A look backward at 2021

2021 wasn’t all bad news. Here are month-by-month highlights of some good things that happened.

Welcome to 2022, and whatever it may have in store for us. Last year was certainly a rollercoaster, but to help purge it from our collective palates, I thought I’d do a quick rundown of good things that happened during the year.

January 2021

On the 13th, there was a breakthrough in transplantation technology at Édouard Herriot Hospital in Lyon, France. Here, surgeons transplanted not only both arms, but the shoulders as well, to an Icelandic patient. This is what single-payer healthcare can get you.

Additionally, one week later, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., is inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States after a period of unrest and insurrection attempting to overthrow that election.

February 2021

On the 18th, NASA’s Mars 2020 expedition lands at Jezero Crater after a seven-month journey from Earth. It carries the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter drone. The latter is the first craft designed to fly autonomously on another planet, but no one knows whether it will work.

March 2021

Pope Francis and the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani meet in Najaf, Iraq on March 6. It is the first such meeting ever between a sitting pope and a grand ayatollah.

By March 25, the number of COVID-19 vaccines given world-wide exceeds 500 million.

April 2021

April 11, Peru holds their general election. The winner is Pedro Castillo and the left-wing Free Peru party, moving them away from a more conservative government.

Having been there since February, on April 19th, the Ingenuity drone on Mars takes off and performs the first powered flight on another planet in history.

May 2021

On May 14, the Zhurong rover lands at Utopia Planitia on Mars. This makes China the fourth country in history to put a craft on Mars, as well as only the second country to deliver a rover, after the U.S.

On the 21st, a cease-fire goes into effect to end a conflict between Israel and Gaza.

June 2021

On the 5th, the G7 agrees to impose a minimum 15% corporate tax rate to prevent tax avoidance by some of the world’s biggest multi-nationals.

During the month in space, Juno performs its first and only flyby of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, the first in over 20 years; there’s an annular solar eclipse on the 10 visible mostly in the far northern hemisphere; and on the 17th, China launches its first three astronauts to occupy the country’s first space station, the Tiangong Space Station.

July 2021

On the 19th, Blue Origin launches billionaire Jeff Bezos to an altitude of 66 miles (107 km), just barely touching space.

On the 28th, science outdoes this by directly observing the first light to be coming from behind a black hole, having been lensed around it by gravity.

August 2021

The 2020 Summer Olympics happen. Sort of. Although they don’t get a lot of notice.

September 2021

On the 7th, El Salvador becomes the first country to accept Bitcoin as official currency — if you want to consider that a good thing. Otherwise, nothing really good happened this month.

October 2021

On the 3rd, the Pandora Papers are published, revealing the offshore financial dealings of various current and former world leaders and multinational companies.

October 16, NASA launches Lucy, the first spacecraft designed to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, which could reveal major information about the formation of our solar system.

November 2021

On the 24th, NASA launches the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) to see whether it is possible, with warning and enough time, to deflect a dangerous asteroid to miss the Earth. A probe is scheduled to crash into an asteroid in September 2022.

December 2021

On Christmas Day, NASA, ESA, and the Canadian Space Agency jointly launch the James Webb Space telescope. Once its in place and begins returning images in about six months, we are going to see and learn more about our universe than we ever have before.

So 2021 wasn’t all bad, and maybe 2022 will start to bring us more good news than awful. We’ll see. But welcome to today, and Happy New Year 2022!

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