Aug 17, 2019 | Updated: 07:24 AM EDT

ESA’s Philae Lander May Take the Prize, But Here Are 9 Other Breakthroughs of 2014 Also Worth the Award

Dec 18, 2014 02:02 PM EST

Philae Lander
(Photo : ESA)

While many were not quite surprised to hear the European Space Agency (ESA) clenched the win for journal Physics World's Breakthrough of the Year 2014 for its landing of the Rosetta mission's Philae Lander on a speeding comet 511 million km away, most are also not aware that the list doesn't just end there.

"The Physics World 2014 Breakthrough of the Year goes to ESA's Rosetta mission for being the first to land a spacecraft on a comet" editors for Physics World announced in a press release late last week. "History was made at 15:35 GMT on 12 November 2014 when the Philae module touched down on the surface of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a comet 511 million km from Earth and hurtling towards the inner solar system at nearly 55,000 km/h."

But there are also nine other breakthroughs from 2014 that nearly won the race, as well. While the Rosetta mission was clearly the favorite amongst the editorial and writing staff of the journal during the selection of this year's winners, it also wasn't exactly a landslide. By landing the Philae on a distant comet, the ESA was able to ensure a win against domestic discoveries, however researchers and experiments bound to Earth were also highly considered for the prestigious award as well.

"The top-10 breakthroughs were chosen by a panel of six Physics World editors and reporters," editors for Physics World say. "And the criteria for judging the top 10 included: fundamental importance of research, significant advance in knowledge, strong connection between theory and experiment, and general interest to all physicists."

Below are the remaining nine runners-up who were not deeming the breakthrough of the year, but in spite of their second-place position does not mean the discoveries were not worth celebrating and commending on a grander scale.

*Researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz along with Max Planck Institute for Astronomy veterans in Germany develop a method using the radiation given off by a quasar to view the first recorded glimpse of a filament they believe to be a part of the "cosmic web" that holds all matter in the universe together.

*Solar physicists from the Borexino collaboration were first to detect theorized particles called neutrinos, out of the main nuclear fusion and fission reactions that power stars, and even our very own Sun.

*Members of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the Los Alamos National Laboratory were first to obtain a "fuel gain", important in promising nuclear fusion reactions for future energy production, far greater than one in laser-driven nuclear fusion and fission reaction experiments within the lab.

*Researchers of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel became first to measure the extremely weak, yet absolutely critical, magnetic interactions between two single electrons; much like involved in the process of bond formation.

*In studying the future of optical fiber networks, colleagues from the University of New Mexico, Corning Inc, Clemson University, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee were able to utilize the "Anderson localization" phenomenon to create more efficient optical fibers for transmission of images.

*Physicists from the University of California, Riverside and the Kotel'nikov Institute of Radioengineering and Electronics in Russia developed a new type of holographic memory storage device, which is founded on the interference of spin waves-magnetic waves conducted through wire.

*An international team led by researchers at the University of Oxford used the world's most powerful laser facilities to crank up the heat and create tiny versions of supernova explosions in the laboratory setting.

*Researchers from the University of Toronto, Canada were first to demonstrate a quantum analogue of data compression in the lab, which made conventional data-compression schemes irrelevant, as to avoid the process that destroys quantum information.

*Last, but not least, are researchers from the University of Dundee in the UK and Illinois Wesleyan University who created the first acoustic "tractor beam" that works by pulling an object entirely using the force of sound waves. Though often a staple in science fiction, especially when considering extra terrestrial creatures, the tractor beam may seem to defy physics, but researchers say that this "tractor beam" of sound waves may in fact help doctors deliver drugs to the proper part of your system one day.

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