2021 Highlights


Lainey VanSumeren, Editor in Chief

It’s a new year and a chance for new ideas and opportunities. New Year’s resolutions haven’t really been my thing, but I hope to start the year on a good note. 2021 was a bit of a crazy year, with a lot of ups and downs. However good things did happen this year. 

This past year Scientists revealed that Cheese isn’t bad for you(Really!!!)

In February, when all of the holiday spirit we had been riding on began to fade and the winter was at its coldest, scientists gave us a reason to keep going.  Busting the unfounded myth that cheese is an evil, murderous entity, one scientist even told our source (Wired) “There’s almost no evidence that cheese causes weight gain- and in fact, there is evidence that it’s neutral at worst.” This stigma-shattering analysis helped cheese to rebuild its reputation globally-and that’s grate news!


Drones Helped Us Get a Handle on Plastic Pollution

People might ask themselves, “Is it really good news to say we’ve developed a small solution to a monstrously large, terrible, terrible, terrible ongoing problem that we ourselves created? Is it really something to celebrate?” to which we say: Just give us this one, please, it’s all we’ve got. Throughout 2021, UK-based startup Ellipsis Earth has been mapping the scale of the world’s plastic pollution with camera-equipped drones that are able to (sometimes) identify the exact origin of the trash. These speedy surveys allow experts to better understand the solutions needed in different areas, from pushing through dumping regulations at beaches to installing more bins in littering hotspots.


A Human Mind was Wirelessly Connected to a Computer

In March of 2021, researchers at Brown university successfully transmitted brain signals wirelessly to a computer this is a breakthrough in the future technologies department for paralyzed people. As the removal of annoying wires takes this tech one step closer to being available for home use. Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) have been used to help people type, use robotic prosthetics, and even move their own limbs, but for the first time participants in these studies can use this technology in their homes, rather than in a lab setting!


China Eliminated Malaria

As of June, the World Health Organization declared China free of malaria after “decades of targeted and sustained action” against the disease. In the 1940’s, China reported 30 Million Malaria cases annually; in 2020, the county reported four years of zero indigenous cases, paving the way for them to declare China malaria-free in april of 2021. 


Dutch ‘Bee Hotels’ Helped Bee Populations Remain Stable

More than 11,000 people counted bees as a part of the Netherlands’ national bee census in 2021- and what they discovered was encouraging, as urban bee populations were found to have remained steady for the last few years. It is believed that a number of initiatives- from hollowed-out plant stem that act as ‘bee hotels’ to ban on chemical weed killers-are help the bees thrive. Next stop: AirBeeNBees.


Analysts Built Software revolutionized the Fight Against Child Sexual Abuse

The team at the Internet Watch Foundation in Cambridgeshire has a tireless job: They spend hours trawling through child sexual abuse images and categorize them to help countries crackdown on offenders. This year, the team rebuilt their hashing software so that the data shared with law enforcement agencies across the world is relevant to thor localities, meaning they can prioritize the most serious image, moe easily remove and block the content, and brings offenders to justice.


Nasa Made Oxygen on Mars

If ever there was a time we were going to meet aliens it was 2021! Nasa’s Perseverance Rover successfully converted some of the mars’ carbon-dioxide-rich atmosphere into oxygen in April. As a giant leap toward getting humans on Mars, NASA said the move “could pave the way for science fiction to become science fact,” which is just a cool thing to say. 


Virtual Queues Revolutionized Waiting

Thanks to the inherently non-socially-distanced nature of queues, restaurants, entertainment establishments, and theme parks around the world decided to shake up the centuries-old habit by starting a virtual queue revolution. By allowing us to queue with a couple of taps of our finger, instead of our feet, virtual queues have reduced the pain associated with waiting (and waiting, and waiting) in line.


3D-Printed School Opens Its 3D-Printed Doors

In less than 24 hours affordable housing group 14Trees built an entire school in Malawi East Africa, this July using 3D printing technology. It is hoped that similar initiatives will help to combat the classroom shortfall in the country, as well as the rest of Africa, enabling children to travel shorter distances to school and work in better conditions. Women and children sang and danced in front of the new school to celebrate its opening.


A Thought-to-be Extinct Species of Orchid Was Found on a Roof in London

The biggest-ever game of hide and seek ended in June when a rare species of Orchid, the Serapias parviflora or small flowered-tongue orchid, was found in London. The orchid was found growing on top of an investment bank in London, despite scientists believing the plant was extinct in the UK. Ecologist Mike Waller, the author of Britain´s Orchids, said: ¨This is clear evidence that with patience and dedication, even the most unlikely of places can become havens for some of our rarest wildlife¨.


Argentinian Capybaras Reclaimed Their Habitat by Force

When you think about the constant mistreatment of Rodents and the constant depreciation of their homes, it’s not hard to see why they finally decided to retaliate. In October, capybaras began reclaiming an affluent neighborhood near Buenos Aires that was once their territory and home. Munching on its array of manicured flower beds and neat lawns, they started their assault. This two-for-one act of class warfare and environmental activism was a valiant move by the largest rodents in the world. Resulting in them reclaiming some of their territory and homeland. 


United Flew the First Passenger Aircraft with 100-Percent Sustainable Fuel

In December, 100 passengers flying from Chicago to Washington DC, were the first in the world to do so with one engine running on 100-percent non-petroleum-based sustainable fuel made from sugar water and corn. The fuela is said to burn up to 75 percent cleaner than petroleum-based fuels, and while there is some debate about greenwashing surrounding the event, it was nonetheless a vital moment for the aviation industry.


Electric Vehicles Outsold Deisel for the First Time in Europe

In August, electric cars outsold diesel ones in Europe for the first time, and this year, experts expect that more electric cars will be sold overall in the UK. The surge is believed to be driven by a fall in prices, a wider range of vehicles, petrol shortages, and a rise in the number of charging spots available. Might this be the answer to that whole ¨Climate Change¨ thing? Obviously not, but it’s a start.


Renewable Energy Had a Record Year

When it comes to the climate crisis, the world needs any good news it can get. In December, the International Energy Agency, or IEA, revealed that 2021 was renewable energy’s biggest year ever, with roughly 290 GW of renewable energy generation installed globally- loads of turbines and solar panels- despite the pandemic and the rising cost of raw materials.


The year 2021 may not have been the best or brightest, but it definitely wasn’t all bad. The world made multiple steps in the right direction and will continue to do so as we advance into the future. So I wish all of our readers a Happy New Year and good luck in 2022!