Timeline: The Most Important Science Headlines of 2022
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Timeline: The Most Important Science Headlines of 2022

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Infographic illustrating the biggest scientific headlines of 2022

Scientific discoveries and technological innovation play a vital role in addressing many of the challenges and crises that we face every year.

The last year may have come and gone quickly, but scientists and researchers have worked painstakingly hard to advance 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 stories in science and technology.

At a Glance: Major Scientific Headlines of 2022

Below we dive a little deeper into some of the most interesting headlines, while providing links in case you want to explore these developments further.

January 2022

The James Webb Space Telescope Arrives at its Destination

What happened: A new space telescope brings promise of exciting findings and beautiful images from the final frontier. This telescope builds on the legacy of its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, which launched over 30 years ago.

Why it matters: 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.

» To learn more, read this article from The Planetary Society, or watch this video from the Wall Street Journal.

April 2022

Complete: The Human Genome

What happened: Scientists finish sequencing 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 arise from this development.

» To learn more, watch this video by Two Minute Papers, or read this article from NIH

May 2022

Monkeypox Breaks Out

What happened: A higher volume of cases of the monkeypox virus was reported in non-endemic countries.

Why it matters: Trailing in the shadow of a global pandemic, researchers are keeping a closer eye on how diseases spread. The sudden spike of multinational incidences of monkeypox raises questions about disease evolution and prevention.

» To learn more, read this article by the New York Times.

June 2022

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, named 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 broaden our knowledge of biodiversity and how life changes over time.

» To learn more, read this article from Smithsonian Magazine

July 2022

The Rise of AI Art

What happened: Access to new computer programs, such as DALL-E and Midjourney, give members of the general public the ability to create images from text-prompts.

Why it matters: Widespread access to generative AI tools fuels inspiration—and controversy. Concern for artist rights and copyright violations grow as these programs potentially threaten to diminish creative labor.

» To learn more, read this article by MyModernMet, or watch this video by Cleo Abram.

August 2022

Dead Organs Get a Second Chance

What happened: Researchers create a perfusion system that can revitalize organs after cellular death. Using a special mixture of blood and nutrients, organs of a dead pig can be sustained after death—and in some cases, even promote cellular repair.

Why it matters: This discovery could potentially lead to a greater shelf-life and supply of organs for transplant.

» To learn more, read this article by Scientific American, or this article from the New York Times

September 2022

DART Delivers A Cosmic Nudge

What happened: NASA crashes a spacecraft into an asteroid just to see how much it would move. Dimorphos, a moonlet orbiting a larger asteroid called Didymos 6.8 million miles (11 million km) from Earth, is struck by the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft. NASA estimates that as much as 22 million pounds (10 million kg) was ejected after the impact.

Why it matters: Earth is constantly at risk of being struck by stray asteroids. Developing reliable methods of deflecting near-Earth objects could save us from meeting the same fate as the dinosaurs.

» To learn more, watch this video by Real Engineering, or read this article from Space.com

November 2022

Falling Sperm Counts

What happened: A scientific review suggests human sperm counts are decreasing—up to 62% over the past 50 years.

Why it matters: A lower sperm count makes it more difficult to conceive naturally. Concerns about global declining male health also arise because sperm count is a marker for overall health. Researchers look to extraneous stressors that may be affecting this trend, such as diet, environment, or other means.

» To learn more, check out this article from the Guardian.

December 2022

Finding Ancient DNA

What happened: Two million-year-old DNA is found in Greenland.

Why it matters: DNA is a record of biodiversity. Apart from showing that a desolate Arctic landscape was once teeming with life, ancient DNA gives hints about our advancement to modern life and how biodiversity evolves over time.

» To learn more, read this article from National Geographic

December 2022

Fusing Energy

What happened: The U.S. Department of Energy reports achieving net energy gain for the first time in the development of nuclear fusion.

Why it matters: Fusion is often seen as the Holy Grail of safe clean energy, and this latest milestone brings researchers one step closer to harnessing nuclear fusion to power the world.

» To learn more, view our infographic on fusion, or read this article from BBC

Science in the New Year

The future of scientific research looks bright. Researchers and scientists are continuing to push the boundaries of what we know and understand about the world around us.

