After a disastrous 2020, which many claim as the worst year ever in history, all eyes and expectations were now upon the year 2021.
There was almost a sense of desperation asking 2021 to be a much better year than its predecessor. And better it was in several aspects. No, we didn't get rid of Covid, but the world managed to get back into some sort of normality. 2021 was a dope year for science explorations and technology enhancements.
2021 also saw some major political changes across regions, while some turned out to be fruitful, others brought about large scale humanitarian crisis. This was also the year, when the majority of the countries missed out on their emission targets again.
The results of which were evident from record droughts, extreme rainfall, uncalled hurricanes and whatnot.So, here are my selection's of the major world events in 2021, events that happened for the first time ever. Events that in some way or the other changed or impacted the perceptions of our society and norms.
Covid-19 vaccines arrive as our saviour
After the dreadful pandemic year, 2021 brought about a new dawn for hopes, as a variety of covid-19 vaccines arrived in the market.
The covid-19 vaccine was the latest addition to the major advancements of medical science in life saving drugs. Never had been a vaccine made so early in the history of humankind. Vaccine technologies take atleast a decade to be developed, tried and tested. The quickest a vaccine had been made previously was four years, which helped preventing Mumps.
But in what was a monumental approach from our scientists and vaccine manufacturers, the Covid-19 vaccine was ready for use within 12 months of the pandemic. To the question of its effectiveness on the virus and its mutations, Pfizer and Moderna, the leading covid-19 vaccines showed 90% efficacy rates upon testing.
But despite of procuring vaccines at a record breaking time, we are still not over with this pandemic. Vaccine discrimination, vaccine hoarding and a range of absurd health policies, especially from wealthy nations has dented the global response against the pandemic.
The virus is getting ample time and favorable conditions to mutate itself into newer and much stronger variants. Omicron, the latest covid-19 variant was first recognized in South-Africa last month. Within a week of its discovery, the variant spread into 50 more countries showcasing its high transmissibility.
Electric Vehicle sales surpass diesel car sales in Europe
September, 2021 became a major landmark in the European auto industry, when EV sales surpassed the traditional diesel car sales in the continent for the very first time. Europe's decade long dream of a transition to zero-emission, clean energy vehicles isn't now a distant dream.
Thanks to company's like Tesla, BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles) are becoming mainstream, while still being affordable in the continent. This monumental of an achievement shows how Europe has quite firmly embraced this technology, leaving other continents far behind.
Industry experts believe that while the September data might be a blip in the chart, underlying trends are showing steady decline in diesel car demands, while the need for zero-emission cars keep a healthy trend upwards.
All in all, experts believe that it is only a matter of time before the September sales actually become the norm in Europe.The unusual and acute shortage of semiconductor chips around the world has forced leading diesel run automakers like Ford, General Motors to cut a bulk of their productions.
A JPG file which fetched millons of Dollars
Have you heard about NFTs (Non Fungible Token) or Bitcoin or in general Crypto-currencies?
I bet you have, given the noise happening around this field these days. People all around the world are investing insane amounts of money into what is a new technology around the block. The internet is full of stories of people becoming millionaires from investing into crypto, while others losing their life-savings due to scams and market crashes.
One such incident happened in early 2021, when a digital JPG file was auctioned and sold for $69 million. Can you just believe what you heard! To elaborate, this was no ordinary JPG file, rather an NFT (a fully digital artwork).The art piece named “Everydays – The First 5000 Days”, was a digital artwork by Mike Winkelmann, also known as Beeple.
Christie's, the renowned auction house held the sale, in what was its first-ever auction of a digital piece of art. The sold NFT is a collage of 5000 individual images, shot by the artist one-per-day for over thirteen years. NFTs as a market exploded heavily this year, with famous individuals and corporations taking their own shot at this bold and exciting venture.
NFTs brought about a revolution in the field of “Digital Ownership”, where who owns an NFT is authenticated and stored, securely through Blockchain technology. Artists like Beeple, believe that the rise of NFTs is great for individual artists across the globe.
Who can now have access to audiences worldwide.
The World Trade Organization has its First Female African Leader
In an historic of an event, Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala became the first African Female to lead the prestigious WTO (World Trade Organization), back in March 2021.
