Friday, January 27, 2023

What is the most important scientific discovery of 2022?


    As we move towards the end of 2022, it is only natural to take stock of the highlights of this year. At Popular Mechanics they like to think that scientific discoveries should be on that list. Then, What’s the most important scientific discovery we’ve seen this year (at least so far)?

    For astrophysicist and science writer Neil deGrasse Tyson, “This should be the first round of data from the James Webb Telescope.” In the eighth installment of his video series with Tyson, Pop Mech Explains the Universe, he talks about how the vision of the web has expanded our ideas about the universe. “So you haven’t discovered something we don’t know about”“But it provides a quality image at a level where we can now understand that phenomenon in even greater depth,” he says.

    Arguably already a classic, Webb’s first deep-field image of galaxies (below) shows thousands of galaxies in the early universe. They are distorted by the fabric of spacetime in the vicinity of a supermassive galaxy cluster. Gravitational lensing causes more star clusters to appear, as foreground galaxies deflect light from more distant galaxies. The effect is like a cosmic telescope.

    Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach

    “Every single particle you see is an entire galaxy. “This kind of full-power data acquisition could keep astrophysicists busy for decades,” says Tyson.

    Perhaps One of the most captivating pieces of information comes from an exoplanet, a planet that isn’t in our solar system. Scientists have found spectral evidence for the presence of water In the atmosphere of a “super-Earth”, because when the planet orbits in front of its star, the light passes through the planet’s atmosphere and is “marked” by the chemicals in that atmosphere. Webb may lead us to many more such exoplanets, opening the door to a rich source of research. “It’s a whole industry on the verge of exploding,” says Tyson.

    However, the telescope is powerful enough to see an exoplanet directly. is the next best option Can detect chemical signatures of compounds or elements that could support life, such as water or oxygen. It’s like the crew of the Enterprise, which is always on the lookout for planets with atmospheres of oxygen and nitrogen. “But at that time [en la que se rodó la serie original] They didn’t know that you don’t get a random atmospheric composition that can support life. Tyson explains that life created that atmospheric structure. On our youngest Earth, for example, oxygen was bound to rocks. Volcanic gases eventually released it, leading to the formation of the oceans and a primitive atmosphere. that sows our air today, and sustains the abundance of life that followed those early plants.

    Scientists have a long list of molecules that are most likely to be present in the atmospheres of life-supporting planets. And if there are certain chemicals that indicate industry — like soot and pollutants, for example — then SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Life) could step in, Tyson says. But, he quips, “I think it would be a sure sign of the absence of intelligent life.”

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