Power Parity (PPP), China's economy expanded from $11.2 trillion in
2011 to $19 trillion in 2016. Meanwhile, the size of the US economy
rose from $15.2 trillion to $18.8 trillion. This has reduced America's
share of world output to 17.7%, its lowest in modern times. China's
share has reached 18% and is continuing to rise.*
2016 is held in France
European Football Championship is hosted by France. This year, the tournament
is expanded in size from 16 to 24 teams, following a plan unanimously
agreed by senior officials of all 53 UEFA member nations. The format
of the final tournament consists of six groups of four teams, followed
by a round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. The top two
from each group will qualify in addition to the four best third-ranked
sides, the same system as was applied in the World Cups from 1986 to
1994. This format generates a total of 51 games, compared with 31 prior
to 2016, played over a period of 29 days.
de Janeiro hosts the Olympic Games
the first South American city to host the event.
Apple Inc. achieves a market capitalisation of one trillion dollars
Since it entered the market in the late 1970s, Apple has continually supplied the consumer electronic industry with innovative and revolutionising products. From the original Macintosh, released in 1984, to the latest generations of handheld devices, Apple has been at the forefront of advancing the technology available to consumers.
Recently, the company's devices had begun to set the curve for new markets. The iPhone, released in 2007, triggered an explosion in touch-screen smartphones that spawned countless models by other companies, each more impressive than the last. In 2010, the iPad began the now-booming tablet market, acting as the middle-ground between smartphone and personal computer. Indeed, by the time competitors introduced their own models, Apple was already releasing its generation two tablet, the iPad 2.
This dominance over innovation in the industry, together with strong loyalty from its customers, greatly raised the value of the company. Despite lagging behind in the PC market, Apple's market cap surpassed that of Dell in 2006, its stock price having jumped from $6 to over $80 since 2003. By 2010, Apple's stock shares were valued at a record-high $300 dollars, with the company itself valued at almost $280 billion. Stock maintained an average growth rate of 59% up to 2011.
Despite the departure of founder and long-time CEO Steve Jobs, who was largely credited with Apple's success, the company continued a period of rapid growth, just at a slower rate.* Affecting this was the worsening global financial crisis. However, the demand for and quality of products pushed the company's value to sustained record high levels. By 2016, Apple reaches a market capitalisation of over $1 trillion,* becoming only the second to do so after the oil giant PetroChina briefly achieved it in 2007.*
Global economic depression has taken hold, finally putting the brakes on Apple's growth somewhat. The corporation remains at the top of the value list for several more quarters, however, and continues to produce innovative new products and technologies for years to come.
Apple Inc. headquarters complex, California. Credit: Coolcaeser
vehicles are becoming more fuel-efficient
enacted by the Obama administration have boosted the fuel efficiency
of light duty vehicles (cars, crossovers, SUVs, vans and pickup trucks)
to an average of 34 miles per gallon (MPG).*
reduce CO2 emissions by almost 1 billion metric tons and conserve 1.8
billion barrels of oil. In addition, the average buyer is saving around
$3,000 over the lifetime of the vehicle - even after the higher initial
purchase costs are taken into account.
gains have come from smaller, more efficient engines with direct injection
and/or turbochargers; more sophisticated automatic and dual-clutch transmissions
(DCTs); hybrid-electric systems; clean diesel engines; tires with lower
rolling resistance; more aerodynamic vehicles and lighter-weight materials.
still lags behind the rest of the world, however, and has lots of catching
up to do. New vehicles in Europe and Japan, for instance, are reaching
50 MPG on average, and the majority now feature "start-stop"
Microchipping of all dogs in England
In April 2016, a new law comes into effect requiring all dogs in England to be tagged with a microchip implant.* This measure has been introduced in order to cut the growing number of strays. As of 2012, there were 118,932 dogs reported lost or stolen, of which 55,898 (about 47%) were reunited with their owner. Around 6,900 (5%) were put to sleep. This cost £57m (US$89m) to the taxpayer and welfare charities each year. Only 7,098 dogs were microchipped in 2012, barely 0.1% of the 6.7 million dogs in England.
These implants are similar in size to a grain of rice. They are coated in a bio-compatible glass, the same material used in human pacemakers, ensuring they are not rejected. The devices are held firmly in place by fusing to the dog's bodily tissue. A simple procedure can be performed without anaesthetic, using a sterile needle to insert the chip between the shoulder blades.
Similar measures had already been introduced in New Zealand and Northern Ireland. Other countries begin to recognise the benefits of microchipping in the years ahead. By the 2040s, this is being extended into humans.*
X-ray view of a microchip implant. Credit: Joelmills/Hundehalter
India's first manned space flight
India becomes only the fourth nation – after Russia, the US and China – to independently launch humans into space. The rocket used is a variant of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark 2, operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This carries a largely autonomous 3-ton capsule, with a two-person crew on board. They remain in orbit around the Earth at 248 miles (400 km) altitude for seven days, before splashing down in the Bay of Bengal. The total cost of the project is about 124 billion rupees ($2.67 billion USD).*
In addition to sending its first man into space, India conducts its second unmanned lunar exploration this year.* Chandrayaan-2 is a probe which includes an orbiter as well as two rovers: one lander/rover built by
Russia, and a second smaller rover built by India. The wheeled rovers
move around the surface, picking up soil and rock samples for on-site
chemical analysis. The data is relayed back to Earth via the Chandrayaan-2
orbiter. The team is headed by Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai, who was behind
the success of the previous mission (Chandrayaan-1).
