Year in Review: Science and Technology

Posted by on Dec 31, 2014 in Year in Review

It seems like there are always significant advances in how we view, approach, expand on, and apply what we know and understand about both natural and applied sciences. Here’s what we learned this year:

SelectStock/Getty Images

SelectStock/Getty Images

  • Digital Life–What was once seen as a novelty and luxury is now part of our everyday life. We brought you stories about how technology continues to enter our classrooms in new and innovative ways (as well as threaten our snow days…) Corporations are also finding ways to bring you want you want (even literally, with drone delivery). Mega online-retailer got into the programming game this year, as well as a big dispute with a traditional print publisher. Hashtags have become a common way to gain attention in social media. Two high profile tags this year were #BringBackOurGirls (a plea to rescue more than 200 Nigerian girls kidnapped by a terrorist group) and #Gamergate (a controversy that began as a discussion about media ethics and turned to harsh allegations and threats). At the end of the year, the Smithsonian created its very first 3D presidential portrait that will be on display in the National Portrait Gallery.
  • Digital Rights–One of the biggest stories of 2013 concerned the balance between national security and the right to privacy. Focus continued on the NSA with news of its desire to build a quantum computer under the project name Penetrating Hard Targets. Authorities warned us of a new online security breach called the Heartbleed Security Bug, which left many people vulnerable (but could be remedied by the changing of passwords). Social media companies the Facebook, Google and Wikipedia made the news regarding its security policies.
  • Environment–The state of our earth continues to be of concern to our readers this year. The word “polar vortex” (the mass of low pressure that typically spins over Canada) entered our vocabulary because of its unusual position, causing unusually low temperatures. Our major dependence on oil and the threats it poses to our environment also continue to spark debate. This year, we brought you stories about the impact of oil spills, fracking and proposed alternatives to energy production and the government’s plan to reduce the impact of climate change,
  • Health–While the major health crisis in the world was the Ebola virus, its impact in the U.S. was minimal. Domestically, there was an outbreak of measles, and medical experts are concerned with antibiotic resistance. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) expressed concern over the dramatic increase in electronic cigarette use (also called vaporizers) among teens. While the mechanisms do not contain the toxins associated with traditional cigarettes, they still contain nicotine, which is bad for your heart (and highly addictive). On a positive note, the drugstore chain CVS stopped selling cigarettes in a move to be seen as a healthcare provider.

Through out all of this year, we’ve enjoyed bringing you important news. Expect more exciting news in 2015 and especially more on Election Central as the political race for the next president become more of a news story.

What Do You Think? Choose one topic above that you were unfamiliar with but appeals to you and write a 3-sentence update.