The best Phys.org articles of 2022

The best Phys.org articles of 2022

The best Phys.org articles of 2022

The best Phys.org articles of 2022

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

It was a good year for all kinds of research three men shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work showing that small particles separated by great distances can become entangled. Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger won the prize for their work demonstrating that the counterintuitive field of quantum entanglement is real and demonstrable.


A team from the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution a breakthrough in determining the origin of life on Earth, and maybe also on Mars. They discovered that ribonucleic acid can form spontaneously on basaltic lava glass. Such glass was abundant on early Earth at the time when scientists believed life originated — and basaltic lava glass exists on Mars today.

And as the year began, a team with members from institutions in France, Spain, Mexico and Switzerland found out a spike protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus activates human endogenous retroviruses in blood cells. The finding helped to explain many of the commonly observed pathogenic features of the virus. More specifically, they found evidence 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 3400 years old city from the Mittani Empire that was once on the river Tigris. The settlement came into view due to a prolonged drought in the area around the Mosul reservoir that dropped dramatically water levels. Studies of artifacts at the site showed they were made by the Zakhiku, ancient people who lived in the area in the 1550s to 1350s BC.

And last winter, researchers at the Center for Polar Observation and with the Modeling and British Antarctic Survey reported that satellite images showed a “mega iceberg” called A68A had released about 152 billion tons of fresh water in the ocean as it scraped past the South Atlantic island of South Georgia. They noted that it had broken off 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 slower on Mars than on Earth, and it also has two speeds depending on pitch—higher sounds travel faster than lower sounds.

In September, a pair of researchers, one at Uppsala University in Sweden and the other at the University of Oviedo in Spain, found that they observe 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 the radiation was released in the area, the frogs were all green.

A combined team of researchers from the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Georgia Museum of Natural History study DNA from a domesticated American horse that once inhabited what is now an abandoned Caribbean colony proved that the horses on Assateague Island came from Spanish explorersprobably as a result of a shipwreck.

And just a few months ago, a combined team of researchers from Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Montpellier discovered just that massive stars sound a warning when they are about to go supernova. They found that stars with masses of 8 to 20 solar masses suddenly dim a few months before they explode due to the buildup of nearby materials that block the view.

Last February, a team of researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst developed a new material that can absorb and release huge amounts of energy. They described the rubbery solid as similar to 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 note that the approach not only makes the problem easier to work with, but could also revolutionize the way other problems are tackled in the future.

Over the summer, a team of physicists from several US institutions discovered that by shining a laser on a group of atoms arranged in a Fibonacci-inspired sequence, they a new phase of matter that behaved as if it were running in two time dimensions. This despite the fact that there was only one time stream left in the system.

Last spring, a team from the University of Amsterdam, together with a colleague from the Amsterdam University Medical Center, found microplastics in human blood for the first time. The finding highlights the ubiquity of the tiny particles, many of which are nearly invisible to the naked eye. The team in the Netherlands found particles in almost 80% of the samples tested.

Also this past fall, a team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in the US found the first definitive evidence of elusive sea-level fingerprints– where sea levels fluctuate between areas close to the melting of the ice sheet and areas far away. The seesaw occurs because of changes and subsequent differences in gravity, when ice breaks loose from an ice shelf and then melts over time.

An atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University confirmed his discovery of a bioluminescent “milky sea” event through the testimony of a crew aboard a private yacht. Steven Miller discovered the event while studying satellite imagery and received confirmation from a crew aboard a yacht that happened to be passing through the area at the time.

A team from the Department of Computer, Computational, and Statistical Sciences at Los Alamos National Laboratory found it a flaw in a paradigm developed by Riemann and promoted by Helmholtz and Schrödinger that has been used for more than a century to describe how the eye distinguishes color. Using the corrected version is expected to improve visualization in the electronics and paint industries.

Last summer, a team from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Archeology found that Augustinian friars living in medieval Cambridge were twice as likely to be infected with intestinal parasites as others living in the same city. The result was surprising because conditions in the monasteries of the time were thought to be more sanitary than in the city and because the brothers used both latrine blocks and hand washing facilities.

Last summer, scientists working with data from the James Webb Space Telescope and NASA began gearing up for a closer look at an exoplanet called 55 Cancri e– a planet that orbits so close to its star that some in the field have likened it to descriptions of hell in the Bible. At only 2.5 million kilometers from its sun, it does not rotate; so one side is expected to always be lit.

A team from Northwestern University developed a simple method to quickly and easily destroy so-called forever chemicals. Known as PFAS, the chemicals can be broken down using certain inexpensive reagents at low temperatures, leaving nothing but benign end products, the researchers said.

A team with members affiliated with many institutions in Japan and one in Taiwan discovered an unknown structure in the galaxy 3C273 using high-contrast imaging. They found a faint radio emission covering a giant galaxy with an energetic black hole at its center. They also found that the emission was generated as gas from the black hole and suggest the technique could be used to learn more about quasars.

In July, humanity marked a dubious milestone– by the 28th day of that month, humanity had collectively consumed everything the planet could sustainably produce throughout the year. Dubbed “Earth Overshoot Day,” the date marked a tipping point that cannot be sustained year after year. It highlights the fact that humans are consuming more than the planet can produce, and unless action is taken, shortages will become the norm.

That same month, a team of physicists at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics and Astronomy used mathematical calculations to show that quantum communication should be possible in interstellar space. The finding, they note, suggests that interstellar communication with extraterrestrials should be possible — if it exists at all.

In August, a team from Cornell University reported on an experiment they sent to the International Space Station that confirmed a theory put forward by a team member who had recently died. The experiments have shown that water droplets oscillate and spread over solid surfaces in microgravity– a finding that could affect how 3D and other spraying operations are performed in applications here on Earth.

And a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications answered a 150-year-old chess problem last January-how to solve the mathematical problem n-queens. He found that the equation (0.143n)n can be used to describe the number of ways in which queens can be placed on a chessboard so that no others attack on nxn chessboards.

And finally, miners in Angola announced in July that they had excavated the largest pure pink diamond found in 300 years. The diamond turned out to be 170 carats and was named the 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, have announced that it will be sold to the highest bidder as soon as possible.

Like a bonusthere was also a “top videothis year. Scientists at Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology used a supercomputer to simulate an alternative explanation regarding 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 the early Earth, leaving a moon-like body in orbit.

Speaking of videos, we launched our Science X YouTube channel earlier this year. Feel free to register as we continue to bring you the latest and greatest research news in science, medicine and technology in 2023 and beyond.

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Quote: Last Year’s Best: The Best Phys.org Articles of 2022 (2022, December 9) Retrieved December 10, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-12-year-articles.html

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