Looking back and looking at 2018, can you call it good or bad? Most likely, your perception of the year includes your attitude to all global and personal problems that he brought. Every year we consider the previous year as “one of the most difficult” and we hope that the next year will be more interesting and fruitful. But in the wider context of human history, the year 2018 was unusually positive. Every year progress is felt better and better.
What science has achieved in 2018
Before we dive into the highlights of human progress in 2018, let’s clarify one thing. There is no doubt that our species faces many global problems. From climate change to growing wealth inequality, our problems alienate us from utopia.
However, it is important to recognize that the media are disproportionately focused on negative news. Let’s try to move away from this disproportionality and talk about the good. About how humanity pushed the boundaries of science in 2018.
We become interplanetary view
We often forget how far we have come since the first people came out of the African savannahs, settled the entire planet, and acquired powerful technological capabilities. Our desire to explore the unknown has shaped the course of human evolution and will continue to do so.
In the past year, we continued to push the boundaries of space exploration. The fate of humanity is among the stars. We were born to become wanderers of the cosmos and the eternal unknown.
SpaceX launched 21 successful launches in 2018 and completed this year with a successful launch of GPS. Virgin Galactic’s latest test flight was also an incredible milestone, as SpaceShipTwo officially touched space. Richard Branson and his team expect space tourism to become a reality in the next 18 months.
Our understanding of space has also advanced, thanks to constant breakthroughs in astrophysics and astronomy. One of the clearest examples is the mission of MARS InSight, which uses advanced tools to study the internal structure of Mars and even provided us with the first sound recordings on Mars.
We understand and fight disease.
Thanks to the achievements of science and medicine, we already live longer, feel better and live a fuller and healthier life than people from any moment of human history. In fact, for most of human history, life expectancy at birth was about 30 years. Today it is more than 70 years around the world, and in developed parts of the world – more than 80.
Brilliant researchers around the world are striving for new medical records. This year we saw promising treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and even flu.
The most deadly disease of all of them – cancer – also does not go unheeded. According to the American Cancer Research Association, 22 revolutionary cancer treatments were approved last year, and adult mortality is also declining. Advances in immunotherapy, genetic engineering, stem cells and nanotechnology are all powerful resources to fight deadly diseases.
Although cleaner energy, access to education and higher levels of employment can improve the quality of life by themselves, they do not guarantee happiness and inner peace. According to the World Economic Forum, mental health disorders affect one out of every four people in the world, and in many places they are significantly underestimated. More and more people are becoming aware that our mental health is just as important as our physical health, and that we should take care of our mind as much as our body.
We are seeing an increase in the number of applications that put mental well-being at the center. Breakthrough advances in genetics allow us to better understand the genetic structure of disorders, such as clinical depression or schizophrenia, and pave the way for personalized medical treatment. We are also seeing an increase in increasingly effective anxiety treatments.
Gaining momentum and the so-called area of psychedelic therapy. Earlier this summer, the FDA gave the green light to treat PTSD with the help of MDMA after several successful clinical trials. Similar studies have also shown that psilocybin (a component of some mushrooms), in combination with conventional treatment methods, increases the effectiveness of treating depression and anxiety.
Moral and social progress
Innovation is often associated with economic and technological progress. However, we also need leaps of progress in our morality, values, and politics. Over the 21st century, people have achieved significant success in protecting the rights of women and children, civil rights, LGBT rights, animal rights, and others. However, nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise in many parts of the developed world. With this still to cope.
In January 2018, Iceland adopted a law on equal pay