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2023 will be a year to remember, but what precisely will we look back at? Let’s review some of the events that took place this year…

January 10 – Prince Harry Publishes Spare

buckingham palace

Prince Harry released a book called Spare on January 10, which reveals controversial information about the British Royal Family.

Prince William and Harry told their father not to marry Camilla Parker Bowles. Harry describes how he disagreed with the decision but still wanted his father to be with the love of his life. 

The book also revealed Harry’s last words to Queen Elizabeth II, who died on September 8, 2022. Harry hurried from London to Balmoral Castle in Scotland upon learning of the Queen’s illness. However, he arrived after she had passed away, and thus, he was unable to bid her farewell in person. His last words to the monarch were that he hoped she would soon be happy and be with her husband, Prince Philip.

Finally, the memories reveal facts about why Prince William wasn’t Harry’s best man at his wedding to Meghan Markle. Harry said he asked his old friend Charlie to perform the role, contrary to Buckingham Palace’s claims. 

It revealed a human and unflattering side of the real world Royal Family.

February 3 – Train Carrying Toxic Chemicals Derails In East Palestine, Ohio

A train crashed in Ohio, causing one of the worst man-made disasters in U.S. history. Within hours, officials began an intentional burn-off of the train’s cargo to prevent a possible explosion.

The disaster was significant because of the onboard vinyl chloride. When this substance burns, it breaks down into two chemicals: phosgene and hydrogen chloride. The latter is harmless, but the former is a highly poisonous gas used in chemical warfare in World War 1. 

Other dangerous chemicals were also onboard, including butyl acrylate, ethylhexyl acrylate, and isobutylene, which are toxic to the lungs, liver, nervous system, and brain. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began monitoring air quality and groundwater pollution after the disaster struck. However, people complained it was too little, too late, and the government didn’t provide a sufficient response. 

March 1 – TikTok Announces 60-Minute Daily Screen Time Limit For Users Under 18

2023 tik tok on phone

TikTok, a popular Chinese social media app, has implemented a new policy. This policy restricts users under the age of 18 to only 60 minutes of screen time per day. The purpose of this policy is to encourage social responsibility among its users. The network decided to placate regulators and demonstrate its commitment to corporate social responsibility. 

In 2020, experts said the platform’s algorithms were addictive and harmful, and suggested an age limit to protect kids.

Children can spend a maximum of 60 minutes per day on TikTok. To keep using the app, they need a passcode from their parents or guardians every 30 minutes. Caregivers can review usage in weekly reports and adjust how much time their children can spend on the site. 

March 8 – 171 Trillion Pieces Of Plastic Litter The World’s Oceans Compared To 16 Trillion In 2005

The Gyres Institute conducted a study and discovered that there are currently 171 trillion plastic particles in the oceans. This number is significantly higher than the 16 trillion plastic particles that were present in 2005.

The report revealed that global economies are not adequately addressing environmental cleanliness. This lack of action has resulted in numerous harmful particles that are causing issues in wild ecosystems. 

Scientists gathered information on plastic pollution in the ocean over 40 years to track changes. The amount of plastic pollution was higher than expected, according to Lisa Erdle, the study’s director. Urgent action needs to take place to stop the situation from getting worse. 

Currently, most plastic waste in the ocean comes from plastic swept by wind and rain into rivers. Currents transport particles to the sea, where they accumulate. Smaller quantities of plastic waste come from fishing nets and gear dumped by vessels and lost cargo. 

Plastic pollution hurts sea creatures by blocking their food and releasing harmful chemicals into the water. Plastics also come from fossil fuels, meaning they contribute to the planet’s warming as they out-gas and break down. 

March 22 – Bill Gates Hails The Development Of Artificial Intelligence

Bill Gates, the creator of Microsoft, praised artificial intelligence (AI) as a major technological advancement. He compared it to the invention of the graphical user interface (GUI) in the 1980s, which was also significant. The former tech leader made the comments on March 22 on his blog, GatesNotes. 

Gates wrote a post about the start of AI after a meeting with OpenAI, the company behind the impressive chatbot ChatGPT. The entrepreneur requested the company to develop an AI that could pass a challenging biology exam. The AI should rely on critical thinking rather than memorize facts.

