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The 5 Most Influential Scientific Breakthroughs in 2022

by Coffee Table Science

We are at the year’s end. And like all of us, the year has been a roller coaster ride for science as well. Many researchers in different fields have come up with the latest discoveries that caught our eyes and became a matter of discussion. Hence, we’ve decided to give you a throwback to the scientific discoveries and analyze what we have achieved this year. 

Fusion energy breakthrough promising clean energy production

Image Credits: Pixabay

On Tuesday, December 13, 2022, researchers at the Lawrence National Laboratory, California, produced more energy in a fusion reaction than what was used to initiate the process. This was the first nuclear fusion experiment where scientists achieved a net energy gain. Currently, most of the energy on the planet is produced from nuclear fission, where an atom’s nucleus is split into different nuclei releasing high amounts of energy. However, in fusion, two nuclei fuse to form a heavy nucleus and produce energy. 

While both processes release a high amount of energy, the latter produces a significantly high amount than the other. For instance, the nuclear fusion of two heavy hydrogen isotopes will produce four times more energy than the fission of a uranium atom. 

If we commercialise nuclear fission energy, it would help produce clean and renewable energy sources that will help manage climate change. Further, it would also reduce the radioactive waste that fission reactors are known for. However, the technology is still developing but holds a better future.

Establishing “Baby Wormholes” in a quantum computer

Image Credits: Pixabay

Wormholes have always been a speculative topic in science fiction. Wormholes are hypothetical structures and can be visualised as a tunnel connecting two distinct points in spacetime. This concept seemed unrealistic until scientists at the California Institute of Technology brought them to notice. They created two simulated black holes in a quantum computer and transmitted signals between them. Though they did not disturb the spacetime concept in physical space, their wormhole was developed based on quantum information or teleportation by using quantum codes on quantum computers. 

The study sets a foundation for further research about wormholes in quantum physics. However, it may take a long time when we could achieve space travelling through wormholes. 

30,000 Baby woolly mammoth discovered in ice-age

Image Credits: Calgary University

It was a historical moment when miners in Canada found an animal buried in ice. Experts from the University of Calgary identified it as the female body of a woolly mammoth which was extinct 30,000 years ago. Surprisingly, the body was fully preserved. The body parts, including skin, toenails, trunk and hair, weren’t damaged at all. It turned out to be the best-preserved woolly mammoth ever found in North America. 

“It was incredible to think this was an animal that died so long ago, but here it is, preserved so well that it still has hair on it—frankly, it was mind-blowing,” said Dr Dan Shugar, a science professor at the university. He called it “the most exciting scientific thing I have ever been a part of.”

The discovery could help in finding more about the evolution of mammals, and current humans came into existence. More research is required for a better understanding. 

An artificial mouse embryo forms a beating heart

Image Credits: Pixabay

Keeping in mind the importance of life, researchers at the University of Cambridge and California (CalTech), created an artificial embryo without using human stem cells (egg and sperm cells). They used mouse stem cells and developed a fully functioning brain, heart and other important body organs. 

The stem cells are the body’s master cells and have the potential to develop types of cells. The scientists mimicked the natural processes that happen during fertilisation and found three types of stem cells that interact during the initial stages. They laid a unique environment set up for their interactions, due to which the stem cells organised themselves into different structures and progressed through developmental stages until they made an embryo with a functional foundation of working organs like the heart and brain. 

Although the research was carried out on mice, the researchers hope that the technology can be used to develop certain types of human organs. The study has helped them to understand the important processes of organ development that could not be possible by using real human embryos. 

Near-earth asteroids discovered

Image Credits: Pixabay

According to the European Space Agency, there are more than 30,000 near-earth asteroids (NEAs) in the solar system. They are space rocks (usually large) that revolve around the sun on paths close to Earth’s orbits. And 1,425 has a probability of hitting earth. Out of 30,000 NEAs, 10,000 are larger than 460 feet in diameter, and 1,000 are larger than 3,280 feet in diameter. However, astronomers are keeping a close tab on 1,425 NEAs that could impose a threat to human civilisation. 

Knowing its destruction intensity, a new asteroid impact simulator has been developed that can help you know how much destruction an asteroid can cause if it falls on the ground. Interestingly, you can select the size of the asteroid and its location to know its destruction intensity. If you’re interested in seeing what could happen after an asteroid fall, you can check out the platform. 

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