50 Things to Be Thankful About in 2018
Behind the headlines, this year was actually pretty great.
There's no denying that 2018 has been a year of profoundly disturbing events. But look a little closer and you just might find that there are loads of things to be thankful about when it comes to the past year.
With that in mind, here are 50 things to be thankful for in 2018, from medical breakthroughs to amazing ways the world is becoming a healthier place to live. And for more things to feel good about from this past year, check out The 30 Most Heartwarming Random Acts of Kindness from 2018.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry got married!
Even if you're not a particular aficionado of royal family coverage, there was no ignoring the nuptials between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19th. Not only did Meghan and Harry's marriage make Markle the second American to join the royal family, she also became the first mixed-race spouse to become a British royal. And just five months after their wedding, the couple gave the world even more to smile about when Meghan's pregnancy was announced. And for more insight into the world of the British royal family, These Royals Are Reportedly Furious About Harry and Meghan's Baby News.
Child poverty is at an all-time low in America.
While wages in the United States have been historically stagnant for years, there's a bright side: childhood poverty is on the decline.
According to the Children's Defense Fund's Childhood Poverty in America 2017 report, at the end of 2017, childhood poverty in the United States hit an all-time low. Just 17.5 percent of American children were living in poverty at the time of the report's publication in September 2018, down half a percentage point from the previous year.
The first commercial flights to Antarctica launch.
If you've ever wanted to know what life is like in Antarctica, there's never been a better time to find out. While passengers have been able to visit the frigid continent by boat or on smaller passenger planes, 2018 saw the first commercial flights from Argentina to Antarctica, with planes leaving up to twice weekly from Tierra del Fuego.
Moon Express is developing civilian flights to the moon.
You don't have to be an astronaut to make your dreams of heading to the moon come true. While 2016 saw the FAA approve Moon Express' commercial space missions, it wasn't until 2018 that the development of Moon Express' lunar lander facilities at Cape Canaveral began, meaning you could be experiencing your own moon landing before you know it. And for more on the great beyond, here are the 21 Mysteries About Space No One Can Explain.
Breast cancer deaths are declining.
The medical world has made some astounding breakthroughs in recent years, and 2018 is no different. In fact, the American Cancer Society revealed that breast cancer rates had dropped 39 percent since 1989, or 322,600 fewer patients succumbing to the disease.
Honey bee populations are on the rise.
Following worldwide colony collapse that decimated honey bee populations, they're once again on the rise. In fact, according to BeeInformed.org, total annual bee colony losses were down five percent from 2013.
Scientists cloned the first monkeys.
Move over, Dolly the sheep: the world has a new clone to admire. Using the same methods used to clone Dolly, Chinese scientists cloned a pair of monkey twins in 2018. Cuteness aside, this could mean major breakthroughs in the world of medical research, too, human cloning—and the potential for growing healthy human organs and tissue for those on transplant lists—coming closer to fruition by the day. And for some au natural animal abnormalities, check out 37 Animal Oddities That Prove Mother Nature Is Crazy Weird.
Ozone depletion is slowing.
While reducing the global population's carbon emissions and consumption of single-use plastics is still a top priority for environmental agencies around the globe, 2018 has already given the world some good news in terms of the earth's overall health. In fact, according to a 2018 study published in Geophysical Research Letters, the depletion of the Antarctic ozone layer continues to slow. And for more ways to reduce your personal impact, check out these 30 Ways to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly.
The FDA approved the first 3D printed spinal implant.
Nearly 1.5 million spinal surgeries are performed in the United States alone each year. And for those going under the knife, things are looking up: in 2018, the FDA cleared a 3D printed implant to treat multiple spinal injuries.
New cancer vaccine kills tumors in mice.
The flu shot, the polio shot, and now, the cancer vaccine? If you need something to be thankful for this year, make it this: According to the results of a 2018 trial conducted at Stanford University, a new vaccine managed to kill tumors in mice.
Iowa Powerball winner donates $500K to veterans.
