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YEAR 2017 – LOOKING FORWARD

With the old year of 2016 drawing to a close and completing its orbit around the sun, the New Year holds a new promise of bigger and better things. So what can we expect in the 2017th year of the Common Era?

LARGEST MEGACITY In the year 2017, China plans to unveil the largest megacity in the world. By merging nine cities, it hopes to create a mega-city that is twice the size of Wales, making it home to a population of 42 million people. Extending from Guangzhou to Shenzhen – and including Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Zhuhai, Jiangmen, Huizhou and Zhaoqing – this metropolis is to be 26 times larger than Greater London, in terms of landmass. Named ‘Turn the Pearl River Delta into One,’ the ambitious scheme will create a 16,000-square-mile urban area, which will be the centre of China’s manufacturing hub.

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GREATEST ECLIPSE If you are a fan of all things astrological, keep 21 August 2017 free. The first total solar eclipse of the 21st century for the United States is expected to occur along a path that curves from Oregon to South Carolina. This is the first visible solar eclipse that will be seen in the US since 26 February 1979, and will last for two minutes and 40.2 seconds. This ‘greatest eclipse’ is expected to be seen at 18:25 UTC, on the western end of Kentucky (36.9715° north and 87.6559° west).

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DREAM CHASER Sierra Nevada Corp. launched its first orbital test flight of Dream Chaser in 2016. The unmanned spaceplane proved that it was capable of flying astronauts on round-trip flights into space. The test run will create a path for manned space missions to the low-Earth orbit, with the first manned flight of the Dream Chaser expected to take off in 2017.

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NANO CHIPS 2017 will be the year when 10-nanometre (nm) chips are to enter mass production. While techno giants continue to compete to create the ultimate tech, 10 nm devices are still in the com—–mercial development phase. While Samsung has already commenced production, other giants such as Apple, Intel and TSMC are expected to commence mass production in 2017. Let the minority games begin!

MUD VOLCANO In the East of Java lies a mud volcano that has been erupting mud since May 2006. Named the Sidoarjo mud flow, the volcano is the largest of its kind in the world. The cause of this eruption has been blamed on natural gas well-drilling or a distant earthquake. But scientists now say that the eruptions should be all but over in 2017 – or at the latest, by the end of the decade  –  as the volcano system is rapidly losing pressure.

TOOTH REGENERATION Dental care will witness a major transformation, with the introduction of bioengineered tooth regeneration. Stem cells, scaffold material and signalling molecules that are combined will be used to regrow a fully functional living tooth in a matter of two months. The regenerated tooth will come complete with roots, inner pulp and outer enamel. It’s high time to say goodbye to old-fashioned dentures!

HIV VACCINE Results of the Phase I trial to produce the world’s first HIV vaccine have shown no adverse effects, and are expected to significantly boost immunity. It will proceed to the next stage of testing rapidly; and if all goes well, and the vaccine is proved to be safe and tolerable, it will be commercially available during the course of 2017.

E-PAPER Being developed over a decade, electronic paper will see widespread use in 2017. E-paper is a combination of organic, thin film transistors (TFT) with organic electroluminescent displays that produce flexible paper-thin devices that are a mere 0.3 millimetres thick. Expected to be used in a wide range of items and devices, e-paper will also reduce deforestation.

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HEAD TRANSPLANTS While the mere thought of it may sound ridiculous, Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero thinks otherwise. This 36-hour, UK£ 14 million surgery is expected to be conducted in December 2017. Who is his patient? Thirty-one-year-old Russian Valery Spiridonov, who suffers from Werdnig-Hoffmann disease, which is a rare form of spinal muscular atrophy. The operation involves cooling Valery’s head to around 15ºC, severing it from his body and connecting it to the donated body of a brain-dead person. Valery will then be kept in a medically-induced coma for three to four weeks, while doctors stimulate his spinal cord nerves to reconnect functions.

 

Compiled by

Nicola Jayasundera