Positive News Stories in 2011

Natural disasters might have seen its worst in 2011 but these should not overshadow the triumph of human spirit and man’s quest for the stars. As we welcome the year 2012 with hope, let us travel back through time and relive some of the events that made a mark in 2011.

Victory against Terrorism. 2012 will have 5 less bad guys to worry about. Not really that much compared to the number of crooks you’ll find everywhere. But considering who these people are and what they’re capable of, it’s something we might consider a major achievement. Usama bin Laden and his loyal bunch Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Ilyas Kashmir, Abd al-Rahman, and Anwar al-Awlaki won’t be bothering us any longer.

First Artificial Organ Transplant. Surgeons from Sweden achieved what has never been done before – to make a synthetic organ out of the patient’s own stem cells and perform a successful transplant. An exact copy of the patient’s windpipe made of nano material was lined with stem cells and grafted into the patient’s body. The cancer patient underwent a 12-hour transplant surgery and was discharged after a few months.

Curiosity over Mars. This could be the boldest and longest interplanetary mission undertaken by Mars Science Laboratory. Weighing no less than 1 tonne, this rover is equipped with high definition and laser cameras, jackhammer, and a weather station. Launched on November 2011, Curiosity’s touchdown will be on August 2012 in Gale Crater, Mars where it will spend more than two years hunting for organic compounds necessary to support life.

Royal Wedding. Dubbed as the “Wedding of the Century” the Royal Wedding of now Duke and Duchess of Cambridge William Arthur Philip Louis and Catherine Elizabeth has become a worldwide sensation. This is perhaps due to its fairy tale-like story between a prince and a commoner (not a member of a noble class). The wedding was held at Westminster Abbey in London attended by 1,900 guests and witnessed by tens and millions of viewers around the world.

Expanded Health Care Benefits. In the US, the  Affordable Care Act was put into law, signed by US President Obama assuring citizens of the 50% discount for expensive brand of medicines, health coverage for young adults, small business tax credits, and improvement on pre-existing condition insurance plans. Its implementation will be rolled out in four years time and continue onwards.

Miss Universe 2011. Leila Lopes of Angola claims the title as the Miss Universe 2011. The pageant broke the 2006 record for having the most number of contestants from different countries 86 to 89. Other finalists who won 1st to 4th runner-up are Olesya Stefanko of Ukraine, Priscila Machado of Brazil, Shamcey Supsup of the Philippines, and Luo Zilin of People’s Republic of China respectively.

Pacquiao-Marquez Trilogy. People will always have different views about the recent bout. But like any other kind of sports, it’s not the loss but the win that people talk about. At first glance the fight seemed like a lopsided win for the challenger until you realize it’s the champ who’s really starting the fight while the other one is just fighting back – not a good way to convince the judges. Pacquiao won over Marquez via majority decision.

DRACO, the Virus Killer. Hard-to-kill viruses might be seeing their last days as their nemesis, DRACO, is on its final phase of development. A special kind of drug by MIT’s Lincoln Lab, it can zero in on virus infected areas and shut them down before spreading to other cells. It’s been tested on 15 of the most dreaded viruses and was found effective in wiping them all out. If the upcoming trials succeed, HIV, SARS, and H1H1 might soon be history.

New Heaven and New Earth. Kepler’s discovery of an Earthlike planet 600 light years away gives us a glimpse of what our future home would be. Planet Kepler-22b is within its star’s range of orbit that is neither too hot nor cold. It also shows conditions similar to Earth that is suitable for habitation. But before we get there, we need a spacecraft that could travel at the speed of light and fuel supply that would last for up to 600 years of lightning speed transport.

HIV Mystery Solved. Understanding the protein structure of HIV took scientists 15 years of research with no definite solution. Then, in three weeks time, the mystery was finally solved by a group of players through a game called FoldIt. Astonishingly, they were able to complete a precise 3-dimensional picture of the HIV protein structure in a matter of three weeks! This new finding might be the missing piece to the puzzle that will unlock the virus and lead us to the cure.

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