The Five Most Anticipated Scientific Advances of 2024

An artistic composition of a photograph of the Milky Way along with the first neutrino image of it. (IceCube/National Science Foundation Collaboration (Lily Le and Shawn Johnson)/ESO (S. Brunier) (IceCube/National Science Foundation Collaboration and ESO)

It’s always fun to review the major scientific advances of the past year, but there’s something perhaps more stimulating: anticipation of what the new year has in store for us. Because we have 12 months of discoveries, announcements, launches and astronomical events ahead of us. Many days are full of news and 2024 is shaping up to be a great year. People on the moon (or almost), mosquitoes turned into biological weapons, the ability to “weigh” a ghost particle, the most powerful supercomputer in Europe and, of course, a myriad of announcements related to the already ubiquitous artificial intelligence. And it’s true that we could wait a few months to meet them, but with the opportunity to satisfy our impatience right now… why don’t we dig into the calendar?

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Although, before listing the most anticipated events, a reminder should be made, because unlike most commercial launches in the technological world, science is not subject to such strict calendars; in fact, scientists themselves would like it to be so. But unfortunately, there are countless setbacks that can occur during the development of research or development of a technological product as advanced as the ones we will discuss here. In the aerospace world, delays occur based on the time of day. So much so that some of the next stages may well be postponed until 2025. However, this is exactly what could (most likely) happen over the next 12 months.

We’re going back to the moon

Those famous Apollo missions are a thing of the past, and for a long time people wondered why we didn’t return to the moon. The truth is that we never stop visiting it, but no one has set foot on it in 51 years. We sent robots and thanks to them we know more about our satellite than ever before. However, NASA has decided to bring back the epic stories of yesteryear with its Project Artemis. In fact, its first mission took place in 2023, when the agency sent a ship with a fake crew into orbit around the Moon.

In 2024, we’ll take this a step further, with the Artemis II mission sending out a ship now manned by real people. Specifically, Christina Hammock Koch, Reed Wiseman, Victor Glover and Jeremy Hansen. If everything goes as expected, astronauts will be able to circle the Moon several times, but we will have to wait until 2025 (at the earliest) for humans to set foot on lunar regolith again. And of course, while this is happening, other space agencies are trying to follow the same steps, so it wouldn’t be surprising if in a few years the moon landing loses much of its romanticism.

New generation of AI

Artificial intelligence was the hottest media science and technology topic of 2022, it was the same in 2023, and it will no doubt be the same in 2024. We could even say this blindly, simply by seeing the accelerated trend that the latter have followed for years. However, we have much more accurate data, messages that announce the release of new versions of the most spectacular artificial intelligences by the end of 2024. For example, the well-known GPT natural language generation model is completing its fifth version. We still don’t know what it can offer us that GPT-4 doesn’t already offer, but it promises to impress us just as much as its previous versions.

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