100 Ways 2018 Was So Much Better Than 2017
And here's to an even better 2019!
Open virtually any news site or magazine and you’ll see the same statement repeated ad nauseam: this year was just the worst, and we’re glad that it’s over. And while tragedy struck (just like every other year) and celebrities made fools of themselves (just like every other year), if you look back over 2018 as a whole, the year actually wasn’t all that bad. In fact, compared to the 12 months of misery that was 2017, it actually looks pretty rosy.
From major scientific breakthroughs to underdogs finally getting their moment in the limelight, here are all the amazing things that happened in 2018. It’s a sunny compendium that just might bring out your inner optimist—and even have you looking forward to 2019.
Bat Kid Is Now Cancer Free
In 2013, the Internet fell in love with a then 5-year-old kid named Miles Scott, better known as “Batkid,” who “battled” villains in order to save the city of San Francisco. Since then, he’s defeated an even greater foe: cancer. In November, the Make-a-Wish Foundation announced he was officially cancer-free.
Eritrea and Ethiopia Stopped Fighting
On July 9, after nearly two decades of war and destruction, neighboring African countries Eritrea and Ethiopia announced the end of their feud over mutual claims to border territory. At the helm of these compromises was Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s young new Prime Minister whose mission is to establish “a new era of peace and friendship.” As a result of the war coming to an end, Somalia and Eritrea re-established diplomatic relations, and the United Nations lifted sanctions on the country in November.
Americans Smoked Less
Whether we have vapes to thank for this is uncertain, but 2018 saw a significant decline in the number of cigarette smokers in the United States. In fact, according to the CDC, the percentage of U.S. adults who smoke hit an all-time low this year with just 14 percent of adults admitting to smoking cigarettes every day. And if you need help quitting, then here’s The Single Best Way to Stop Smoking You’ve Never Tried.
Scientists Discovered a Promising Cure for Baldness
Back in May, researchers discovered that a drug called WAY-316606, which was originally used to treat osteoporosis, has the surprising side effect of enabling patients to grow two millimeters of hair in just six days. While a clinical trial is necessary to determine whether or not the drug can be marketed as a safe and effective use for hair loss, this is the closest we’ve ever come to discovering a “cure” for baldness.
That Thai Soccer Team Was Rescued from a Cave
On July 10, the world received the news it had been waiting for: after weeks of struggles, the 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach who had gotten stuck in a cave were finally free. Though the operation to free the soccer team required hundreds of experts from multiple countries, officials never stopped attempting rescue efforts—and thanks to their tenacity, all of the boys and their coach are now safe and sound.
Scientists Cured Sickle Cell Anemia
Sickle cell anemia sufferers got new hope in 2018, thanks to promising new research conducted in Canada. Following a stem-cell transplant, 26-year-old sickle cell patient Revee Agyepong was declared free of the condition in April, a promising step in the treatment of the condition on a global scale. However, that’s not the only good news those afflicted with the condition got this year. In March, researchers also pinpointed the genetic mutation that causes sickle cell, potentially leading to new research and subsequent treatment options in the near future.
The Golden State Killer Was Caught After Decades
More than 32 years after his last known attack, Joseph D’Angelo—better known as the Golden State Killer—was finally apprehended for his crimes. Now 73 years old, the rapist and murderer was finally charged on April 24, 2018, after law enforcement officials found a familial match for his DNA on consumer genetics database GEDMatch. D’Angelo has been charged in eight murders and 13 attempted abductions.
Scientists Discovered a Drug that Could Prevent Weight Gain
In August, Yale researchers found that certain glaucoma drugs prevented fat from being absorbed by the gut by blocking the production of a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A). While the study has only been done on mice so far, it’s the closest we’ve ever come to finding a drug that could help prevent you from gaining weight.
Scientists Created the World’s Most Accurate Asthma-Prediction Tool
Parents and caregivers breathed a collective sigh of relief this year, thanks to the announcement that a new asthma detection tool would be hitting the market. Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center were behind the development of the Pediatric Asthma Risk Score (PARS), a non-invasive system by which medical professionals can determine a child’s risk of asthma and provide effective management strategies that mitigate the risk of an emergency medical situation.
A New Preventative Migraine Drug Hit the Market
The millions of men and women suffering from migraines may finally get some relief, thanks to a medication newly-approved by the FDA in 2018. Aimovig, a once-monthly injectable, doesn’t just treat migraines, however—it actually prevents them by stifling the effect of calcitonin gene-related peptide, a molecule associated with these debilitating headaches. The drug is so effective, in fact, that in six-month trials, it was shown to knock out up to two-and-a-half monthly migraines among sufferers.
Researchers Created Droplets of Early Universe Matter
In 2018, scientists got closer than ever to discovering what the early universe might have looked like. According to a study published in Nature Physics, it was this year that scientists managed to create quark-gluon plasma droplets, also known as the matter that the early universe was made of, forming circles, triangles, and ellipses with their newfound creation.
Diabetes Was Reversed in Animal Trials
Humans are one step closer to finding a cure to diabetes, thanks in part to animals. This year, researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center engineered human pancreatic islets in the lab that secrete the hormone insulin and with these islets they were able to successfully treat type 1 diabetes in mice.
