This year, millions of people around the world mobilised in protest to highlight the dire emergency facing our planet. Could 2019 prove to be the year when talk turned to action on the climate crisis?
We looked back at some of the biggest stories of the year in science and the environment.
In 2019, the reaction to the ongoing climate crisis switched up another gear. Inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, the climate strike movement exploded this year. Millions took part in mass protests during the course of the year in countries as diverse as Australia, Uganda, Colombia, Japan, Germany and the UK.
Greta chose to make a statement when she sailed - rather than flew - to a UN climate meeting in New York. Summing up the trajectory for many who have joined popular climate movements, she told chief environment correspondent Justin Rowlatt: "I felt like I was the only one who cared about the climate and ecological crisis... it makes me feel good that I'm not alone in this fight."
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The UK's Extinction Rebellion (XR) was making its point through non-violent direct action in 2019. The group, which aims to compel government action on climate change, occupied five prominent sites across central London in April 2019. Notably, they parked a pink boat in the middle of busy Oxford Circus bearing the phrase "Tell the Truth".
This year also saw the UK's Parliament - along with individual councils around the country - declare a climate emergency, granting what had been one of XR's key demands.
But there were also setbacks to political efforts aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The US - one of the world's top emitters - began the process of pulling out of the Paris Agreement. This deal was conceived in 2015 with the intention of keeping the global average temperature to below 2C. President Donald Trump said the pact was bad for the US economy and jobs.
This year's UN climate meeting - COP25 - ended in a deal many described as disappointing. The result means that the onus now falls on the UK to resolve many of the most challenging questions at COP26 in Glasgow in 2020.
In April, astronomers released the much anticipated first image of a black hole. This is a region of space from which nothing, not even light, can escape. The picture was taken by a network of eight telescopes across the world and shows what was described as "the heavyweight champion of black holes".
The 40 billion km-wide, spacetime-warping monster features an intense halo, or "ring of fire", around the black hole caused by superheated gas falling in.
The image caused a sensation and raised the profile of one computer scientist working on the project. 29-year-old Dr Katie Bouman helped develop an algorithm that allowed the image to be created. A picture of her with hands clasped over her mouth, barely containing her excitement at the astronomical picture on her laptop, quickly went viral.
But her fame led to trolling, with some accusing her of hogging credit for a male colleague's work. That team member, Dr Andrew Chael, quickly came to her defence. In an interview for the BBC 100 Women series, Dr Bouman said: "At first I was really taken aback by it. But... I do think it is important that we highlight the women in these roles."
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Two major reports from the UN's climate science body revealed in sharp relief the extent to which humanity is ravaging Earth's land surface and her oceans. The first of these documents from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) warned that we must stop abusing the land if catastrophic climate change is to be avoided.
The report outlined how our actions were degrading soils, expanding deserts, flattening forests and driving other species to the brink of extinction. Scientists involved in the UN process also explained that switching to a plant-based diet could help combat climate change.
The second report, dealing with the world's oceans and frozen regions, detailed how waters are rising, ice is melting and species are being forced to move. As co-ordinating lead author Dr Jean-Pierre Gattuso said, "The blue planet is in serious danger right now, suffering many insults from many different directions and it's our fault." The authors believe that the changes we've set in motion are coming back to haunt us. Sea level rise will have profound consequences for low-lying coastal areas where almost 700 million people live.
On 1 January, Nasa's New Horizons spacecraft made the most distant ever exploration of a Solar System object. Launched all the way back in 2006, it performed its primary task - a flyby study of the Pluto system - in 2015. But with plenty of gas still in the tank, mission scientists directed the spacecraft towards a new target, an object called 2014 MU 69.
MU 69, later dubbed Ultima Thule, and more recently Arrokoth, may be fairly typical of the primitive, icy objects occupying a distant zone of our Solar System known as the Kuiper Belt.
There are hundreds of thousands of objects out there like it, and their frigid state holds clues to how all planetary bodies came into being some 4.6 billion years ago.
Earlier this year, scientists presented details of what they had found at a major conference in Houston. They had determined that Arrokoth's two lobes formed when distinct objects collided at just 2-3m/s, about the speed you would run into a wall, according to team member Kirby Runyon.