Okonjo was also the First Female Finance Minister in her native country Nigeria. She served in the government for two consecutive terms. Her work credentials consisted of a 25-year long career as a development economist at the World Bank. An impressive resume backed by an ethical career of integrity, soon made her the ideal candidate among the member states.
The World got its Fifth Ocean
On June 8, 2021 “World Ocean Day”, the National Geographic team decided to announce the World's Fifth Ocean around Antarctica. Named the “Southern Ocean”, this body of water has been for long baffling oceanographers worldwide.
This was a huge addition to our traditional knowledge about Oceans and their behaviour. Although several countries and organizations recognize the Southern Ocean, not everyone is on the same page on where its actually located. The Southern Ocean is a variation of circumstances from those of Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.
The Southern Ocean is generally cold waters, given its closeness to Antarctica. Salinity in these waters is much less as compared to the others.
The presence of distinguishable and exclusive fauna like minke whales, certain kinds of seals, penguins, Kampus terbaik Di lampung fish and bird life is what makes this part different from others.The National Geographic team which categorized the name for this new ocean, is one of the world's pre-eminent and most visible map-making groups.
For the first time a Human Brain wirelessly connects to a computer
2021 became the year, when a major breakthrough was achieved in the field of neural interface technology.
In the month of June, a clinical trial of the BrainGate technology allowed paralyzed people to control a computer using their thoughts. The system involves a small transmitter that links to a person's brain motor cortex. This advanced technology can transmit brain signals in full broadband consistency, at a single neuron resolution. Two volunteers, paralyzed from spinal cord injuries, became the subjects of the process.
Using BrainGate technology, both these individuals were able to control a tablet, seamlessly with click accuracies and typing speeds equivalent to those at the wired system.
This technology is huge in terms, that it extinguishes the need for people to be physically tethered to equipments.
Researchers have found the technology relatively easier to use, which would allow individuals to have an hassle free experience, right in their homes. The Neural Interface technology is a swiftly pacing field these days, with rising interests from companies like Facebook.
This wireless interface breakthrough might open the gateway to future advancements in this exciting field.
First Private Space travel became a reality
The dream for successful commercial private flights to space inched closer, when on July 2021, the British Billionaire and founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson took his first space flight above the Earth's atmosphere into space.
Branson created history as he became the first non-astronaut to venture into space. Branson accompanied by two pilots and three mission specialists boarded the Virgin Galactic rocket plane in what was the company's first full component of space travelers.
What Branson also did was beat its fierce competitor Blue Origin (Jeff Bezos's company), which was also looking to do the same, first. Branson's Virgin Galactic is also holding ambitions to build future floating space hotels, and other space infrastructures.
The success of Branson's space flight is an indication of how privatized commercial spaceflights could become a norm in the recent future.Elon Musk's “SpaceX”, and Jeff Bezos's “Virgin Galactic” are also running their own set of private spaceflight programs, and would soon be deploying their own commercial flights.
Bitcoin became a Country's official currency
In an historic turn of events, a tiny nation in Central America named “El Salvador”, announced it would be making Bitcoin as a legal tender, in September 2021.
This was huge considering, the speculations around the use of Crypto-currencies throughout the world. China, the second largest economy in the world, has already banned the usage of all cryptocurrencies (including Bitcoin) inside its borders. Economists around the world, stated El Salvador's move as risky and could prove disastrous for an already fragile economy of El Salvador.
Nevertheless, it didn't stop the crypto community to stand with El Salvador's decision of authorizing Bitcoin as a form of money in its country. The crypto community worldwide showered its support to the governments decision by buying $30 worth of Bitcoin each, to raise up the prices.
President Nayib Bukele, has defended the move, by stating that Bitcoin's inclusion would help the country's economy to large extents. He in a heartfelt message asked crypto investors and communities worldwide, to invest in the country's progress to become the best Bitcoin country.
There are reports that an entire Bitcoin city would be built in El Salvador, which would help bring a new era of digital education, sustainable energy reserves, and green mining. The future of Bitcoin as a currency may well lie upon the success and failure of El Salvador's financial model.
A successful stint might encourage others to take the leap, but a failed model might trigger catastrophe. Nevertheless, these are exciting times in the modern financial world.
Light observed from behind a Black Hole
As absurd as it may sound, Astronomers and Researchers while studying flaring X-Rays from a supermassive black hole at the Centre of a spiral galaxy named “Zwicky 1”, found a pretty unexpected and bizarre phenomenon. The black hole about 800 million light years away, when observed was emitting luminous echoes of x-rays from behind.
