BRINGING INNOVATION TO MARKET

The Top 10 Discoveries That Will Rock Your World in 2025

A new report looks at the path of scientific research and offers some surprising conclusions.

What's life going to look like in 2025?

Well, the folks in Thomson Reuters' IP and science group have come up with an ingenious method of building a crystal ball. To divine which emerging technologies could gain widespread traction by 2025, they looked at recently published patents and scientific papers. The papers that had been cited a large number of times were deemed more influential; patent classifications were ranked by the number of recent patents in that particular category.

The core assumption seems to be that if the scientific and entrepreneurial communities are putting particular effort into something today, they'll make some good progress within the 10 years. If that's true, these are the top 10 innovations that will alter our world between now and 2025: 

1
1. Dementia Declines
1. Dementia Declines
Overall, this particular report places great faith in science's ability to prevent disease by better understanding the human genome. One of the biggest boons from that improved understanding will be a reduction in degenerative disease such as dementia and Alzheimer's. So far, researchers have been able to identify specific chromosomes that cause different forms of the dementia. The most oft-cited research since 2011 has been about a chromosome known as 9P, which has been linked to two forms of dementia.
PHOTO: Gallery Stock
2
2. Solar takes over
2. Solar takes over
The high-profile failure of companies such as Solyndra and Amonix may breed skepticism about the future of solar energy, but the Thomson Reuters report has no such misgivings. Instead, researchers say that solar will become "the largest source of energy on the planet … no longer for the environmentally conscious select; it is for the masses." What will drive this transformation? New dye-sensitized and thin-form materials. Increased efficiency of energy conversions. And a photosynthetic process that will make solar energy available when needed--no matter the weather.
PHOTO: Gallery Stock
3
3. Prevention of type 1 diabetes
3. Prevention of type 1 diabetes
The report predicts that Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and other metabolic conditions such as muscular dystrophy will be preventable in 2025. That's because scientists will have developed a workable platform for genome engineering that will allow us to edit and repair DNA in humans, not just in bacteria and mice. Modification of disease-causing genes in humans is simply the next step.
PHOTO: Corbis
4
4. Food, glorious food
4. Food, glorious food
By 2025, food shortages and food price fluctuations will be just memories. Farmers will be able to safely grow genetically modified crops indoors, thanks to revolutions in lighting technologies, imaging techniques, and changes to the food's DNA, which will feature built-in growth receptors making plants more sensitive to light at specific wavelengths. Crops will be better-bred for disease resistance and high yield. The combination will lead to a much lower risk of crop failure and a more substantial and more consistent supply of food.
PHOTO: Getty Images
5
5. The plug-in airplane
5. The plug-in airplane
Electric cars may still be somewhat of a novelty, but by the end of the next decade lightweight aerospace engineering paired with new battery technologies will enable the development of electric airplanes. These new lightweight vehicles will be powered by improved lithium-ion batteries and motors that use superconducting technology.
PHOTO: Getty Images
6
6. The internet of (every)things
6. The internet of (every)things
We think we live in a connected world. A decade from now, we'll wonder how we were ever so isolated. "Wireless communications will dominate everything, everywhere," says the report. "Imagine the day when the entire continent of Africa is completely, digitally connected," which it predicts will occur in 2025. All this will happen thanks to improved semiconductors, changes in 5G technology, and supercapacitors that will be able to store much more energy for later release than the current generation of capacitors.
PHOTO: Courtesy Company
7
7. Goodbye, plastic water bottles
7. Goodbye, plastic water bottles
Packing peanuts are already starting to be replaced by more eco-friendly alternatives, but by 2025, says the report, all types of petroleum-based packaging will be obsolete. No longer will discarded packaging litter fields, cities, and oceans. Instead, "whether for food, medicine, electronics, textiles, or consumer products, all packaging will be made from cellulose-derived products." These new types of packaging might look and feel like plastic, but they'll be fully biodegradable.
PHOTO: Gallery Stock
8
8. The cure is no longer worse than the disease
8. The cure is no longer worse than the disease
By 2025, says the report, cancer patients will no longer have to choose between living with a fatal disease and enduring treatments that can quickly become intolerable. The pharmaceutical industry has been working toward a goal of personalized medicine, developing drugs that target specific molecules. As medical tools become more targeted, they'll engage only the molecules necessary to combat the disease, sparing healthy ones and leading to treatments with far fewer negative side effects.
PHOTO: Getty Images
9
9. DNA mapping at birth becomes the norm
9. DNA mapping at birth becomes the norm
And not just at birth. The report says that thanks to advances in co-called single-cell analysis and to the increasing applications of big data, DNA mapping will be the best way to manage disease risk. Not only will your newborn's DNA get mapped immediately, but your own DNA will be mapped and checked annually to identify any increased risk or early appearance of auto-immune diseases.
PHOTO: Gallery Stock
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10. Beam me up, Scotty.
10. Beam me up, Scotty.
Now that researchers have proven the existence of Higgs-boson particles, they're racing to understand them. One possible implication: the concept of teleportation is not as nutty as it seems. We're not going to be teleporting humans by 2025, but as scientists test quantum teleportation with other substances, it won't seem absurd, either.
PHOTO: Everett Collection
IMAGE: Everett Collection
Last updated: Jul 7, 2014

KIMBERLY WEISUL | Staff Writer | Inc.com Editor-at-Large

Kimberly Weisul is editor-at-large at Inc. and co-founder of One Thing New, the digital media startup that is rebooting women's content. She was previously a senior editor at BusinessWeek.




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