While Iowa Powerball winner Lerynne West could have easily kept her $700 million prize all to herself, the single mom decided to give back instead. On November 15th, West announced on the Ellen DeGeneres show that she would be donating $500,000 out of her winnings to the Travis Mills Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping disabled vets. And if you want to win big, know that These Are the Most Common Powerball Winning Numbers
Black Panther wins big at the box office.
In addition to being a critical success and a game-changer in terms of representation in the superhero genre, Black Panther set some seriously impressive records in 2018. The Ryan Coogler–directed movie is now the highest-grossing solo superhero movie, the highest-grossing movie from a black director, has the highest opening weekend for a movie with a predominantly-black cast, and, to date, is the highest-grossing film of 2018.
The first double face transplant is deemed a success.
Face transplants are nothing short of a medical miracle, and in 2018, the world saw a man get his second one. Jerome Hamon, who had his first face transplant in 2010 due to neurofibromatosis type 1, eventually found his body rejecting his new visage. Luckily, in 2018, he got another shot at a new face, and received a second successful transplant, thanks to French doctor Laurent Lantieri, in early spring.
The lesser long-nosed bat was brought back from the point of extinction.
If you're a fan of agave, you're in luck. According to the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, the lesser long-nosed bat, a major pollinator of agave plants, came back from the brink of extinction this year, and the global population is now close to 200,000. And for more creatures brought back from the brink, meet these 15 Animal Species Miraculously Saved From Extinction.
A new treatment may reduce the likelihood of hair loss during chemo.
A cancer diagnosis is devastating enough, but the hair loss that can accompany it only adds insult to injury. The good news? In 2018, the FDA expanded the indications for the Orbis Paxman Hair Loss Prevention System, once only used as a treatment for breast cancer-related hair loss, to include treatment for all solid tumors.
Women in Saudi Arabia earned driving privileges.
After decades of being banned from the road, women in Saudi Arabia got to get behind the wheel in 2018. On June 24, 2018, the first Saudi female drivers hit the road.
A new microgel powder may reduce serious infections.
While infections remain a surprisingly high contributor to the global mortality rate, that's likely to change in the near future. In 2018, researchers at Michigan Technical University developed a new microgel powder that not only helps wounds heal faster, but fights infection, as well.
Jordan Peele wins an Oscar for Get Out.
While 2017 saw Get Out expand the parameters of the horror genre, it was 2018 that saw the film's well-deserved awards start rolling in. Namely, director Jordan Peele won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, becoming the first black screenwriter to take home the coveted prize.
Muslim group raises over $200K for Pittsburgh synagogue victims.
Following the anti-Semitic shooting at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue, which left 11 dead, a local Muslim group decided to step up and help. Using Muslim-founded crowdfunding site LaunchGood, $238,634 was raised for the synagogue, nearly double the campaign's goal.
Producers cast the first female doctor on Doctor Who.
Much to the delight of many of the show's fans, beloved sci-fi hit Dr. Who got its first female Doctor in 2018. Cast in late 2017 and making her first appearance in that year's Christmas episode, actress Jodie Whittaker—best known for her role on Broadchurch—s started her first season of the show in 2018, to rave reviews.
Virtual reality becomes a promising pain-relief alternative.
Pot isn't the only potent pain reliever to be grateful for in 2018. In fact, new research suggests that virtual reality can be an effective means of treating pain that would otherwise be treated with opioids or medical marijuana.
The U.S. cigarette smoking rate is at an all-time low.
One of the biggest things to be grateful for in 2018 is your good health, and fortunately, the whole world got a bit healthier this year. In fact, the U.S. cigarette smoking rate hit a new low in 2018, according to the CDC, with just 14 percent of adults lighting up.
The Incredibles 2 finally hit theaters.
It may have taken 14 years, but fans finally got their wish in 2018, when the sequel to 2004's ever-popular Disney Pixar film The Incredibles hit theaters. In fact, the movie's sequel was met with virtually universal acclaim, with a 94 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The first Somali American legislator was elected in the U.S.