This baffled astronomers and researchers, as the light bursts were smaller and arrived later to those coming from the center of the suction. Soon the scientists understood that what they were witnessing was a subject of Einstein's hundred year old “Theory-of-General-Relativity”.
According to Einstein's General-Theory-of-Relativity, massive objects in Space can warp the fabric of space itself, known as “Space-Time”.
Until then gravity was thought to be an invisible force, which could only be experienced. Einstein with his theory showed how gravity isn't just an invisible force, rather it is simply our experience of space-time curving and distorting due to the presence of all matter and energy around.
Light, which although travels in a straight line, will also curve or distort from its direction in regions with highly curved space-time. We all know how intensely massive and gravitative black holes are. In this case, the black hole was a supermassive one. Which bended the light source near it, making it appear to observers that light came from behind the black-hole.
Einstein's theory was proved right again!
The highest point in Greenland received rainfall
In an alarming of an event, Greenland's highest peak points received 7 billion tonnes of rain in August of 2021. This was the first time ever, this region had recorded rainfall, since observations began in the 1980s.
Scientists and Environmental experts have speculated the reason to the global rise in temperatures. The situation is concerning, given that the ice sheets in Greenland are the second largest in the world after Antarctica. Unprecedented rainfall on these ice sheets would accelerate the surface melting.
Which are perfectly capable of raising sea levels by more than 7 meters. Data suggests that melting in Greenland has contributed to about 60% of the Earth's overall sea level rise till date. Acceleration here would mean catastrophic weather conditions which would include, Tsunami's, Cyclone's, record breaking floods and whatnot.
Temperatures in the Arctic are rising at twice the speed, than that in the rest of the planet. With limited time, there needs to be an urgency towards limiting global warming to 1.5 degree celcius, this century. But several researchs have shown that we might reach the 1.5 degree support level by the mid 2030s.The window is rapidly closing, humanity needs to act fast.
The First ever human killing A.I robot may have already been used..
Autonomous weapons systems like A.I robots capable of killing humans, sounds a bit sci-fi'ish, doesn't it? But according to an United-Nations-Security-Council report, A.I robots might have already killed human-beings during the Libyan Civil war.
The report also suggests that although it is unclear who deployed these killer robots. The remnant found of one such machine was confirmed to be from the Kargu-2 drone, which is made by Turkish-military-contractor-STM. Autonomous Weapon systems as a concept are not at all new to this world, with global superpowers like U.S, China and Russia investing billions of dollars into it.
The inclusion of autonomous weapon into any army's arsenal would prove to be devastating for the entire human civilization. Humanitarian organizations are rigorously working towards putting regulations over such weaponery systems. Will these organizations succeed?only time will tell.
Other Noteworthy Major World Events in 2021
The Taliban formed its government again*
After being ousted from power in Afghanistan backed by U.S led invasion, Taliban returned into power in 2021. U.S's chaotic withdrawal from the region was marked by the rapid ascension of the Islamists into power.This single incident was one of the major world events in 2021 (politically).
The social media giant Facebook, went through a major rebranding this year, after it named its company “Meta”. Mark Zuckerberg has clearly stated the company's objective towards building Metaverse.
Metaverse in simple terms, would be a digital platform, where Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality intersect, to create a real life environment. This would be the next step for socializing with people, without being physically present at the scenario.
Companies like Microsoft, are also working towards building this new environment.
NASA probe manages to touch the Sun, for the first time
In June of 2021, NASA's Parker Solar probe managed to get into the Sun's outermost region “Corona”, for full five hours.The Parker solar probe became the first ever man made thing to get into the Sun's atmosphere. The probe was sent as a mission to understand our Star's outer atmosphere, while also studying about Solar Winds.
Nation's around the world failed their Climate agreements again*
Apart from the pandemic, 2021 was all about extreme weather conditions across regions in the globe.
Record Droughts in America, extreme floods in Belgium and West-Germany. Wildfires in Greece and late season monsoons in India and Nepal. In almost all of these cases, global warming of the Earth was the primary agent. Countries pledged to address climate change at the COP-26 meeting at Glasgow.
But yet data suggests that carbon emissions jumped to record heights in 2021.