A WILD RIDE. Those, by and large, are the first words that come to mind looking back on Futurisms 2019 and all the news that made up these past twelve months.
We ran thousands of stories this year. They ranged from investigative projects, to interviews, to the building blocks of our site: Sharp hour-by-hour analysis on the science and technology narratives of the day. These stories shaped (and are still shaping) the weird, wonderful, frightening, inspiring, and ever-critical present moment were in, to say nothing of the future well occupy on this planet or elsewhere.
That said: Every once in a while, one of these hundreds of stories exceeds our wildest expectations, drawing hundreds of thousands of readers from across the world, and for weeks at a time, too.
To that end and without further ado, here are The Ten Most-Read Futurism Stories of 2019 along with our best guesses as to why they garnered so much attention, and what it might mean for our future.
10. The First Black Hole Photo Is Even More Amazing When You Zoom Out
When: April 12, 2019
What: After the Event Horizon Telescope team unleashed the first-ever image of a black hole, a separate team dropped an incredible follow-up image of the space around it.
Why: A sense of genuine epochal awe surrounded the release of the historic first image of a black hole, for starters. But when we covered NASAs Chandra X-ray Observatory release of the wider shot, showing how distant galaxy M87s black hole was nestled in a boggling vast cloud of high-energy particles, our readers couldnt stop looking. Heck, neither could we.
9. Our Solar System Is Blanketed in a Giant Wall of Fire
When: Nov. 21, 2019
What: Voyager 2 sent back readings suggesting that the edge of the solar system is surrounded by a bubble of 49,427 degrees Celsius (89,000 degrees Fahrenheit) plasma.
Why: We think of the deep solar system as a dark, frozen expanse, but this story showed that its a frontier of extraordinary unknowns that can apparently get, to put it lightly, hot. Even better, NASAs best tool to plumb its mysteries is Voyager 2 a probe thats been traveling away from the Sun since 1977, giving the story an outrageous old-meets-new finishing coat.
8. NASA Engineer Says New Thruster Could Reach 99% Speed of Light
When: Oct. 14, 2019
What: NASA engineer David Burns said that his new thruster design could reach a ludicrous velocity if you give it enough time to accelerate.
Why: The idea of light-speed travel scratches a sci-fi itch, and Burns has a knack for self-promotion. His thrusters undeniably clever it would use a type of particle accelerator to manipulate the speed of an ion loop, subtly changing their mass through relativity effects, thus generating a gentle thrust without propellant. Give it enough time, according to Burns, and it could reach 99 percent the speed of light. The caveats? Itd require building an enormous device in space, and itd take an extremely long time to speed up.
7. New Research: Human Civilization Will Likely Collapse by 2050
When: June 3, 2019
What: An Australian climate change analysis reached a Mad Max conclusion: Were screwed, and on a clock.
Why: The last year in news has often felt a touch world-ending, no? To say nothing of the worlds ongoing fascination with post-apocalyptic fiction, from Dawn of the Dead to The Hunger Games. The wide interest in this, though, illustrates our looming fear of a real collapse event especially when the research comes from a former fossil fuel exec. The good news, according to the research, is that drastic environmental policies could pull the planet back in the right direction. Also, lets be real: the art for this one, by Futurism writer Victor Tangermann, was haunting and beautiful.
6. NASA Research: Astronauts Are Getting Clots, Bizarre Blood Flow
When: Nov. 14, 2019
What: A NASA research project seemingly showed astronauts suffering from ominous circulatory problems.
Why: Everybody loves a feel-good story about a successful rocket launch or a shiny experiment on the International Space Station. But its difficult to ignore growing evidence that space is a hostile environment for the human body and this study, which examined ultrasounds from astronauts whod spent time on space station, showed signs of clots and bizarre blood flow. Needless to say, more research is needed, but this could be an opening act to the human space travel story narrative of this era.
5. Here Are New Pics of That Weird Substance China Found on the Moon
When: Sept. 19, 2019
What: China baffled the world when it announced that its rover had found a mysterious substance on the Moon. Then it released a photo.
Why: The implication of Chinas original announcement, which described the substance as gel-like, was that the material was deeply baffling. Thats probably why droves of Futurism readers visited to see the picture for themselves and share their thoughts though, underwhelmingly, the consensus among researchers is that the material, rather than a gel, is probably lunar glass that formed during a meteor strike.
4. A Dense Bullet of Something Blasted Holes in the Milky Way
When: May 15, 2019
What: According to research by a Harvard-Smithsonian scientist, a dense bullet of something punched holes in our home galaxy many years ago.
Why: A lot of our most-read stories this year were epic in scope, but this galactic-scale mystery by Futurism writer Dan Robitzski might take the cake. Gaps in the stellar stream suggest that something one culprit could be a chunk of dark matter, a million times the mass of our Sun crudely tampered with the large-scale structure of the Milky Way. Just like our readers, we were obsessed and well be keeping an eye out for followup astrophysical research to share with them.