Somali-born Ilhan Omar was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives on November 6, 2018. In addition to being the first Muslim refugee to assume a position in the House, the 36-year-old politician's appointment marks the first time Minnesota has elected a woman of color as a U.S. Rep.
Scientists turn sewage into clean energy batteries.
One surprising thing to be thankful for this year? Sewage. In fact, researchers at Spain's University of Alcalá found that purple phototrophic bacteria can recover close to 100 percent of available carbon from waste products, including sewage, and produce hydrogen in the process. The result? A potential sustainable source of energy that the world will never be in short supply of.
A rainforest vine compound may be a pancreatic cancer cure.
While pancreatic cancer remains one of the disease's deadliest forms, there's good news. In 2018, research published by the American Chemical Society revealed that a compound found in rainforest vines can actually starve pancreatic cancer cells, potentially leading to new methods of treating the disease.
Kendrick Lamar wins a Pulitzer.
2018 gave hip hop fans something to be thankful for. In April, rapper Kendrick Lamar won the Pulitzer Prize for music, becoming the first rapper to do so since the award announced its music category in 1943.
Male birth control found effective in trials.
Those who are eager to remain child-free for the foreseeable future got some things to be thankful about in 2018, namely some pills in a foil-punched packet. A new trial conducted at the University of Washington reveals that a male birth control pill may be closer to the market than consumers might have imagined, with the results of the study deemed "unprecedented" by researchers.
The number of U.S. vegans is on the rise.
Whether you're a fan of vegan food or not, there's no denying that limiting animal products is a boon to the environment—and that's definitely something to be thankful for. Better yet, the number of vegans in the United States hit an all-time high in 2018, with 6 percent of the population identifying as vegan, up from one percent in 2015.
Australia enjoys its first year of same-sex marriage being legal.
In December 2017, same-sex marriage became legal in Australia. And, much to the delight of same-sex couples and their allies throughout the country, 2018 became the first full year in which same-sex couples could enjoy the same marital privileges as their heterosexual counterparts.
Man stops shooter, donates money to victims' families.
James Shaw Jr., who tackled a gunman at a Tennessee Waffle House, preventing further casualties on April 22, 2018, took his heroism one step further. Shaw, a Tennessee State University grad with a degree in electrical engineering, then started a GoFundMe for the shooting's victims, raising $241,731 for the families of those affected.
The female-focused Ocean's 8 was released.
What's better than a heist movie? A new installment of said heist franchise with a fresh cast. Luckily, those wishing for such a reboot got their wish in 2018, when Ocean's 8 was released with an all-female main cast.
U.S.-Russia polar bear population is higher than initially thought.
While reports of dwindling polar bear populations have made the news over the past few years, there was some good news about these furry creatures in 2018. According to researchers at the University of Washington, the U.S.-Russian polar bear population is actually higher than scientists anticipated, now hovering at about 3,000.
Researchers make significant progress in neuroblastoma treatment.
Childhood cancer sufferers and their families have something new to be thankful about this year. According to a press release from the European Cancer Organization, a new trial reveals that the combination of two drugs can now eradicate the deadly cancer in mice.
Beyoncé and Jay Z released a new collaboration.
It's been a few years since Lemonade spilled the tea on Beyoncé's marriage to Jay Z, and it looks like the couple is stronger than ever. Case in point: the powerful pair released the surprise album Everything Is Love together in June, much to the delight of fans.
Kate Middleton and Prince William welcome new baby.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry weren't the only British royals with some news to be thankful about in 2018. On April 23, 2018, Kate Middleton and Prince William welcomed their third child, Prince Louis of Cambridge.
Mountain gorillas no longer critically endangered.
While once nearing the point of extinction, mountain gorillas are coming back from the brink. Thanks to new conservation efforts, mountain gorillas are no longer critically endangered, and have been moved down to just "endangered," according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Recreational marijuana legalized in California.
