The Biggest Science And Tech Stories Of 2019 | NBC News NOW

Channel: NBC News
Published: 12/31/2019 04:42 AM

2019 was a major year for science and technology with big stories about climate change, space and privacy. NBC News’ Jake Ward walks us through the technological advancements this year. » Subscribe to NBC News: » Watch more NBC video: N...

For me, maybe 2019 was summarized by no event better than the black hole that the event horizon telescope system managed to actually take a picture of now. This is such a mind-blowing thing to somebody like me, because einstein who basically predicted the existence of black holes said that at the same time, he was just uncomfortable with the notion of them and if you had shown him a photograph of ...
t like this, i mean Really he would have fallen over, so this network of telescopes basically manages to take a picture of something in the center of galaxy m87, which is 55 million light years away, and the black disc that you see in the center ofthe image is the black hole, something So powerful that not even light can escape from it the ring of it. There is basically ejecting this jet of particles about a thousand light years out into space, and we got a picture of all of that, which is just absolutely unbelievable. But then, of course, in true 2019 fashion. By the next day, we've had ruined the whole thing, because a picture of one of the researchers who helped to make it possible woman at cady bauman, who basically created part of the algorithm that did the imaging well a picture of her, got out and went viral Of her, you know being as excited as any researcher would bethat her work had you know, worked and suddenly internet trolls come out of the woodwork and say this can't possibly of her. You know she's a girl, so it can't you know she's getting undue credit. I mean terrible terrible stuff, and so the idea that we had this incredible moment of human choreography and innovation and then this incredible moment of human bias smashed together. For me, that is 2019 in a nutshell. Now, of course, here on earth there was a lot going on. There was a steady, dismal tide of bad news. Around climate i mean the united nations basically said that that they'd found that one in eight plant and animal species were facing acceleratedextinction. We only have about eight million species on earth.

1 million of them seemed to have had some sort of accelerated extension coming bad bad news. They'Re, a big study out of cornell had shown that 2. 9 billion birds in the united states and canada had gone dead since 1970. But out of that, of course, we also got unlikely heroes, greta tunberg, who basically has to to all of the the you know standard tropes of celebrity. I mean you wouldn't even get on an airplane. She took boats to her various appearances around the world and inspired us all as a teenager out in space. Humanity had some incredible successes. This year the japanese put a landercalled hayabusa 2 out into space to go visit, an asteroid called ryugu and managed to do this. Incredible thing: basically, they got up close to it, shot a bullet at the surface of this asteroid and then caught the pieces that were ejected off the asteroid. In response, i mean this incredible feat of coordination right and this time next year, those samples are gon. Na return to earth so that we can study them here, the first time anyone's ever really been able to do that. India, israel, all these different countries, began to try to put things on the moon, india, in fact, trying to attempt to be the fourth country to get something out of the moonwith, their land or the vikram.

Of course it didn't work out, but for me just seeing that that you know countries which 50 years ago couldn't have imagined having a space program are suddenly now launching their own vehicles in space. Amazing and speaking of amazing spacex. Had this extraordinary thing that not everybody. I think can appreciate, but you know a few years ago they've been talking about the potential for reusing the rockets and basically bringing them down and standing up upright, like a building once they had used them up in space. It used to be we've just thrown away that land the ocean we'd start over again. In this case, they literally bring them downlike you're, balancing a pencil on your finger, and they can now regularly land it on either a tray in the ocean or here somewhere on earth and manage to put them back into space in a few weeks time incredible in Privacy news, we saw all kinds of trouble there i mean a couple of years ago. You might have just sort of you know, given your gym, your genetic information over to a genealogy site called ged match, or any of a number of these genealogy sites just to find lost, relatives and so forth. Well, this year, ged match got purchased by a company called vera gen, which is a genetic forensics firm, specifically making that databasea favored tool of law enforcement. In fact, that's how joseph james d'angelo, the golden state killer, was identified through these kinds of systems, and it just reminds me that the privacy policies that we are signing today cannot possibly anticipate what might be coming up next, especially in the world data breaches right. You saw capital, one lose a hundred million customers worth of data. You saw toyota lose big databases in japan and vietnam and thailand. You know you saw breaches at facebook, i mean it just goes on and on, and we saw it all against the backdrop of of this kind of national allergic reaction to surveillance, which we realized that was going on all thetime via facial recognition and phone location.

You know, for me the california consumer privacy act is the one sort of you know happy thing coming out of this. The ccpa is a big act. That'S going to take effect on january 1st and will in fact be the first sort of national style regulation of all this stuff, which is gone totally unregulated. Until now, hey see news viewers, thanks for checking out our youtube channel subscribe by clicking on that button down. Here and click on any of the videos over here to watch, the latest interviews show highlights and digital exclusives thanks for watching.

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