Amputee Shaquem Griffin Was Drafted By the Seahawks
The NFL got a new hero in 2018 when football player Shaquem Griffin was drafted to play pro ball. Twenty-three-year-old Griffin, whose left hand was amputated when he was just four years old due to a birth defect, made history this year when he became the first one-handed player drafted to the NFL, joining his twin brother, cornerback Shaquill Griffin, as a member of the Seattle Seahawks.
Doctors Performed the World’s First Successful Double Face Transplant
A French man got a new lease on life in 2018 when he became the world’s first recipient of a second face transplant. The patient, Jerome Hamon, initially received a face transplant in 2010 after the tumors associated with genetic condition neurofibromatosis type 1 left him severely disfigured. However, after a bout of illness and complications with his initial anti-rejection medications caused necrosis, Hamon was left, once again, in need of a new face. Fortunately, Parisian surgeon Dr. Laurent Lantieri stepped up to the plate, successfully transplanting the face of a recently deceased 22-year-old man onto Hamon.
The Northern White Rhino Was Brought Back from the Brink of Extinction
At the beginning of 2018, things didn’t look so hot for the northern white rhinoceros. Back in March, the last existing male northern white rhino, Sudan, passed away, rendering the species functionally extinct. However, scientists were able to come up with a solution just a few months later by using Sudan’s remaining sperm to fertilize the eggs of similar southern white rhinos. Soon the embryos will be implanted into surrogate mothers, and researchers are hopeful that new northern white rhino calves will be born within the next few years.
The Girl With the World’s Rarest Blood Type Found a Donor
Two-year-old Florida resident Zainab Mughal suffers from neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer that affects the adrenal glands. As part of her treatment, the young girl requires many blood transfusions—but since she’s missing the “Indian B” antigen in her blood, finding a donor has been almost impossible. Luckily, an anonymous donor whose blood is also missing the antigen stepped up to the plate in December, and her donation will give Zainab a fighting chance at survival.
Mary Poppins Is Back
The sequel, which stars Emily Blunt as everyone’s favorite magical nanny and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack the Lamplighter, hits theaters in the twilight of the year and is already getting rave reviews. In times like these, we need to be reminded of the magic of childhood more than ever. And the fact that Dick Van Dyke looks the same in the movie as he did in the original is just an added bonus.
You Can Now Fly Direct from New York to Singapore
At 19 hours long, the Singapore Airlines flight that launched in October is now the longest nonstop flight in the world. The tickets aren’t cheap, as the flight isn’t planning on including an economy option, but it’s considered to herald in a new age of travel. And if you do feel harried when you arrive in Singapore, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to freshen up before you hit the town, as Changi Airport boasts an astonishing amount of luxury amenities.
Pawternity Leave Is Becoming More Common
More and more companies are starting to realize that our pets are fur-babies who deserve just as much love and care as little humans. As such, not only are more companies coming around to letting you bring your dog to work, there are also more of them offering “pawternity leave” to help you bond and train your new puppy when you first bring them home.
Archaeologists Found the Lost City of Tenea
Up until November of 2018, the only proof of the ancient Trojan city of Tenea was through ancient texts describing the city as a sanctuary for Trojan captives after the sack of Troy. In October of 2018, archaeologists finally found physical proof of the existence of this ancient city, with the discovery of jewelry, pottery, coins, and human fetuses buried deep underground in present-day Hiliomodi. Now, with the discovery of these ancient relics, historians may be able to finally attain a clearer image of ancient Romans lives beyond the city of Troy.
Women Made History in the House
It’s official: 2018 is the year of the woman. And nowhere was that more apparent than the great tidal wave in politics. This year, a record number of women—at least 98—were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and beginning in 2019 approximately 23 percent of Congress will be female.
Ariana Grande Gave Us the Breakup Ballad of the Century
Though Ariana Grande released her most recent album Sweetener in the summer of 2018, it wasn’t until November—and her very public split with former fiancé Pete Davidson—that the pop princess gave us “Thank U, Next,” a self-empowerment breakup ballad about learning from loss.
Since its release, the song has broken a whole crop of records, including Spotify’s record for the most plays in a single day by a female artist. The song’s Mean Girls-inspired, highly anticipated music video was just as successful, and it too managed to break several records, including YouTube’s record for most views in the first 24 hours of release.
The World Was Introduced to The Haunting of Hill House
Given that Netflix spends billions of dollars every year just to create an overwhelming amount of original programming, it’s safe to assume that the majority of the material they put out is going to be, well, less than satisfactory. This year, though, there were actually a few Netflix shows that caught the interest of viewers and critics alike, one such being The Haunting of Hill House. The 10-episode series about a family forever haunted by their childhood home was released in October, and in just a few short months it managed to make it onto Netflix’s list of best-performing (and most binge-watched) original content for 2018, right alongside hits like Orange Is the New Black and 13 Reasons Why.
And Castle Rock
Stephen King fans left wanting more after the 2017 release of It got their wish in 2018 when Castle Rock, a series based on the prolific author’s beloved characters, hit Hulu. The series, which focuses on a fictional small town in Maine where tragedy and unexplained supernatural phenomena endlessly strike, not only boasts impeccable writing and spine-tingling subject matter, but it also has one of the most impressive casts to ever tackle a horror project, including Moonlight‘s Andre Holland as the show’s protagonist, Henry Deaver, It‘s Bill Skarsgard, and Academy Award-winning actress Sissy Spacek.
