This year has been another busy one for news. The days of a stable global economy with food and fuel flowing freely around the world are now under severe strain, and this has had major knock-on effects for science. Much of this is a result of the year’s big news item – Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The effects of the war have spilled beyond the military or even the economic sphere into the world of science. The exodus of refugees has seen universities from around the world rising to the challenge of hosting displaced researchers. Fighting has also led to repeated warnings that Ukraine’s nuclear power plants are at risk of a potentially catastrophic accident. Meanwhile, collaborative research with Russia, such as Europe’s mission to Mars, has been put on hold, although Russia’s involvement in other big science projects like Iter and Cern are, as yet, relatively unaffected.
The other big impact of the war outside of Ukraine has been on energy markets. Soaring energy costs have combined to make chemical feedstocks more expensive and European plants far more costly to run, something that is affecting the price of lab supplies. This has triggered a race for renewables, but in the interim fossil fuels are likely to fill the gap.
But it hasn’t been all been doom and gloom. The James Webb Space Telescope has showcased humanity at its best – bringing together 15 countries in one of the biggest projects of its kind. The first stunning pictures left the world in awe, and we can expect more exciting astrochemistry results in the near future.
Another highlight was the chemistry Nobel prize, won by Carolyn Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and Barry Sharpless. Their work on click chemistry and its subsequent application in cells as biorthogonal chemistry has been transformative, and the win is sure to see more researchers experimenting with these tools. This year’s winners are also notable as Bertozzi is the first openly gay scientist to receive the prize, while Sharpless joins the very select club of those who have won two science Nobels.
There has also been more excitement about the potential of machine learning. This follows the announcement that Google’s AlphaFold has predicted the structure of nearly every single protein known to humanity. With other big tech companies getting involved in this new frontier where data science meets the physical sciences, we can expect to see more ground-breaking discoveries next year.
Holmes faces up to 65 years in prison for defrauding investors while running her now defunct blood testing startupRead story
US prosecutors dismiss criminal charges against nanotechnologist Gang Chen, saying they cannot meet the ‘burden of proof at trial’
Discovery of new biological pathway in widespread archaea could transform understanding of oceans’ fertility
High-speed technique allows structures of difficult molecules to be determined
Low temperature experiments with sugary solution reveal transition from low- to high-density states at pressureRead story
While slated trials will continue, future investigations will consider more options before criminal prosecution
First steps towards protection from the many and variable viral strains
President Biden’s science adviser, geneticist and molecular biologist Eric Lander alleged to have created a ‘toxic work environment’
Schemes spring up to put refugee scientists in European and North American labsRead story
Military movement kicking up radioactive dust in the exclusion zone and missiles barely missing nuclear waste sites worry nuclear energy community
Fierce fighting in the Donbas region has already resulted in the destruction of a number of chemical plants
Russia’s war against Ukraine will impact supplies of metals, noble gases and more
Arbutus and Genevant say lipid nanoparticles that protect mRNA infringe six key patentsRead story
Process achieved at industrial scale in 120 litre reactor
Nitro-nitroaminobenzene is the organic compound with the largest detonation energy release yet
Nobel laureates’ failed challenge means companies may need extra patent licenses
Collective interactions are proof that there’s more to bonds than just connecting neighbouring atomsRead story
Electron microscopy triumphed over x-ray crystallography as century-old structural puzzle around bismuth subsalicylate is finally solved
Experts warn that UK and EU proposals don’t do enough to protect the environment
Uranium and thorium may be responsible for producing a significant portion of hydrocarbons in some fracking wells
Air samples revealed a rate of increase beyond expected natural variationsRead story
Enzyme with only five amino acid alterations depolymerises 51 different PET products faster and at lower temperature than other proteins
Researchers warn against ‘overly optimistic, misleading information’ surrounding small modular reactors
Labor party’s win leads to cautious optimism about science funding and climate policies
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the ensuing energy crisis and supply chain interruptions, has figured heavily across the chemistry-using industries this year. While the big winners in the Covid-19 vaccine race are flexing their financial muscles, spiralling costs and supply disruption are impacting generic medicines severely. The chemicals industry’s demand for energy has come under the spotlight, with gas shortages prompting reversion to more polluting coal power in places, even as the industry continues to wrestle with its transition to a lower-carbon future.
A new methodology gives surprising answers to an old questionRead story
Funder will spend £481 million over three years to support cutting edge science including 1.2GHz NMR and Diamond synchrotron upgrade
First CO2-to-fuel device that can deal with the intermittent currents coming from renewable energy sources
48 dead and hundreds injured as hydrogen peroxide containers exploded
Observatory off to bright start revealing chemical make-up of the universeRead story
Demand for fuels has constricted European supplies, pushing up prices and threatening rationing
Three-quarters of a century after Robinson and Woodward cracked structure chemists unravel poison’s biosynthesis
Levy on 42 chemicals and their derivatives aims to revive neglected cleanup programme
Google offshoot DeepMind has released more than 200 million predicted 3D structures, covering nearly the entire protein universeRead story
Government assessment suggests deadlines will be delayed and companies will pay billions for compliance data
New edition of John McMurry’s Organic Chemistry will be open access after author discovers copyright loophole
Chiral polymer made from completely achiral chemicals using only electrons’ angular momentum
Mark Schena misrepresented the company’s value to investors and defrauded public and private insurers
Home growers will be able to purchase seeds from spring 2023
Element 114 predicted to be a volatile semiconductor with a melting point around 10°C
After four years of Bolsonaro, researchers and academics across the country are optimistic that things will now improve
Medicines made by Indian generics firm Maiden Pharmaceuticals have been blamed for acute kidney injuries
Identifying mutagenic ‘hotspots’ could speed development of new proteins
Research at 10 campuses comes to a standstill as 48,000 academic workers walk off the job over what they deem unfair labour practices
Ronna, quetta, ronto and quecto are the first new prefixes for the metric system in 30 years
Photocatalytic reaction that inverts configuration of chiral carbon centres offers new stereochemical editing logic
Sunny Balwani and Elizabeth Holmes will both serve more than 10 yearsRead story
System offers scalable way to turn oceans into energy source
167-year-old biosynthetic mystery may be solved
Congress enforces a contract deal to prevent a national rail shutdown that would effectively halt chemicals production