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Humanity’s Scientific Advancements Amid The COVID-19 Crisis

2020 was undoubtedly a long year full of challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that did not stop us, humans, from advancing, improving, and making new scientific discoveries. It is certain that we made plenty of them during the last year, but we here will only go through a handful. 

Let us start by the beginning of 2020. In January, a team of scientists from the University of Nottingham, using advanced microscopy methods, revealed extremely small matter. In other words, they captured the world’s first footage ever of atoms forming bonds. 

 

By the way, have you ever wondered how a person from thousands of years would sound like? That is right! Another breath-taking achievement was made last year in January, which is recreating the sound of a 3000-year-old Egyptian mummy by 3D printing its vocal tract. 

Moreover, in February, the largest explosion known in the Universe was recorded. It happened 390 million light-years away. Its size is so gargantuan that it could fit 15 Milky Way galaxies in a row. 

Image: © X-ray: Chandra: NASA/CXC/NRL/S. Giacintucci, et al., XMM-Newton: ESA/XMM-Newton; Radio: NCRA/TIFR/GMRT; Infrared: 2MASS/UMass/IPAC-Caltech/NASA/NSF

Now, let us jump many months forward, towards the end of 2020. In October, NASA’s spacecraft OSIRIS-REx managed to get a sample from asteroid Bennu and is scheduled to return to Earth in 2023. That could be a huge step towards understanding how our solar system began. 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:OSIRIS-REX_SamCam_TAGSAM_Event_2020-10-20_small.gif#/media/File:OSIRIS-REX_SamCam_TAGSAM_Event_2020-10-20_small.gif

Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona 

Furthermore, another astounding discovery was made on the moon. It is true that ice exists there, in other words, water in a solid form, but NASA’s SOFIA observatory managed to detect molecules of water in liquid form on the moon’s sunlit surface.  

To conclude, there are a lot more discoveries in space, and they will help us a lot in understanding the Universe, as well as exploring our neighboring planets. 

Finally, moving into the last month of 2020, in December, amid the COVID-19 crisis, shined a new ray of hope. At last, COVID-19 vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, were approved and people started being vaccinated. Those vaccines are also being ordered around the world. Unfortunately, right after that happy news, scientists discovered the rise of a new coronavirus strain. In other words, the virus mutated with many genetic changes, which might affect the vaccines and render them less effective. Let us still hope for the better. 

In a nutshell, 2020 was a tough year, but we, humans, made countless scientific breakthroughs that can better our future. Therefore, we should be proud of ourselves. These achievements show our determination and humanity’s will. They will help us advance in the upcoming 2021 and solve even more problems hopefully. 

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