Way out West look back at some of the best moments, and our favourite blogs, from 2016.
As 2016 comes to a close, most people will be happy to wave it good-bye. But turning away from some of the bigger and more negative stories, there's still plenty to look back fondly on from the last twelve months.
Technology has taken its usual steps forward. On a global scale, NASA’s Juno spacecraft entered Jupiter’s orbit after a five year journey, while more close to home, things like face scanners and bitcoin became more common place.
The bottle flip, the mannequin challenge and the dab became viral sensations; while the success of one from a year earlier, the ice bucket challenge, actually helped scientists discover the gene responsible for ALS, meaning they are closer to an effective treatment. Elsewhere in medicine, there were advancements in Alzheimer’s research, and Harvard health reported that antioxidants in coffee can protect cells against certain types of cancers.
There were upsets in the world of sport. Leicester City took down the big guns to be crowned premier league champions in what was one of the greatest sporting stories of all time; the cubs won the super bowl; and Portugal, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, won Euro 2016. In the same tournament Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland both enjoyed success by reaching the second round - Will Grigg and Shane Long were on fire! - and the two sets of fans even received the medal of the city of Paris for their own performances. Less surprisingly, Lionel Messi continued to provide his usual entertainment. And while there was the usual array of stumbling sports stars attracting bad press, a few showed us a more positive side; Michael Jordan donated two million dollars to try and help bridge connections between police and the community, and Rio Ferdinand donated half a million pounds to a Cash for Kids campaign which will provide Christmas presents to over 12,500 children. Rory McIlroy donated half a million to Mencap NI, as well as making one young lads Christmas on The Late Late Toy Show.
Portugal ran its entire nation on renewable energy for four days straight, and Solar Impulse II became the first aircraft powered entirely by a renewable source to make a full tour of the globe.
The Olympics happened: Team GB made history by coming second in the table, Michael Phelps bowed out as the most successful Olympian of all time, and Andy Murray won Gold – just one part of what was an incredible twelve months for him. In other sport, Conor McGregor became the first UFC double champion.
We celebrated successful people. Tim Peake returned to earth having spent a successful six months at the International Space Station. We honoured the greatest dramatist of all time on the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, and one of the greatest living actors, as Di Caprio won an Oscar, as well as further enhancing his campaign to halt global warming. On that note, Portugal ran its entire nation on renewable energy for four days straight, and Solar Impulse II became the first aircraft powered entirely by a renewable source to make a full tour of the globe.
GCSE and A-Level results came out, and provided cause for celebration for thousands of students for whom 2016 was the beginning of a new world of opportunities. There were new stories from the worlds of Harry Potter and Star Wars, as well as chapters from the DC and Marvel universes. Pokémon Go arrived, apparently giving us a reason to go outside; then Planet Earth II came along and showed us the beauty of the world around us when we really needed it. And there hasn’t just been more nature and animals on TV; volunteers in India planted almost fifty million trees, while the wild tiger population increased for the first time in 100 years, and Giant pandas are no longer endangered.
Craig David made a surprising music comeback, a dog jumped on a trampoline, James Corden brought us carpool karaoke, and it was the internet’s birthday. It was your birthday too, so that's good – and if not, then it's still to come. So is Christmas, so maybe 2016 can still gain some points there. And there’s hopefully plenty to look forward to in 2017 as well. Wherever you are in your studies, starting something new, building up your CV, anticipating opportunities, or still settling in somewhere, there’s hopefully plenty to be excited about. And whatever happens next, 2016 will have helped get you there. So no matter what we may think about 2016 as we say good-bye to it, you can still ensure that the work you've done throughout the past months leaves you in a position where you can eventually look back and think: 2016 – it wasn’t all bad, was it?