The most important weird and wonderful scientific discoveries of 2022!
From the final determination of the human genome two decades after an asteroid was redirected on a collision course with Earth, many strange and wonderful scientific discoveries have been made in 2022.
The Daily Mail talks about the most interesting events of this year.
Asteroid character mission
In September, scientists successfully conducted the first-ever planetary defense test, slightly deflecting an asteroid from its trajectory.
During the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, the spacecraft deliberately crashed into Dimorphos, a small asteroid moon in the Didymos double asteroid system 7 million miles (11 million km) from Earth.
This was the world’s first test of kinetic shock mitigation technology, using an object to deflect an asteroid that does not pose a threat to Earth and change its orbit.
Prior to impact, Dimorphus took approximately 11 hours and 55 minutes to orbit its larger partner, Didymus.
However, this time decreased by 32 minutes to 11 hours and 23 minutes after the impact. It is hoped that someday we will be able to turn this work into a strategy for protecting our planet from potential future threats from space, if necessary.
Africa’s oldest dinosaur fossil discovered
Back in the summer, dinosaur lovers were thrilled by the unusual discovery after paleontologists unearthed the oldest dinosaur ever found in Africa.
The creature, dubbed Mbiresaurus raathi, was about six feet long and roamed Zimbabwe 230 million years ago.
Analysis of the fossils showed that it was a type of sauropodomorph, a relative of the sauropod that walked on four legs, had serrated teeth, a long neck and tail.
The skeleton was discovered during two expeditions, in 2017 and 2019, to the Zambezi Valley.
“The discovery of Mbiresaurus fills a critical geographic gap in the fossil record of the earliest dinosaurs and demonstrates the power of hypothesis-based fieldwork to test predictions about the ancient past,” said Dr. Christopher Griffin of the Virginia Tech College of Science.
The fattest baby woolly mammoth
It looks a bit like a mummified baby elephant, but it’s actually a very well-preserved baby mammoth that lived over 30,000 years ago.
It was discovered by gold miners in Yukon, Canada in June.
The Yukon government said it was “the most complete mammoth found in North America” and the second such find in the world.
Nun Choga was frozen in the permafrost, mummifying his remains.
Lab-grown brain cells learn to play video games
The classic table tennis-themed video game Pong was innovative and very popular when it was released in 1972.
Laboratory-grown human brain cells have been shown to be able to move a racket vertically across a screen to hit a ball.
And researchers at Cortical Labs in Melbourne have shown for the first time that 800,000 brain cells can perform purposeful tasks—in this case, Pong.
The results show that even brain cells in a petri dish can exhibit innate intelligence, changing their behavior over time.
Microplastics are everywhere, including ours.
Recently, more and more attention has been paid to the problem of plastic waste and its impact on the environment.
In particular, scientists are studying microplastics — small pieces of plastic less than 0.2 inches (5 mm) in diameter — and where they are found, including as far away as Antarctica.
Worryingly, it has also been found inside us after scientists first discovered it in human blood.
Researchers in the Netherlands took blood samples from 22 healthy, unidentified adult donors and analyzed them for particles as small as 0.00002 inches.
They found that 17 out of 22 volunteers (77.2%) had microplastics in their blood, which was described as “extremely disturbing”.
Microplastics were also first detected in the lungs of living people this year – proof that we breathe them in from the air.
Researchers from the University of Hull and Hull York Medical School have found microplastics in the deepest part of the lung.
It is not known what effect microplastics have on the human body, but studies from 2023 and beyond continue to seriously investigate.
First images of the new superspace telescope
There was a lot of excitement over the summer when NASA’s new $10bn (£7.4bn) Space Telescope sent back its first images of the early universe.
Astronomy enthusiasts have received unprecedentedly dazzling images of the “stellar nursery,” a dying star covered in dust, and the “cosmic dance” between a group of galaxies.
Hailed as “the dawn of a new era in astronomy,” it was made by James Webb – the successor to the famous Hubble Observatory – and published by NASA in July.
Webb’s ability in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum means he can “see the past” as little as 100 to 200 million years after the Big Bang, allowing him to take pictures of the first stars that shone in the universe more than 13.5 billion years ago. .
The human genome is finally complete
It took two decades, but in 2022 the human genome was finally fully mapped.
And in April, researchers published a sequence of almost 3 billion bases (or “letters”) of DNA from a single person without gaps, 20 years after the first project was created.
They said that complete, gap-free sequencing of the bases in our DNA is critical to understanding human genetic variation and genetic contributions to specific diseases.
In addition to the medical implications, the entire genome also helps answer the question of what makes us such unique individuals.
The researchers suggested that some genes that were gaps in the original genome are thought to be very important in making humans have bigger brains than other monkeys.
The work was done by the Telomere to Telomere (T2T) consortium, which included researchers from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI); University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC); and the University of Washington in Seattle.
The newly completed genome, named T2T-CHM13, is now available through the online UCSC Genome Browser.
First photo of Sagittarius A* (Sagittarius A)
For the first time in history, in May, astronomers revealed how they managed to capture a remarkable image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.
The long-awaited image showed Sagittarius A*, about 4.3 million times the mass of our Sun and about 27,000 light-years from Earth.
This comes just over three years after astronomers showed the first ever image of a black hole.
The two black holes bear a striking resemblance, despite the fact that Sagittarius A* is 2,000 times smaller than Messier 87, located in a distant galaxy 55 million light-years away.
Fossil from the day the dinosaurs died 66 million years ago
In April, paleontologists announced that they had discovered the first-ever fossil of a dinosaur that died on the day a massive asteroid hit Earth 66 million years ago.
The Thescelosaurus leg was discovered next to a seven-mile-wide piece of space rock.
Experts believe that the tip, covered in skin, was likely “broken off” in the Chicxulub asteroid impact and then buried under falling debris on the day of the impact.
The fossilized foot was discovered along with a series of exciting discoveries at the Tanis Fossil Site in the US state of North Dakota.
Paleontologists say this is the first discovery of a dinosaur that was the famous victim of an asteroid impact that left a 93-mile-wide crater in what is now the Gulf of Mexico.
They also said that they thought they had discovered a small piece of space rock that ended the age of dinosaurs and gave rise to mammals.
Source: Daily Mail