Predicting which scientific discoveries will change the world is, arguably, a fool's game. Who knows what the future will bring? Yet every year a handful of developments—say, the arrival of the quickest, cheapest genome-editing tool yet—get us so excited that we cannot help ourselves. This year those breakthroughs include tools for reprogramming living cells and rendering lab animals transparent; ways of powering electronics with sound waves and saliva; smartphone screens that correct for the flaws in your vision; Lego-like atomic structures that could produce major advances in superconductivity research; and others. Read about them now, then pay attention in the coming years to see what they do.
This article was originally published with the title "World Changing Ideas 2014" in Scientific American 311, 6, 40-41 (December 2014)