Top 10 stories of 2019: A black hole picture, measles outbreaks, climate protests and more
Science is sweet at measuring progress — and where we come short . Science News’ Top 10 stories of the year reflect that duality, from celebrating great achievements to highlighting problems we had hoped to avoid.
This was the year during which quite a decade of effort by many scientists who created a globe-spanning “telescope” to ascertain the previously unseeable paid off. The Event Horizon Telescope captured the primary image of a region . That now-iconic picture confirmed a fundamental theory of how our universe works (Einstein, still right) and opened a replacement era of exploration, making it our top story of 2019.
That wasn’t the year’s only big milestone. Just seven years after its development, the gene-editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 moved into human clinical trials within the us to ascertain if the approach can treat cancer, blood disorders and an inherited sort of blindness. And Google claimed quantum supremacy, saying it had created a qubit-based computer that might speedily solve a drag that would take a classical supercomputer thousands of years to try to to . That announcement provoked immediate pushback, but highlighted the groundwork being laid for subsequent big leap in quantum computing.
Yet for each advance, there are setbacks. In 2019, several countries officially lost a hard-earned public health achievement — the elimination of measles, defined as a year without continuously spreading infections. The us racked up its most measles cases since achieving elimination in 2000, but managed to only barely hold on thereto status: An aggressive public health campaign ended one outbreak just before its one-year anniversary.
Many other records we never wanted to ascertain were set in 2019; temperatures spiked to all-time highs in many places within the hemisphere , resulting in deadly heat waves, fires and droughts. Scientists are warning of looming catastrophes fueled by global climate change for years. Perhaps 2019 are going to be remembered because the year that message finally caught fire with the general public . Climate protests, many led by teen activists, spread globally to incorporate many people. Only time will tell if the flood tide of individuals demanding action on global climate change will become the turning point we remember in years to return .
In 2019, measles sickened more people within the us than in any year since 1992. Two outbreaks in ny accounted for quite 75 percent of the cases. one among those outbreaks ran almost long enough to strip the us of its measles elimination status, which it achieved in 2000.
This year, summer temperatures broke many all-time records, bringing unprecedented melting to Greenland and helping to fuel wildfires that raged across the Arctic. A stark report warned of a bleak future for Earth’s oceans and frozen regions. But climate scientists say that’s not 2019’s only takeaway: This year also saw record-breaking waves of climate activism
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