Here are 5 record-breaking science discoveries from 2022


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Earliest surgery

The first known surgical operation was a leg amputation (SN: 10/8/22 & 10/22/22, p. 5).

That’s the conclusion researchers came to after investigating the skeleton of a person who lived on the Indonesian island of Borneo about 31,000 years ago. Healed bone where the lower left leg had been removed suggests the individual survived for several years after the procedure. The discovery pushes surgery’s origin back by some 20,000 years.

Closest black hole

By sifting through data released by the Gaia spacecraft, astrophysicists discovered a black hole that’s just over 1,560 light-years from Earth (SN Online: 11/4/22).

Dubbed Gaia BH1, it’s about twice as close as the previously nearest known black hole. But that record may not stand. About 100 million black holes are predicted to exist in the Milky Way. Since most are invisible, they’re hard to find. But when Gaia, which is precisely mapping a billion stars, releases its next batch of data in a few years, even closer black holes may turn up.