Meghan Markle Married Into the Royal Family
On May 19, 2018, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, married Meghan Markle, a mixed-race Catholic actress from the United States. The nuptials were historic not just because Harry is (or rather, was) one of the world’s most eligible bachelors, but also because Markle is the first American to be officially engaged to a British royal and is one of the only women in the history of the royal family tree to be of mixed race.
Amanda Bynes Made Her Long-Awaited Return
At the very end of November, fans of 2000s rom-coms were treated to a very sweet surprise when none other than She’s The Man star Amanda Bynes graced the cover of PAPER magazine. Normally a celebrity being on the cover of a magazine wouldn’t be all that exciting or out of the ordinary, but Bynes has been relatively M.I.A. and out of the spotlight since 2014, when she enrolled at Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and toned down her social media presence.
Previously, Bynes was only ever in the news for doing crazy things like tweeting profanity at Drake or getting arrested, but this in-depth story proved that the former child star has changed for the better—something that her fans have been waiting years to see.
Jordan Peele Made Oscar History
It looks like screenwriting comes naturally to actor (and now screenwriter and director) Jordan Peele. At the 90th Academy Awards in March, the Key and Peele star took home the best-original-screenplay Oscar for his debut film Get Out—and in doing so, he became the first-ever black person to win an Oscar in the category.
Smashing Pumpkins Reunited
At some point, Smashing Pumpkins had to end their two-decade-long drama fest and unite once again to save the indie music industry once and for all—and, luckily for their fans, 2018 happened to be just the right time for forgiveness. Lead singer Billy Corgan has been shutting down rumors of a reunion for years—but finally, on February 15th, the band announced that they would once again be embarking on a tour, the band’s first in more than a decade. Their reunion, amid endless drama, just goes to show that true die-hard fans should never doubt the power of a reunion.
Kendrick Lamar Produced a Top-Notch Soundtrack
It’s not every day that a movie soundtrack is regarded as one of the best albums of the year, but that’s exactly how people see Black Panther: The Album, Music From And Inspired By. The Kendrick Lamar-produced compilation is so good, in fact, that it managed to earn itself a Grammy nomination for album of the year, and it’s only the second soundtrack in the 21st century to receive such an honor (alongside the compilation for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which took home the gold statuette in 2002). One of the singles from the soundtrack, “All The Stars,” also received quite a few Grammy nods, including record of the year, song of the year, best rap-sung performance, and best song written for visual media. Not too shabby!
The World Got Its First Cloned Monkeys
First there was Dolly the sheep, and now there’s Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong, the world’s first primates created via somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), or cloning. Though researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences have been attempting to clone primates for years, it wasn’t until 2018 that they were actually successful in using the SCNT technique. Seeing as primates and humans have quite a bit in common, the scientists’ success could mean big things in the near future for organ and tissue cloning.
Remains of a Human Hybrid Were Discovered in Siberia
When scientists analyzed a bone they found in a Siberian cave, what they found completely shocked them. In an analysis published in Nature this year, the researchers concluded that the bone belonged to a 90,000-year-old female—but per the findings, she was half Neanderthal and half Denisovan, making her the first ancient-human hybrid ever discovered.
Lady Gaga Made Her Acting Debut
In October, Lady Gaga proved she was a force to be reckoned with—and not just inside the studio. Alongside Bradley Cooper, the singer took on her first starring role for A Star is Born. The film has already received nominations at the SAG Awards and the Golden Globes.
Of course, Gaga has been a prominent figure in the music industry since her debut album, The Fame, was released in 2008, but it wasn’t until this year that the eccentric superstar transformed into a truly respected renaissance woman thanks to her work on the big screen. One could say that, in a way, a star was born.
Justin Bieber Got Married
Cue the end of the Jelena drama, because Justin Bieber is now a happily married man. In the fall of 2018, the “Sorry” singer and model Hailey Baldwin (now Hailey Rhode Bieber) secretly tied the knot, taking Justin off of the market—and away from Selena—forever.
Ireland Got Rid of Its Abortion Ban
In September, citizens of the Republic of Ireland voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment, which gave unborn fetuses and pregnant mothers an equal right to life. Following the termination of the law, the Irish government recommended that women be given access to abortions within the first 12 weeks of their pregnancies, and Irish lawmakers are even working on making the service free for all women.
Demi Lovato Survived an Overdose
Though Demi Lovato tried to make it seem like her substance use days were behind her, just this summer the singer was hospitalized for what ended up being a heroin overdose. Luckily, though, Lovato was able to successfully recover from the tragic event—and not only is she back on the road to recovery, but just recently the pop star also found out that she was nominated for “Fall In Line” alongside Christina Aguilera, her childhood idol.
The New York Times Published Old Obituaries of Notable Women They Overlooked
Perhaps in an attempt to right the wrongs of a previous generation of New York Times obituary writers, the publication announced a collective effort in March to publish old obituaries of notable women that they had previously overlooked. These obituaries ranged from civil rights activist Ida B. Wells to feminist poet Qiu Jin—both of whom finally garnered the praise from the publication that they deserved. In a year of turbulent faux pas, this effort by the Times was truly touching.
