2020 – Year in Review

by Sue Taggart
2020 Year in Review

2020 – Year in Review

We decided to take a look back on 2020 – a year like no other that’s for sure.

Here are 18 surprising and serious events noted for the first time ever this year.

1. Woman surfs the year’s biggest wave off the Portuguese coast

The Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira rode the biggest recorded wave of 2020, becoming the first female surfer with that distinction. The wave, off the coast of Nazaré, Portugal, measured 73.5 feet. Gabeira’s ride was certified by the World Surf League and the Guinness World Records.

The professional surfer Maya Gabeira surfed the biggest wave of 2020, measuring 73.5 feet, off the Portuguese coast. Credit…José Sarmento Matos for The New York Times

2. Telescope’s pictures detail the surface of the sun

In January astronomers released the most detailed pictures of the sun to date, taken by the new Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, the world’s largest. The telescope was built in the Hawaiian volcano Haleakala, which appropriately means “house of the sun.”

3. Cancer discovered in dinosaur bone

Scientists at the Royal Ontario Museum and McMaster University identified osteosarcoma, a malignant bone cancer, in a specimen of Centrosaurus apertus, a herbivorous horned dinosaur that lived about 76 million years ago. It’s the first confirmed diagnosis of malignant cancer in a dinosaur, according to a paper published in the medical journal Lancet Oncology.

4. In a first for the luxury industry, Louis Vuitton debuts a face shield

While many fashion houses sold protective face masks in 2020, Louis Vuitton became the first to release a face shield, as part of its 2021 cruise collection. The item, which will cost $961 and features the luxury brand’s signature monogram design on its trim, can be worn with the shield flipped up or down depending on social distancing requirements.

5. France’s first transgender mayor takes office

The council of Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes, a village of about 600 residents, elected the first openly transgender mayor in France in March. Marie Cau, who is a 20-year resident of the village  has an educational background in agriculture and horticulture and ran on a platform of environmental sustainability. Cau told Agence France-Presse “What’s surprising is that this is surprising. They didn’t vote for me or against me because I’m transgender; they voted for a program and for values.”

Marie Cau, France’s first openly transgender mayor in Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes on May 24, 2020.Francois Lo Presti / AFP – Getty Images

6. Black photographer shoots Vanity Fair’s cover

Dario Calmese, who took photographs of the actor Viola Davis for the July-August cover of Vanity Fair, became the first Black photographer to shoot the cover in the magazine’s history, according to its editor. This followed the controversy surrounding Vogue’s August cover photo of Simone Biles, shot by the celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. Critics said that the photographs of Ms. Biles were not flattering to her skin tone, suggesting that a Black photographer should have been hired instead of Ms. Leibovitz.

7. Pontiff says he supports same-sex civil unions

For the first time in his papacy, Pope Francis indicated support for same-sex civil unions. In an interview for the documentary “Francesco,” which premiered in October at the Rome Film Festival, Francis spoke about how gay people have the right to be in a family and described them as “children of God.” He is the first pontiff to voice support for civil unions.

8. Balloons deliver internet in Kenya

High-altitude, solar-powered balloons were used to deliver internet service to Kenya, a first for Africa. A subsidiary of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, launched 35 balloons in July to provide a 4G LTE network across most of the central and western parts of the country. The balloons, which hover about 12 miles up in the stratosphere — well above commercial airplanes — will initially provide a 4G LTE network connection to a nearly 31,000-square-mile area across central and western Kenya, including the capital, Nairobi.

A Loon internet balloon, carrying solar-powered mobile networking equipment over the company’s launch site in Winnemucca, Nev. The balloons started delivering internet access to Kenya. Credit…Loon LLC

9. Prince Harry and Megan Markle quit the Royal Family

In an unprecedented move, the popular royal couple called it quits on January 8th. The announcement wasn’t a surprise to royal watchers, since the pair have long chafed at the (often unfair) media attention surrounding them. Many have applauded the announcement as an indication of independence and a progressive direction for the monarchy. The newly titled Duke and Duchess of Sussex will no longer be entitled to a range of privileges granted exclusively to members of the monarchy.

Queen Elizabeth, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Getty Images

10. “Murder Hornets” arrive in the US

The invasive insect, known as the Asian giant hornet, was spotted for the first time stateside when they invaded Washington state. Measuring up to two inches, the hornets can wipe out entire bee colonies within hours

A murder hornet. Reuters

11. COVID-19 Vaccine Roll-out

The first Americans were vaccinated against the coronavirus Dec. 14 after the US Food and Drug Administration approved the emergency use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 shot on Dec. 11. The country’s second inoculation, developed by Moderna, was then given FDA approval a week later on Dec. 18 — with states receiving the jab Dec. 21. The arrival of the two vaccines, which were developed in less than a year, was touted as one of the greatest scientific accomplishments in US history.

Sandra Lindsay, left, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the
Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Mark Lennihan/AP

12. Scientists use gene-editing tool inside a human

In March a blind patient in the United States underwent a procedure using the gene-editing tool CRISPR. It was the first time the technology was used inside a human. In a bid to restore the patient’s vision, doctors injected microscopic drops containing the editing tool inside the eye of the patient, who has a rare genetic disorder that prevents the body from making a protein necessary to convert light into signals to the brain.

13. Hajj is canceled for first time in modern history

Saudi Arabia announced in June that pilgrims outside of the country would be barred from traveling to the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, effectively canceling the hajj for what may be the first time in known history. Although war, treacherous travel conditions and previous plagues have affected the hajj , a pilgrimage that has happened since 632, this was the first time that an official travel ban upended the holy ritual.

Keeping a social distance, people visit the Grand Mosque in Mecca as part of umrah, a form of Islamic pilgrimage, in October. Earlier in the year, Saudi authorities enforced coronavirus restrictions that drastically limited pilgrims’ access to the holy city. Credit… Marwa Rashad/Reuters

14. K-pop band tops the charts in the United States for the first time

BTS, a South Korean pop band that has been making tweens squeal since 2013, nabbed the No. 1 spot on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 singles ranking in September with “Dynamite,” a song sung in English.

The South Korean boy band BTS at the Grammys in January. The band’s song “Dynamite” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this year, a first for a K-pop band. Credit…Valerie Macon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

15. Japanese flying car soars in test flight                                 

The tech company SkyDrive completed the first successful public test of a flying car in Japan in August. The manned vehicle, named SD-03, circled the Toyota Test Field, home to the company’s development base, for four minutes. SkyDrive plans to make the car available to consumers by 2023.

16. American officials slap global terrorist label on Russian white supremacist group

In April, the Trump administration designated the ultranationalist Russian Imperial Movement as a global terror threat. It was the first time the government applied the label to a white supremacist group.

17. China launches mission to Mars and lands first reusable spacecraft

The state-owned China Aerospace and Technology Group launched its first solo Mars mission, called Tianwen-1, in July. Tianwen-1’s payload includes a rover, a lander and an orbiter; the probe is expected to land on Mars in early 2021. In September, China’s space agency reported another major achievement: It successfully landed a reusable spacecraft for the first time, using experimental technology.

18. in 2021 –Robot ship to sail across the Atlantic

The Mayflower Autonomous Research Ship was unveiled in September on the 400th anniversary of the original Mayflower’s journey to the New World, and it is set to undergo sea trials in preparation for its maiden voyage in April 2021. It will be the first robot-powered ship to sail across the pond, roughly retracing the wake of its namesake.

We hope you enjoy our 2020 – Year in Review

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