Gates thought it would take the OpenAI team a few years to build a machine that could pass the test, but it only took a few months. Of sixty multiple-choice questions, ChatGPT got all but one of them right. Then, it answered six open-ended questions from the exam, getting 5 for its answers – the highest possible score. 

Gates is interested in AI because of its ability to improve the world. He sees it as a tool for reducing inequities and empowering the most economically and politically vulnerable people. However, Gates also cautioned that the technology is disruptive. He said AI could cause multiple issues, including labor market dislocation, political problems, and invasion of privacy. 

April 20 – SpaceX Launches Starship, The Largest Rocket In History

Starship launch 2023

Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched a rocket called Starship, which is the first prototype for going to Mars. The giant had 33 engines and a detachable first stage to land on a barge after reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. 

The rocket only flew for two minutes and thirty-three seconds before breaking apart . The Superheavy booster took some time to lift the rocket off the pad, with clearance taking an unexpected 30 seconds. The explosion caused the nearby concrete to break.

Debris hit the rocket’s engines. This caused a few of the engines to stop working. The second stage failed to separate at a height of 24.2 miles, and the rocket entered a spin before self-destructing. 

However, despite the fireworks, SpaceX hailed the test as a success. The rocket company used flight data to improve its systems for a second launch on November 18. The second launch was more successful but still had explosions. 

July 3 – Scientists Record The Hottest Global Average Temperature Ever

US scientists used satellites to observe the highest global temperature ever recorded on July 3.

Temperatures soared to 17.01°C, up from the previous high of 16.92°C recorded in August 2016. 

Scientists believe the extraordinary heatwave is a result of changes in the oceans. El Nino in the Southern Ocean is returning, temporarily heating the planet to a new peak.

According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the oceans have been warming for many years. The most recent highs are the hottest the seas have been since at least the 1800s, with average surface temperatures hitting 21.1°C. 

Temperatures in April reached four degrees above normal in an unprecedented warming of the region. Waters in the Gulf of Mexico hit 30°C in July, the highest since satellite monitoring began in 1981. 

Scientists believe climate change is driving these extreme events. Much of July’s warming comes from heat from years past already baked into the system. 

July 7 – Geneva Hosts The World’s First Human-Robot Conference

Geneva hosted the world’s first human-robot conference on July 7, marking an important moment in technological history. Participants from across the globe took part in the event organized by the United Nations ITU agency. 

The conference kicked off with reporters asking robots questions about the role of AI in human society. One machine responded that artificial intelligence systems and people could work together to enhance human lives. 

Robots at the conference had faces and expressions like humans. They moved their mouths while speaking and some could even look at the people asking them questions.

The talk was mostly about controlling AI and if robot versions of it could be risky.

September 2 – India Launches Its First Spacecraft To Study The Sun

India launched its first spacecraft to study the sun, the Aditya-L1, on September 2.

The spacecraft began its journey in low-Earth orbit before entering a larger halo orbit to prepare it for the voyage to the sun. The mission journey time will be around four months. The aim is to study the sun in more detail to understand how the object affects life on Earth.

The spacecraft launched with seven payloads to observe the sun’s photosphere, chromosphere, and corona, the outermost layers. The craft also came with particle field and electromagnetic detectors for characterizing the sun’s properties.

September 29 – Rock Band U2 Plays A Gig At Las Vegas’s New Sphere

las vegas sign

U2 played the first-ever show at Las Vegas’s Sphere, an enormous dome-shaped venue with an immersive 360-degree LED display. The concert kicked off what many believe will become the new standard in interactive gigs with light arrays. 

The Las Vegas Sphere is a massive venue, wrapped with over a million LEDs, outside and in. The cheapest tickets sold for $400 as concert-goers vied to indulge in this brand-new experience.  

Writers in the New York Times described the event as trippy. Wild visuals spanned the giant curved interior screens during the performance, thrilling some and disorientating others. The LED system’s designers say it can recreate more than 256 million colors, for different experiences. 

In November, a company applied to build a similar venue in London. However, planning officials said no, saying it would risk ruining the British capital’s skyline forever.

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