The biggest science headlines of 2022
The biggest science headlines of 2022
Scientific discoveries and technological innovation play a fundamental 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 in various disciplines, industries and projects around the world.
During 2022, it’s easy to lose track of all the amazing stories in science and technology.
At a Glance: Top Science Headlines of 2022
Below, we dig a little deeper into some of the more interesting headlines, while providing links in case you want to explore these developments further.
The James Webb Space Telescope arrives at its destination
What happened: A new space telescope promises exciting discoveries and beautiful images of the final frontier. This telescope builds on the legacy of its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescopewhich was launched over 30 years ago.
Why it matters: The James Webb Space Telescope is our last 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.
» To find out more, read on This article from The Planetary Society, or look this video from the Wall Street Journal.
Complete: The Human Genome
What happened: Scientists have just sequenced the human genome.
Why it matters: A complete human genome allows researchers to better understand the genetic basis of human traits 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
Monkey pox breaks out
What happened: A greater volume of cases of the monkey pox the virus was reported in non-endemic countries.
Why it matters: Still in the shadow of a global pandemic, researchers are keeping a closer eye on how diseases spread. The sudden increase in multinational incidences of monkeypox raises questions about the evolution and prevention of the disease.
» To find out more, read on This article by the New York Times.
A perfectly preserved woolly mammoth
What happened: Gold miners unearth a 35,000-year-old, well-preserved baby woolly mammoth in the Yukon tundra.
Why it matters: The mammoth, called Nun cho ga 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 of biodiversity and how life changes over time.
» To find out more, read on This article from Smithsonian magazine
The rise of AI Art
What happened: Access to new computer programs, such as DALL-E and Midjourney, gives members of the general public the ability to create images from text messages.
Why it matters: Widespread access to generative AI tools fuels inspiration and controversy. Concerns about artists’ rights and copyright violations are growing as these programs may threaten to diminish creative work.
» To find out more, read on This article by MyModernMet, or look 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.
Why it matters: This discovery could lead to a longer lifespan and supply of organs for transplantation.
» To find out more, read on This article by Scientific American, o This article from the New York Times
DART delivers a cosmic punch
What happened: NASA crashes a spacecraft into an asteroid just to see how much it will move. Dimorphos, a moon orbiting a larger asteroid called Didymos 6.8 million miles (11 million km) from Earth, is struck by the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft. NASA estimates that up to 22 million pounds (10 million kg) were ejected after the impact.
Why it matters: Earth is constantly at risk of being hit by stray asteroids. Developing reliable methods to deflect near-Earth objects could save us from suffering the same fate as the dinosaurs.
» For more information, see this video by Real Engineering, or read This article from Space.com
Drop in sperm count
What happened: A scientific review suggests that human sperm numbers are declining, by as much as 62% over the past 50 years.
Why it matters: A lower sperm count makes it harder to conceive naturally. Concerns about the overall decline in men’s health also arise because sperm count is a marker of overall health. Researchers look for extraneous stressors that may be affecting this tendency, such as diet, environment, or other media.
» For more information, take a look This article of the Guardian.
Finding ancient DNA
What happened: DNA from two million years old is found in Greenland.
Why it matters: DNA is a record of biodiversity. As well as showing that a desolate Arctic landscape was once teeming with life, ancient DNA provides clues about our advance into modern life and how biodiversity evolves over time.
» To find out more, read on This article from National Geographic
Fusion of energy
What happened: The US Department of Energy reports achieving a net energy gain for the first time in the development of nuclear fusion.
Why it matters: Fusion is often considered the Holy Grail of safe, clean energy, and this latest milestone brings researchers closer to harnessing nuclear fusion to power the world.
» For more information, view our infographic about the merger, or read This article from the 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:
- Progress in space it continues with projects such as 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 such as DALL-e and ChatGPT 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 therapeutic it should advance medicine into new territories
Where science is headed remains to be seen, but this past year instills faith that 2023 will be filled with even more progress.
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