2021 Year in Review | Answers With Joe
Well, 2021 is coming to a close, so let’s take a look back at some of the biggest science stories of the year – and look ahead at what to look forward to in 2022!
Well, we made it. 2021 is coming to a close and here we are. We survived. A little beaten, a little broken, but here we are.
I say we survived… Truth be told, I’m recording this early because I’d like to have a little time off for the holidays so hopefully we’re all still here and haven’t been destroyed by an asteroid or something worse…
So, this is either my swan song or my latest episode. Either way, let’s make it a banger.
This is going to be one of my more straightforward episodes. It’s basically a list of the science and technology accomplishments of 2021, followed by what we can expect to happen in those fields next year.
Let’s launch right into it.
First on our docket is space, our fascinating neighbor above our heads. Here are some highlights from this year.
On July 11, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo carried Richard Branson and five other crewmates to 86 kilometers (53 miles) above Earth’s surface.
On July 20, Blue Origin carried its first humans above the Karman line, the boundary between our atmosphere and outer space that is 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the Earth’s surface.
Blue Origin’s founder Jeff Bezos, his brother, Mark Bezos, Wally Funk, and Oliver Daemen were on the flight.
On July 29, an incident occurred on board the International Space Station when a Russian module fired its thrusters when it shouldn’t have, making the station begin to spin, but luckily flight engineers were able to bring the station under control.
On September 16th, the Inspiration4 mission orbited the Earth for 2 days carrying an all civilian crew on board a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, making it the first all civilian orbital flight in history.
In December, Rocket Lab shared details about its Neutron rocket that’s designed to carry satellites into space.
Up next, electric vehicles.
According to BloombergNEF, electric vehicles made up 7.2 percent of global car sales in the first half of 2021.
That’s up from 2.6 percent in 2019 and 4.3 percent in 2020.
- Ford Mustang Mach-E
- GMC Hummer EV
- Mercedes-Benz EQC400
- Nissan Ariya
- Polestar 2
- Rivian R1T
- Tesla Cybertruck
- Volkswagen ID.4
Also in October, Lucid Motors started its first delivery of Lucid Air Dream.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certified that it can go 520 miles on a single charge, making it the longest range of any pure battery electric vehicle.
And in December, the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission requested documents from the company that relate to an investigation of its special purpose acquisition company merger with Churchill Capital Corp. IV earlier in the year.
The Edison Electric Institute announced the new National Electric Highway Coalition in December.
Tesla vehicles continued to be popular this year. In its third quarter that ended in October, its total production of its 3/Y and S/X models was 237,823, which is up 64 percent year over year.
Moving on. Next up: Healthcare and a couple of highlights from this past year.
Probably the biggest news in healthcare this year was the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine, which regardless of how it’s been weaponized politically, was a huge achievement and a major step forward in mRNA vaccines.
This is important because the more people are vaccinated against COVID-19, the better chance we have at overcoming the pandemic and helping slow down deadly mutations of the virus.
From your body to the world’s body, the environment.
In the fall, researchers at Linköping University in Sweden and Soochow University in China manufactured a solar cell using a solution with a high boiling point and without any toxic ingredients.
Other Scientific Developments
A few other notable scientific developments include:
In July, researchers at Google along with physicists at Princeton, Stanford used Google’s quantum computer to demonstrate a genuine “time crystal.” This was something that was only first theorized a couple years ago.
Gravitational-wave observatories released a new crop of 35 events, bringing the total number of detections to 90.
On October 1, the European and Japanese BepiColombo mission made its first fly-by of Mercury.
This year, a team at City University of Hong Kong discovered a new type of sound wave. This airbourne wave vibrates transversely and carries spin and orbital angular momentum like light does.
It was reported in late November that scientists from the University of Vermont, Tufts University, and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering developed a new form of biological reproduction different from any animal or plant known to science.
So, this is how humanity ends, right?
Assuming AI doesn’t eliminate the human race, we have some things to look forward to in 2022.
The James Webb Space Telescope launches on Dec. 22, 2021. Or maybe it’s launched already. We’ll know by the time this episode is released.
- BMW i4
- Cadillac Lyriq
- Ford F-150 Lightning
- Kia EV6
- Polestar 3
- Rivian RS1
- Toyota bZ4X
- Volvo C40 Recharge
Meanwhile Tesla is projecting to reach 1.3 million deliveries in 2022 as the Giga Berlin factory goes into full production along with the Austin Gigafactory. And with any luck we’ll start to see cars delivered with the new 4680 cells
When it comes to health and medicine next year, I’m going to make a bold prediction: There will be more COVID-19 variants and more vaccines. I know, wild, right?
Even more wild is the alternative energy sector.
A report from S&P Global Market Intelligence says that U.S. solar and wind deployments will hit new records in 2022.
It’s expected that as much as 44 gigawatts of utility-scale solar and 27 gigawatts of wind power will come online next year.
So that’s just kind-of a quick look at what we can expect next year, but I’d love to hear what you’re most excited about. Let me know in the comments.
As for me personally, this last year has been as weird for me as it has been for everyone else, I’m sure 2022 will innovate new and exciting kinds of weird for us to experience.
Channel wise it’s been a great year and if anybody’s curious my top 5 videos were…
I’ve got a lot of big things planned for the next year, I just purchased a lot of equipment so we can step up the quality of the videos… This one notwithstanding.
But at the end of every year, we look back on the previous year with a certain level of exhaustion and hope that the next one will be better. I’m sure 2022 will have its rough moments, but I wish the best for all of you.