In September, former UK chief scientist Sir David King said he was scared by the faster-than-expected pace of climate-related changes. One of the most shocking examples this year of the extreme events Sir David spoke of was surely the record ice melt in Greenland.
In June, temperatures soared well above normal levels in the Danish territory, causing about half its ice sheet surface to experience some melting. As David Shukman reported on his trip to the region, during 2019 alone, it lost enough ice to raise the average global sea level by more than a millimetre.
Underlining the rapid nature of the change, he returned to a glacier he had filmed in 2004 to find that it had thinned by as much as 100m over the period.
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Greenland's ice sheet stores so much frozen water that if the whole of it melted, it would raise sea levels worldwide by up to 7m. Although that would take hundreds or thousands of years, polar scientists told the American Geophysical Union meeting in December that Greenland was losing its ice seven times faster than in the 1990s.
Prof Andy Shepherd, of Leeds University, said: "The simple formula is that around the planet, six million people are brought into a flooding situation for every centimetre of sea-level rise."
While civilisation-threatening asteroids are a staple of the movies, the probability of a sizeable space rock hitting our planet is very low. But as the dinosaurs found out, the risk does increase with time. Some 19,000 near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) are being monitored, but many lurk undetected by telescopes, so there is always potential for a bolt-from-the-blue.
In March, Nasa scientists told the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) that a big fireball had exploded in Earth's atmosphere at the end of 2018. The space rock barrelled in without warning and detonated with 10 times the energy released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
Luckily, the rock blew up over the sea off Russia's remote Kamchatka Peninsula. But an outburst that size could have had serious consequences had it occurred nearer the ground, over a densely populated area.
Then in July, an asteroid the size of a football field buzzed Earth, coming within 65,000km of our planet's surface - about a fifth the distance to the Moon. The 100m-wide rock was detected just days before it passed Earth.
Meanwhile, two robotic spacecraft have been examining different NEAs close-up. Scientists working on Japan's Hayabusa mission reported that their asteroid, Ryugu, was made of rubble blasted off a bigger object. And the US Osiris-Rex spacecraft detected plumes of particles erupting from the surface of its target, Bennu.
The gas sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) isn't a household name. But as the most powerful greenhouse gas known to science, it could play an increasingly important role in discussions about climate change.
As environment correspondent Matt McGrath reported in September, levels are on the rise as an unintended consequence of the boom in green energy. The cheap, non-flammable gas is used to prevent short circuits and fires in electrical switches and circuit breakers known collectively as "switchgear".
As more wind turbines are built around the world, more of these electrical safety devices are being installed. The vast majority use SF6.
Although overall atmospheric concentrations are small for now, the global installed base of SF6 is expected to grow by 75% by 2030. Worryingly, there's no natural mechanism that destroys or absorbs the gas once it's been released.
Quantum computers hold huge promise. The "classical" machines we use today compute in much the same way as we do by hand. Quantum computers promise faster speeds and the ability to solve problems that are beyond even the most powerful conventional types. But scientists have struggled to build devices with enough units of information (quantum bits) to make them competitive with classical computers.
A quantum machine had not surpassed a conventional one until this year. In October, Google announced that its advanced quantum processor, Sycamore, had achieved "quantum supremacy" for the first time. Researchers said it had performed a specific task in 200 seconds that would take the world's best supercomputer 10,000 years to complete.
