The Science Questions of This Crazy Year
2020 was certainly an unusual year here on Earth. The planet was basically put on pause as the pandemic impacted more and more communities throughout the year. This obviously had a big impact on the news everywhere. The coronavirus pandemic, calls for racial justice, and the presidential election dominated the news landscape of 2020, but let’s not forget that science contributed a lot of new knowledge this year by asking some pretty interesting questions.
What's the actual average human body temperature? In the 1800’s a physician deemed it was 98.6 degrees fahrenheit, but in recent studies, including this year, scientists observed a much lower number. So, do we need to potentially rethink fevers? Stay tuned as things heat up on this topic in the near future!
Another good question: Are there any species left to discover?
Gosh, are there! There were hundreds of species discovered this year.
Among them a new endangered monkey, some new frogs, salamanders, snakes and scientists even got photo, audio, and environmental samples of a never before documented whale! Scientists also learned some new things about known species. For example, we learned something remarkable about the Cuvier’s beaked whale, known for being a rarely sighted c creature and for its long dives to deep water habitats. A research team documented a dive that lasted 222 minutes on just one breath. A friendly reminder there are lots of species left to discover out there and a ton left to learn about the ones we have documented too.
Probably one of the weirdest but coolest questions asked all year was “What happens if we paint eyes on the butts of grazing cows?”
Farmers in southern Africa were seeing their cattle regularly getting killed by nearby predators like lions. However, by painting eyes on the butts of these cows scientists observed predators were no longer attacking because they thought they had been seen by those painted eyes and thus abandoned the hunt. This research is not only helping these farmers retain their precious cattle, but it's also helping neuroscientists better understand the importance of eye contact among mammals.
In addition to those stories we also had news about murder hornets, history making space launches, climate change developments, brain related discoveries and millions of us - for the first time - used communications technology like zoom to have important work meetings, important doctor’s appointments, and to simply gossip.
Each year is truly unique, but 2020 was something else, folks. From all of us to all of you, have a healthy, safe, and happy new year!
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