Interesting Engineering's top 10 science stories of 2022
As researchers from all across the globe add to the realm of human knowledge, 2022 has seen its lion's share of scientific discoveries.
Astronomers worked to unravel the secrets of distant planets while Earth scientists revealed the functioning of our own planet and the life and resources it supports.
Paleontologists discovered rare fossils and archaeologists, historical artifacts. Both of which played a crucial role in demystifying our powerful ancient connections.
The outcomes of scientists' relentless research are frequently shocking and extraordinary, to say the least. Interesting Engineering wants to honor this. We're proud to unveil IE's top 10 science stories of 2022.
10. Physicists figured out how launching a Falcon 9 changes the atmosphere
Scientists know that as a rocket leaves Earth, it produces hot exhaust that changes the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere as it passes through. Still, this is an area only faintly understood.
To address this, a paper published in May by a pair of physicists simulated the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasting into space. They discovered several reasons to be concerned.
9. Here are the most breathtaking images from the James Webb Space Telescope
Since the James Webb Space Telescope's launch atop a European Ariane 5 rocket on December 25, 2021, its operations have revealed the intricacies of the universe to an unprecedented level.
IE did a run-through of the best of Webb's images right from its earliest days. Take a look yourself – it's no surprise that this made it to the top 10!
8. China reportedly found massive amounts of uranium at a depth of 10,000 feet
Chinese nuclear authorities found substantial quantities of uranium resources at relatively shallow depths beneath the Earth in China.
The finding, which is being hailed as a national security breakthrough, may alter how uranium is formed in the scientific community's eyes. It also opened up new possibilities for uranium detection across the globe.
7. 50,000-year-old meteorite could revolutionize electronics and fast-charging
Scientists discovered an intriguing, complex, yet previously unrecognized microscopic structure while examining diamonds inside an old meteorite. That is the "Diablo Canyon" meteorite, first discovered in Arizona in 1891 and struck Earth some 50,000 years ago.
Researchers claimed that the structure, an interlocking type of diamond and graphite, has unique properties that could produce speedier charging or new kinds of electronics.
6. An experiment is casting doubt on the history of stone tools
An experiment tested whether regular people could figure out how to make the kind of tools ancient hominins were making two million years ago.
Turns out, all participants (including the two participants who'd never even heard of stone tools before) independently discovered toolmaking techniques that were used by the earliest toolmakers.
Significantly, this contested a long-held view by archaeologists that knowledge of how to make stone tools was a result of 'collective effort.' I.e., many individuals working together and learning from each other.
5. NASA's Perseverance rover has spotted a noodle-like object on Mars
NASA's Perseverance rover, which is currently roaming on Mars, confused researchers with a new image taken by one of its front-facing cameras. To this date, the 'spaghetti'-shaped object remains a mystery.
Still, some scientists have speculated that it could be space junk like many other examples before it.
4. A new groundwater discovery is a 1.2-billion-year-old 'Pandora's Box'
Near a uranium and gold mine in Moab Khotsong, South Africa, a group of international researchers found 1.2 billion-year-old groundwater. This was located 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers) below the Earth's surface.
The discovery took us a step forward in understanding how hydrogen and helium are created at depth. It also provided a clue as to how life endures in some of the planet's darkest, deepest crevices.
3. A powerful solar flare is heading toward Earth, and radio blackouts are possible
A massive X-class solar flare erupted from a new sunspot region, AR3058. Better yet, IE highlighted its similarity with the "Bastille Day Event" solar flare, which erupted on July 14, 2000.
The Bastille Day Event is studied to date by astronomers who have estimated that it carried 1033 ergs of magnetic energy, the equivalent of a thousand billion atomic bombs.
2. Scientists just found mountains of sugar hidden beneath the ocean
Back in May, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, Germany, revealed that submerged beneath the waves, seagrass ecosystems hold colossal sugar reserves.
For the first time, the study estimated that around 32 billion Coca-Cola cans worth of sugary material is hidden in the ocean.
1. Leading space science expert predicts a 'direct hit' on Earth from a solar storm
With the Sun now in an active phase of its 11-year solar cycle, there has been some concern about what an increase in solar flares could mean for us on Earth.
So when award-winning space scientist Dr. Tamitha Skov predicted that a "long snake-like filament" would have a direct hit on Earth on July 19, many of us just had to know the details.
This has been Interesting Engineering's top 10 science stories of 2022 – we can't wait to see what 2023 has in store! Can you?