For 2023, some disciplines are likely to continue to dominate headlines:

  • Advancement in space continues with projects like the James Webb Space Telescope and SETI COSMIC’s hunt for life beyond Earth
  • Climate action may become more demanding as recovery and prevention from extreme weather events continue into the new year
  • Generative AI tools such as DALL-e and ChatGPT were opened to public use in 2022, and ignited widespread interest in the potential of artificial intelligence
  • Even amidst the lingering shadow of COVID-19, new therapeutics should advance medicine into new territories

Where science is going remains to be seen, but this past year instills faith that 2023 will be filled with even more progress.

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Infographic: 11 Tech Trends to Watch in 2023

This infographic highlights eleven exciting areas within the world of technology worth keeping an eye on in 2023.

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11 Tech Trends

Infographic: 11 Tech Trends to Watch in 2023

It can be tough to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation.

Each new year delivers the full spectrum of progress from game-changing breakthroughs to incremental advancements in a wide variety of fields.

In a noisy media landscape fueled by hype and speculation, it can be tough to know where true value is being created. The infographic above, which draws from CB Insights’ recent report on 11 Tech Trends To Watch Closely in 2023, helps narrow down some areas of focus:

  1. Immortality-as-a-service
  2. The secret invasion of super apps
  3. Fintech’s rapid regeneration
  4. Bots in the house
  5. Virtual power plants
  6. Healthcare’s invisibility trick
  7. Smell goes digital
  8. Femtech turns to menopause
  9. The bio-based materials boom
  10. India’s tech ascent
  11. Regenerative agtech takes root

The report draws information from earnings transcripts, media mentions, investment activity, patents, and more to arrive at the trends listed.

We’ll examine three of these trends below in a bit more detail.

Setting the Stage: Clash of the Super Apps

The concept of a super app⁠—an all-in-one smartphone application that integrates a wide range of services⁠—is far from new. In fact, for years now, WeChat has been the go-to app for many Chinese citizens to chat, order services, pay bills, and more.

A natural question comes to mind: why doesn’t an app like that exist in Western countries yet? Well, there are a couple of key reasons:

  1. Consumers and regulators alike are wary of providers holding so much personal information and power. In China, WeChat actually had government support, integrating public services into the app. As well, expectations of personal privacy are completely different in China than in Western countries
  2. Unlike China, which rapidly adopted digital payments, North America and Europe had preexisting near-ubiquitous financial networks in place. Super apps were a game changer for millions of unbanked consumers in China and beyond.

The situation is changing rapidly though, and 2023 could be the year that the foundations are laid for a clash of various Big Tech incarnations of the super app.

In late 2022, Microsoft was rumored to be building a super app using Bing as the foundation, and recent investment into ChatGPT adds fuel to that fire. Even Elon Musk hinted at his ambitions to turn Twitter into a one-stop-shop for just about everything.

There are still significant barriers to bundling a plethora of services into a single app, but that isn’t stopping companies from racing to be the one to do it. To the victor go the spoils.

The Resiliency of Life Extension

The concepts of immortality and age reversal have been a preoccupation of mankind since the dawn of time, so it stands to reason that technology that promises extra lifespan and quality of life continues to be compelling for individuals and investors alike.

Players in this space can approach life extension and anti-aging from a number of different angles, from supplements to tinkering at the cellular level.

Two high-profile examples in this space are Calico, which is a subsidiary of Alphabet, and the Jeff Bezos-backed Altos Labs. Other billionaires have expressed an interest in life extension as well, including Peter Thiel, who has definitive views on mortality.

I believe if we could enable people to live forever, we should do that. […] I think it is against human nature not to fight death. – Peter Thiel

In 2023, look for more investment and news from startups focused on gene therapy, genome analysis, regenerative medicine, or “longevity in a pill”.

Beyond Plastic: The Bio-Based Materials Boom

Public pressure is mounting for producers of consumer goods to change the way they manufacture their products.

The good news is that many of the largest producers of consumer packaged goods and apparel have some kind of plan in place to use more post-consumer recycled plastic in their products. The bad news is that not enough plastic is recycled globally for companies to source enough material to produce their products more sustainably. As a result, many companies are exploring the option of ditching plastic entirely.

For example, materials derived from seaweed are an active area of innovation right now. Mushrooms and algae are also commonly-used materials from nature that are being used to create biodegradable products. In one particularly interesting example, a company called MycoWorks recently began working with GM Ventures to explore the use of mycelium-based leather alternatives in GM’s vehicles.

While researchers and companies are just scratching the surface of what’s possible, consumers are likely to see more tangible examples of bio-based materials popping up in stores. After all, brands will be very eager to talk about their increasingly plastic-free product lines.

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