5 scientific breakthroughs in 2022 that should give you hope for the future


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It’s been a challenging year on many fronts, but where science is concerned, the future is brighter than it is bleak.

While there was no shortage of upsetting news in 2022, researchers and science enthusiasts can point to a number of uplifting advancements and discoveries to revive hope in humanity. This year, the brightest minds in STEMs brought us steps closer to a revolutionary future, with breakthroughs in energy production, space exploration, and planet protection. Here are five scientific breakthroughs from 2022 to reflect on how far we’ve come. 


It took 70 years, but physicists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) finally had more output than energy input. Although commercial production of fusion energy is still a pipe dream, researchers at NIF in California have done what a similar project in France has yet to do. The hope for the future is more energy gains from nuclear fusion, which can provide an infinite source of clean energy that’s carbon-free and doesn’t emit radioactive waste. 

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You’ll Soon Be Able To Run Holograms

On Your Smartphone


source: iflscience.com, contributed by FAN Steve Page  |  image: Pixabay.com


In 1943, Thomas Watson, the president of IBM, famously predicted the world market for computers would top out at “maybe five” of the machines. He was wrong – you likely have more than that in your own house, let’s face it – but at the time, it made sense. After all, if computers were still gigantic, vacuum-tube-powered addition machines, you probably wouldn’t want more than about five either.

It’s a similar story with holograms. Even back in the 1990s, more than 40 years after Dennis Gabor first came up with the idea of using wavefront interference to reconstruct images in three dimensions, science fiction was still assuming the need for entire decks and suites to power our holographic adventures.

In fact, they can run on a smartphone.

Almost two years ago, researchers at MIT made a breakthrough – a technology they dubbed “tensor holography”. Since then, the project has continued to improve, and today, the team are working with a system they say is “fully automatic, robust to rendered and misaligned real-world inputs, produces realistic depth boundaries, and corrects vision aberrations.”

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Water-activated paper battery named among

world’s best inventions

source: swissinfo.ch  |  contributed by Bob Wallace  |  image: pexels.com


A water-activated biodegradable battery made of paper and powered by salt and inks features among the 200 best inventions of the year in TIME Magazine. It was created by researchers at the Swiss Federal Laboratory for Materials Testing and Research (EMPA),

“It sounds impossible: Just add water to a piece of paper and get energy,” saidExternal link TIME Magazine, who chose the Swiss-made battery as one the winners in this year’s “Experimental” invention category.

The battery is poweredExternal link by salt (dispersed in the paper) and inks containing graphite, zinc, and carbon.

AnalysisExternal link of the performance of a one-cell paper battery revealed that after two drops of water were added, the battery activated within 20 seconds and, when not connected to an energy-consuming device, reached a stable voltage of 1.2 volts. The voltage of a standard AA alkaline battery is 1.5 volts.

After one hour, the one-cell battery’s performance dropped significantly as the paper dried out. But after the researchers added two extra drops of water, the battery maintained a stable operating voltage of 0.5 volts for another hour.

Within two to five years, the technology could be used in low-power single-use electronics such as medical diagnostic devices and smart packaging, EMPA’s Gustav Nyström, the inventor, told TIME magazine. “I see a new role for paper… that could also be an answer to the growing environmental concern over electronic waste,” he said.

Each year TIME Magazine lists a selection of best inventions that “change how we live”, based on their originality, creativity, efficiency, impact and other criteria.


Scientists at America’s top nuclear lab were recruited by China to design missiles and drones, report says

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“China is playing a game that we are not prepared for, and we need to really begin to mobilize,” said Greg Levesque, the lead author of the report by Strider Technologies.

At least 154 Chinese scientists who worked on government-sponsored research at the U.S.’s foremost national security laboratory over the last two decades have been recruited to do scientific work in China — some of which helped advance military technology that threatens American national security — according to a new private intelligence report obtained by NBC News.

The report, by Strider Technologies, describes what it calls a systemic effort by the government of China to place Chinese scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where nuclear weapons were first developed.  

Many of the scientists were later lured back to China to help make advances in such technologies as deep-earth-penetrating warheads, hypersonic missiles, quiet submarines and drones, according to the report.

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A new satellite brighter than any star could ruin the night sky

source: fastcompany.com  |  image:  pixabay.com

Another space internet provider is going to defile our skies with a satellite that looks to be brighter than everything but the moon.

How will the moon’s resources be managed?

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The 2020s will be recognized as the decade humans transitioned into a truly space-faring species that utilizes space resources to survive and thrive both in space and on Earth.

It’s been 50 years since humans last visited the moon, and even robotic missions have been few and far between. But the Earth’s only natural satellite is about to get crowded.

At least six countries and a flurry of private companies have publicly announced more than 250 missions to the moon to occur within the next decade. Many of these missions include plans for permanent lunar bases and are motivated in large part by ambitions to assess and begin utilizing the moon’s natural resources. In the short term, resources would be used to support lunar missions; but in the long term, the moon and its resources will be a critical gateway for missions to the broader riches of the solar system.

