Immortality has not been achieved, nor quantum supremacy, nor have we seen the origin of the universe, nor achieved nuclear fusion. For yet another year, science has made great strides, but it has not performed miracles. And that not everyone tells it.
It takes decades to emulate the Sun
To achieve nuclear fusion, if it is achieved, it will take decades. The recent finding announced by the US Department of Energy is just one step in the development of technologies that seek the grailholy or not, that manages to unite atoms by pushing against each other, something that the Sun and the stars do with ease.
At the height of the media, with nuclear fusion stealing headlines from the World Cup, the professor of physics at the University of Alcalá Antonio Ruiz de Elvira told The Conversation something that nobody wanted to tell. It’s not just that the milestone is one among many. Ruiz de Elvira pointed out something more delicate:
“A human fusion reactor implies a monopoly, or near-monopoly, of the concentrated power produced. Solar energy, captured by photovoltaic panels, wind turbines or solar thermal power plants, is a distributed energy that the monopoly system does not allow. Perhaps this is the reason why states have spent billions of dollars or euros trying, just trying, to master nuclear fusion.
Turn off and let’s go! The grail It does not mean that citizens are going to have free and clean energy from a bucket of water.
James Webb has not seen the origin of the universe, nor will he
The James Webb tops the popular list of the ten scientific findings of the year that it publishes Science.
The most famous telescope in the world had us on edge with its spectacular launch at the end of 2021. It was a feat to put it into orbit, and the US did not hesitate to use its fruits to display American power before the rest of the world. Biden presented the first photos of him with these words:
These images will remind the world that America can do great things, and remind the American people, especially our children, that nothing is beyond our ability.
Biden forgot that the golden James Webb is the result of an international collaboration in which even Spain has its piece of cake.
The Webb photos that have made history
Flags aside, it is unquestionable that James Webb has provided us throughout the year with the most amazing images of beyond the sky that we have ever seen. Blue Jupiter and the Pillars of Creation 2nd part (the first was the work of Hubble), illustrated posters and t-shirts, and the package James Webb’s photo gallery tops sunsets and green fields on screensaver favorites lists. But Óscar del Barco Novillo, associate professor at the University of Murcia, insists that “the snapshot that follows these lines does not represent the real colors of Jupiter (since the James Webb telescope operates in the infrared range)”.
James Webb has not seen the origin of the universe, nor will he. He has not thrown to the ground the theory of the big Bang (which is today only a theory), nor does it clear up doubts about what the end of the universe will be. All that his photos show is colorful uncertainty, and beautiful works that combine art and science.
For Ruth Lazkoz, professor of theoretical physics at the University of the Basque Country, “the data suggests that we are headed for a violent end to the universe.” However, Lazkoz includes a sentence in her article that defines the state of physics in these roaring 20s of the 21st century:
Let us humbly admit before we go any further that our models disguise our ignorance as wisdom.
The racket of black holes and the attack on Dymorphos
Great advances have been made on black holes in 2022. Researchers José Edelstein and Iván Martí-Vidal wrote a letter to Stephen Hawkins updating him on their findings.
In their letter, they recount what today are only hypotheses, intrigues, cosmic challenges, uncertainties about whether or not they wander in a cosmos where infinity falls short, if they carry an island of matter inside, or even if some of those detected are actually neutron stars. In 2022 they have achieved an image of Sagittarius A*, the cosmic beast that lives in the heart of our galaxy, and Martí-Vidal confessed: “When I see the images we have obtained of these black holes, I feel vertigo.”
There are still more uncertainties in the list. Dymorphos, the almond-shaped asteroid, was slightly deflected by the Dart spacecraft, the size of a washing machine. The guerrilla rescue action has also earned a place on the list of the ten great advances of 2022 published by Science.
M. Isabel Herreros, a researcher at the Center for Astrobiology (INTA-CSIC), participated in the mission and did not hesitate to state:
Starting today, we will all sleep a little easier.
However, if that “almond” were to head for Earth today, neither NASA nor a swarm of drones commanded by Captain America could, with certainty, bring it down.
the elusive martians
About life on Mars, let’s assume it, what the evidence indicates is that there never was, even geologically, in its remote planetary past, it resembled Iceland or Tenerife.
This year it was revealed that the planet Mars had habitable regions at the same time that life originated on Earth. The news was a bombshell. There was no one who did not launch to publish: Life on Mars! But that one day it was habitable, does not mean that it was inhabited.
César Menor-Salván, a doctor in biochemistry and astrobiology from the University of Alcalá, decided to tell it in The Conversation:
The analysis of the data obtained to date offers an uncomfortable truth for many, since they go in the opposite direction to the idea that the red planet harbored life.
The truth is that being an exception in life in the cosmic brutality that we inhabit also has its romantic point.
The quantum entanglement that fascinates us
Be disappointed, lovers of particle physics. They only know that we know nothing. The Nobel Prize in Physics to Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser and Anton Zeilinger recognize that we are beginning to peek (and this is very risky) to know that small things work in such a crazy way that we may never be able to understand it. But no teleportation, no telepathy, not even remotely a validated test on other dimensions.
Digging up ancient DNA is not digging up dinosaurs
It’s not going to happen. We are not going to bring back to life dinosaurs or woolly mammoths or the friend neanderthal. The Nobel Prize to Svante Paavo recognizes a brilliant scientific tool that allows us to learn more about the past of the species, including ours. Juan Luis Arsuga, Professor of Paleontology at the ISCIII-UCM Mixed Center for Human Evolution and Behavior, explains it without resuscitating anyone.
About him friend Neanderthal, we have also known another disappointment this year that is now ending. “Between Neanderthals and sapiens there was sex, but little love,” explain Javier Baena Preysler, Professor of Prehistory at the Autonomous University of Madrid, and Concepción Torres Navas, a postdoctoral researcher at the same university.
Immortality is only for jellyfish
The plant of immortality or eternal youth continues safely. The gods do not loose pledge. research on immortal jellyfish in which Daniel Maeso Miguel and María Pascual, from the University of Oviedo participated, went around the world. But the Oviedo team will not make us immortal. As they explain in the article they wrote The Conversation, the finding has allowed them to discover the basis of the mechanism that allows Turritopsis dohrnii cheat death and live in a perpetual loop, but this is just a jellyfish thing:
The genes found are associated with different keys to aging such as DNA repair and replication, renewal of the stem cell population, communication between cells and the reduction of the oxidative cellular environment that damages cells, as well as the maintenance of telomeres (ends of chromosomes).
Creativity makes its way
This year, for the first time in history, Science magazine has included among its outstanding investigations a word that comes from other gardens: creativity. Science does not dispute that what Dall-e, Midjounie and the legion of artificial intelligences that paint from a text do is creativity.
Elena Verdú Pérez, from the International University of La Rioja, highlighted that it was almost 50 years ago that it was first discussed whether AARON, a robot directed by a British artist, was “creative”. Arturo Fuentes Calle, from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, even discussed with another AI whether or not what they do is art. Art in the hands of artificial intelligence is already a fact and Science has just endorsed the creativity of machines. Let’s see who now tells the implications that this has.
Thus, 2022 ends with a staggering list of scientific milestones, but no miracles. May the winds be favorable.