Breakthroughs of 2022

I consider a miracle to be something that I understand in some detail and know it is impossible, yet there it is in my hand for $200 – a digital camera, for example. I do not understand the James Webb Space Telescope in nearly as much detail, but I still consider it a miracle. Science may not agree with my definition of a miracle, but they consider the telescope the Breakthrough of the Year. Hard to argue with: the telescope itself is absolutely remarkable, as are some of the images it has returned.

Science’s runners-up include perennial rice, the new-found creativity of artificial intelligence, deflection of an asteroid, two advances in virology – a nascent RSV vaccine and the discovery that multiple sclerosis is caused by a virus – and several others. What they call “Breakdowns” are fewer: the fact that zero Covid no longer works (if it ever did), the fact that science ties between nations are “fraying,” and the increase in CO2 emissions owing to the war in Ukraine.

Answers in Genesis posted a Year in Review, by Troy Lacey, which they arranged chronologically by month, rather than in order of importance. A few comments below the fold.

Their subhead reads, “From Giant Millipedes to Giant Pterosaurs, Looking Back at 2022 Science Stories.” Odd choices to highlight, I thought, and not a single mention of the James Webb Space Telescope. Perhaps they are afraid that it will demonstrate once and for all that the firmament is not a hammered-metal dome covering the earth.

They cite an article by Rob Webb, which discusses “rocket science through a biblical worldview” and include the following quotation:

… Rocket Rob points out that precision, predictability, and order are all necessary for rocket science to work, and yet these things are unexplainable in a purely materialistic atheistic worldview. As Rob explained, “We expect the universe to be organized and to consistently obey the natural laws that make rocket science possible.”

I have not the foggiest idea why an atheist [read: anyone who is not a biblical literalist à la Ken Ham] would not expect the universe to obey natural laws; indeed, it seems to me that biblical literalists who invoke miracles are the ones who do not expect the universe to necessarily obey natural laws. Another odd comment discusses the not particularly new observation that Venus is not hospitable to life and notes,

Scripture doesn’t indicate that God assigned life forms on any planet or moon in the universe other than Earth. Venus would naturally be very different from Earth because it was prepared for a different purpose.

That settles it then!

AIG is also impressed with the facts that a 35-million-year-old mayfly fossil looks very much like extant mayflies and that a clam long thought to be extinct is actually in existence today. They claim that “no ‘evolution’ [sic] had taken place in the supposed ~30 thousand years since the fossil clam had allegedly last lived.” Are the clams, for example, immune to the same viruses as they were 30,000 years ago? Or have they evolved immunity to newer pathogens? I doubt that anyone at AIG knows.

The review seems strikingly devoid of anything you might call a breakthrough. But at least they got off a good pun: “In April, we disarmed the evolutionary story of how snakes may have lost their limbs.”

Comments? On the Science article or the AIG article? Other candidates for runner-up?