Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX is known for making history. It was the first private spaceflight company to transport astronauts to the International Space Station and the first to develop a reusable rocket booster. On September 18, 2021, the American aerospace company did it again by completing the world's first-ever all-civilian mission to space.
The western false asphodel — an herb-like plant found in abundance along North America's West Coast — has been known to science since 1879. But it is only recently that researchers from the University of British Columbia discovered the innocent-looking plant's penchant for insects. The finding is particularly exciting given that this is the first new predatory plant to be discovered in 20 years.
The 2021 US Open Women's Singles final between 18-year-old Emma Raducanu and 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez was one of the most anticipated Grand Slam tournaments in recent history. It was the first all-teenage final since the 1999 US Open and the first major final — men or women — since 1968 to feature two unranked players.
The longest war in American history has ended. On August 31, 2021, a US aircraft carrying the remaining US officials in Afghanistan lifted off from Kabul, ending the nation's almost 20-year presence in the country. The chain of events leading to the long, drawn-out war began early on September 11, 2001.
The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season began with a bang for the residents of Louisiana. On August 29, 2021, the Gulf Coast state was battered by Hurricane Ida, a powerful Category 4 storm that officials believe was the strongest to hit the area in 165 years. To make matters worse, Ida arrived on the sixteenth anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina and made landfall twice.
Even those that do not particularly care for math will agree that pi, or “π," is fascinating. The numerical constant — defined as the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter— is recognized by most as 3.14. However, Pi is an irrational number. This means it can't be written as a fraction. Instead, it is infinitely long and never forms a repeating pattern. While individuals attempt to break records by memorizing pi's decimal points, scientists strive to find its most accurate value using new algorithms and powerful computers.
On August 8, 2021, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its first assessment of climate science since 2013. The news was not good. The report stated that this past decade was the hottest in 125,000 years and that the atmospheric carbon levels are the highest in at least 2 million years. Glaciers are melting faster than any time in over 2,000 years, and ocean levels are rising at twice the rate since 2006.
Our seemingly calm Sun can have a nasty temper that comes in the form of powerful explosions. The star's unpredictable outbursts can disrupt satellites in orbit and be dangerous for astronauts. Though the flares are well-documented, researchers have never been able to pinpoint the cause of the erratic behavior. Now, the Sun's incredible multi-staged "tantrum" may help scientists get closer to solving the long-standing mystery.