As the scientific community continues to battle the coronavirus and its deadly pandemic, in an effort to bring the world back to normal in the new year, the leading science journal Science has made some predictions about the scientific news it can win. the spotlight in 2021

The scientific developments that will stand out in 2021 - What do we expect for the coronavirus
The scientific developments that will stand out in 2021 - What do we expect for the coronavirus

Here is a selection of these estimates:

- Light on the origin of the coronavirus:

After the vaccinations, it was time to investigate in more depth exactly how the pandemic started. A 10-member international scientific body of the World Health Organization (WHO) will travel to China several times a year as part of a systematic investigation into the origins of the coronavirus - a politically sensitive issue given the US-China dispute over the "culprit". Among other things, it will be examined whether the coronavirus first appeared in bats, when, where and how it was transmitted to humans, whether there was another intermediate animal that facilitated transmission to humans, and how a similar viral pandemic would be prevented in the future.

- New medicines for Covid-19:

In parallel with the vaccinations, the struggle of researchers and pharmaceutical companies for new "weapons" against the coronavirus will continue, which will both make transmission more difficult and will cure the symptoms of the disease. By 2020, few drugs (such as remedisivir and dexamethasone) intended for other conditions had limited benefits for patients with coronavirus. This year, with the help of artificial intelligence and supercomputers, about 600 candidate experimental drugs will be put under the microscope. It is hoped that, as in the case of HIV / AIDS, a "cocktail" of drugs will be found that will effectively "brake" the coronavirus. But it may take more years for clinical trials in humans to be completed.

- Climate change:

The sixth scientific evaluation report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is expected in 2021, eight years after the fifth such report. More than 700 scientists participated in the sixth report, which was delayed due to the pandemic and which is expected to give an even clearer picture of anthropogenic effects on the climate. The findings are expected to be more reliable thanks to a new generation of climate models and simulation scenarios that have been developed in the meantime. The next UN climate summit will be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021, where it is hoped that more decisive action will be taken on the basis of scientific input.

- New robotic rovers on Mars:

Landing on the "red" planet has always been a headache for space services. Of the 18 vessels that have been sent to its surface in the last 50 years, eight have crashed. This year, two more boats - one American and one Chinese - will try to land on Mars, bringing with them robotic rovers. In February, the -size SUV- rover Perseverance is scheduled to arrive and collect samples that will be returned to Earth, while at the same time the Chinese mission Tianwen-1 will arrive to put a spacecraft in orbit and lower a smaller rover. If China succeeds, it will be the first time it will "step on" Mars.

- Finally the time of the largest James Webb Space Telescope:

After years of delays, the launch of the European Space Telescope, the largest in the world, which is the successor to the historic Hubble, is expected to be launched in the fall by a European Ariane rocket. With a 6.5-meter mirror, the $ 8.8 billion gold-plated James Webb will be six times more powerful than the Hubble and will be sensitive enough to see the atmospheres of relatively nearby exoplanets for the first time.

- Observing proteins clearer than ever:

Biologists and other scientists hope that this year they will significantly improve the analysis of the cryo-EM microscope (Cryo-EM), thus studying the structures of proteins in more detail than ever before, which will help significantly in understanding various diseases. Cryo-EM has greater potential than the more traditional X-ray crystallography and in 2020 for the first time passed the "threshold" of analysis at the individual level, while this year further progress is expected.

- New anticancer drug on port:

For more than three decades, scientists have been dreaming of shrinking tumors by inactivating a protein (KRAS) that facilitates the development of several cancers. So far no way has been found to block KRAS action, but this year the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to approve the first drugs for this purpose, which in 2020 showed encouraging results in experimental animals and then in cancer patients. The first is expected to be sotorasib from Amgen for lung cancer.

- Another step for fusion energy production:

The Joint European Torus (JET), currently the largest fusion reactor in the world, located in Britain and recently upgraded, is expected to succeed in generating significant amounts of fusion energy. Strong magnets hold the hot plasma inside the tokamak reactor so that the atomic nuclei fuse (the inverse of fission or decay) and release energy, which is converted into electricity. The even larger ITER fusion reactor is under construction in France and is expected to start operating in 2025.

- Protection of biodiversity on the high seas:

Biodiversity in the two-thirds of the oceans and high seas beyond the coastal zones of the states is little protected so far. This year, for the first time, the UN is expected to finalize the first international agreement allowing the designation of protected areas on the high seas. A new international scientific and technical body, similar to the one that monitors marine life around Antarctica, is to evaluate the draft intergovernmental agreement, which will better protect the environment and marine organisms in the more or less uncontrolled high seas.

- More genetic light in ancient societies:

As ancient DNA analysis and archaeogenetics make steady progress, new studies are expected this year that will open new horizons in understanding ancient societies and mass migrations of the distant past. Among other things, there may be announcements about the homeland of the biblical Philistines of Palestine, but also more things about the origin of the Greeks.

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