29 thoughts on “Scientists of Reddit, What are some recent scientific findings that may seem small but are actually huge?

  1. mrq57 February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    It was recently studied to find out that a decent amount of the population actually can break down components of fiber, which means there is some caloric value to be had. Although it is not certain how much of the population can digest it, but many can get about 2 calories per gram out of it. I am a food scientist for the record.

  2. XJ305 February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    The machine that diagnosis a few types of cancer from a blood sample. While not necessarily a discovery, it has flown under the radar like a lot of computer science. While they are not releasing methods, people have been researching the use of Clustering and SVMs for medical diagnosis for some time now. We are not too far off from a world where getting a highly accurate diagnosis will only need a few samples from an individual and take a few minutes.

  3. 7LeagueBoots February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    Maybe not *huge* but it’s important for my field.

    Cheetahs, despite having a low genetic diversity, turn out to be very resistant to disease in the wild. This is the opposite of what was expected and indicates that some of the disease based concerns in wild populations of critically endangered animals may be less of an issue than previously thought.

    There are several articles on this going back to 2011, but here is a 2017 one [comparing leopards and cheetahs](https://www.nature.com/articles/srep44837).

    Given that I work with a critically endangered species with a *very* small population this is important news.

  4. GreatAndPowerfulNixy February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    A group recently discovered that ~~pneumatic~~ hydraulic (used the wrong word, sorry!) pressure is partially responsible for filling the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart) rather than the atria pushing it all in and venous blood pressure doing the rest. It doesn’t sound like a lot but it really upsets the way we think about cardiac physiology and could hopefully lead to better treatments for heart failure.

    [Pretty decent news article about it](https://phys.org/news/2017-03-hydraulic-heart.html)

    [Paper itself](https://www.nature.com/articles/srep43505)

  5. NotDeadlyRadiation February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    The observable Universe has **10 times more galaxies than we thought**. That’s huge!

    The first time this number was estimated was using the famous [Hubble Ultra-Deep Field](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubble_Ultra-Deep_Field) which I’m sure you may have seen somewhere before. This photo got us to the estimated 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe.

    [But recent research](https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/hubble-reveals-observable-universe-contains-10-times-more-galaxies-than-previously-thought) put this number all the way up to **2 trillion galaxies**!

    EDIT: spelling mistake

  6. Pooncahantits February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    The first viral vectors for gene therapy approved by the FDA. We are looking at cures, not treatments. This type of therapy can be adapted to many genetic diseases, including certain types of cancer, haemophilia, alzheimer’s, and many rare illnesses among others.

  7. LaJester55 February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    A group in London built the first room temperature maser a couple years back (amplified microwaves). Most people don’t know but the laser was invented (50 years ago) based on the maser, and the laser has had massive applications since. A functional maser manufacturable on a large scale would be just as significant.

  8. roc03 February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua

    Not only are they the first primates to be cloned but the technique used non-embryonic cells which can be grown more easily in the lab… This allows to perform cloning more easily and ‘cheaper’.. very important for studying diseases and drugs which require genetically identical subjects

  9. Andromeda321 February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    Astronomer here! Cassini’s final passes through the rings of Saturn before it crashed into the planet were actually super important because we could use those passes to learn the exact mass and density of the rings. Cassini in general has proven huge btw for understanding how Saturn’s rings formed- it now appears they are only 100-200 million years old (remember, our solar system is about 4.5 billion years old), and that they were created when a large object impacted and shredded what is now the moon Mimas. [Here is a cool simulation of this. ](https://youtu.be/UtVnftTd1tA)

    It’s crazy to think how Saturn’s rings are so young! But without Cassini’s measurements, this would still be a big mystery!

  10. Done_With_That_One February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    The discovery of Homo Naledi in South Africa can be viewed as kind of a big deal. It not only adds another evolutionary link to the chain, but it possibly existed at the same time as early humans, making them another homo species that could have had interactions with us.

  11. aqsgames February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    Not quite a scientific discovery but musk’s falcon heavy being able to lift so much weight so cheaply could have a huge impact on science. There must be thousands of experiments and satellites that can now be launched.

  12. Nathan_RH February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    Machine learning AI.
    It’s applications in genetics are huge and only getting started.

  13. Five_Decades February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    The Chinese government recently said they want to be equal to the US in AI research by 2020 and the undisputed leader in the field by 2030.

    This may set off an arms race in AI research with the US and other western nations increasing their investment in AI to ensure that China doesn’t dominate the market.

  14. ckjm February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    Not really new, but always makes me smile and appreciate the wild world… the discovery of how marbled murrelets nest. For those that don’t know, the murrelet is a remarkably dopey sea bird with a habit of screaming in fear, frantically, diving only to resurface right next to the original threat, and repeat this multiple times. For decades, the bird eluded study, remaining a mystery despite its common sightings along the coasts of the Pacific. In the 70s, an arborist in Yosemite accidentally discovered a baby marbled in its nest while he was scaling a tree, and the mystery was solved by pure chance. It makes me smile to realize how little we know and how much there is still to discover.

  15. DillPixels February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    I’m working on a flame retardant that is formaldehyde free. It will be the first one in the market that will not expose workers to formaldehyde when applying it or touching it.

  16. TheFallenBepis February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    We found out why poop can’t be eaten. Explanation: it’s bad

  17. RolandClaptrap February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    Cancer vaccines, customized for each person and their specific cancer.

  18. alhamo February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    Gut Microbiologist here.
    Recent discoveries about the gut microbiome are changing how we think of a lot of chronic illnesses. It’s only in the last 10 years we have had the technology to analyze what is actually there.

    Most interesting to me is the link between dietary additives like emulsifiers and changes in the population of bad bugs in the gut. An example being the paper in this week’s Nature about trehalose (an additive) and the emergence of epidemic strains of *Clostridium difficile*.

    I think over the next few years we will change our attitudes to processed food…..

  19. icarus14 February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    CRISPR and eDNA are fucking amazing.

  20. Tom_SeIIeck666 February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    Grapes are toxic to dogs. Don’t feed your dog grapes.

  21. Bylem February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    Not a scientist but work with them all day. We have recently been able to sequence genetic information on a handheld device in a reasonable time frame

  22. mjbressler February 12, 2018 / 2:07 pm

    A subatomic particle called the neutrino doesn’t have zero mass. It has an unimaginably small mass that we can’t even measure yet; you might as well call it zero for almost any purpose. But this fact means that the mathematical model at the center of how we understand particle physics is wrong, and we need to fix it.

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