Nature: Science Events to Watch in 2024, with GPT-5 and Chang'e-6 on the List
2023 was a remarkable year.
As 2023 comes to an end, the authoritative scientific journal Nature has released a list of scientific events to watch out for in 2024, including the anticipated release of GPT-5, mosquitos infected with bacteria, NASA's return to the moon, and supercomputers capable of performing one quadrillion calculations per second.
GPT-5 and the Next Generation AlphaFold
This year, the rise of ChatGPT has had a profound impact on the scientific community. Its developer, OpenAI in San Francisco, California, is expected to release GPT-5 by the end of next year, the next generation of the artificial intelligence (AI) model that powers the chatbot. GPT-5 is likely to demonstrate even greater capabilities than its predecessor, GPT-4. Additionally, scientists are closely monitoring Google's GPT-4 competitor, Gemini. This large language model can process multiple types of input, including text, code, images, audio, and video.
Google DeepMind's AI tool AlphaFold is also scheduled to release a new version next year. Researchers have used this tool to accurately predict the 3D shape of proteins, and the new version of AI will be able to simulate protein-nucleic acid and other molecule interactions with atomic precision, which may open up new possibilities for drug design and discovery.
In terms of regulation, significant issues are looming. The United Nations' High-Level Panel on Artificial Intelligence will release its final report in 2024, developing guidelines for international regulation of artificial intelligence.
Towards the Stars and the Unknown
Chile's Vera C. Rubin Observatory plans to start operating some of its instruments by the end of 2024 as part of its decade-long large survey project to observe the entire southern sky. Using the observatory's 8.4-meter telescope and 32 million pixel giant camera, scientists hope to discover numerous new transient astronomical phenomena and near-Earth asteroids.
Also in Chile, the Simons Observatory expects to be completed by mid-2024 in the Atacama Desert. This next-generation cosmology experiment will search for signs of primordial gravitational waves—the afterglow of the Big Bang—present in the cosmic microwave background. Its telescope will be equipped with up to 50,000 light-collecting detectors, ten times more than similar current projects.
Additionally, astronomers are concerned that bright satellite light pollution may make ground-based telescope data unusable in the coming years.
Mosquitos with a Bacterial Infection
The World Mosquito Program (WMP) will begin production of antibiotic-resistant mosquitos in Brazil in 2024. These mosquitos are infected with a bacteria that prevents them from spreading pathogenic viruses, potentially protecting up to 70 million people from diseases like dengue and Zika. Over the next decade, the nonprofit organization plans to produce up to 5 billion infected mosquitos per year.
The Return to the Moon
NASA will launch its first crewed lunar mission since 1970s. The Artemis II mission, which will carry four astronauts (three men and one woman) on a ten-day orbit around the Moon, is expected to launch as early as November 2024. Artemis II will pave the way for the subsequent Artemis III mission, which aims to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon. China also plans to launch its Chang'e-6 lunar sample return mission in 2024. If successful, it will be the first time samples have been retrieved from the Moon's far side.
Exploring Extrasolar Satellites
NASA's Clipper spacecraft is scheduled to launch in October 2024 on a mission to Jupiter's moon Europa. Its goal is to determine if the moon's underground ocean could potentially support life. Japan's Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission is scheduled to launch in 2024 and will visit both moons of Mars (Phobos and Deimos). It will land on Phobos and collect surface samples, with plans to return them to Earth in 2029.
Illuminating Dark Matter's Mysteries
An experiment designed to detect axions, a type of dark matter particle, is expected to release its results in 2024. Axions are thought to be emitted by the Sun and converted into light, but these tiny particles have yet to be observed in experiments due to their high sensitivity detection requirements and strong magnetic fields. The BabyIAXO experiment at Hamburg's German Electron同步加速器 is using a ten-meter long
(Although the ruling is not legally binding, its influence may push countries to strengthen their climate targets and can be cited in domestic legal cases.
Negotiations for the United Nations Plastics Treaty will end next year, and the treaty aims to develop a binding international agreement to eliminate plastic pollution. Since the 1950s, the world has produced 10 billion tons of plastic, of which more than 7 billion tons are waste, most of which has polluted the ocean and caused harm to wildlife. But researchers are increasingly worried that the negotiations, which began last year, are progressing too slowly to achieve the expected goals.
Early next year, researchers will launch "Jupiter", Europe's first exascale supercomputer. This huge machine can perform a thousand trillion calculations per second. Researchers will use it to build "digital twins" of the human heart and brain for medical purposes, as well as conduct high-resolution simulations of the Earth's climate.
Researchers in the United States will install two exascale-level supercomputers in 2024: one is "Aurora" at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois, and the other is "El Capitan" at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Scientists will use Aurora to map the brain's neural circuits, while El Capitan will be used to simulate the effects of nuclear weapons explosions.