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Year in review: 50 stunning science images from 2020

  • 50 stunning science images from 2020

    On Oct. 7, 2020, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for their work on CRISPR. The scientists first developed the gene-editing technology in 2012 and were finally recognized for their efforts and further developments of the tool this year. A member of the Nobel Committee weighed in on the decision, saying it has “revolutionized the life sciences … We can now easily edit genomes as desired—something that before was hard, or even impossible … Only imagination sets the limits for what this chemical tool … can be used for in the future. Perhaps the dream of curing genetic diseases will come true.”

    The eagerly anticipated win wasn’t the only big science news to come out of 2020. Other notable events include the lightning-fast work scientists and researchers around the world completed with regards to COVID-19, from understanding the virus to developing a vaccine. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, which would harness the power of fusion (the nuclear reaction that powers the sun and stars) as a source of safe, green, and limitless energy, got one step closer to completion when all of its parts arrived and passed testing. Major leaps were made in quantum computing technology. Scientists developed a super-enzyme that can break down plastics six times faster than anything we currently have. And so much more.

    While Stacker can’t cover every major news story to come out of the scientific sphere this year, we can give you the highlights. Using news and industry sources, Stacker compiled a collection of 50 incredible images showcasing groundbreaking science-related milestones and events that took place in 2020. From research teams breaking new ground in Antarctica to the discovery of mammoth bones and Egyptian sarcophagi to the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, these photos are sure to inspire you with wonder and ignite curiosity in the world around us.

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  • Comandante Ferraz Station in Antarctica ready for 2020 inauguration

    A team of researchers and Brazilian Navy sailors arrives at the beach of Dobrowolsky Glacier to collect ice and soil samples, on Jan. 4 in King George Island, Antarctica prior to the inauguration of Brazil’s Comandante Ferraz Station. The $100 million station, which opened in mid-January, is a “first-class” replacement of one that burned down in 2012.

  • Viking-era runestone warns of climate crisis

    A father and a son look at the Viking-era Rök runestone near the Lake Vattern and the town of Odeshog, in Ostergotland, Sweden, on Jan. 9. Raised in the ninth century, the Rök stone bears the longest runic inscription in the world, which scholars believe to be a grieving father’s eulogy for his recently deceased son and a warning about an impending period of extreme cold.

  • Catastrophic bushfires in Australia continue

    Cattle stand in a field under a red sky caused by bushfires in Greendale on the outskirts of Bega, in Australia's New South Wales state on Jan. 5. The death toll from this single day of catastrophic bushfires that caused "extensive damage" across swathes of the country for months reached 24.

  • Taal volcano erupts in the Philippines

    Residents look on as Taal Volcano erupts on Jan. 12 in Talisay, Batangas province, Philippines. Local authorities evacuated residents near Taal Volcano as it began spewing ash more than a half-mile high Sunday afternoon. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has raised the alert level to three out of five, warning of the volcano's continued "magmatic unrest."

  • A deadly new coronavirus spreads

    A laboratory operator wearing protective gear handles patients' samples in a laboratory of the National Reference Center (CNR) for respiratory viruses at the Institut Pasteur in Paris on Jan. 28. The CNR analyses the tests for respiratory viruses including the novel coronavirus which had broken out in China months before and had so far killed 106 people and infected more than 4,000—the bulk of them in and around Wuhan.

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  • Coronavirus genome published

    Close-up of letters displaying a portion of the genetic sequence of the novel Coronavirus which infected people beginning in Wuhan, China. The release of the genetic sequence of the virus in January was a key step toward developing vaccines and other treatments.

  • Soyuz MS-13 returns to earth

    The Soyuz MS-13 capsule carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew of NASA astronaut Christina Koch, Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency descends beneath a parachute before landing in a remote area outside the town of Dzhezkazgan (Zhezkazgan), Kazakhstan, on Feb. 6. The crew had spent a record-setting 328 continuous days in space before their return to earth.

  • A memorial for coronavirus whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang

    A memorial for Dr. Li Wenliang, who was the whistleblower of the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China and caused the doctor’s death, is pictured on Feb. 15 outside the UCLA campus in Westwood, California. The death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak surpassed 1,600 in China that Sunday, with the first fatality reported outside Asia fuelling global concerns.

  • SARS-CoV-2 named COVID-19

    This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases released the first images of the virus in February, months after it was first discovered.

  • Svalbard Global Seed Vault set to receive major delivery

    People stand in front of the entrance to the international gene bank, Svalbard Global Seed Vault (SGSV) which is just outside Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen, Norway. The Arctic "doomsday vault" was set to receive 60,000 samples of seeds from around the world on Feb. 25, as the biggest global crop reserve stocks up for a global catastrophe.

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