3. NASA: Four Astronauts Will Stay on the Moon for Two Weeks
When: Oct. 30, 2019
What: NASA dropped tantalizing new details about its upcoming Moon missions, which include sending four astronauts to the lunar surface for 6.5 days.
Why: Our readers have a longstanding interest in NASAs efforts to return to the Moon, so these rare specifics from the inscrutable space agency were irresistible. Whats more, this new info demonstrated the depth of NASAs ambition: the 6.5 day mission, which will be loaded with at least four expeditions on the lunar surface, will be twice as long a Moon visit as any other in human history.
2. Russian Sub That Caught Fire Possibly Sent to Cut Internet Cables
When: July 3, 2019
What: In the aftermath of a Russian submarine fire, rumors emerged in Russian media that the sub was on a mission to cut undersea internet cables.
Why: Remember the tragic fire that killed 14 Russian sailors this year? Observers pointed out that Moscow was unusually cagey about the incident, refusing to say even whether it had been a nuclear sub. And then, in a pair of bombshell reports, two Russian outlets reported that the vessel had been a secretive craft thats long been speculated to have been designed to sabotage undersea internet cables. Much like other Russian drama in recent years, this one never got a satisfying conclusion but it was a rare glimpse into the murky world of deep-sea espionage.
1. Chinese Scientists Cloned Gene-Edited Monkeys With Horrifying Results
When: Jan. 25, 2019
What: Chinese scientists made five clones of a monkey that had been gene-edited to suffer from serious psychological problems.
Why: Our most-read story all year took a dive into the lurid world of genetic engineering. Scientists in China tinkered with the DNA of a macaque monkey, and then cloned the animal five times the first time a gene-edited primate had ever successfully been cloned. But ethically, Futurisms Kristin Houser explained, the experiment was a mess: the macaques genes had been altered to give it depression, anxiety, sleep problems and a schizophrenia-like condition. Researchers say the altered monkeys will be a valuable research tool for developing new therapies. But, at the same time, its a Jeff VanderMeer-esque sign of the grotesque frontiers of CRISPR and, like our readers, we couldnt look away.
Read more here:
- Japan Gives the ‘Go’ to Sample Return Mission to Mars Moon - February 24th, 2020
- Scientists Warn “Insect Apocalypse” Could Doom Humanity - February 24th, 2020
- Deadly Coronavirus May Be Spreading Through Poop - February 24th, 2020
- What in Tarnation Is This “SpaceX Village” by the Starship Launch Site - February 24th, 2020
- Here’s Why NASA Suspects Mars Life Could Be Hiding Underground - February 24th, 2020
- Bill Nye: Humans May Be Descendants of Ancient Martians - February 24th, 2020
- Fusion Startup Claims Breakthrough Will Provide “Unlimited” Energy - February 24th, 2020
- Grimes Wants to Send Her Mind to Mars Inside a “Humanoid Vessel” - February 24th, 2020
- New Battery Tech Could Double Electric Car Driving Range - February 24th, 2020
- Chess Grandmaster Kasparov: I’ve Made “Peace” With Robot That Beat My Ass - February 24th, 2020
- Adidas Is Going to Space, on the ISS, Where They’ll Do Space Shoe Stuff - February 24th, 2020
- Check Out This Terrifying Cybertruck Police Car - February 24th, 2020
- JP Morgan Warns Clients of “Catastrophic” Environmental Collapse - February 24th, 2020
- The Deadly Coronavirus Is Tearing Through Chinese Prisons - February 24th, 2020
- Cybertruck x Hot Wheels: Your Adorable Dream R/C Tesla Has Arrived - February 24th, 2020
- Carmakers Expected to Roll Out Wireless Car Chargers This Year - February 24th, 2020
- Study: Growing “Infertility Crisis” May Be Tied to Poor Diets - February 24th, 2020
- This Awesome Jacket Uses an LED Array to Display Huge Emoji - February 9th, 2020
- China to Round up Infected in “Mass Quarantine Camps” - February 9th, 2020
- Watch a Cybertruck Replace the DeLorean in “Back to the Future” - February 9th, 2020
- Human Trial Suggests CRISPR Could Be a Viable Cancer Treatment - February 9th, 2020
- University Chancellor Predicts “Higher Forms of Life” on Europa - February 9th, 2020
- Whistleblower Doctor Who Warned of Viral Outbreak Dies From It - February 9th, 2020
- India’s Devious New Traffic Lights Stay Red When Drivers Honk - February 9th, 2020
- Watch a Mother Reunite With Her Deceased Child in VR - February 9th, 2020
- New Research: Cancer Symptoms Can Appear Years Before Diagnosis - February 9th, 2020
- TikTok Waited Three Hours to Tell Cops About Livestreamed Suicide - February 9th, 2020
- NASA: Boeing Starliner Test Nearly Ended in “Catastrophic Failure” - February 9th, 2020
