A year of wonder, awe and discovery

A year of wonder, awe and discovery

  • Science
  • December 3, 2022
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A69380B6 F55A 4329 838FD1022FBC6C68 source News For Everyone Zoohouse News

Last July, NASA unveiled the first images returned from its much-anticipated new space telescope. Beautiful photographs of swirling galaxies, fiery nebulae and newborn stars amazed the world. As one of the senior scientists working with the scope’s near-infrared camera said, “We now see that the scientific results are likely to be even greater than we dared hope.” The glowing images remind us that despite an ongoing and devastating global pandemic research and discovery have continued in all disciplines. The past year has brought inspiring revelations not only in the fields of space and physics, but also in biology, ecology, technology and beyond. This collection features some of Scientific American’s best articles, selected by our editors, relating to the major events of 2022.

First, mind and mental health researchers have identified the underpinnings of two fascinating, complex psychological phenomena: the hurtful experience of gaslighting and the inheritance of trauma from their parents. A new analysis speculates that the ailing US healthcare system is to blame for an unnecessarily high death toll from COVID.

Back to one of the most significant achievements of the year: the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. After just months of operation, JWST is broadcasting images that are already turning physics on its head and could, astronomers hope, bring new clarity to one of the biggest debates in cosmology. A planet-sized network of powerful telescopes brought the massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way into focus in September, and the results are startling.

Many countries experienced record-breaking heatwaves in 2022, and temperatures are not expected to cool down anytime soon. Warming global temperatures are breaking ice shelves and melting glaciers in Antarctica and elsewhere. Fascinating new findings illustrate how birds use Earth’s magnetic field to travel thousands of kilometers each year, a long-standing puzzle in biology. And another little-understood wonder has been shed light on by science: the possible cause of eerily glowing ocean water, records of which go back more than 150 years.

Science explains almost every societal problem we face. Sociologist Amy Cooter writes about the psychology of some radicalized US militia groups whose actions have become increasingly violent. An in-depth investigation by reporter Katie Worth reveals how oil industry representatives are influencing what children learn about climate change in school. And Russian authorities are using digital tools to suppress truthful information about their country’s invasion of Ukraine.

As shown by harmful laws impeding health care for transgender youth, the repeal of a federal abortion law, and the rollback of gun protection laws, a troubling disregard for scientific evidence and reason plagued many policy developments in 2022. Scientific experts must champion science and reason as the basis of public order. And may this collection show that science can offer returns beyond politics and a healthy and just society – in sheer wonder and awe.

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