Global Round-up 2018: Pluses and minuses | Sunday Observer

Global Round-up 2018: Pluses and minuses

January – Mars stole the show in January. The discovery of layers of ice at a few feet beneath the Martian surface sent explorations of the red-planet to new heights.   
The singer Bruno Mars, with his song ‘That’s What I Like’ and the album ‘24K Magic’ won the most number of awards, including that of the Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Album of the Year.   
February – Scientists discovered the latest species of tardigrade, Macrobiotus shonaicus, in Japan. Commonly known as water bear or moss piglet, tardigrade is a microscopic animal and the most researched in the world. Known as the most ‘indestructible’ animal on earth, which scientists believe would hold the key to ‘immortality’ of man, it can survive up to 30 years without food, live in volcanoes and at 200 degrees of Celsius and endure the vacuum of space.   
March – The World Happiness Report announced Finland as the happiest, safest and the best governed country. Burundi in East Africa, scarred by ethnic cleansing and civil war was named as the unhappiest.   
April – It is time for beer to cheer in space. The world’s first space beer bottle designed to be launched next year, raised USD one million on April 7, in a campaign to fund its manufacturing.   
May – Wedding bells rang for the Royal family. In what is called the most awaited marriage of the year, Prince Harry wed Meghan Markle an American actress, at the Windsor Castle. The guests included celebrities such as David and Victoria Bekham, Priyanka Chopra, Serena Williams and George and Amal Clooney besides the royal family.   
June – The latest technological marvel in photography got global attention as it was revealed to the public in June. Tiny and paper thin, the device measuring just 1 by 1.2 millimetres has the potential to switch its aperture at a wide angle, fish eye and zoom instantaneously. As its thickness is only a few microns, it could be embedded anywhere. The invention, which has the potential to turn conventional photography upside-down was developed by a group of post doctoral researchers at Cornell University.   
July – Self-driving buses are not in science fictions anymore! Chinese technology company Baidu announced it has begun mass production of self-driving buses, the 14 seat Apolong, bringing a revolutionary change in public transport. This could mean safe and reliable public transport for masses all over the world.   
August – Apple became the first publicly traded company in the US to reach 13 figures in terms of market value, passing the milestone of one trillion dollars.   
NASA launched the Parker space probe, its first mission to the sun and its outmost atmosphere, the corona, to understand the sun’s dynamics to protect humans from its negative effects.   
Drought hit Australia in a big way, especially affecting most populous state in the continent, New South Wales (NSW). About 77 percent of the state was either in drought or drought affected, and 23 percent was experiencing intense drought.   
September – Catching up with Apple, Amazon became the USA’s second trillion dollar company, showing how the online retail sector has grown, and would dominate international business in the future. Other business giants, such as, Boeing ($207 billion), 3M ($119 billion) and General Motors ($55 billion) recorded far less capital than the two technology giants.   
WHO reported more than a quarter of people worldwide (1.4 billion) didn’t get enough physical exercise to avoid major diseases. The report said the lack of exercise is a dangerous global trend. Many people would suffer and die from non-communicable diseases.   
October – The Nobel prize for chemistry was awarded to Frances H Arnold, George P Smiths and Sir Gregory P Winter for discoveries in enzyme research. Discoveries will help cure humans from enzyme related illnesses.   
November – Palau became the first country to ban sunscreen due to chemicals which bleach corals. In the past decade, many coral reefs were badly damaged due to harmful effects of sunscreen. Palau has become a global example towards protecting coral reefs.   
The child suicide rate in Japan is at 30 a year high with 250 children taking their lives in 2016/17, according to the government. An increase in child suicide rates in Japan shows the complex world children grow up. It is an indication of how children are subjected to a variety of stresses and problems from a young age and a reminder to parents and society to be vigilant and to work towards reducing the problems and stresses of children.   
December – The world’s first super high definition 8k television channel was launched by Japanese broadcaster NHK. It is a revolutionary change in the television platform which could lead to important changes in global mass media and communication.   
David Attenborough warned the collapse of civilisation and the natural world is on the horizon, at the UN climate summit in Poland. The warning is a reminder to mankind to take action to protect nature to ensure the survival of humans and animals.   
Compiled by Vishwa Auwardt and Nusrath Rukaiya