Life as we knew it came to a halt all over the world around March of 2020. The eerie silence of empty streets, formerly bustling with life, brought a sinking feeling that forced us to reflect on humanity’s impact on the environment. But as the classroom doors closed, the laboratories stayed open, and the scientists have been putting in extra work. After all, the show must go on.
Although life is gradually coming back to normal, the crisis is far from over. We will go through some of the most significant scientific discoveries of 2020.
The first evidence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (originated from China) was noticed in Europe and the Americas early in the year. The fatality rate was (and still is) unprecedented, and the transmission speed is quite staggering. As a result, a worldwide lockdown was enforced, necessitating the use of protective masks.
Airports, Schools, sports leagues, parks, and other public spaces were closed to the public. At the moment, regular services have resumed, albeit with strict social-distancing protocols. Moreover, scientists worldwide have started working on different vaccines – the latest reports being the development of a full-fledged vaccine in Russia (yet to be tested though).
The discovery of a fossil containing a fiber provides evidence that Neanderthals in southeastern France used fiber technology. The carbon-dating shows that the age of the fossil is between 40,000 to 50,000 years ago. This is the earliest recording of the use of string-making technology and can shed more light on the activities of early humans.
Marine scientists have identified plastic contamination in Antarctic ice for the first time. Although the concentration is microscopic, this is enough evidence that the ocean’s pollution is slowly drifting to Antarctica. This discovery is significant because microplastic contamination leads to poisoning in smaller marine animals, which also affect the human consumers.
Archeologists have also discovered a pyramid-domed structure called Aguada Fenix. The structure is the oldest and largest in the Maya civilization. This discovery is also another feather in the cap of the relatively new LiDAR (Light Detecting And Ranging) technology.
Geologists have confirmed that the earliest recorded mass extinction of species on the earth’s surface was not due to the cooling and extreme cold. Instead, the Late Ordovician Mass Extinction (LOME), as it is famously called, was a result of global warming precipitated by volcanism.
When put into perspective, we can see that the same threat of extinction faces humanity if drastic measures are not taken to preserve the environment.
Ultimately, other discoveries have been made this year, but these, we believe, are the most significant for humanity. Although the COVID pandemic has dominated the news, the work of these dedicated scientists should not be swept under the rug, right?
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