The 10 Most Mind-Blowing Discoveries of 2016

rom officially discovering gravitational waves to capturing images of the brain on LSD for the first time, we’ve learned a lot this year.

2016 was a pretty crazy year, full of unexpected twists and turns of events around the globe. The world of science was no exception. We’re leaving 2016 with new understanding in a range of scientific areas — a huge thank you to all of the dedicated scientists who helped us get to where we are now.

  1. Gravitational waves were officially confirmed by physicists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO). The grand discovery was announced in February, and gravitational waves were originally predicted to exist by none other than Albert Einstein.

  2. We gained more evidence that another planet lurks beyond Pluto, dubbed “Planet Nine.” Through mathematical modeling and computer simulations, researchers predict the planet has nearly 10 times the mass of Earth and would take 10,000 to 20,000 years to make one full orbit around the Sun.

  3. An earth-like planet, Proxima b, was discovered just 4.2 light years away, and it could potentially be habitable.

  4. Physicists discovered a connection between dark energy and time. In some cases, dark energy might actually cause time to propagate forward.

  5. The placebo effect got even more bizarre. Researchers discovered that knowingly taking a placebo pain medication can still reduce physical pain.

  6. 2016 saw a huge revival in psychedelic research. In April, researchers captured mind-blowing images of the brain on LSD for the first time.

  7. Scientists discovered a mysterious giant ball of hot gas that’s more than 570 billion times brighter than the sun. In fact, it’s so bright that it pushes the energy limit of physics.

  8. Chinese physicists found proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the existence of the Majorana fermion — a special particle that could revolutionize quantum computing.

  9. Researchers confirmed the potential discovery of a previously unknown subatomic particle, which would indicate the existence of a fifth fundamental force of nature. It would transform our understanding of the universe, with implications for dark matter.

  10. NASA discovered that Earth has a second “mini-moon” orbiting around it.

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