Any way you slice it, 2021 was an objectively bad year, and we all know why. But it wasn’t all bad. Here’s a handful of good science things that happened last year (that have nothing to do with COVID-19):
2021 was a bumper year for vaccines, and not just ones against COVID (sorry). In October, the World Health Organization approved the first vaccine for malaria. The mosquito-borne disease kills around 500,000 people a year, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, and this vaccine will help turn the dream of eradicating malaria into reality. This certainly beats Jack Handey’s method of combating malaria: keeping the mosquitos off you by hanging out with “just a big bag full of blood.”
Speaking of dreams, scientists found a way to communicate with people in their dreams. Yes, just like ‘Inception’. And unlike the movie, their report can be understood without getting high.
Surgeons at NYU Langone performed the first transplant of a non-human kidney, obtained from a genetically engineered pig, to a human body—research that could help solve the shortage of transplantable organs. And if you’re thinking that’s good news for humans but bad news for pigs, you’re wrong. It’s great news for humans.
While we’re pinning the blame for climate change on animals, cows (and their bodily functions) are responsible for an ungodly amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Thankfully, researchers in Germany have found a way to teach cows to urinate in stalls.
That solves global warming, but what about the threat of an asteroid colliding with Earth and ending life as we know it? Good news from NASA: “Earth Is Safe From Asteroid Apophis for 100-Plus Years”. Sure, humanity isn’t out of the woods completely, but at least we’re safe for now.
If you’ve ever wondered at some point over the past two years, “How much longer do I have to live like this?” you’re in luck! According to a study published in May, regardless of medical advances, people can only live a maximum of 150 years. OK, your mileage may vary on this one. But if you’re fifty years or older, it makes the asteroid thing even sweeter.
For those reading this article on your smartphone wondering if you’re getting dumber the further down this article you get, then fret no more! Thankfully, in July, researchers determined that while it may be changing the way we think, it’s unclear whether technology is hurting our cognitive abilities. Hooray!?