2022 was the year we witnessed the strength of people encompassed by adversity, cheered on those who set higher standards for our highest platforms, and applauded those who pushed past our perceived technological limits. Occasionally, in 2022, there were moments that brought more than a smile to people’s faces. These events represent years of hard work and perseverance coming to fruit, and it is these jewels that truly encompass the value 2022 has brought to the world.
These are the 10 most jaw-dropping, inspiring stories from 2022.
The Ukrainian people embodied courage.
On February 24, 2022, the world stood stunned as Russia invaded Ukraine, starting an enduring period of violence and displacement. The strength of the Ukrainian people, however, proved even greater. Ukrainians joined the military at rapid paces and when that was not an option, defended their homes with their own homemade weapons. For the past year, the country has continued to show us the power of pride and perseverance.
"File:Ketanji Brown Jackson (robe photo).jpg" by H2rty is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed as the first female African American Supreme Court Justice.
Her replacement of Justice Stephen Breyer is part of the increasing diversity of the highest court in the country. Jackson summed up these bright outlooks in her speech saying “In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Iranian protesters continued to bravely stand up.
After the death of 22 year old Mahsa Amini, young people in Iran took to the streets to protest the country’s Guidance Patrol. This group, more well known as the Morality Police, was suspended in December. The response to the protests signals hope for the protestors, who aim not only for the end of the restrictive female dress code, but also for the dismantling of the dictatorial government.
"Day 3 at COP27 (cop27 0164) (52488901578)" by IAEA Imagebank is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Loss and damage funding was approved at COP27.
COP 27, the UN’s annual Climate Change Conference, made significant progress this year with the advent of loss and damage funding. The fund allows countries responsible for the most carbon emissions (often more developed countries) to compensate countries hit hardest by the impacts of climate change (often less developed countries). This step forward allows us to start addressing the inequality at the heart of environmental issues.
"Persian-Girl-midjourney-by-user-master2000" by Master2000 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
Artificial Intelligence has become a phenomenon.
Millions of people explored the abilities of AI in awe when ChatGPT was launched to the public on November 30. The artificial intelligence language model went viral on the internet as people prompted it to write poems, essays, and code. Other AI tools that attracted many in 2022 include Midjourney, the image generation tool that entered open beta on July 12 and Dall-E, which was made available the previous year. The accessibility and versatility of such projects indicates AI’s promising role in our future.
Nuclear fusion made a breakthrough.
Nuclear fusion has been promoted as a possible source of clean energy for decades, but the process has always used more energy than it produces… until now. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced the first laboratory fusion reaction to create more energy than it takes up: a long awaited, important milestone. As technology continues to become more efficient, the idea of this powerful process becoming a sustainable energy alternative comes closer to reality.
"Legacy Image: The James Webb Space Telescope" by James Webb Space Telescope is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
The James Webb space telescope sends stunning images back to Earth.
The partnership project between NASA, ESA (European Space Agency), and CSA (Canadian Space Agency), started in 2004 and launched on December 25, 2021. It became the largest, most complex, most powerful telescope in space and moved space flight forward with innovations like an 18 segment mirror that can unfold after launch, a 5 layer sun shield the size of a tennis court, and an ability to see in the wavelengths of infrared light. The images of the Carina Nebula, the Pillars of Creation, and other galaxies that the James Webb telescope has sent back have entranced millions around the world.
Records were broken left and right in the music industry.
Taylor Swift’s 10th studio album, Midnights, became the most streamed album on Spotify in 24 hours with 184.6 million streams. She also became the artist with the most simultaneous entries into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, with songs from the new album taking over all 10 spots. Meanwhile, Harry Styles’ As it Was spent 15 weeks at the top of the charts, giving it the most weeks at no. 1 of any song by an unaccompanied artist and the most weeks in the top 3. Drake also found success with the most career no. 1 debuts on the chart. His 2 chart-toppers Wait for You and Jimmy Cooks brought his total to 7.
The 2022 Winter Olympics showcase camaraderie and excellence.
The Winter Olympics took place in Beijing this year with many uplifting stories happening along the way. American skater Erin Jackson became the first black woman to win gold in speed skating. Mexican figure skater Donovan Carillo became the first Mexican skater in the free skate after training in a shopping mall to achieve his Olympic dreams. Canadian snowboarder Max Parrot won gold in slopestyle 3 years after being diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. There is no doubt that these competitors inspire beyond athleticism.
Blockbuster success marks the rebound of cinema.
The film industry was hit hard by the pandemic, making the success of films in 2022 even more momentous. The highest grossing film of the year worldwide, Top Gun: Maverick, made more than $1.3 billion and earned its place among some of the highest grossing domestic box offices of all time. Other successful titles, including Jurassic World: Dominion and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever illustrate similar success as people return to in-person theater experiences.
2022 turned out to be a year filled with care, creativity, and courage. Now we need to reach even higher as we set our sights on 2023.