Judith Wolf

STEMM News Roundup for March 2022


2 March 2022: Nations sign up to end global scourge of plastic pollution with the UN Plastics Treaty

7 March 2022: Ukrainian researchers are stranded at their Vernadsky Antarctic base, due to the war. 12 scientists, engineers, and support staff were nearing the end of a 13-month-long expedition when Russia invaded.

24 March 2022: The James Webb Space Telescope (launched from Kourou, French Guiana) is in cooldown and mirror alignment mode. The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s largest, most powerful, and most complex space science telescope ever built. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.


30 March 2022: Samsung and Western Digital have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will see the two work together to further develop new SSD technology.


23 March 2022: Cement and steel are essential ingredients of buildings, cars, dams, bridges and skyscrapers. But these industries are among the dirtiest on the planet. Production of cement creates 2.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, and making iron and steel releases some 2.6 billion tonnes — or 6.5% and 7.0% of global CO 2 emissions, respectively (International Energy Agency, 2020). Cleaner ways of making and using cement and steel are urgently needed. This article highlights nine priorities for research and action.


23 March 2022: Dennis Sullivan has won the 2022 Abel prize, often called the Nobel prize of mathematics, for his wide-ranging contributions to topology, which is the study of how surfaces deform.


10 March 2022: Children are half as likely as adults to produce Covid antibodies, according to a small study in Australia.

10 March 2022: Covid death toll may be three times as high as official figures: global deaths are estimated at 18 million, using excess deaths as the most reliable metric.

16 March 2022: The United Kingdom’s lauded REACT study is among the “gold standard” infection-surveillance projects that are to lose funding within weeks. REACT (real-time assessment of community transmission) randomly tests about 150,000 people across England each month to see how many are infected with SARS-CoV-2. Studies that monitor infections in health workers and care homes will also be scrapped. REACT — together with the Office for National Statistics’s UK-wide COVID-19 Infection Survey, which will continue — “provided the UK with a level of awareness of the pandemic that was really exceptionally good”, says epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch, a director at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He visited the United Kingdom last month with a view to setting up a similar system in the United States. “[It] is a gold standard for how to understand the pandemic.”

Other medical news

9 March 2022: The first person to receive a transplanted heart from a genetically modified pig has died. David Bennett Sr, who was too ill to qualify for a human or artificial heart, died two months after the groundbreaking surgery. The hospital did not confirm whether the transplant contributed to Bennett’s death. Transplant surgeons hope the advance will enable them to give more people animal organs, but critics raised concerns that the one-off experiment would not produce useful data outside the rigours of a clinical trial.

23 March 2022: Brain implant lets locked-in man speak to family.

Climate Change and the Environment

The Great Barrier Reef is experiencing a 4th mass bleaching in 6 years, despite La Niña conditions providing some counteracting cooling.

19 March 2022: Record low sea ice has been observed in Antarctic and record high temperatures are being experienced at both Poles. Earth’s poles are simultaneously undergoing extreme heat (in opposite seasons) with parts of Antarctica more than 40 degrees Celsius warmer than average and areas of the Arctic more than 30 degrees Celsius warmer than average.