First Flower Grows In Space
In January, astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted a photo of the first flower ever grown in space. While the orange colored zinnia was quite lovely, it has a much greater purpose.
Being one of the more difficult flowers to grow, NASA will take information from this success and use it to hopefully grow other plants in space – such as tomatoes – in the near future. This kind of agriculture will be helpful in future journeys to Mars.Wikimedia Commons
A Groundbreaking Moment For Cancer Screening
This year, researchers developed a revolutionary new cancer screening test that could help save untold lives. The tests, known as “liquid biopsies,” require only a finger prick.
Scientists at Swansea University in the UK discovered that blood mutations are often the first sign of cancer, which means that these tests can detect cancer more quickly than others.Dan Kitwood/Getty Images/Cancer Research UK
U.S.-Cuba Relations Thaw Even More
The United States’ relationship with Cuba has continued to improve this year, with President Obama visiting the country in March -- the first time a sitting president has visited the island since 1961.
On August 31, the first scheduled flight from the U.S. to Cuba lifted off. The last time people were able to fly directly to the island, they had to do so via propeller plane.thespeakernews/Flickr
Hundreds Of Boko Haram Hostages Are Freed
On March 24, the Nigerian army freed 800 hostages from the clutches of Boko Haram and eliminated 22 members of the terrorist group.
“The gallant troops cleared the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists hibernating in Kala Balge general area,” Sani Usman, Army spokesperson, said in a statement.Wikimedia Commons
Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Sees Major Advancement
When coupled with chemotherapy, a new stem cell treatment has shown to halt the effects of multiple sclerosis. It is the first treatment to cause long-term remission of the disease, and many test subjects were able to quit taking medication.
Though there are risks involved, experts have called this new therapy “exciting," "unprecedented," and "close to curative.” David Silverman/Getty Images
Tigers See Increase In Population
For the first time in the last hundred years, the global number of tigers in the wild is increasing, according to a survey by the World Wildlife Fund. The change likely comes from conservation efforts in countries like India, Russia, and Nepal.
The highly endangered species is now seeing numbers near 3,890 – up from 3,200 in 2010.Pixabay
Good Samaritans Show Up For Homeless Veteran Funeral
On June 7, 200 strangers attended the funeral of a homeless veteran with no family.
From 1944 to 1946, Serina Vine worked in radio intelligence for the Navy. Ever since 1995, she lived in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Community Living Center in Washington, and suffered from dementia.
Vine died alone, and when Maj. Jaspen Boothe, the president of the non-profit group Final Salute, heard that only four people were expected to attend the funeral, she posted the information on social media and encouraged other veterans to attend. Hundreds showed up.Joe Raedle/Getty Images
NASA Successfully Enters Jupiter's Orbit
NASA's Juno space probe successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit on July 5. The probe will help scientists explore the planet’s atmosphere and map its magnetic and gravitational fields.
“By determining the nature of Jupiter’s core and how much water the planet has, scientists can narrow down the many ideas as to how Jupiter formed," NASA said in a statement. "Since Jupiter’s formation is inextricably tied to Earth’s, Juno’s mission is, in essence, about understanding our own origin.”ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
Pokémon Go Gets People Moving Again
Pokémon Go took the world by storm this summer. The augmented reality, location-based game forces people to actually walk around in order to catch Charizard, Bulbasaur, and other Pokémon.
While the game may have seemed silly to some, it ended up doing some good. Cornell University conducted a study in October that found that the game had added 144 billion steps to U.S. physical activity -- or 143 roundtrips to the moon.Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
India Plants Nearly 50 Million Trees
On July 11, volunteers in India planted a whopping 49.3 million trees following the Paris Climate Change Conference, where the Indian government promised to reforest their land.Wikimedia Commons
Solar Power Reaches New Heights
On July 12, California broke the state record for solar-powered energy production – producing 8,030 megawatts of electricity.
That’s enough to power 6 million homes -- and that’s only counting the large solar power plants, not the more than 500,000 small solar panels on homes and businesses. David McNew/Getty Images
Simone Biles Dominates The Olympics
American gymnast Simone Biles became a household name during the Rio Olympics.
A powerhouse in a very small (4’8”) package, Biles won her way into America’s heart -- along with four Olympic gold medals. Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Swimmer Katie Ledecky Breaks Her Own Records
American competitive swimmer and Olympian Katie Ledecky beat her own world record in the 800 meter freestyle by a margin of two seconds, with a time of 8:04.79. In fact, she’s broken her own world records six times in the event.Larry French/Getty Images
Jackie Chan Wins An Oscar
Martial arts star Jackie Chan finally took home an honorary Oscar this year, making him the very first Chinese actor to receive one.
Chan has made more than 200 films in his 50-plus-year career – he began appearing in movies at the age of five.ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
Scientists Develop Treatment For Radiation Sickness
A biotech company in Israel has developed an injection that can cure the multiple organ failure associated with radiation sickness. This would be useful to those working near nuclear sites, such as the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Okuma, Japan.
The injection uses cells from donated placentas that combat the damage done to the lungs, skin, and bone marrow of people with radiation exposure. Clinical trials in the U.S. show a 100 percent recovery rate in animal subjects. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
The Cubs Win The World Series
Perhaps not Cleveland Indians fans, but just about everyone else was elated at the news that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series on November 2, breaking a streak of 108 years without a championship.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Harriet Tubman Replaces Andrew Jackson On The $20 Bill
This year it was decided that Harriet Tubman would appear on the front of the new $20 bill.
The new $10 bill will feature women from the suffrage movement on the back while the back of the $5 bill will include singer Marian Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt. notionscapital/Flickr
The Ice Bucket Challenge Actually Helped People
You probably remember the "ice bucket challenge” of 2014. Many derided it as an exercise in slacktivism, but it helped the ALS Association collect $115 million and funded six research projects.
These projects identified a gene that contributes to ALS, which will aid in the development of new gene therapies to treat ALS patients.Scott Barbour/Getty Images