Some people say science can be cold and mechanical, but as this year has proven, it’s also got a warm and fuzzy side. Here’s a round-up of all the joyous, uplifting and downright adorable stuff that’s happened in 2015. Get ready for all the feels.
Shirley Clarke, Fordingbridge Camera Club via Wikimedia Commons
A study on great tits revealed that they would often forego food if it meant they had to become separated from their mate. Scientists at Oxford University devised an experiment that forced the birds to choose between access to grub or sticking with their partner, and discovered that the latter was actually the more popular choice.
An 80-year-old British man named Ray Flynn became the first person ever to receive a bionic eye to treat age-related macular degeneration this year. After receiving the implant, he was able to clearly recognize people and objects for the first time in years, and says he’s now looking forward to enjoying his garden again, as well as watching his favourite soccer team, Manchester United.
Statistically, you’re more likely to die sitting on the toilet than being attacked by a shark, so there really is no reason for all the ill feeling that some people seem to have towards our sharp-toothed friends. Happily, human-shark relations received a boost this summer when a group of beachgoers in Cape Cod rescued a 2-meter-long (7 foot) great white shark, after it became stranded on the shore.
Canada’s new Liberal government dropped the communication policies enforced by the previous administration, which placed heavy restrictions on what federal scientists could say to the press. Under the old system, scientists were forbidden from talking about certain subjects such as climate change, and were subject to intense censorship when discussing permitted topics. With the gag now lifted, Canada’s scientists are free to communicate with the world.
Things got off on the wrong foot for Vincent the cat. Born with severely deformed hind legs, he was then abandoned. Fortunately, he was rescued by an animal shelter in Iowa, adopted, and later fitted with a pair of titanium legs. Happily now able to walk, he’s putting his best paw forward.
NYU Langone Medical Center
A firefighter from Mississippi who suffered severe facial injuries when a burning roof fell on him in 2001 became the recipient of the most extensive face transplant ever, earlier this year. More than 100 surgeons worked for 26 hours to perform the extraordinary operation, which transformed their patient’s looks as well as his life.
Animal lovers the world over rejoiced at the news that SeaWold San Diego is to phase out its live orca shows from next year. The move came after the terrible living conditions and poor mental well-being of the company’s captive killer whales were exposed in the documentary film "Blackfish," provoking a global backlash from conservationists and the public alike. While this does not signal the end of orcas in captivity, it is a step in the right direction.
Tony Northrup/ Shutterstock
Back in late March, Costa Rica announced that it had generated all of its electricity from renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric power since the start of the year. In doing so, the Central American country became the first nation on Earth to go 75 consecutive days without burning any fossil fuels for the production of electricity.
The amazingly-named Tumbles rattled and rolled into our lives earlier this year, after videos appeared of the tiny terrier trying out his new 3D-printed wheelchair. Having been born without his two front legs, Tumbles was given his new set of wheels by a couple from his native Ohio, who created the device with the help of the Ohio University Innovation Center.
November 10, 2015. Tumbles at his first wheelchair fitting! I think it's so cute and funny when Little Silly tips forward on his cute little nose! :-D Karen Pilcher, Angela Marx, Michele Summers Friends of the Shelter Dogs The Ohio University Innovation Center made his wheelchair using a 3D printer! It took about 14 HOURS print!***NOT AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION AT THIS TIME.***
Posted by Crystal Richmond on Thursday, 12 November 2015
Great Ormond Street Hospital
After chemotherapy had failed to cure one-year-old Layla of her Leukaemia, doctors decided to resort to a previously untested method in a last-ditch attempt to save her life. They injected her with genetically modified white blood cells that were programmed to seek out and destroy cancer cells, and began to see positive results in just a few weeks. A month later, Layla was well enough to leave hospital.