The human genome project has been one of the greatest scientific pursuits of the 21st century. It has sought to uncover the human genome — our full set of DNA (aka what makes us humans). With this greater understanding of ourselves and our genetic makeup, the human genome has also opened the door for all sorts of new projects and hopes for scientific discovery, described in the Nat. Geo. article linked below.
Cell biologist James Thomson succeeded in breakthrough cell research, changing the behaviors of skin cells to those of stem cells in 2007. Also, in 2010 the J. Craig Venter Institute created the first, self-replicating synthetic bacterial cell.
Both edmccoy11 and elifitz covered the main scientific discoveries, but Weird Science has a list of the most important scientific discoveries/advancements of 2008. The list includes finding ice on mars, growing organs from a patients own stem cells, and building loudspeakers from carbon nanotubes.
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