2014 Discoveries

We start every January with awe and appreciation for what has been discovered in the past year, and with eager anticipation for what the New Year will bring.

So here's to all of the innovators and the discoveries to come in 2015!

We wish you a new year full of pleasant surprises, insightful discoveries, and ah-hah moments.

Here are a few of our favorite 2014 breakthroughs.

With appreciation and gratitude for all you do,
Claire, David, Jonny, Kacy, Pascha, and Sam. Oh, and of course, Brio.

Morse Code:
Since communication is our passion, our New Year's greeting begins with the celebration of the first public message sent by Morse code in January 1838. Can you decipher this Morse code message? See bottom of the page for answer.

Hover over the image to zoom in and scroll below for details.

Methane Spikes on Mars
Are we alone? The Curiosity Rover on Mars detected molecular sized particles of methane-- raising the probability of organic matter having existed on the red planet. Relatively unstable, methane should break down within a few hundred years; implying traces found on Mars now were created relatively recently. Mars methane could also be a product of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product. Relieved climatologists don’t believe there’s any danger of Martian global warming, yet.

Shakespeare First Folio Found in France
One of the world's rarest books, the 233rd known surviving first folio of Shakespeare’s plays, was found in a small public library near Calais, France. Librarians discovered the work as they prepared an exhibition of English-language literature. These first, printed editions are studied intensely by scholars for the minute variations that appear in each revision, revealing the playwright's process and intentions. Apparently not a very popular author in St.-Omer; no one had checked the book out for over four hundred years.

Mammoth Tusk Found in Seattle
Work halted abruptly at a South Lake Union construction site this year, when the largest, intact Columbian mammoth tusk ever found in Seattle was unearthed. Taken to the UW's Burke Museum for further study, the tusk offers a rare chance for researchers to learn more about the paleo-environmental conditions in the Seattle area during the ice age. Estimates are that the 8-and-a-half foot long tusk is between 16,000 and 60,000 years old. Other experts expressed concern it may take that long to find our missing tunnel-boring machine, Bertha.

Goldilocks Planet Discovered
In April, NASA’s Kepler space telescope spotted a planet, circling a star 490 light-years away in constellation Cygnus. Its orbit is in what’s known as the “Goldilocks Zone.” (The distance from any planet to its star where liquid water might remain on the surface.) While this planet's mass, composition and atmosphere are unknown, its combination of size and orbit is the most similar to Earth's yet found. Keeping the dream alive for our three Gummy Bears, who are looking for a home that’s “just right.”

Lost Monet Discovered in a Suitcase
A masterpiece of Impressionism was discovered in a suitcase, brought to a German hospital by a dying patient. A recluse, Cornelius Gurlitt had lived alone with a secret horde of ill-gotten paintings and sculptures, which were discovered by the authorities in 2012. In 2014 as his health failed, Cornelius spirited away one completely unknown masterwork, attributed to Claude Monet, to join him on his own final journey. And in the process proved you still can’t take it with you.

Perpetual Solar Heat Storage
Scientists discovered certain molecules contain a mechanism like a spring-wound hinge that can trap solar energy. In this nano-device, the molecule is left idle until its energy is needed, when a catalytic reaction is initiated to open the hinge and release it. Scientists have created a substance called an “azobenzene” photoswitch that retains heat forever, solving a stumbling block to solar energy's scalability. And making our endless searching for AA batteries a thing of the past!

Rosetta Lands on Comet
Last fall, after a 10-year journey, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft successfully arrived at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and deployed a lander named Philae on the surface. Rosetta will analyze the comet's composition, atmosphere, chemical interactions and development as it approaches the sun. Rosetta and Philae were named after two basalt obelisks, transcribed with three ancient languages, which were used to decode Egyptian hieroglyphs. Easily brushing aside the first names chosen for the pair: Lotza Euroz.

Stonehenge Part of Much Larger Network of Sites
Scientists discovered a massive, hidden complex of monuments below Stonehenge, indicating that the site was much more extensive than just the iconic stone structures seen by tourists today. By scanning a wide area surrounding the visible remains, using earth-penetrating radar, they found evidence of many structures buried 10 feet underground, including up to 60 huge pillars. Representatives of This Is Spinal Tap had no comment.

Dreadnoughtus (Largest Dinosaur)
The fossil remains of a long-necked, long-tailed dinosaur were uncovered in the Patagonia region of Argentina. Named Dreadnoughtus, it’s the largest discovered dinosaur so far. When it died, the giant herbivore weighed about 65 tons; equal to 14 elephants or 8 T-Rexes or 1.3 Boeing 737s. Predators were not a threat to Dreadnoughtus because of his size, but if you snuck up at night and pushed one over, his enormous weight would make it unlikely he could get up again. Now that’s some cow-tipping.