Hollywood is unfortunately all too notorious for white-washing—and it’s partially because of this that people everywhere were ecstatic when Crazy Rich Asians hit theaters with an all-Asian cast, the first English-language film to do so since The Joy Luck Club hit screens 25 years ago. In its first box office weekend, the movie earned $25.2 million, becoming the highest-opening rom-com since Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck in 2015. Just recently, it was also announced that the film was nominated for several Golden Globes, and it’s in good company right alongside fellow history-maker Black Panther.
The Largest Mega Millions Jackpot Was Paid Out
A lucky South Carolina resident got a few hundred million dollars richer in 2018, thanks to the Mega Millions Jackpot. The unnamed winner, who nabbed a ticket worth $1.537 billion in total, walked away with a cool $878 million of that money after taxes—the largest Mega Millions win in history, and the second-biggest stateside lottery win of 2018.
Kanye West Returned to Twitter
After nearly a year hiatus from his former social media platform of choice, Kanye West returned to Twitter with a vengeance in 2018. While musings like, “Fur pillows are hard to actually sleep on” may be a thing of the past for the rapper, he’s still managing to put out some A-plus content, like, “Landscaping is a conversation with God” and “Calling out to Bob Dylan. Let’s get together.”
Meghan Markle Announced Her Pregnancy
As if putting a cherry on top of a whirlwind year for the royal family, the newly-crowned Duchess of Essex, Meghan Markle, announced in October that she was pregnant. In a statement, Kensington Palace announced that loyal fans of the royal family could expect this new baby (whose sex is still unknown) to arrive in spring of 2019. And since royal tradition usually dictates that each new member of the royal family be named in honor of a previous member, it’s safe to assume that the new baby will not be given a name you are unfamiliar with—though, who knows, since this has been the year of royal family rule breaking.
Senator Tammy Duckworth Gave Birth
Even before this year, Senator Tammy Duckworth was already a huge part of history, seeing as she was the first Asian American woman elected to Congress in Illinois and the first disabled woman to be elected to Congress. But since that wasn’t enough for the powerful politician, she decided to go ahead and add another first to her list by also becoming the first sitting Senator to give birth whilst in office on April 9th, 2018.
Scientists Created the First Mice With Two Biological Dads
In a first for the science community, two male mice were used to create “mouse pups” in a laboratory in China. They were able to create these mouse pups with two fathers by using their stem cells and implanting them into surrogate mothers. Evidently, the Chinese scientists performed this experiment in an effort to understand why it is that animals can only reproduce via members of the opposite sex. Despite this experiment proving that two male mice could in fact create life, the mouse pups died just a few days after their birth.
Female Drivers Hit the Road in Saudi Arabia
If you happened to be driving in Saudi Arabia any time after June 24, then you might’ve noticed a few new faces on the road. Toward the end of the month, the country lifted its nationwide ban on female drivers, and the first female drivers hit the road almost as soon as the changes were set in stone. People all across Saudi Arabia—and even all over the world—were elated to see women behind the wheel, and the law reversal was a huge step forward in the Middle Eastern country where women are still fighting for essential rights.
Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer Joined Forces to Fight for Equal Pay
In spite of all the progress that the #MeToo movement made in the past year, attaining equal pay for equal work was still a very public struggle for women. So, imagine the delight of the masses when it was revealed that beloved actresses Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain united to fight for pay equal to that of their male co-stars on one of their upcoming film projects.
The fact that Chastain encouraged and fought for Spencer to attain equal pay was revealed by Spencer in January at the Sundance Film Festival’s “Women Breaking Barriers” panel. There, the actress revealed that upon bringing up to Chastain that African American women don’t get paid nearly as much as white women, the two decided to make a pact to stand for nothing less than their fair share of earnings. Months later, after standing up for themselves on set, the pair is making much more than they had originally asked for—a feat which puts the power of sisterhood on full display.
Lin-Manuel Miranda Got a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Just over three years after his 11-time Tony-winner Hamilton hit Broadway, the show’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda had his successes commemorated with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The multi-hyphenate star was given his own star on November 30, 2018, telling fans who’d gathered to celebrate the occasion, “I feel like I’m dreaming.”
Star Trek Got Its First Female Director
In case you aren’t a Trekkie, here’s a little update from space: This year, the futuristic franchise announced that S.J. Clarkson would be directing the fourth film. But why does this matter? Well, Clarkson is a woman—and seeing as Star Trek has never had a woman running the show, her appointment is rather historic and a huge win for nerdy gals everywhere.
Cosmo Put a Transgender Woman on Its Cover
At the very beginning of 2018, Cosmopolitan South Africa started the year off by recruiting Laverne Cox to be their cover star. The February magazine marked the first time in Cosmo history that a transgender woman was featured on the cover—and it’s only appropriate that they chose Cox to make history, seeing as she was also the first-ever transgender person to cover Time.
Mirai Nagasu Made Olympic History With Her Triple Axel
In 2018, American figure skater Mirai Nagasu made history on ice. The seven-time Olympic medalist became the first American woman to land a triple-axel at the Olympics, and the third female competitor of any nationality to nail the tricky jump in the competition’s history.
Beyoncé Became the First African American Woman to Headline Coachella
Further proving that she’s truly a force to be reckoned with, Beyoncé in 2018 became the first African American woman to headline Coachella. After strutting onto the stage, the star made sure to properly acknowledge the historic occasion—after all, the festival has been around since 1999, and so this momentous occasion was long overdue. This momentous performance was accompanied by appearances from fellow Destiny’s Child members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, and family members Jay-Z and Solange also stopped by to pay tribute to the prowess of Queen Bey.
