Scientific discoveries and technological innovation play a vital role in addressing many of the challenges and crises we face each year.
The last year may have come and gone quickly, but scientists and researchers have been hard at work advancing our knowledge within a number of disciplines, industries, and projects around the world.
Over the course of 2022, it’s easy to lose track of all the amazing science and technology stories.
At a Glance: Top Science Headlines of 2022
Below we dig a little deeper into some of the more interesting headlines, while also providing links should you want to explore these developments further.
The James Webb Space Telescope reaches its destination
What happened: A new space telescope brings the promise of exciting discoveries and beautiful images of the last frontier. This telescope builds on the legacy of its predecessor, the hubble space telescopewhich was released over 30 years ago.
Because it is important: The James Webb Space Telescope is our latest state-of-the-art “window” into deep space. With more access to the infrared spectrum, new images, measurements, and observations of outer space will become available.
» For more information, read This article from The Planetary Society, or look at this video from the Wall Street Journal.
Complete: The Human Genome
What happened: Scientists finish sequencing the human genome.
Because it is important: A complete human genome allows researchers to better understand the genetic basis of human characteristics and diseases. New therapies and treatments are likely to emerge from this development.
» For more information, see this video by Two Minute Papers, or read This article from NIH
outbreak of monkeypox
What happened: A higher volume of cases than the monkeypox The virus has been reported in non-endemic countries.
Because it is important: In the shadow of a global pandemic, researchers are keeping an eye on how disease spreads. The sudden increase in multinational incidences of monkeypox raises questions about the course and prevention of the disease.
» For more information, read This article by the New York Times.
A perfectly preserved woolly mammoth
What happened: Gold miners unearth well-preserved 35,000-year-old baby woolly mammoth in the Yukon tundra.
Because it is important: The mammoth, called cho ga nun by the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation, is the most complete specimen discovered in North America to date. Each new discovery allows paleontologists to expand our knowledge about biodiversity and how life changes over time.
» For more information, read This article from smithsonian magazine
The rise of the art of AI
What happened: Access to new software, such as DALL-E and Midjourney, gives members of the general public the ability to create images from text prompts.
Because it is important: Widespread access to generative AI tools fuels inspiration and controversy. Concerns about artists’ rights and copyright violations are growing as these programs potentially threaten to diminish creative work.
» For more information, read This article by MyModernMet, or watch this video by Cleo Abram.
Dead organs get a second chance
What happened: Researchers create a perfusion system that can revitalize organs after cell death. Using a special mixture of blood and nutrients, the organs of a dead pig can be maintained after death and, in some cases, even promote cell repair.
Because it is important: This discovery could potentially lead to an increased lifespan and supply of organs for transplantation.
» For more information, read This article by Scientific American, or This article from the new york times
DART offers a cosmic push
What happened: NASA crashes a spacecraft into an asteroid just to see how much it would move. Dimorphos, a small moon orbiting a larger asteroid called Didymos 6.8 million miles (11 million kilometers) from Earth, is struck by the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft. NASA estimates that up to 22 million pounds (10 million kg) were ejected after the impact.
Because it is important: Earth is constantly at risk of being hit by stray asteroids. Developing reliable methods to deflect NEOs could save us from the same fate as the dinosaurs.
» For more information, see this video by Royal Engineering, or read This article from space.com
falling sperm counts
What happened: A scientific review suggests that the human sperm count is declining, by as much as 62% in the last 50 years.
Because it is important: A lower sperm count makes it more difficult to conceive naturally. Concerns are also being raised about declining male health globally because sperm count is a marker of general health. Researchers look for extraneous stressors that may be affecting this trend, such as diet, environment, or other media.
» For more information, see This article of the Guardian
Find ancient DNA
What happened: Two million year old DNA found in Greenland.
Because it is important: DNA is a record of biodiversity. In addition to showing that a desolate arctic landscape was once teeming with life, ancient DNA provides clues to our progress toward modern life and how biodiversity evolves over time.
» For more information, read This article by National Geographic
What happened: The US Department of Energy reports that it achieved a net gain of energy for the first time in the development of nuclear fusion.
Because it is important: Fusion is often seen as the Holy Grail of clean and safe energy, and this latest milestone takes researchers one step closer to harnessing nuclear fusion to power the world.
» For more information, see our infographic in merge or read This article bbc
science in the new year
The future of scientific research looks bright. Researchers and scientists continue to push the boundaries of what we know and understand about the world around us.
By 2023, a few disciplines are likely to continue to dominate the headlines:
- advance in space continues with projects like the James Webb Space Telescope and SETI COSMIC’s search for life beyond Earth
- climate action may become more demanding as recovery and prevention of extreme weather events continue into the new year
- Generative AI tools like DALL-e and ChatGPT were opened for public use in 2022 and sparked widespread interest in the potential of artificial intelligence
- Even amid the lingering shadow of COVID-19, new therapy must advance medicine into new territories
Where the science goes remains to be seen, but the past year instills faith that 2023 will be filled with even more progress.
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