2022

2022 in the news

By Patrick Walter  | News editor

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.

January
January

What Theranos fraudster Elizabeth Holmes’ conviction means for chemistry

2022-01-05T12:20:00+00:00By

Holmes faces up to 65 years in prison for defrauding investors while running her now defunct blood testing startup

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February
February

Direct evidence emerges for the existence of two forms of liquid water

2022-02-01T09:30:00+00:00By

Low temperature experiments with sugary solution reveal transition from low- to high-density states at pressure

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War in Ukraine
War in Ukraine

Researchers around the world band together to help fleeing Ukrainian scientists

2022-03-16T09:30:00+00:00By

Schemes spring up to put refugee scientists in European and North American labs

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March
March

Moderna sued over Covid-19 vaccine-related patents

2022-03-10T15:00:00+00:00By

Arbutus and Genevant say lipid nanoparticles that protect mRNA infringe six key patents

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April
April

Strange new bonds found hiding in plain sight in common organometallics

2022-04-29T07:56:00+01:00By

Collective interactions are proof that there’s more to bonds than just connecting neighbouring atoms

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May
May

Atmospheric helium increasing at a measurable rate

2022-05-12T13:44:00+01:00By

Air samples revealed a rate of increase beyond expected natural variations

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2022 business in review

By Phillip Broadwith  | Business editor

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.

Plant

Chemicals industry roundup 2022

By Vanessa Zainzinger

Russia’s invation of Ukraine mounted further pressure onto already strained supply chains 

Covid antivirals

Pharmaceuticals roundup 2022

By

Following the huge success of vaccines and treatments for covid-19, companies are upping their investment in R&D and dealmaking

June
June

Electric fields bring new dimension to debate on atomic size

2022-06-08T08:12:00+01:00By Matthew Blow

A new methodology gives surprising answers to an old question

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July
July

First James Webb Space Telescope images provide taste of astrochemistry still to come

2022-07-13T09:55:00+01:00By

Observatory off to bright start revealing chemical make-up of the universe

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August
August

AlphaFold has predicted the structures of almost every known protein

2022-08-01T13:20:00+01:00By

Google offshoot DeepMind has released more than 200 million predicted 3D structures, covering nearly the entire protein universe

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September
September

Benzene’s bond lengths corrected

2022-09-22T09:00:00+01:00By Kira Welter

Sophisticated spectroscopic method shows that previously reported values were out by several milliangstroms

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October
October

How click conquered chemistry

2022-10-14T09:02:00+01:00By

Katrina Krämer tells the story of how click and bioorthogonal chemistry came to win the 2022 Nobel prize

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November
November

UK firms face critical lab space shortage

2022-11-01T10:14:00+00:00By

Growing chemistry companies hit a wall when it comes to expanding their labs

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December
December

Theranos leaders to be imprisoned for blood testing fraud

2022-12-09T13:33:00+00:00By

Sunny Balwani and Elizabeth Holmes will both serve more than 10 years

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