The intriguing stories that the New Scientist news team will be covering in 2023 include a fleet of rockets, new hope for the Amazon, and an effort to change our diets. Continue reading for our selections of the most important scientific, technology, health, and environmental news to look out for in the upcoming year.
Exploration of space
The maiden orbital flight of SpaceX’s Starship, the biggest rocket ever constructed, is slated for 2023. It is merely one of a sizable fleet of rockets that Blue Origin’s New Glenn is set to launch over the course of the upcoming 12 months. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, two billionaires who desire to influence the direction of space flight, are the respective owners of both businesses.
Apart from the private sector, national space agencies are also planning exciting missions. The European Space Agency’s Jupiter Ice Moon Orbiter will take off in April and arrive in the Jupiter system in 2031 to investigate Europa, Callisto, and Ganymede for signs of possible habitability. Meanwhile, NASA sends a spacecraft named Psyche to an asteroid, also known as Psyche. This asteroid is thought to be the exposed iron core of a young planet. It will launch in October and is expected to arrive in 2029.
Additionally, NASA is preparing to test its X-59 aircraft for testing. It aims to break the sound barrier without creating a sonic boom and could lead to a renaissance of ultra-high-speed air travel.
There are numerous unknowns in the fourth year of the coronavirus pandemic, not the least of which is the rise in cases in China as a result of the relaxation of its zero-covid approach. To combat new strains, we will undoubtedly need more and stronger vaccinations, yet new shots are unlikely to be approved as rapidly as the initial batch due to longer regulatory approval.
As the H5N1 virus continues to spread throughout Europe and the US, vaccines will also be required to combat the escalating threat of avian flu. Although governments in these nations haven’t historically vaccinated poultry the way they do in places like Egypt and Hong Kong, they appear to be warming up to the idea.
Fortunately, as 2023 gets underway, the Amazon rainforest’s protectors are doing well. Brazil’s new president, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, who takes office on January 1, has pledged to undo many of the decisions made by his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.
But even if the rainforest is saved, the ocean could face a new threat in July 2023. By that time, if countries have not agreed to an international code regulating deep-sea mining, governments and companies looking at the seafloor’s rich mineral resources will be able to tap into these resources with few restrictions.
Government regulation will also play an important role in the field of artificial intelligence in 2023, as the European Union is expected to finalize the Artificial Intelligence Law. This is the first attempt to create broad standards for the use of AI, aimed at protecting EU citizens from potentially harmful practices. Other countries and tech giants are watching closely as Europe’s tech regulations prove to be a global model for similar laws elsewhere.
Another group of Europeans, meantime, wants to alter how the globe is fed. In Helsinki, Finland, Solar Foods, a business that converts carbon dioxide into protein-rich powders using renewable energy, will open its first factory on a large scale. By substituting this powder for eggs and other protein sources, the manufacturing of food can utilise a lot less water and land.
After all, 2023 is a belated Christmas for a physicist who plays with two big toys. The first is the Linac Coherent Light Source-II, which upgrades an existing facility in California and turns it into the ultimate X-ray machine. Researchers hope to be able to use it to create films of atoms within molecules.
A new gravitational wave hunter will also go online in 2023, on the other end of the spectrum. Using highly cooled rubidium atoms as a “matter wave,” a matter-wave laser interference gravitational antenna can extract the space-time ripples caused by the collision of black holes and other enormous objects. It may aid in the search for dark matter and allow for the detection of occurrences that current gravitational wave facilities have been unable to pick up.