The wildest scientific discoveries of 2017

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swope telescope gravitational waves neutron star collision

2017 was a year of discovery: NASA started using reusable rockets, patients started treating cancer using only their own cells, and scientists discovered the Earth’s lost eighth continent.

Here are some of the wildest, coolest, most promising science finds of the year: 

SEE ALSO: The most gorgeous and terrifying photos of the natural world captured in 2017

An international team of 32 scientists found a new continent in the South Pacific.

The lost land of ‘Zealandia’ sits on the ocean floor between New Zealand and New Caledonia. 

It wasn’t always a sunken land — researchers have found fossils that suggested novel kinds of plants and organisms once lived there. 

Some argue it should be counted alongside our (more visible) seven continents. 

Scientists created the ‘closest thing anyone has ever made’ to a new life form.

Living creatures have two kinds of amino acid pairs: A-T (adenine – thymine) and G-C (guanine – cytosine). This alphabet of four letters writes our DNA, and forms the basis for all genetic information in the natural world.

But scientists say they’ve just invented two new letters, an unnatural pair of X-Y bases.

In November, they demonstrated how these synthetic cell parts can function seamlessly alongside natural bases in the DNA of E. coli.

Floyd Romesburg, who led the research at The Scripps Research Institute in California, told Business Insider that his new invention could improve the way we treat diseases. For example, it could change the way proteins degrade inside the body, helping drugs stay in your system longer. Romesburg says the team is investigating how the finding might help cancer treatments and drugs for autoimmune diseases. 

Scientists witnessed how all the gold and platinum in the universe formed.

The formation of a cool $100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 of gold happened when two super-small, super-dense stars smashed into each other 130 million light years away from Earth, researchers discovered.

The crash also produced huge stores of silver and platinum. 

The finding, reported by a group of 4,000 very excited astronomers in October, came from scientists’ first-ever sighting of two neutron stars colliding. 

The two massive, exploded stars hit each other at one-third the speed of light, and created gravitational waves. Scientific instruments on Earth picked up the waves from that crash, an event astronomers say only happens once every 100,000 years. 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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