Don't fancy a glass of wine? Luckily, California residents got a legal alternative for unwinding in 2018. While the state had legalized non-medicinal marijuana for adults two years earlier, 2018 marked the state's first foray into making pot widely available for recreational use.
The first woman wins the Nobel Prize in physics in 55 years.
Some things are well worth the wait—just ask Donna Strickland. The Canadian physicist made headlines in 2018 for being the first woman to win the award in 55 years for her development of optical tweezers—laser tools used to study human biology—alongside Dr. Arthur Ashkin. In fact, Dr. Strickland is only the third woman ever to win the Nobel prize for physics, its first recipient Marie Curie in 1903.
Tesla introduces renewable energy initiative.
In 2018, the world saw Tesla roll out its latest innovation: a foray into new sustainability measures. No longer simply a car company, Tesla announced at its 2018 annual shareholder meeting that it would launch a new sustainable energy initiative, having already reached its first milestone of creating 1 gigawatt-hour energy storage.
Researchers at Harvard discover new clues in SIDS risk.
Safe sleep is something we can all be thankful for, and in 2018, new parents can sleep a little more soundly, thanks to science. This year, researchers at Harvard Medical School gained new insight into Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) via animal trials, linking serotonin-producing neurons to a sudden interruption of breathing that may predispose an infant to sudden death.
Tammy Duckworth becomes the first U.S. senator to give birth during her term.
Working parents have a lot to be thankful for in 2018, including Senator Tammy Duckworth. This year, the Purple Heart recipient became the first sitting senator to give birth while in office and helped usher in a rule change that made it possible for senators to breastfeed their infants during votes on the senate floor.
The Frozen musical hits Broadway.
In addition to the Incredibles sequel, Disney fans got yet another thing to be thankful for in 2018. In 2018, Frozen fans got to experience their favorite animated film live on Broadway for the first time.
The number of electric buses ordered in Europe has more than doubled.
While European carbon emissions have increased over the past year, it looks like that may not be true for long. In fact, the number of orders for electric buses doubled in Europe in 2017, and is on track to double again in 2018, with more than 2,000 of these green vehicles slated to hit the road this year.
Dives down to the Titanic wreck site announced.
Titanic enthusiasts have something new to be thankful for this year. Instead of simply watching Jack Dawson drown over and over again, they can now visit the famed ship themselves. For a cool $130,000, divers can enjoy a weeklong trip on a chartered research ship and a guided tour of the Titanic wreckage.
Scientists create a memory-boosting brain implant.
If you've ever wanted to improve your memory, there's never been a better time to do so. In fact, according to research published in Nature Communications, a new device can boost human memory by 15 percent and may aid in epilepsy treatment, as well. And for more ways to boost your brainpower, check out these 20 Simple Ways to Improve Your Memory.
Drug use among teens is lower than ever.
While stories about the opioid epidemic still dominate the front pages of magazines and newspapers, 2018 gave parents something to be thankful for. According to the NIH, teen use of illicit drugs (with the exception of marijuana) has hit an all-time low.
Restless Legs Syndrome sufferers may have some relief in store
Anyone who can't get a good night's rest thanks to their Restless Legs Syndrome have something new to be thankful for this year. According to research published by The Physiological Society, excitable nerve cells may be to blame for the condition, potentially indicating a new pathway for treatment.
Bruno Mars donates 24,000 Thanksgiving meals.
Hawaii residents won't be going hungry this Thanksgiving, thanks to Bruno Mars. The "24K Magic" singer is honoring his home state this year by donating 24,000 Thanksgiving meals to families in need.
CO2 emissions down throughout the United States.
While global warming remains a major environmental concern, 2018 brought some good news for the earth's future. According to a report from BP, while European carbon emissions are up, they're on the decline in the United States. In fact, our country is currently enjoying the world's largest CO2 decline. And for more amazing news from 2018, check out these 50 Mind-Blowing Things That Have Already Happened This Year.
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