Our favorite science news stories of 2022 | Science

Bumblebees playing with toys. A quantum hall trick that tests our perception of reality. And artificial intelligence that protects you from other AIs. These may not be the biggest scientific achievements of the year, but they’re among our favorite and most popular online stories of 2022. Read on for the full list!

A gold vessel from the Avar tombKHM-MUSEUMSVERBAND

Not much is known about the Avars, a cryptic people who helped bring the Roman Empire to an end and were subsequently wiped out from history. Now, DNA from their graves sheds light on where they came from and how fast and far they came; this is a record in ancient human history.

Novelist Kurt Vonnegut
Novelist Kurt Vonnegut, who will turn 100 this year, has called for an ethical reckoning in science. RICHARD MILDENHALL/CAMERA PRESS/REDUX

Kurt Vonnegut was not a scientist, but his writings influenced countless researchers even years after his death. A favorite among staff and readers, this book explores the messages the famous novelist has left to the scientific community and why his presence continues to be felt.

Graph showing placental development of syncytin proteins

Can a virus be tamed? Suppressyn won’t curl up in your lap, but after invading our ancient ancestors about 30 million years ago, it seems to have settled into our genome and become a kind of companion that protects us from other pathogens. .

An Amazon Echo speaker
Home devices like Amazon’s Echo can record everyday conversations.FABIODERBY/ISTOK

These days, all kinds of electronic equipment, from smart speakers to smartphones, seem to be spying on us. According to this story, the same artificial intelligence that enabled this eavesdropping could also help prevent it. Neural Sound Camouflage creates an auditory fog when we speak, outsmarting any artificial intelligence that might be listening.

A NASA satellite records its own collision with an asteroid.NASA/Johns Hopkins APL

Scientists are people too. They boo, yell, and even lose their minds, as this behind-the-scenes look from NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission shows.

Bumblebees roll wooden balls, apparently just for fun (video at half speed).(Video) Samadi Galpayage; (Image) Richard Rickitt

It’s not exactly the World Cup, but researchers have observed bumblebees playing with small wooden balls. Insects don’t seem to roll objects for any purpose other than for fun. One more reason to be nice to one of our favorite pollinators.

A boy in a red coat with autumn leaves in the background
The vibrant autumn leaves have inspired some parents to name their baby Autumn.FAMVELD/WINDOW

Dear elders, saints. Even movie characters. There are all kinds of sources of baby names. This study shows that nice weather may also play a role, potentially even foreshadowing a few rare nicknames.

a set of skeletons unearthed by archaeologists
During a museum renovation, archaeologists unearthed rows of burials containing the skeletons of 38 medieval monks buried near the Cambridge ruins of England’s Augustinian abbey. CAMBRIDGE ARCHAEOLOGY UNIT

The 13th-century monks of England led a relatively sanitary life. So why were they more likely to be riddled with parasites than their less hygienic contemporaries? The answer may lie in surprising horticultural practices.

two faces with waves around them
It just seems like telepathy, but a quantum game harpoons our usual sense of reality.KATERYNA KOVARZH/ISTOK

It seems like every year a weird quantum physics story makes our top 10 list, and 2022 is no exception. This story features pseudo-telepathy, a matching game, and mind-blowing quantum weirdness.

Cut open a wild banana
Cultivation helped get rid of wild banana seeds to create the succulent fruit that is beloved today.JULIE SARDOS

For a fruit that looks so simple, the banana has a surprisingly complex genetic background. It’s actually so complex that researchers are still trying to figure out where and when the modern banana originated. This slick story was one of our most popular stories of the year.

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