Toronto Hosted Its First “Indigenous Fashion Week”
The fashion world is finally focusing on culture over capitalism—or at least they did in Toronto this year with the first-ever Indigenous Fashion Week, paying tribute to indigenous cultures and designers on a platform that had not existed up until that point. Dene artist and fashion designer Sage Paul, the creator of this four-day event, founded the fashion week in an effort to build an outlet for indigenous designers who wished to venture outside of the mainstream and make art for the unrepresented.
ABBA Made New Music
Not only did 2018 give us a Mamma Mia movie with Cher in the leading role, but it also blessed us with an announcement from ABBA that, after some 35 years, new music was on the way. “The decision to go ahead with the exciting ABBA avatar tour project had an unexpected consequence,” the group’s Instagram announcement reads. “We all four felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio. So we did.” According to the group, one of the two new singles, titled “I Still Have Faith In You,” is set to be released via NBC and the BBC sometime this month, while t he other song’s release date is still TBD.
Time’s Up Broke GoFundMe Fundraising Record
Victims of harassment had the opportunity to have their voices heard this year, thanks to the record-shattering donations to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund’s GoFundMe. Thanks to thousands of donors, the campaign raised $22 million, teaming up with the National Women’s Law Center to provide the necessary legal services to those eligible.
The #MPR Raccoon Made It Up the Building
In July, people all over the world watched with bated breath to see whether or not a little raccoon would manage to scale a 25-story UBS building in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. He made it, and become a symbol of adversity against all odds in the process.
The World Was Introduced to Kathleen Zellner
The second season of Netflix’s Making a Murderer wasn’t quite as action-packed as the first one (as it turns out, there’s a lot of boring paperwork involved with being a lawyer), but it introduced the internet’s newest hero: Kathleen Zellner, a tough-as-nails lawyer who is famous for overturning wrongful criminal convictions, and who will clearly stop at nothing to get Steven Avery exonerated. As she said in an interview, “Trust me, I will outlast them. I have incredible endurance for these things. I am like a bad recurring dream.”
Kendrick Lamar Won a Pulitzer Prize
In January of this year, rapper Kendrick Lamar lost the Grammy for album of the year to Bruno Mars in an upset that made every fan and listener of his prophetic album D*MN question whether or not the population was truly hearing what Lamar was attempting to say.
However, Lamar’s words were finally given the credit that they deserved when it was announced in April that he would be receiving a Pulitzer Prize for music. Dana Canedy, the administrator of the prizes, was the first to note the significance of this achievement, stating: “It shines a light on hip-hop in a completely different way. This is a big moment for hip-hop music and a big moment for the Pulitzers.” We couldn’t agree more.
General Motors Announced the Development of a Self-Driving Car
While it won’t hit the road until next year, it was in 2018 that General Motors announced the development of the auto giant’s first truly autonomous car. When the cars make it to market, they will not only be eco-friendly, thanks to a reliance on electricity instead of gas, they’ll also be completely steering-wheel-free, eliminating the potential for human error—the overwhelming cause of deadly driving accidents. All right, flying cars, you’re up!
After veteran journalist Charlie Rose was accused of sexual misconduct by numerous women earlier this year, the search to find the replacement for his nightly interview program, Charlie Rose,” on PBS began—and the resulting replacement was none other than the equally accomplished Christiane Amanpour. Now called Amanpour & Company, the show feels a bit more important than the previous—perhaps a nod to the tangible magnetism of PBS’ latest host.
Sesame Street Announced Its First Homeless Character
Kids struggling with housing instability got a new hero in 2018, thanks to Sesame Street. The popular kids’ program brought Lily—a muppet previously only identified as struggling with food insecurity—onto the show as its first homeless character as a means of de-stigmatizing homelessness to young children and their caregivers.
William and Kate Welcomed Their Third Child
The British royal family—and their legion of admirers—had more than just Harry and Meghan’s marriage to get excited about this year. This year also marked the birth of Kate Middleton and Prince William’s third child, Prince Louis of Cambridge, who arrived on April 23rd.
Harry Potter Came to Broadway
Harry Potter fans got yet another glimpse into the boy wizard’s world in 2018 when Harry Potter and the Cursed Child hit Broadway on April 22nd. The musical even managed to break box office records—in its first week alone, the highly-anticipated show raked in $2,138,859.
The American Kennel Club Recognized Two New Dog Breeds
Dog lovers, rejoice! In 2018, the American Kennel Club announced that it would officially recognize two new dog breeds: the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje and Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen. The former, a European breed known for its duck-hunting ability, was added to the Sporting Group while the latter, an adept rabbit hunter originally from France, became part of the Hound Group.
The Second Man-Made Object Entered Interstellar Space
Voyager 2, a space probe launched by NASA in 1977, entered interstellar space on November 5, 2018—only the second man-made object ever to do so. The probe continues to transmit data back to NASA, providing newfound insight about what exists beyond the heliosphere.
In 2018, revered sci-fi series Dr. Who got its very first female Doctor. The role was given to Jodie Whittaker, known for her part in Broadchurch, and so far fans are responding to her portrayal with glowing reviews.