But these lofty ambitions collide with a looming legal question. On Earth, possession and ownership of natural resources are based on territorial sovereignty. Conversely, Article II of the Outer Space Treaty—the 60-year-old agreement that guides human activity in space—forbids nations from claiming territory in space. This limitation includes the moon, planets, and asteroids. So how will space resources be managed?

I am a lawyer who focuses on the peaceful and sustainable use of space to benefit all humanity. I believe the 2020s will be recognized as the decade humans transitioned into a truly space-faring species that utilizes space resources to survive and thrive both in space and on Earth. To support this future, the international community is working through several channels to develop a framework for space resource management, starting with Earth’s closest neighbor, the moon. Continue reading “How will the moon’s resources be managed?”

Caltech’s New Ultrafast Camera Captures Signals Traveling Through Nerve Cells

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Reach out right now and touch anything around you. Whether it was the wood of your desk, a key on your keyboard, or the fur of your dog, you felt it the instant your finger contacted it.

Or did you?

In actuality, takes a bit of time for your brain to register the sensation from your fingertip. However, it does still happen extremely fast, with the touch signal traveling through your nerves at over 100 miles per hour. In fact, some nerve signals are even faster, approaching speeds of 300 miles per hour.

Scientists at Caltech have just developed a new ultrafast camera that can record footage of these impulses as they travel through nerve cells. Not only that, but the camera can also capture video of other incredibly fast phenomena, such as the propagation of electromagnetic pulses in electronics.

Known as differentially enhanced compressed ultrafast photography (Diff-CUP), the camera technology was developed in the lab of Lihong Wang. He is the Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, Andrew and Peggy Cherng Medical Engineering Leadership Chair, and executive officer for medical engineering.

Diff-CUP operates in a similar manner to Wang’s other CUP systems, which have been shown capable of capturing images of laser pulses as they travel at the speed of light and recording video at 70 trillion frames per second.

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Star American Professor Masterminded a Surveillance Machine for Chinese Big Tech

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A star University of Maryland (UMD) professor built a machine-learning software “useful for surveillance” as part of a six-figure research grant from Chinese tech giant Alibaba, raising concerns that an American public university directly contributed to China’s surveillance state.

Alibaba provided $125,000 in funding to a research team led by Dinesh Manocha, a professor of computer science at UMD College Park, to develop an urban surveillance software that can “classify the personality of each pedestrian and identify other biometric features,” according to research grant documents obtained via public records request.

“These capabilities will be used to predict the behavior of each pedestrian and are useful for surveillance,” the document read.

Alibaba’s surveillance products gained notoriety in 2020, when researchersfound that one of its products, Cloud Shield, could recognize and classify the faces of Uyghur people. Human rights group believe these high-tech surveillance tools play a major role in the ongoing Uyghur genocide in Xinjiang.

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How advanced technology is changing deterrence

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History’s bloodiest wars often begin with underestimation. The architects of the First World War expected fighting to last less than a year. In starting a war of aggression against Ukraine, Vladimir Putin incorrectly thought Kyiv lacked the will and the capability to resist.

Changes in military technology will increase the frequency of these mistakes. Wars are increasingly being decided by capabilities that are hard to observe or demonstrate before conflict begins.

Today’s would-be Putins might count divisions of tanks, aircraft carrier strike group visits or missile siloes captured on satellite imagery — and think twice. But wars in Azerbaijan and Ukraine have demonstrated that victory often rests on immaterial conditions: the ability to out-detect and out-communicate the enemy and the ability to outpace the enemy’s speed of decision.

These are difficult to assess until war has already begun. More wars of underestimation will be fought if leaders fail to appreciate the dynamic of this change.

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A new technology uses human teardrops to spot disease




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A new method to rapidly analyze teardrops could help scientists detect molecular signatures of disease.

Human tears could carry a flood of useful information.

With just a few drops, a new technique can spot eye disease and even glimpse signs of diabetes, scientists report July 20 in ACS Nano.  

“We wanted to demonstrate the potential of using tears to detect disease,” says Fei Liu, a biomedical engineer at Wenzhou Medical University in China. It’s possible the droplets could open a window for scientists to peer into the entire body, he says, and one day even let people quickly test their tears at home.

Like saliva and urine, tears contain tiny sacs stuffed with cellular messages (SN: 9/3/13). If scientists could intercept these microscopic mailbags, they could offer new intel on what’s happening inside the body. But collecting enough of these sacs, called exosomes, is tricky. Unlike fluid from other body parts, just a trickle of liquid leaks from the eyes.

So Liu’s team devised a new way to capture the sacs from tiny volumes of tears. First, the researchers collected tears from study participants. Then, the team added a solution containing the tears to a device with two nanoporous membranes, vibrated the membranes and sucked the solution through. Within minutes, the technique lets small molecules escape, leaving the sacs behind for analysis.

The results gave scientists an eyeful. Different types of dry-eye disease shed their own molecular fingerprints in people’s tears, the team found. What’s more, tears could potentially help doctors monitor how a patient’s diabetes is progressing. 

Now, the scientists want to tap tears for evidence of other diseases as well as depression or emotional stress, says study coauthor Luke Lee, a bioengineer at Harvard Medical School. “This is just the beginning,” he says. “Tears express something that we haven’t really explored.”