Whether it was driverless cars, lab-grown meat or faster-than-light neutrinos, some things just didn’t live up to the hype in the 2010s
18 December 2019
This was meant to be the decade of the self-driving car, as governments began permitting testing on public roads. But you can’t hang up your steering wheel just yet. Car firms and tech giants have found it tricky to make self-driving cars work, while a string of crashes has dented public confidence.
Surgeon Sergio Canavero spent much of this decade claiming he was ready to perform a human head transplant, replacing a recipient’s body with one from a donor, and had lined up willing patients. He was heavily criticised by bioethicists, and most experts doubt the procedure is possible.
It would have been the find of the decade. In 2011, researchers claimed to have caught ghostly particles called neutrinos breaking the speed limit of the universe. Sadly, the reality was more mundane: a loose cable and other issues had caused a measurement error.
The world’s first burger made from lab-grown cow cells was served to food critics in 2013, at a cost of $325,000. Since then, the price has dropped as firms rush to commercialise their products, but consumer interest is waning as plant-based meat alternatives become available.
Two US firms, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, attempted to kick off a solar system gold rush at the start of this decade, while Luxembourg bet millions on the concept. All have quietly retreated as asteroid mining turned out to be a pie-in-the-sky idea.
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