IBM, which has been working on quantum computers of its own, questioned some of Google's figures. But the achievement represents an important step towards fulfilling some of the predictions made for
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The big science and environment stories of 2019 - BBC News
- IBM Partners With HBCUs to Diversify Quantum Computing Workforce - Diverse: Issues in Higher Education - September 25th, 2020
- IBM, Alphabet and well-funded startups in the race for quantum supremacy - IT Brief Australia - September 25th, 2020
- How This Bangalore Based Startup Is Driving Innovation With Quantum Technology-Based Products - Analytics India Magazine - September 25th, 2020
- New faculty add to Yale's strength in applied mathematics - Yale News - September 25th, 2020
- NU receives $115 million federal grant to research and develop beyond state-of-the-art quantum computer - Daily Northwestern - September 24th, 2020
- IBM Just Committed to Having a Functioning 1,000 Qubit Quantum Computer by 2023 - ScienceAlert - September 24th, 2020
- IBM plans to build a 1121 qubit system. What does this technology mean? - The Hindu - September 24th, 2020
- Extending the life of the qubit | Temple Now - Temple University News - September 24th, 2020
- OSTP, NSF, DoE, and IBM make major push to strengthen research in AI and quantum - BlackEngineer.com - September 24th, 2020
- Heres why quantum computing is a cat among the pigeons - BusinessLine - September 12th, 2020
- The Hyperion-insideHPC Interviews: ORNL Distinguished Scientist Travis Humble on Coupling Classical and Quantum Computing - insideHPC - September 12th, 2020
- Oxford Instruments Partners With The 10 Million Consortium, To Launch The First Commercial Quantum Computer In UK - AZoNano - September 10th, 2020
- Combinations of new technologies will upend finance - The Australian Financial Review - September 10th, 2020
- Quantum Computing Market Analysis by Growth, segmentation, performance, Competitive Strategies and Forecast to 2026 - Galus Australis - September 10th, 2020
- The Quantum Dream: Are We There Yet? - Toolbox - September 7th, 2020
- 17 extremely useful productivity tips from this years 40 Under 40 - Yahoo Finance UK - September 7th, 2020
- How Amazon Quietly Powers The Internet - Forbes - September 7th, 2020
- Study Expands Types of Physics, Engineering Problems That Can Be Solved by Quantum Computers - HPCwire - September 4th, 2020
- New evidence that the quantum world is even stranger than we thought - Purdue News Service - September 4th, 2020
- How Andersen Cheng plans to defend against the quantum computer - The Independent - September 4th, 2020
- Quantum computer to be hosted in Abingdon - ClickLancashire - September 4th, 2020
- Assistant director of NSFs Computer and Information Science and Engineering to give virtual talk Sept. 11 - Vanderbilt University News - September 4th, 2020
- Fermilab to lead $115 million National Quantum Information Science Research Center to build revolutionary quantum computer with Rigetti Computing,... - August 29th, 2020
- I confess, I'm scared of the next generation of supercomputers - TechRadar - August 29th, 2020
- Q-NEXT collaboration awarded National Quantum Initiative funding - University of Wisconsin-Madison - August 29th, 2020
- UArizona Scientists to Build What Einstein Wrote off as Science Fiction - UANews - August 29th, 2020
- Quantum leap? US plans for unhackable internet may not fructify within a decade, but India is far behind - The Financial Express - August 4th, 2020
- Google distinguished scientist Hartmut Neven is one of Fast Company's - Fast Company - August 4th, 2020
- Quantum physicists say time travelers don't have to worry about the butterfly effect - The Next Web - August 2nd, 2020
- Week in review: BootHole, RCEs in industrial VPNs, the cybersecurity profession crisis - Help Net Security - August 2nd, 2020
- New UC-led institute awarded $25M to explore potential of quantum computing and train a future workforce - University of California - July 31st, 2020
- The future of encryption: Getting ready for the quantum computer attack - TechRepublic - July 31st, 2020
- IBM and University of Tokyo team up for Quantum Innovation Initiative Consortium - SmartPlanet.com - July 31st, 2020
- 'Butterfly effect' is wrong and reality can 'heal itself', quantum scientists find in time travel experiment - The Independent - July 31st, 2020
- Research: the butterfly effect does not exist in the quantum model - FREE NEWS - July 31st, 2020
- Solving problems by working together: Could quantum computing hold the key to Covid-19? - ITProPortal - July 2nd, 2020