Self-Repairing Teeth
British dentists announced they might soon give patients’ teeth a “self-repair” kit, eliminating the need for drilling, filling and other common procedures. London-based company, Reminova, developed techniques that painlessly accelerate dental remineralization and repair. Dentists everywhere are practicing building really tiny ships in bottles, and working on their golf handicaps. But no, you still have to floss and brush ... for now.

Methane Spikes on Mars
Are we alone? The Curiosity Rover on Mars detected molecular sized particles of methane-- raising the probability of organic matter having existed on the red planet. Relatively unstable, methane should break down within a few hundred years; implying traces found on Mars now were created relatively recently. Mars methane could also be a product of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product. Relieved climatologists don’t believe there’s any danger of Martian global warming, yet.

Stonehenge Part of Much Larger Network of Sites
Scientists discovered a massive, hidden complex of monuments below Stonehenge, indicating that the site was much more extensive than just the iconic stone structures seen by tourists today. By scanning a wide area surrounding the visible remains, using earth-penetrating radar, they found evidence of many structures buried 10 feet underground, including up to 60 huge pillars. Representatives of This Is Spinal Tap had no comment.

Rosetta Lands on Comet
Last fall, after a 10-year journey, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft successfully arrived at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and deployed a lander named Philae on the surface. Rosetta will analyze the comet's composition, atmosphere, chemical interactions and development as it approaches the sun. Rosetta and Philae were named after two basalt obelisks, transcribed with three ancient languages, which were used to decode Egyptian hieroglyphs. Easily brushing aside the first names chosen for the pair: Lotza Euroz.

Perpetual Solar Heat Storage
Scientists discovered certain molecules contain a mechanism like a spring-wound hinge that can trap solar energy. In this nano-device, the molecule is left idle until its energy is needed, when a catalytic reaction is initiated to open the hinge and release it. Scientists have created a substance called an “azobenzene” photoswitch that retains heat forever, solving a stumbling block to solar energy's scalability. And making our endless searching for AA batteries a thing of the past!

Lost Monet Discovered in a Suitcase
A masterpiece of Impressionism was discovered in a suitcase, brought to a German hospital by a dying patient. A recluse, Cornelius Gurlitt had lived alone with a secret horde of ill-gotten paintings and sculptures, which were discovered by the authorities in 2012. In 2014 as his health failed, Cornelius spirited away one completely unknown masterwork, attributed to Claude Monet, to join him on his own final journey. And in the process proved you still can’t take it with you.

Mammoth Tusk Found in Seattle
Work halted abruptly at a South Lake Union construction site this year, when the largest, intact Columbian mammoth tusk ever found in Seattle was unearthed. Taken to the UW's Burke Museum for further study, the tusk offers a rare chance for researchers to learn more about the paleo-environmental conditions in the Seattle area during the ice age. Estimates are that the 8-and-a-half foot long tusk is between 16,000 and 60,000 years old. Other experts expressed concern it may take that long to find our missing tunnel-boring machine, Bertha.

Goldilocks Planet Discovered
In April, NASA’s Kepler space telescope spotted a planet, circling a star 490 light-years away in constellation Cygnus. Its orbit is in what’s known as the “Goldilocks Zone.” (The distance from any planet to its star where liquid water might remain on the surface.) While this planet's mass, composition and atmosphere are unknown, its combination of size and orbit is the most similar to Earth's yet found. Keeping the dream alive for our three Gummy Bears, who are looking for a home that’s “just right.”

Self-Repairing Teeth
British dentists announced they might soon give patients’ teeth a “self-repair” kit, eliminating the need for drilling, filling and other common procedures. London-based company, Reminova, developed techniques that painlessly accelerate dental remineralization and repair. Dentists everywhere are practicing building really tiny ships in bottles, and working on their golf handicaps. But no, you still have to floss and brush ... for now.

Dreadnoughtus (Largest Dinosaur)
The fossil remains of a long-necked, long-tailed dinosaur were uncovered in the Patagonia region of Argentina. Named Dreadnoughtus, it’s the largest discovered dinosaur so far. When it died, the giant herbivore weighed about 65 tons; equal to 14 elephants or 8 T-Rexes or 1.3 Boeing 737s. Predators were not a threat to Dreadnoughtus because of his size, but if you snuck up at night and pushed one over, his enormous weight would make it unlikely he could get up again. Now that’s some cow-tipping.

Shakespeare First Folio Found in France
One of the world's rarest books, the 233rd known surviving first folio of Shakespeare’s plays, was found in a small public library near Calais, France. Librarians discovered the work as they prepared an exhibition of English-language literature. These first, printed editions are studied intensely by scholars for the minute variations that appear in each revision, revealing the playwright's process and intentions. Apparently not a very popular author in St.-Omer; no one had checked the book out for over four hundred years.

Morse Code Translation: "2014 Discoveries"

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