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New Years Edition: Science and Tech

🔹 Back to the future in 2021

You may have heard of the Hubble Space Telescope – the largest telescope in space. Launched in 1990, Hubble, the size of a large school bus, orbits 500 kilometres above the Earth’s atmosphere. 

It has let us see way back in time, showing us amazing pictures of galaxies and even comets crashing into Jupiter ☄️. It’s one of the reasons scientists have been able to estimate the age of the universe. 

Now, its successor is on the way. The James Webb Telescope will be launched in 2021, and it’s pretty awesome. According to NASA, James Webb is so powerful, it will look back nearly to the beginning of time, and show us what the first galaxies looked like. Pretty amazing, right? It will also show us how galaxies are forming inside giant dust clouds in our universe, right now 🤯 . 

While we don’t know where 2021 is going yet, James Webb may help us understand where we came from. 

🔹 Faster internet 

In 2021, awkwardly shouting out “You’re frozen!” in a crucial meeting could be a thing of the past. With the demand for faster internet for work, leisure and education needs, tech companies are fast tracking the roll out of 5G and even 6G networks, reports tech blog www.inc.com.

5G was rolled out by some service providers in SA in late 2019 and early 2020, according to Business Insider. 5G is much faster than fibre and 4G, and can even be used to connect the smart cities of the future. 

There have been some hurdles in SA to rolling out 5G, and more cell phone towers need to be built to ensure that it’s distributed everywhere. Currently, you can’t get 5G outside of the big metros. But all that could change in 2021. 

And no, you with your tinfoil hat on over there: 5G is not the reason for Covid-19. 

🔹 A make or break moment for climate change 

Covid has provided humanity with a window of opportunity to do something about climate change 🌍. 

Thanks to lockdowns all over the globe, the world has seen the biggest drop in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2020 since World War 2. Greenhouse gas watchdog Global Carbon Project says the reduction was a whopping 7% this year.

Researchers expect that number to rise again in 2021. BUT, UK-based climate science outlet Carbon Brief says that if governments opt for “green” economic recovery plans, it could have a huge impact on global warming by the middle of this century. 

But it’s not just governments who need to do their part. The United Nations says the global elite – the top richest 1% in the world – must drastically reduce their high flying ways to make sure that post-Covid emissions don’t spike as a result of increased travel, and other expensive lifestyle patterns. 

Come on, leaders of the world. Let’s give future generations something to thank us for. 

These briefs are from our 30 December 2020 edition of The Wrap. Read the rest of it here.

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