General Knowledge

23 Reasons to be Cheerful (Thanks to Science!)

2016, you were a [bleep], i mean a real [bleep], right in the [bleep]. Geopolitical upheaval, record temperatures, Brexit, Aleppo, Brussels, our favorite comic books ruined on the big screen…and these icons and heroes we lost this year. And so many more… Okay, wow, that’s a lot… Okay, that is more than I remember… wow, that is a lot… okay…. 2016 may have hit Earth like a giant happiness-killing asteroid, but there had to be SOMETHING good that happened this year, right? Like always, SCIENCE comes to the rescue, like a warm hug for your weary soul, here’s 23 reasons science gave us to be cheerful in 2016. (1) 1.3 billion years ago two black holes collided and in 2016 we confirmed gravitational waves! Einstein was proven right *again* and scientists now have a whole new way of looking at the universe. (2) Artificial intelligence has come far enough to beat a human at the game of Go, meaning the only things AI still hasn’t mastered are keeping fake news off Facebook and finding Sarah Connor. (3) CRISPR gene-editing technology was tested in humans for the first time, when Chinese scientists injected genetically-modified cells into a patient with lung cancer. Bring it on nature, we can rebuild them, we have the technology. (4) We didn’t just fix life this year, we made it from scratch, when scientists built a synthetic life-form using just 473 genes.

Sure it was just a microbe, but another few years and we’ll have dino DNA down. (5) SpaceX landed FIIIIIVE ROCKETS back on Earth!!! …and only blew up one! Plus Elon Musk says they’ll be ready to launch robotic missions to Mars by 2018. (6) We found the closest known exoplanet. It’s probably not habitable, but once we accomplish the small task of inventing near-light speed travel, we’re only a 4 year road trip away from BEST VACATION EVER (7) A new Alzheimer’s drug totally rocked a clinical trial. It clears away the protein plaques that cause the brain condition, and now we’ve got a promising new therapy for a still-unstoppable disease. (8) Another baby was born using genetic material from three parents, reversing a rare and fatal mutation. Babies: now with 50% more parents, and 100% more life-saving science.

Earth got good news this year too! (9) The Paris climate agreement went into effect, meaning we finally might keep Earth from looking like Wall-E this is our best chance yet at preventing Greenland from finally earning its name. (10) Antarctica’s ozone hole is finally on the mend (11) the Ross Sea became the largest protected marine reserve in the world. (12) Pandas are no longer endangered and (13) for the first time in 100 years the number of wild tigers increased, meaning zoos might not be the only place Earth’s coolest animals get to live. (14) We found new species and gave them awesome names, like this Chewbacca beetle, a Ruth Bader Ginsburg mantis, these Game of Thrones dragon ants, and a spider that looks so much like the Harry Potter sorting hat we named it after Gryffindor. In the deep blue, we saw an adorable octopus that looks like Casper the ghost and filmed a ghost shark for the first time.

That’s right. Ghost Sharks is not a SciFi channel movie, they’re a real thing. . (17) Scientists finally figured out what lichens are. which has really bothered me for a long time. I totally get if you’re like “why did he include this one on the list” but I bet you’re lichen this video anyway! Ha! My puns are so good. (18) Thanks to Twitter, a rare backwards-spiraled snail named Jeremy found love. Why was that a big deal? Its genitals were backwards too. Just goes to show you there’s someone out there for everyone. (19) We flew a solar powered plane around the world and (20) we invented glasses that let colorblind people see colors. (21) The Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter to science the heck out of it, (22) Rosetta finished its historic comet observing mission by slamming into it, and (23) two astronauts came home after living in space for a year.

2016 has been a tough year for lots of people, but science is a good reminder that the world is still a pretty awesome place, filled with awesome people trying to make it even awesomer. Sure, the sun will eventually swell up and turn Earth into burnt toast, but for the next few billion years, let’s keep scienceing up reasons to look on the bright side.

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