Every year we experience discord of some sort, and every year we make progress of some sort. 2016 was yet another queer year, too breathtaking to be explained in a couple of words. We as a civilization experienced evolution: a quantum leap in science yet an endless dispute in worldly politics. Here are eight symbolic events of 2016, whether a legacy or a setback, all to be recalled hereafter.
Detection of Gravitational Waves (February)
One of the greatest science breakthroughs of 2016 was the first direct detection of gravitational waves—ripples in spacetime. Approximately a century after its proposal, Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity was at last witnessed. Physicists detected ripples produced in space-time by the merger of two black holes which happened 1.3 billion light-years away. This discovery has given rise to a new era of astronomy and physics that will begin to unveil the cosmos.
During the month of March in 2016, media flooded with the news about a game of man versus a man-made machine. Lee Sedol, ranked high amongst Go players worldwide, played five matches of Go against the Google DeepMind’s Alphago. Losses of champion Lee was not a drawback for his opponent Alphago was created by a team of over 100 scientists. Hence its victory was essentially humanity’s great step forward in the study of artificial intelligence.
To many unforeseen, to some unhoped for, and to some awaited. The UK EU membership referendum that took place on June 23 ended with 52% of the British citizens voting for the UK to exit the EU. Since then, inevitable impacts have followed: the resignation of former Prime Minister David Cameron, an immediate contraction of UK economy, and the plummeting of the pound. However, further implications and long-term effects of Britain’s leaving of the EU are open for debate. In fact, negotiations have not yet ended in resolving the issue at hand.
Pokemon Go: Progress in Augmented Reality (July)
2016’s summer cannot possibly be described without Pokémon Go. With its first release on July 6, 2016, Pokémon Go immediately attracted millions of users worldwide, topping game download records with more than 500 million downloads. Pokémon Go immersed users into the entertainment of augmented reality and allowed them to interact with digitally generated Pokémons in the real-world environment.
Juno Enters Jupiter’s Orbit (July)
Five years after its launch on Atlas 5 in 2011, NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully completed its 1.8 billion mile journey, reaching Jupiter’s orbit on July 4. To enter the realm of the “scariest part of the scariest place that we know” as said by Heidi Becker, a physicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, Juno weathered anticipated challenges in Jupiter’s brutal radiation environment. Juno is expected to create a mark in our grasp of not only the largest planet in our solar system but also provide a blueprint in understanding a deeper enigma—the universe.
Rio Olympics (August – September)
2016 once again marked the comeback of the summer games. The five weeks of sportsmanship were a highlight and a source of tear and joy for many nations. From August to September, athletes from 205 nations gathered at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, breaking 19 world records and 65 olympic records. One of the greatest distinction of the 2016 Summer Olympics was the first ever Refugee Team with ten equally talented and deserving athletes who competed in the games.
South Korea Political Controversy (October-Present)
Disappointment after disappointment. 2016 was an inexplicably bewildering year for Koreans—a political scandal. One woman from nowhere shook the country, as her hidden influence behind the Korean government was gradually revealed. However during the disclosure of such absurd corruption, the nation experienced a union through the impeachment of President Park and successful weekly rallies that gathered more than 2 millions a day to sound a unified chant.
US Presidential Elections (November)
The 2016 US Presidential Elections sparked more controversy than ever before. Despite a yearlong series of scandal plagued campaigning, Donald Trump was elected as the 45th president of the United States. Trump began as a Republican businessman with mere infamous publicity, initially believed to have extremely low chances of winning. Sharing his notorious and rather contentious opinions on globally disputed issues of immigrants, women, LGBTQ rights, and racism, Trump fueled a global fuss. Yet, results are results. As Barack Obama put it in his last remarks as President, “This is not a period. This is a comma in the continuing story of building America.”
The list goes on. Giant pandas are no longer on the endangered list. Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar. Departures of numerous celebrities, the Aleppo offensive, Duterte’s presidency.
The End, 2016!
– Yoo Bin Shin (’18)
Featured Image: Crescentia Jung (’19)