The best Phys.org articles of 2022
The best Phys.org articles of 2022
It was a good year for research of all kinds three men shared the Nobel prize in physics for his work which showed that tiny particles separated from each other by large distances can become entangled. Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger won the prize for their work showing that the counterintuitive field of quantum entanglement is real and also provable.
A team from the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution made a major breakthrough in determining the origins of life on Earth, and maybe also on Mars. They found that ribonucleic acid can form spontaneously in basaltic lava glass. This glass was abundant on early Earth at the time when scientists believe life first came into existence, and basalt lava glass exists today on Mars.
And as the year began, a team with members from institutions in France, Spain, Mexico and Switzerland found that a spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus activates human endogenous retroviruses in blood cells. The finding helped explain many of the commonly observed pathogenic characteristics of the virus. More specifically, they found evidence indicating that the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein activates the envelope protein encoded by HERV-W in blood cells.
Also, last spring, a combined team of archaeologists from Germany and Iraq discovered a 3,400-year-old Mittani Empire-era city that once stood on the Tigris River. The settlement was seen due to a prolonged drought in the area around the Mosul Reservoir which drastically reduced water levels. Studies of artifacts at the site showed that they were made by the Zakhiku, ancient people who lived in the area during the years 1550 to 1350 BC.
And last winter, researchers working at the Polar Observatory and with the Modeling and British Antarctic Survey reported that satellite images showed a “mega-iceberg” called A68A had released an estimated 152 billion tons of fresh water in the ocean as it passed South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic. They noted that it had broken off from the Larsen-C ice shelf.
Also, last spring, an international team of researchers analyzing audio recordings received from two microphones aboard the Perseverance rover found that, as expected, sound travels more slowly on Mars than on Earth, and it also has two speeds, depending on pitch—high-pitched sounds travel faster than lower-pitched sounds.
In September, a pair of researchers, one with Uppsala University in Sweden and the other with the University of Oviedo in Spain, found that they could watch the evolution in action by studying black frogs in areas affected by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown. Pablo Burraco and Germán Orizaola found that before radiation was emitted in the area, the frogs had all been green.
A combined team of researchers from the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Georgia Museum of Natural History studying the DNA of a domesticated American horse that once occupied what is now an abandoned Caribbean colony. proved that the horses on Assateague Island came from Spanish explorersprobably due to a shipwreck.
And just a few months ago, a combined team of researchers from Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Montpellier discovered that massive stars sound a warning when they are about to go supernova. They found that stars in the 8 to 20 solar mass range darken rapidly a few months before they explode due to the accretion of material in the vicinity that blocks the view.
Last February, a team of researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, developed a new material that could absorb and release enormous amounts of energy. They described the rubber-like solid as a “super rubber band,” which stores large amounts of energy when stretched and then released.
An international team of researchers using artificial intelligence routines compressed into four equations a quantum problem that previously required 100,000 equations to fully describe. They point out that in addition to making the problem easier to work with, the approach could revolutionize the way other problems are tackled in the future.
Over the summer, a team of physicists affiliated with several institutions in the United States found that by shining a laser at a group of atoms arranged in a sequence inspired by the Fibonacci numbers, they could create a new phase of the matter which behaved as if it were running in two temporal dimensions. This, despite the fact that there was still only one time stream in the system.
Last spring, a team from the Universiteit Amsterdam, working with a colleague from the University Medical Center of Amsterdam, found microplastics in human blood for the first time. The finding highlights the ubiquity of tiny particles, many of which are nearly invisible to the naked eye. The team from the Netherlands found particles in almost 80% of the samples they tested.
In addition, last fall, a team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in the US detected the first definitive proof of elusive fingerprints at sea level—where sea level fluctuated between areas close to the melting ice sheet and areas far away. The seesaw occurs due to subsequent changes and differences in gravitational pull as ice breaks off an ice shelf and then melts over time.
An atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University confirmed their discovery of a “milky sea” bioluminescent event. through the testimony of a crew aboard a private yacht. Steven Miller discovered the event while studying satellite images and got confirmation from a crew aboard a yacht that was sailing in the area at the time.
A team from Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Computer Science, Computational and Statistics Division found an error in a paradigm developed by Riemann and promoted by Helmholtz and Schrodinger that has been used for more than a century to describe how the eye distinguishes color. Use of the corrected version is expected to improve visualization in the electronics and paint industries.
Last summer, a team from the Department of Archeology at the University of Cambridge found that Augustine monks living in medieval Cambridge were twice as likely to be infested with intestinal parasites as others living in the same city.. The result was surprising because conditions in monasteries at the time were believed to be more sanitary than in the city and because the monks used both latrine blocks and hand-washing facilities.
Last summer, scientists working with data from the James Webb Space Telescope and NASA began preparing for a better look at an exoplanet called 55 Cancri e—a planet that orbits so close to its star that some in the field have compared it to descriptions of hell in the Bible. Only 1.5 million miles from its sun, it does not rotate; therefore one side is expected to always be burning.
A team at Northwestern University developed a simple method to quickly and easily destroy the so-called chemicals forever. Known as PFASs, the chemicals can be broken down using certain inexpensive reagents at low temperatures, leaving behind nothing but benign end products, according to researchers.
A team with members affiliated with a large number of institutions in Japan and one in Taiwan discovered an unknown structure in the galaxy 3C273 using high contrast images. They found a faint radio emission blanketing a giant galaxy with an energetic black hole at its center. They also found that the emission was generated as gas from inside the black hole and suggest that the technique could be used to learn more about quasars.
In July, humanity marked a dubious milestone—On the 28th of that month, humanity had collectively consumed everything the planet could sustainably produce throughout the year. Called “Earth Overshoot Day,” the date marked a turning point that cannot be sustained year after year. It highlights the fact that humans are using more than the planet can produce, and unless improved actions are taken, scarcity will become the norm.
This same month, a team of physicists from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh used mathematical calculations to show that quantum communications across interstellar space should be possible. The finding, they note, suggests that interstellar communications with extraterrestrials should be possible, if they exist at all.
In August, a team at Cornell University reported on an experiment they sent to the International Space Station that confirmed a theory by a recently deceased team member. Experiments proved it water droplets oscillate and spread across solid surfaces in microgravity—a finding that could have an impact on the way 3D spraying operations and other applications are done here on Earth.
And a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Center for Mathematical Sciences and Applications answered a 150-year-old chess problem last January—How to solve the mathematical problem of n-queens. He found that the equation (0.143n)n could be used to describe the number of ways in which checkers can be placed on a chessboard so that none of them attack any other on nxn chessboards.
And finally, Angolan miners announced in July that they had dug the largest pure pink diamond found in 300 years. The diamond turned out to be 170 carats and was named Lulo Rose, after the mine in Australia where it was discovered. The find marks one of the rarest and purest forms of a natural stone. Its owners, the Lucapa Diamond Company and the Angolan government, announced that it will be sold as soon as possible to the highest bidder.
Like a bonusthere was also a “top video” this year. Scientists at Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology used a supercomputer to simulate an alternative explanation for the origin of the moon. They ran hundreds of simulations and then used the results to create a video showing an object called Theia colliding with early Earth that left a moon-like body orbiting Earth.
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Summons: Best of last year: Phys.org’s best articles of 2022 (2022, December 9) retrieved on December 10, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-12-year-articles .html
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