- Powerful Radio Signal From Distant Galaxy Seems to Have a Pattern - February 9th, 2020
- Scientists Plugged a Bionic Eye Directly Into This Woman’s Brain - February 9th, 2020
- Congress Proposes Nationwide Network of Electric Car Chargers - February 9th, 2020
- Man Wears Personal Plastic Tent on Flight to Avoid Deadly Virus - February 9th, 2020
- We’re Hiring: Futurism.com Wants a Staff Writer - February 9th, 2020
- DARPA Is Using Gamers’ Brain Waves to Train Robot Swarms - February 9th, 2020
- Is the Coronavirus a Pandemic? Here's What Experts Say. - Futurism - January 31st, 2020
- NASA Is Adding a Space Hotel to the Space Station - Futurism - January 31st, 2020
- CDC Confirms Second Chinese Virus Case in the US - Futurism - January 30th, 2020
- Donald Trump Doesn't Seem to Know Anything About Wind Power - Futurism - December 27th, 2019
- Baltimore Police Plan to Monitor the Whole City With Spy Planes - Futurism - December 27th, 2019
- JFC: The Most WTF Science and Tech Moments of 2019 - Futurism - December 27th, 2019
- These Rare Exoplanets Have the "Density of Cotton Candy" - Futurism - December 27th, 2019
- Mindset Matters: A Futurist Vision For The Next Decade In Disability, Business, Innovation, And Culture - Forbes - December 27th, 2019
- Bernie Sanders: Spend Money on the Climate Instead of Weapons - Futurism - December 27th, 2019
- 'New options' for former Futurist site to go before Scarborough councillors in the new year - The Scarborough News - December 27th, 2019
- The future is so much more housebound than we expected - The Week Magazine - December 27th, 2019
- The "Cats" Movie Was So Awful They Patched It - Futurism - December 27th, 2019
- Moon’s Surface Could Electrocute Astronauts, Scientists Warn - December 21st, 2019
- Half of America May Be Obese by 2030. Here’s Why That Matters for Society. - December 21st, 2019
- This Robotic Bug Was Designed to Survive Swatting - December 21st, 2019
- Farmers Could Use Drones to Grow Better Christmas Trees - December 21st, 2019
- Finally, a Smart Robot That Can Cook and Serve Us Hot Dogs - December 21st, 2019
- Phone Location Tracking Is Way Worse Than We Thought - December 21st, 2019
- Invisible Ink “Tattoos” Could Be Used to ID Vaccinated Kids - December 21st, 2019
- Our Acidic Oceans Are Eating Away at Sharks’ Skin - December 21st, 2019
- The Army Wants to Generate Electricity Inside Soldiers’ Boots - December 21st, 2019
- Navy Pilot Describes Bizzare “Tic Tac” UFO Encounter He Filmed - December 21st, 2019
- Neutron Star’s “Halo” Could Help Solve Antimatter Mystery - December 21st, 2019
- Apple Is Reportedly Working on Secret Satellite Tech - December 21st, 2019
- Russians Troll Elon Musk With Knockoff Cybertruck - December 21st, 2019
- Boeing’s Starliner Fails First Attempt to Reach Space Station - December 21st, 2019
- New Research: Marijuana Changes Heart Structure - December 21st, 2019
- Watch a Jet Wing Pilot “Jetman” Hover Over a Lake - December 21st, 2019
- Bernie Sanders: Spend Money on the Climate Instead of Weapons - December 21st, 2019
- Scientists Discover “Cosmic Candy Cane” in Milky Way Galaxy - December 21st, 2019
- Mall Santas Are Using Gimmicks to Court Instagram Parents - December 21st, 2019
- Elon Musk-Backed Tree-Planting Campaign Meets $20 Million Goal - December 21st, 2019
- Futurism | Definition, Manifesto, Artists, & Facts ... - December 18th, 2019
- Newly Discovered Blinking Space Lights Could Be Signs of Aliens - Futurism - December 18th, 2019
- Astronomers May Have Been Wrong About The Milky Way's History - Futurism - December 18th, 2019
- Study: Just Three Years of Vaping Increases Lung Disease Risk - Futurism - December 18th, 2019
- Check Out This Hypnotic Array of Colossal Storms on Jupiter - Futurism - December 18th, 2019
- Russia Is Working on Its Own Plan to Blow up Killer Asteroids - Futurism - December 18th, 2019
- Scientists Spot One of the Most Distant Galaxies Ever: MAMBO-9 - Futurism - December 18th, 2019
- End of the world: This futurist has some grim news for the middle class - MarketWatch - December 18th, 2019
- Stare Into the Brutal Maw of This Barbarous Neutron Star - Futurism - December 18th, 2019
- Virgil Abloh Merges Fashion and Futurism with the Louis Vuitton Men's 2054 Collection - Ocean Drive Magazine - December 18th, 2019
- Survey Finds That Water Is Common Around Exoplanets - Futurism - December 18th, 2019
- Change or have change happen to you, says futurist - RealAgriculture - December 18th, 2019
- Middle Eastern Nation First to Buy Drone Armed With Machine Gun - Futurism - December 18th, 2019
- SpaceX Is Delivering Cannabis to the Space Station - Futurism - December 13th, 2019