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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 necessary areas of progress (we put natural-language processing on our very first checklist in 2001; as we speak this expertise underpins massive language fashions and generative AI instruments like ChatGPT).  

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

New medicine for Alzheimer’s illness

Alzmeiher’s sufferers have lengthy lacked therapy choices. A number of new medicine 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 medicine include severe negative effects, together with mind swelling and bleeding, which will be deadly in some instances. Plus, they’re laborious to manage—sufferers obtain doses by way of an IV and should obtain common MRIs to examine for mind swelling. These drawbacks gave us pause. 

Sustainable aviation gasoline 

Different jet fuels created 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 latest 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 yr’s checklist.  

Photo voltaic geoengineering

One method to counteract world warming may very well be to launch particles into the stratosphere that mirror the solar’s power and funky the planet. That concept is very controversial inside the scientific group, however a number of researchers and firms have begun exploring whether or not it’s potential by launching a collection of small-scale high-flying assessments. One such launch prompted Mexico to ban photo voltaic geoengineering experiments earlier this yr. It’s not likely 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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