Ring in the new year with 4 stories from 2016 that will give you hope for the future

2017 Happy New Year!

A lot of people have bemoaned 2016 for being a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. Negative news smacked us in the face every time we powered up our digital devices or turned on the television and I can understand why so many people are looking forward to 2017. But 2016 wasn’t a total waste of time. A lot of great things happened that could change the course of the human race in the years to come. Here are four of my favorite science stories from 2016 that give me hope for our future.

Scott Kelly returns to Earth: After spending 340 days on the International Space Station, astronaut Scott Kelly returned safely to Earth on March, 2. This brave man sacrificed a year of his life to help us understand how the human body reacts to prolonged periods in space. His time in space will ultimately help us understand what it will take to send humans to other planets, like Mars.

Elon Musk announced his plans to colonize Mars: Speaking of space travel, did you know that it’s been 44 years since the last person walked on the moon? We basically got to the moon and collectively decided that was far enough. Elon Musk wants to change that…soon. If his plans go off without a hitch, we’ll send the first humans to Mars by 2025! Sure, his ambitious plan to have 1 million people living on Mars by 2074 seems a bit far-fetched but his company, SpaceX, has already figured out how to make reusable rockets that can be landed back on Earth. This achievement is one of the requirements for making flights to Mars affordable. If this video doesn’t get you excited for the future of space exploration and the human race, nothing will.

The Ice Bucket Challenge worked: Researchers, funded by donations received through the Ice Bucket Challenge, have found a gene they believe contributes to the development of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). This is an important step in developing therapies to prevent or cure this terrible disease. While we’re still a long way from a cure, if the Ice Bucket Challenge taught us anything, it’s that money you give to charity can work wonders (and also, watching Donald Trump getting ice dumped on his head is very satisfying).

Dinosaurs feathers found in amber: This may not be huge, world-changing news, but I am looking forward to seeing the remastered version of “Jurassic Park” featuring realistically feathered dinosaurs! Come on, Spielberg, get on it!