2016: The good things in science, environment | The Daily Star
10:58 AM, December 31, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:03 PM, December 31, 2016

2016: The good things in science, environment

Wars, Trump, celebrity deaths and natural disasters and the coming of age of 90s kids all have lent to 2016’s overall gloom. This year has not been kind to many people and has left a lingering bitter taste in our mouths. However, 2016 was not all bad and to make remembering this year a little less cringe worthy, we have rounded up all the best developments in science, technology and environment:

-Zika downgraded as a global threat

Zika is no longer considered a global health emergency as it was downgraded by the WHO to chronic threat level during the year.

-GSK and Google created a bioelectronics health firm

The development of bioelectronics keeps on growing. The newly-formed Galvani Bioelectronics will develop miniaturised, implantable devices that can monitor nerve singles in the body to tackle chronic illnesses such as arthritis, diabetes and asthma.

-HIV cure closer after trial clears virus in British man

The first patient being treated in a recent HIV study showed no sign of the virus after initial treatment. The treatment combined antiretroviral drugs with a drug that reactivates dormant HIV and a vaccine that stimulates the immune system in an attempt to destroy the cells carrying the virus.

-World’s first ‘three-parent baby’ is born

This year, the first baby was born using a technique that uses DNA from three people. It’s a controversial procedure, but in this case it was used to ensure the baby would not have Leigh syndrome, a lethal disorder that affects the nervous system and is carried by his mother. Three-person IVF has been proposed as a way to help those with mitochondrial disorders have a healthy child.

-The Ice bucket challenge funded an ALS breakthrough

The Ice Bucket Challenge social media campaign, which took place in the summer of 2015, helped fund a breakthrough in ALS research in 2016. Though the campaign was criticised as ‘slacktivism’, it helped fund a study that discovered a new identified gene, NEK1.

-Juno spacecraft reached Jupiter's orbit

Nasa’s Juno space probe braved intense radiation and space debris on its 1.8-million-mile journey into orbit around Jupiter. It arrived at the planet in July after a five-year journey and for the next 20 months it will explore the origins of the largest planet in our solar system.

-Plastic microbeads to be banned by 2017

The UK government announced this year that it will ban plastic microbeads next year due to fears they are building up in oceans and potentially entering the food chain. The small pieces of plastic are commonly found in toothpaste and exfoliating body scrubs and the tiny beads are having a ruinous impact on the natural world. It is a small start but hopefully it will catch up around the world.

-Wild tiger population increased for first time in 100 years

Wild tiger numbers increased this year for the first time since detailed records began. In 2010, it was estimated there were around 3,200 animals, but this has since gone up to at least 3,890 according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Global Tiger Forum.

-Giant pandas are no longer endangered

There are now 2,060 giant pandas in the wild, leading the species being upgraded from endangered to “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

-Solar Impulse 2 flew around the world

In July, Solar Impulse 2 touched down after its epic round-the-world trip. The solar powered plane flew 42,438km around the world to prove that clean technologies could be used in flight. Bertrand Piccard, one of the plane’s pilots told WIRED: “The sky is not the limit, the fuel is the limit. And with Solar Impulse there was no fuel - we could fly as long as we wanted."

-Paris Climate Change Agreement came into force

On November 4, the Paris Climate Change agreement came into force. 55 countries with 55 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions agreed to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

- Pokemon Go

The augmented reality game, which allowed people to run around with their smartphones and catch Pokémon in cities and towns, had a peak of 45 million people playing the game when it launched in the beginning of this year.

-Netflix added offline downloads

Netflix fans across the globe rejoiced when the streaming service announced viewers could now download shows to watch offline.

And to end the best of 2016

-Leonardo Dicaprio won an Oscar!

And dedicated his entire acceptance speech to make a pitch for the planet.

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