Netflix Announced a New Series About Selena Quintanilla’s Life
More than 23 years after her untimely death, Netflix has announced that it is in the process of creating a scripted show about the life of murdered Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez. While the show’s cast hasn’t been announced yet, rumor has it the series will hit the streaming service in 2020. Regardless of who tackles the role, considering the popularity of Jennifer Lopez’s big-screen performance as the late songstress in 1997, they’ve certainly got some big shoes to fill.
Physicists Came Up With an Equation for Perfect Pizza
While many people may claim that most pizza, barring any baking errors (or pineapple), is pretty good, in 2018, we found out what truly perfect pizza might look like. This year, a team of physicists and food anthropologists collaborated to write “The Physics of Baking Good Pizza,” explaining the exact conditions that had to be met—from how much heat to apply to adjustments for toppings—to create a perfect pie.
Mr. Rogers’ Biodoc Hit Theaters
Fifteen years after his death, fans got an inside look at the amazing life of Fred Rogers when a documentary about the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood star’s life and career hit theaters in 2018. The movie, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, has not only won numerous awards over the course of the year, including the Critics’ Choice Documentary Award for Best Documentary, but it also holds the record for the highest-grossing bio-doc.
Katy Perry and Taylor Swift Made Amends
They used to have bad blood, but, as Tay-Tay might put it, it’s all “mad love” once again between Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. After feuding for years, the two pop princesses put their troubles behind them, announcing the end of their feud on Instagram in early May. While it may still be unclear what started the feud in the first place—the theft of backup dancers has been one highly-reported theory—it’s clear what ended it: Katy sent Taylor an actual olive branch in the mail, and apparently, that was enough to squash their beef once and for all.
Will Smith Ended the “In My Feelings” Challenge
The “In My Feelings” challenge, in which people would lip-sync and dance to Drake’s “In My Feelings” (often while running alongside a moving car), was fun for a minute. Mercifully, Will Smith put an end to the starting-to-get-tedious social media trend by posting his own version—shot from the top of a bridge in Budapest—that couldn’t be topped by mere mortals.
Ava DuVernay Became the First African American Woman to Direct a Film Worth Over $100 Million
While Ava DuVernay has been making important movies for years, with films like Selma and 13th, it was in 2018 that she became a record-breaker, too. Thanks to her work as director on A Wrinkle in Time, DuVernay became the first black American woman to direct a movie that raked in more than $100 million domestically.
Keith Richards Went (Nearly) Sober
After partying like he was trying to destroy his liver, kidneys, lungs, and brain for the better part of a century, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards finally decided it might be time to slow things down this year. In a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone magazine (who else?), the famed musician admitted that he had significantly cut back on his drinking, with only the occasional beer or glass of wine pass his lips. “I pulled the plug on it,” said Richards, admitting he was “fed up” with his long-term habit.
Costa Rica Appointed Its First Black Female Vice-President
Costa Rica’s political history was indelibly changed in 2018, when Epsy Campbell Barr was appointed the Central American country’s first black female vice-president. The former economist and Citizens’ Action Party president assume the office on May 8, becoming the second-in-command to president Carlos Alvarado.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Premiered Season 2
Amazon Prime’s beloved show, about a 1950s housewife who gets dumped by her husband and ends up becoming a comedian at a time when that wasn’t really an option for woman, turned Miriam Maisel into a massive feminist icon. The second season, which was highly acclaimed by both critics and fans alike, did not disappoint.
Emma Thompson Received Her Damehood
She’s always been a national, nay, global treasure, but in November, Emma Thompson officially received the female equivalent of a knighthood, aka the highest honor in Britain. At the Buckingham Palace ceremony, she asked Prince William if she could kiss him, and while he politely declined, you gotta admire her for shooting her shot!
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Was Saved
Back in May, fans of Fox’s hit comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine received some heartbreaking news: After five incredible seasons, the network would not be renewing the show. This heartbreak only lasted for about 24 hours though, as after fans reacted poorly to the announcement, fellow network NBC decided to pick up where Fox left off and film the show’s sixth season. The trailer for the newest season revealed that the next set of episodes would begin airing on January 10th, so it already looks like 2019 is off to a running start.
Harvey Weinstein Was Arrested
After years of rumors and accusations about his predatory behavior, Weinstein Company co-founder and co-chair Harvey Weinstein was arrested on rape charges in May. While Weinstein is currently out on bail, the mounting case against Weinstein has garnered a huge amount of media attention, leading many to believe he’ll actually do prison time for his alleged crimes.
European Parliament Approved a Ban on Single-Use Plastic
While global plastic use remains a critical environmental concern, the EU may be making headway when it comes to limiting Europe’s contribution to the plastic crisis. In October, members of European Parliament approved a ban on plastic straws, cutlery, plates, stirrers, cotton swabs, and balloon sticks, hoping the ban is implemented across the EU by 2021.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Made Congressional History
During the midterms, New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made history by becoming the youngest woman to ever be elected to Congress. The 29-year-old received a hefty majority of the votes in New York’s 14th District, and even a few from the 15th, where she wasn’t even on the ballot. During her victory speech, she noted that “this is what is possible when every day people come together in the collective realization that all our actions—no matter how small or how large—are powerful, worthwhile and capable of lasting change.”
