obligation. United Nations negotiations on a global treaty to combat plastic pollution are also expected to conclude in 2024.

What does consciousness consist of? At the end of 2024, the results of a large experiment that tests two opposing hypotheses about the nature of consciousness should be published (we wrote about the first “wheel” and the unsuccessful attempt to grasp the neural basis of consciousness here).

The year of supercomputers. In 2024, three will see the light: Jupiter, a European supercomputer capable of a billion billion calculations per second, which will be used to create “digital twins” of the human heart and brain, as well as to simulate Earth’s climate; Aurora and El Capitan at Argonne National Laboratory (Illinois) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

These will be used to reconstruct maps of human neural circuits and to simulate the effects of nuclear explosions.


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