[Vol.20] Top 5 Science Issue in 2016
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- Registration Date : 2016-12-28
What was the news that stirred up the scientific and technological community at home and abroad in 2016? Before greeting the year of 2017, we look at the top five issues that have been highlighted in the scientific community over the past one year.
Gravitational wave, Einstein's mystery, is discovered
Gravitational wave first appeared in the scientific community in 1915 when Einstein explained the theory of relativity. In the next 100 years, gravitational wave existed only in theory, but its true nature was hardly unearthed, so it is called "Einstein's last mystery." But on February 11 (local time), it is reported that researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) have finally found gravitational wave after the persistent follow-up research. The discovery of gravitational waves is appreciated so highly that it is compared to Galileo's invention of telescopes 400 years ago, and the academia expects that it will open new horizons in the realm of astronomical observations by contributing to tasks such as identification of the birth process of the universe, black hole research, and space observation equipment development.
Korean researchers also participated in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration project (LSC) under the title of Korean Gravitational Wave Group (KGWG). KGWG is a research consortium which consists of two national research institute such as Korea Institute of Science and Technology and National Institute for Mathematical Sciences along with expert groups from four universities. The consortium is evaluated as having contributed a lot to the discovery of gravitational wave through active and precise analysis and smooth cooperation with other national teams.
The match of the century, human vs artificial intelligence
The confrontation between artificial intelligence and human, which has been only envisaged in science fiction movies, really happened. On March 9, Se-dol Lee, one of the greatest Go player in a ninth grade and AlphaGo, which is the artificial intelligence-based Go program, had a match. The battle that started with the huge attention of the whole world was finished with the victory of AlphaGo with four wins and one loss of all five rounds, which gave us a great shock. AlphaGo, which was created by Google-owned artificial intelligence technology developer DeepMind, uses "machine learning" technology to learn and solve problems on their own and evolves through massive amounts of data collection and training. However, experts have clearly indicated that the victory of AlphaGo does not mean artificial intelligence may rule humans someday. Artificial intelligence is not an opponent but a measure of human development and will be a companion to improve the quality of our lives. The match of the century between AlphaGo and Se-dol Lee was not only a Go game but also a chance to re-examine the potentials of artificial intelligence.
Jupiter probe Juno enters the orbit
NASA announced on July 5 that Jupiter probe Juno successfully entered the orbit of the planet. It was the result of a flight of 2.7 billion km over five years since it was launched in August 2011. Finally, it heralded the beginning of exploration to reveal the internal structure of Jupiter, which has been shrouded in secret.
Juno went farthest among the solar energy probes sent by mankind. Typically spacecraft flying outside the solar system have a radioactive power device, but Juno depends on three huge solar panels to obtain solar energy. Each panel is 8.9 m in length and 24m² in area. The main purpose of Juno's exploration is to understand the existence of nuclear and the state of its composition in Jupiter and to clarify the principles of the planet's birth. The truth about creation process of Jupiter, which is supposed to be the first planet in the solar system, is expected to contribute to the estimation of those of other planets. Juno will explore the internal structure of Jupiter by approaching it around in 4,200 km distance in the next 20 months, orbiting it 37 times.
Development of new technologies to prevent natural disasters
In 2016, various natural disasters occurred both at home and abroad. In particular, following the earthquake of magnitude 7.3 in Kyushu, Japan, and another one of magnitude 7.8 in Ecuador, an earthquake of 5.8 magnitude happened in Gyeongju, Korea. Accordingly, Koreans became anxious that they were not safe from earthquake any longer. Therefore, the voice calling for the technology development to anticipate and cope with various disasters including earthquakes has increased.
As well as global companies such as Google and IBM, each country is accelerating the development of disaster response technology that reflects its own geographical features. Bigdata-based artificial intelligence (AI) analyzes natural change records accumulated for thousands of years to predict natural disasters, and the use of humanoid robots and drones in rescue operations in the event of disasters seems to be realized in near future. Natural disasters were difficult to predict in advance, which used to lead to devastating damages. The key is how much the technology development can minimize the damage.
50th Anniversary of Korean Federation of Science and Technology Societies
Korean Federation of Science and Technology Societies (KOFST), which was founded on September 24, 1966 marks its 50th anniversary this year. For over half a century, KOFST has been playing a pivotal role in the development of science and technology in Korea. The federation has led development of scientific and technological policies including legislation of laws for promoting science and technology, establishment of public offices responsible for supporting science and technology, and tax exemption for research results. In addition, it has expanded the base of Korea's science and technology through various projects such as supporting academic activities related to science and technology, regional science technology development, inter-Korean science and technology cooperation, and global cooperation with overseas Korean scientists. Based on these efforts, it has established itself as a body to represent 600 science and technology academic groups, public and private research groups, 12 federations of each city and provincial association, and 18 overseas Korean science and technology associations. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, scientists and engineers made a unanimous comment that the role of the Korean scientific and technological community will be more important in the next 50 years than the past 50 years.