- Spain Introduces the World's First Quantum Phase Battery - News - All About Circuits - July 2nd, 2020
- Professor tackles one more mystery about quantum mechanics and times flow - GeekWire - July 2nd, 2020
- This Week's Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through June 27) - Singularity Hub - June 29th, 2020
- Kudos: Read about faculty, staff and student awards, appointments and achievements - Vanderbilt University News - June 29th, 2020
- This Is the First Universal Language for Quantum Computers - Popular Mechanics - June 21st, 2020
- Universal Quantum raises $4.5 million to build a large-scale quantum computer - VentureBeat - June 17th, 2020
- Ethereum (ETH) Might Not have Quantum Resistance on its Roadmap, the QRL Team Reveals - Crowdfund Insider - June 17th, 2020
- Craig Knoblock Named Michael Keston Executive Director of the USC Information Sciences Institute - USC Viterbi School of Engineering - June 17th, 2020
- European quantum computing startup takes its funding to 32M with fresh raise - TechCrunch - June 11th, 2020
- SKT to expand use of new quantum-powered security solutions - The Korea Herald - June 11th, 2020
- Archer looks to commercialisation future with graphene-based biosensor tech - ZDNet - June 11th, 2020
- Dear NASA, please put a particle collider on the Moon - The Next Web - June 11th, 2020
- Top 10 emerging technologies of 2020: Winners and losers - TechRepublic - June 11th, 2020
- When Will Quantum Computing Come to Mainstream? - Analytics Insight - June 8th, 2020
- University announces 2020 winners of Quantrell and Graduate Teaching Awards - UChicago News - June 8th, 2020
- Physicists Found a Way to Save Schrdingers Cat - Dual Dove - June 8th, 2020
- Physicists hunt for room-temperature superconductors that could revolutionize the world's energy system - The Conversation US - June 3rd, 2020
- Covid 19 Pandemic: Quantum Computing Technologies Market 2020, Share, Growth, Trends And Forecast To 2025 - 3rd Watch News - May 24th, 2020
- Molecular dynamics used to simulate 100 million atoms | Opinion - Chemistry World - May 23rd, 2020
- Highest-performing quantum simulator IN THE WORLD delivered to Japan - TechGeek - May 18th, 2020
- Light, fantastic: the path ahead for faster, smaller computer processors - News - The University of Sydney - May 18th, 2020
- Wiring the quantum computer of the future - Space Daily - April 29th, 2020
- Technologies That You Can Explore Other Than Data Science During Lockdown - Analytics India Magazine - April 29th, 2020
- Will Quantum Computing Really Change The World? Facts And Myths - Analytics India Magazine - April 23rd, 2020
- Google's top quantum computing brain may or may not have quit - Fudzilla - April 23rd, 2020
- On the Heels of a Light Beam - Scientific American - April 23rd, 2020
- Advanced Encryption Standard (AES): What It Is and How It Works - Hashed Out by The SSL Store - Hashed Out by The SSL Store - April 23rd, 2020
- Google's Head of Quantum Computing Hardware Resigns - WIRED - April 21st, 2020
- COVID-19: Quantum computing could someday find cures for coronaviruses and other diseases - TechRepublic - April 21st, 2020
- The future of quantum computing in the cloud - TechTarget - April 21st, 2020
- Quantum computer chips demonstrated at the highest temperatures ever - New Scientist News - April 17th, 2020
- Alex Garland on 'Devs,' free will and quantum computing - Engadget - April 14th, 2020
- RAND report finds that, like fusion power and Half Life 3, quantum computing is still 15 years away - The Register - April 12th, 2020
- Quantum computing: When to expect the next major leap - TechRepublic - April 12th, 2020
- Cambridge Quantum Computing Performs the World's First Quantum Natural Language Processing Experiment - Quantaneo, the Quantum Computing Source - April 12th, 2020
- The Well-matched Combo of Quantum Computing and Machine Learning - Analytics Insight - March 23rd, 2020
- Picking up the quantum technology baton - The Hindu - March 23rd, 2020
- Research by University of Chicago PhD Student and EPiQC Wins IBM Q Best Paper - HPCwire - March 23rd, 2020
- Honeywell Achieves Breakthrough That Will Enable The Worlds Most Powerful Quantum Computer #47655 - New Kerala - March 23rd, 2020
- Is time broken? Physicists filmed a quantum measurement but the 'moment' was blurry - The Next Web - March 5th, 2020
- What Is Quantum Computing? The Next Era of Computational ... - March 3rd, 2020
- Honeywell says it will soon launch the worlds most powerful quantum computer - TechCrunch - March 3rd, 2020
- Majority of Promising AI Startups Are Still Based in the US - Transport Topics Online - March 3rd, 2020
- 10 Revolutionary Technologies To Lookout For In 2020 - Fossbytes - March 3rd, 2020