A Hero Dog Got Her Own Statue
Frida the Navy rescue dog, a 7-year-old Labrador Retriever who lives in Mexico, has has managed to locate over 50 people underneath trapped in the rubble of earthquakes throughout her illustrious career. In July, she was honored with her very own statue at an ecological park in Mexico, and she was very, very proud.
A Minneapolis Boy Was Granted a Food Service License After His Hot Dog Business Was Reported
When the Minneapolis Department of Health received a complaint this summer about 13-year-old Jaequan Faulkner’s hot dog stand, their job was to shut the illegal operation down and move on. Instead, though, the department officials who visited Faulkner decided to do something much nicer, and rather than shutting a 13-year-old entrepreneur’s business down, they helped him find the $87 for his health permit so he could keep going.
Chanel Championed Animal-Friendly Fashion
In a move that shocked the fashion community and thrilled animal activities, fashion powerhouse Chanel announced in December that it would no longer be using exotic animal pelts like lizard, crocodile, and snake skin to make their products. “It is our experience that it is becoming increasingly difficult to source exotic skins,” the brand said in a statement obtained by WWD. Moving forward, the luxury brand plans to use leathers and fabrics created by the “agri-food” industry.
Scientists Discovered the World’s Largest Dinosaur
Seeing as dinosaurs went extinct millions of years ago, it’s hard to believe that there are still remnants of the species out there just waiting to be discovered. However, archaeologists are finding new fossils pretty much on a daily basis—and in October, South African researchers happened upon what ended up being the bones of the largest land animal to have ever existed. Named Ledumahadi mafube, or “a giant thunderclap at dawn,” the animal weighed 26,000 pounds, nearly double the size of today’s large African elephant.
San Francisco Elected a Female Mayor of Color
In June, Board of Supervisors president London Breed won the race to become the mayor of San Francisco, beating out former state Sen. Mark Leno. Breed’s win quickly made national news, as it was the first time the city had ever elected an African American woman as mayor.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan Adopted a Bonded Emu and Donkey to Prevent Their Separation
In 2018, Jeffrey Dean Morgan became a hero for animals everywhere. After the Walking Dead star came across a viral story about emu and donkey BFFs who couldn’t stand to be separated, Morgan came to the rescue and adopted the pair together. Today, Jack and Diane—yes, that is their names—are living out their lives happily on Morgan’s farm in New York.
A Homeless Man Returned $17K in Cash to a Food Bank
Homeless people get a bad rap for “stealing” and “doing what they have to do to get by,” but that’s nothing more than a gross misrepresentation of a diverse and differentiated group of people. And in August, one homeless man named Kevin Booth proved just that when, after finding a staggering $17,000 outside of a food bank in Washington, he chose to return the money instead of keeping it. As a reward for his honesty, the food bank gave Booth several gift cards, and police even awarded the man a citizen’s citation for his good deed.
Quadruple Amputee Dog Named American Humane’s American Hero Dog
Chi Chi the golden retriever is a very good girl. Despite the fact that she lost all four of her paws after being left for dead in a dumpster, the doggo is now helping others as a therapy dog, thanks to the help of her adoptive family and two sets of prosthetic paws. This year, the sweet girl was recognized for all her perseverance and hard work when she was named American Humane’s 2018 American Hero Dog—and quite frankly, we can’t think of any dog who’s more deserving.
Archaeologists Found the World’s Oldest Brewery
As it turns out, even our ancient ancestors liked to kick back and enjoy a cold one after a long day at work. This revelation was uncovered when researchers from Stanford University found evidence of perhaps the world’s oldest beer-making operation inside of a cave in Israel. These findings, traced back to nearly 13,000 years ago, were left there by the Natufians, a hunter-gatherer group who lived in the area around that time. If anything, this finding finally solidified the more controversial opinion that beer actually came before bread—which makes complete sense for those IPA-obsessed people of the 21st-century.
The Couple Who Dropped an Engagement Ring Through a Subway Grate Had it Returned
Shortly after John Drennan proposed to his girlfriend, Daniella Anthony, the ring slid off of her finger and directly into the subway grate—thought to be lost forever. After reporting this fact to the NYPD, the British couple, without giving the police any of their contact information, went on their not-so-merry way back to England.
However, after a few days of searching for the couple’s lost engagement ring, NYPD officers finally found the lost ring, and soon embarked on a hunt to find the couple who lost this precious piece of jewelry. In a truly heartwarming turn of events, Ellen DeGeneres and her team were able to locate the couple and the NYPD officers to finally reunite the newly-engaged couple with the token of this new stage in their lives.
ASOS Announced Its Plan to Ban Animal-Derived Products
Animals got something to crow about in 2018 when British retailer ASOS announced its plans to remove animal-based products from the company’s website. In June, the popular chain revealed that it would be implementing a ban on mohair, cashmere, down, feathers, silk, teeth, shells, and bones, with a full prohibition on these materials going into effect by the end of January 2019.
Canada Became Home to the World’s Largest Coniferous Forest
In May, Canadian authorities signed legislation that turned a part of the country that’s twice the size of Belgium into protected provincial parks and conservation zones. The announcement made Canada home to the world’s largest protected boreal forest, where new laws will allow songbirds, threatened wood bison, and other dwindling species to thrive.
