22 Things to Look Forward to in 2022
Newsweek Europe|December 31, 2021
A LOOK AT THE EVENTS, INNOVATIONS, TECHNOLOGY, SPORTS, AND ARTS THAT WILL BRING US JOY NEXT YEAR
PETER CARBONARA, HANK GILMAN, MEGHAN GUNN, FRED GUTERL, MELISSA JEWSBURY, KERRI ANNE RENZULLI &MEREDITH WOLF SCHIZER

Like last year at this time, the very best we can hope for in 2022 is an end to the pandemic that has caused such devastation in the world over the past 22 months. If we've learned anything from our experiences in 2021, though first with the Delta variant and now Omicron-it is that we can't count on anything when it comes to the COVID-19 virus. Rather than bet on a return to pre-pandemic normalcy, we need to create a different normal in which we remain vigilant about the health risks while finding safe, productive ways to work, play, mix, mingle and be happy that are rooted in our new reality. Fortunately, the early signs are that 2022 has a lot to offer to help us do that, to make that new reality interesting, innovative, informative and, at least some of the time, just plain fun. From space to sports, business to the arts, health to technology, here is a sampling of some of the things that could make 2022 a very happy New Year.

A VIEW OF THE EARLY UNIVERSE

By midsummer, if all goes well, the James Webb Telescope will be peering backward in time to the first few hundred million years of the universe and sending back images of the first stars and galaxies forming from the maelstrom of the Big Bang.

The Webb is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been delivering spectacular images since 1993. Hubble was a huge improvement over ground-based telescopes because its position in low-Earth orbit put it above the image-distorting atmosphere. Webb goes a step further: It will sit a million miles away in a Lagrange” point, gravitationally suspended between the Earth and the sun, protected from the sun's heat by a tarp that will (fingers crossed) unfurl to the size of a tennis court.

Being so far from Earth means that Webb's highly sensitive equipment can be kept cool enough to pick up faint signals from the early universe. Whereas Hubble looked mainly at the light in the visible range (as well as some infrared and ultraviolet), the sensors on the Webb are tuned to lower-frequency red-shifted light. That is crucial to the telescope's mission: Since distant objects in the expanding universe are moving away from us faster than those close at hand, the frequency of their light is shifted toward the red end of the spectrum, in the same way, the pitch of a train whistle gets lower as it passes by.

The $10 billion Webb, scheduled to launch from French Guiana in December, is a high-risk project. If something goes awry after launch, astronauts won't be able to effect repairs, as they did in 1993 when the Hubble's mirror turned out to be flawed. But if Webb succeeds, it will enhance our understanding of the universe's beginnings 14 billion years ago.-F.G.

Adele Does Vegas

COMING THIS JANUARY 21 → Megastar singer Adele begins a 12week residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The Weekends With Adele shows-Friday and Saturday concerts in the hotel's 4,100-seat venue, the Colosseum-will, of course, feature her fourth studio record, 30. Tickets? Seats quickly sold out during the Ticketmaster presale, and secondary-market tickets, according to a quick scan of Seat Geek, are going for anywhere from $2,000 to $8,000 for the April 2, show (even for a perch in the nosebleed section). Oh well, there's always YouTube. -H.G.

5G Goes Mainstream

The next generation of cellular networks is finally slated to arrive next year. In 2022, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are rolling out 5G-short for fifth-generation mobile network-broadly across the U.S. While 4G gave us smartphones and will completely reshape how we use our devices. Expect faster connection speeds, greater bandwidth, and less lag, which will lead to things like connected vehicles and traffic systems, increased e-health care, and advanced cloud gaming. You'll be able to download a full movie to your phone in seconds, and augmented reality, enabled by 5G, will become ubiquitous. Baseball fans will be able use their phones to find the velocity of a pitch. Factory managers can integrate robot workers alongside humans; while already possible with 4G, 5G enables these robots to be increasingly coordinated, anticipating their human coworkers' movements. Expectations are high, with some experts predicting 5G could usher in the next industrial revolution. — M.G.

A Once-a-Decade Floral Extravaganza

ONCE EVERY 10 YEARS, → gardeners, urban planners, and plant enthusiasts from around the world come together for Floriade, an international horticulture exhibition in the Netherlands. This year's festival takes place from April 14 to October 9, and 40 countries have signed up to host pavilions that show off their local plants, as well as trade solutions they've found to make their cities more sustainable. Among the attractions: Qatar's 3D-printed Desert Nest and Germany's water playground. After checking out the sites and walking through the Dutch arboretum, visitors can ride a cable car over the grounds for views of the sprawling gardens below. -M.G.

LET THE GAMES BEGIN AND KEEP GOING

U.S. diplomats may be absent but athletes will be there in full force for the XXIV Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, running February 4-20 and featuring 109 events in 15 disciplines across seven sports. Keep an eye out for two-time Olympic giant slalom gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin, who at age 26 is trying to become the most decorated American Alpine skier in history, along with a number of new events. They include mixed-team ski jumping, in which men and women compete together, and Freeski big air, in which athletes attempt their most challenging aerial tricks.

Still, jonesing for international sports? Also in Beijing, the XIII Paralympic Games start on March 4, with 78 events in six sports, such as para ice hockey and wheelchair curling. If that's still not enough global play for you, the World Games will take place starting July 7 in Birmingham, Alabama, featuring sports not included in the Olympics. Those range from the familiar (lacrosse, rugby) to the frankly bizarre, including korfball, a distant cousin of basketball in which mixed teams battle to toss a ball through a raised goal called a korf” (Dutch for basket). - P.C.

A New Weapon Against COVID

An important weapon against COVID-19 will likely hit pharmacy shelves in 2022: a simple antiviral pill that can thwart infection.

Pfizer's Paxlovid has so far sailed through tests and seems on track for approval sometime in the New Year. Taken within five days of the onset of symptoms, Paxlovid was 89 percent effective in reducing hospitalization and deaths from COVID-19 in adults at high risk, according to Pfizer's final analysis of trial results.

It's good news for everybody, and particularly those who are immunocompromised, unvaccinated, elderly, and otherwise vulnerable to severe COVID-19. Because Paxlovid works by blocking an enzyme, called a protease, that is essential for the virus to replicate, the mutations of Omicron and possibly other variants aren't likely to compromise its effectiveness.

Paxlovid's success comes as a welcome relief after disappointing news about other COVID-19 treatments. Molnupiravir, a therapeutic pill developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, didn't perform as well in trials as hoped. And some antibody treatments currently in use don't work against Omicron.

Paxlovid won't be a silver bullet. Because it must be administered shortly after the onset of symptoms, patients will have to run the gauntlet of getting tested, seeing a doctor, and filling a prescription in short order-a high bar for many people in the dysfunctional U.S. health care system. However, in combination with vaccines, mask-wearing, and other measures, Paxlovid could bring us a step closer to normal, or whatever post-pandemic normal turns out to be. — F.G.

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