China's top 10 science advances in 2023 released
Xinhua 2024-03-01 10:21

This aerial photo taken on April 22, 2023 shows LHAASO in Daocheng County, southwest China's Sichuan Province. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)

Frontier fields such as life sciences, artificial intelligence, quantum science, astronomy and energy were celebrated Thursday when the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) released the country's top 10 science advances in 2023.

The use of AI models for enhanced precision in forecasting weather was highlighted by the annual list.

Huawei's Pangu model demonstrated high precision compared to traditional numerical prediction methods for forecasts, which could take anywhere from an hour to a week, and its prediction speed is 10,000 times faster.

Also among the advances was the precise energy spectrum for the highest-energy gamma-ray radiation from the brightest gamma-ray burst observed to date, captured by China's Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory (LHAASO), a high-altitude cosmic ray observatory.

In life science, the list included how certain elements with viral origins in our genomes become awakened and contribute to the aging process; how DNA's unzipping machine works; how light suppresses blood sugar metabolism; the precise integration of large DNA sequences in plant genomes; as well as the discovery of a "tangible" biological clock in the brain and a key gene in a crop that might substantially improve yields from alkaline soil.

The advances also included the extension of the quantum information's storage time and the chemical reaction processes in lithium-sulfur batteries.

The NSFC is a major source of funding in China for basic research and frontier exploration. More than 2,100 experts, including over 430 Chinese academicians, voted on the results.

About 45 percent of researchers attached to the studies are aged less than 45, revealing that young scientists have become a driving force in China's basic research, according to the NSFC.

Some achievements were contributed by enterprises including Huawei and Qi-Biodesign Biotechnology, which reflected the increasingly important role that firms are playing in innovation.

In an interview with Xinhua, the NSFC announced new measures to extend funding for outstanding undergraduates to conduct pilot project basic research, and to offer long-term funding for excellent researchers with a maximum of nearly 30 million yuan (4.17 million U.S. dollars) over a 15-year period.

The foundation also vowed to establish a global fund for science projects between Chinese and overseas scientists, and support overseas scientists to work in China on a long-term basis, in a bid to build a platform for international cooperation in basic research.