Scientists Fitted a Squirrel with Prosthetic Wheels
When scientists at Istanbul Aydin University heard about Karamel, the squirrel who badly injured her two front legs in an animal trap, they knew that they had to do something to help her regain her mobility. Using their expertise, the professionals were able to build a set of prosthetic wheels for the sweet squirrel, making Karamel the first-ever squirrel to have prosthetics.
A Lake Was Discovered on Mars
Is there life on Mars? It’s one scientists have exploring since we’ve known Mars exists. And in July, researchers became one step closer to answering that question when they found evidence of a body of liquid water on the planet. “This allows liquid water, essential for life,” Dr. Manish Patel from the Open University explained to the BBC.
The Eagles Won Their First Super Bowl
Despite 85 years of gameplay as a franchise under their belt, it wasn’t until 2018 that the Philadelphia Eagles brought home their first Super Bowl win. On February 4, the Eagles defeated the New England Patriots at Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium, beating Tom Brady and his teammates 41 to 33.
Ben Affleck Admitted His Terrible Back Tattoo Was Real
After years of speculation—and some denial on the Oscar-winner’s part—Ben Affleck finally gave fans the early Christmas present they’d been hoping for in 2018: an admission that the enormous, brightly-colored phoenix tattoo on his back was not, in fact, temporary. While Affleck had previously claimed that it was “for a movie” during an interview with Extra reporter Mario Lopez, when the actor was spotted with the tattoo again in March of this year, it was clearly time to admit the jig was up. Affleck did so on Twitter, responding to a New Yorker article in which his physical attributes were described as “Homer Simpsonesque,” including a particularly descriptive mention of the actor’s gut. “@NewYorker I’m doing just fine,” Affleck tweeted in response. “Thick skin bolstered by garish tattoos.”
Ocean’s Eight Was All about Female Empowerment
In 2018, fans of the Ocean’s franchise were finally able to revel in its latest installment, Ocean’s Eight. However, the latest film was slightly different, as it featured an all-female cast chock-full of feminine powerhouses like Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, and Rihanna. Finally, moviegoers around the world were given a chance to see a true female caper movie, complete with empowering messages about womanhood and fight sequences that rival that of any other male-dominated action movie (farewell, Jason Bourne).
An 8-Year-Old Girl Pulled a 1,500-Year-Old Out of a Swedish Lake
While most kids spend their free time playing with toys, 8-year-old Saga Vanecek enjoys slightly more adventurous activities. The youngster made history this year when she discovered a 1,500-year-old sword in a lake near her family’s summer home in Sweden, removing the precious artifact from the body of water before donating it to a local museum.
Banksy Destroyed a $1.4 Million Piece of His Own Art
When Sotheby’s tried to auction off Banksy’s famous “Girl with a Balloon” painting back in October, things didn’t quite go according to plan. After the painting was sold for more than $1.2 million, bidders looked on in shock as the painting began to self-destruct, moving downwards into what appeared to be a paper shredder. Though the artist’s identity (and who set off the paper shredder) is still unknown, one thing is for certain: Banksy was certainly in on the destruction, seeing as he posted a video of the painting being shredded onto his Instagram. Cruel? Maybe. Iconic? Definitely.
Serena Williams Hit the Tennis Court in a Tutu
Following a backlash related to hitting the court in a catsuit—the outfit dubbed inappropriate for gameplay by the French Tennis Federation—Serena Williams opted for a more traditionally-feminine outfit instead. Doing a cheeky 180, Williams chose black-and-silver dresses from Nike with tutus for her subsequent matches, the athletics company tweeted about her change of uniform, “You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take her superpowers.”
Tyler Perry Paid Off $432,635 in Walmart Layaway Items
In an act of charity that inspired other celebrities to channel the spirit of Christmas this holiday season, filmmaker Tyler Perry paid off the layaway accounts of 1,500 Walmart shoppers in Atlanta, Georgia, spending approximately $432,635 in the process. Upon seeing his impact, fellow celebrities Kid Rock and Gayle Benson, owner of New Orleans sports teams the Saints and the Pelicans, each paid off thousands of dollars in layaway charges at their local Walmarts as well. This year, we learned that the art of giving back is not lost.
Ice-T Ate His First Bagel
When Ice-T’s character on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was required to eat a bagel, the actor finally had to admit to the world that he didn’t actually eat the bagel—as in, he had never eaten a bagel in all of his 60 years on this Earth. Not only that, but the man had somehow managed to go his entire life without consuming a cup of coffee as well—needless to say, the world was incredibly dismayed when they discovered that Ice T had been missing out on these simple pleasures his entire life. Eventually, it took a clever marketing ploy from dating app Coffee Meets Bagel to get the rapper and actor to try the quintessential breakfast meal—though he didn’t seem entirely crazy about the experience.
Lindsay Lohan’s Grand Return Was Announced
Believe it or not, there was once a time when Lindsay Lohan made more TV and film appearances than court appearances—but that was nearly a decade ago. Fast forward to July 2018, and it was finally announced that Lohan would be once again returning to television—this time starring in her own reality show called Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club. Throughout the show, viewers will watch as Lohan attempts to redefine herself as a successful entrepreneur (while still retaining her wild side, though, of course). In a series of entertaining scenes, this show follows Lohan as she prepares to establish her own beach club on the Greek island of Mykonos. We can’t wait to see what happens next. And for more from the year that was, check out these 50 Amazing Facts We Learned in 2018.
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