first hotel in space
Energiya - a Russian space group - launches the world's first
space hotel, in a partnership with Orbital Technologies, a US hi-tech
firm. Capable of housing up to seven people, it offers spectacular views
of the Earth and includes a menu crafted by celebrity chefs. It can
also function as a possible emergency refuge for astronauts from the
InSight touches down on Mars
InSight is a probe launched by NASA to Mars, arriving in September 2016. The name stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport. A stationary lander is placed on the surface of Mars, equipped with a seismometer and heat flow probe that drills 5 metres (16 ft) below ground - deeper than all previous arms, scoops, drills and probes. InSight's primary objective is to conduct an advanced study into the early geological processes that shaped Mars. The rocky inner planets share a common ancestry that began with a process called accretion. As each body increased in size, its interior heated up and evolved to become a terrestrial planet with a core, mantle and crust. Despite this common ancestry, each of the terrestrial planets was later shaped and molded through a poorly understood process called differentiation. InSight's goal is to improve understanding of this process. It will confirm whether Mars' core is solid or liquid, and determine why the crust is not divided into tectonic plates that drift like Earth's.*
The Juno probe arrives at Jupiter
Launched in 2011, this becomes the second probe to orbit the gas giant, the first being Galileo in 1995. It is equipped with a camera, infrared and microwave radiometers, particle detectors, and an ultraviolet spectrometer. The mission objectives are:
Determine precisely how much water is in Jupiter's atmosphere, to help confirm which planet formation theory is correct (or if new theories are needed).
Look deep into Jupiter's atmosphere to gain a better understanding of its composition, cloud motions, temperature and other properties.
Map Jupiter's magnetic and gravity fields - revealing its deep structure, core mass and overall dynamics, helping to further explain the planet's origin.
Explore and study Jupiter's magnetosphere near the poles, especially the auroras – Jupiter's northern and southern lights – providing new insights into how the planet's enormous magnetic field affects its atmosphere.
Juno's mission concludes in October 2017, after a total of 33 orbits.* Like its predecessor, Galileo, it is crashed into the outer atmosphere of the gas giant, where it compresses and then melts as it falls.
The first significant numbers of robots are appearing on farms.* These have been in development for 20 years and are now cheap and sophisticated enough for mainstream use. New scanning and imaging technology has solved the primary problem of allowing robots to handle the varying shape of individual fruits and vegetables. The on-board computers are now able to differentiate between an object and its shadow and between green fruits, their leaves and vines. This is accomplished using an array of cameras, each picking up a different spectrum of light and creating a perfect picture of the obstacles and topography in the robot's surrounding environment.*
Complex algorithms allow robotic workers to "learn" the longer they are on the job, so they become more adept as time goes on. This helps the computer to recognise a fruit that is partially covered by a leaf or similar obstruction, for example. The grasping tools themselves are based on human movements and are programmed to apply the correct pressure.
The advantages of this technology include much greater accuracy in spraying pesticides (cutting its use by 80%), uninterrupted output, and, as the technology improves, greater efficiency and speed. Initially, these robots are present on a small number of farms, often working alongside traditional human workers. However, as the years go by and the technology proliferates, more and more farms begin to adopt robotic workers. By the following decade, entire farms are becoming fully automated.*
The increased output helps to alleviate the food shortages caused by rising global populations. Despite these gains, agricultural robots prove controversial. They exacerbate the ongoing unemployment crisis, with the potential of putting many thousands of workers out of a job. Mechanisation continues its unending progress, however, as another industry begins to be handed over to machines.
Closed-circuit television (CCTV) has improved hugely in recent years with a shift from analogue to digital equipment. The vast majority of cameras now record footage in high definition, with some capable of gigapixel resolution. Although discouraging crime and helping to identify more offenders (made easier with facial recognition software), this mass proliferation of security is raising a number of privacy and civil liberties issues, due to a creeping sense of "Big Brother". For instance, governments are using them to keep tabs on people to stifle protest, free expression and assembly.* This is especially notable in the UK – a country renowned for its surveillance culture – with more CCTV cameras per capita than anywhere else on the planet, and where the average person is filmed over 300 times each day. In 2012, there were 1.85 million CCTV cameras in the UK, 129,000 of which were high definition. By 2016, there are 3.7 million HD cameras, a 29-fold increase.*
OLED displays are in widespread use
fallen greatly in cost, organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) are now available in a wide range of devices. These use less power
than traditional LCDs whilst allowing sharper, thinner, brighter
displays. They also
eliminate the need for back lights. Sunlight that would normally "wash
out" a display has no effect – the screens appear the same even
in broad daylight, or when tilted at an angle.**
Versatile Disc (HVD) supersedes Blu-Ray
These ultra-high density discs are capable of holding 1Tb of
data - equivalent to over 200 DVDs. They work by analysing micro-holograms
in 3D, rather than just markings on the surface. This allows data to
be far more densely packed than conventional optical technology.
of storage per gigabyte is plummeting - from around $1 per gigabyte
in 2006, to less than 10 cents now. This is an example of the trend
of exponential progress (rather than linear) seen in forms of information
is in danger of becoming obsolete, before it has even been properly
established. Solid state flash drives are increasingly being used for
digital transfer, some with even higher capacities, along with read
and write speeds faster than any optical disc. The new SDXC card format
specification has already reached the 2TB mark.
New drug delivery methods for brain-related conditions
The main issue preventing effective treatments of many brain disorders had for years been the blood-brain barrier. This helps to protect the brain from dangerous bacteria, but it also blocks drugs from entering, prohibiting effective medical treatments. In 2011, however, a major breakthrough was made through controlled tests on mice. It was found that the body's own exosomes – tiny vesicles just 30-90 nanometres across, which are naturally used to carry material between cells – could be fused with genetic material and sent directly into the brain. A piece of genetic code, siRNA, was made to bypass the blood-brain barrier. Inside, the genetically modified exosomes succeeded in shutting off a gene, BACE1, which is involved in Alzheimer's disease.
This development opened the door to numerous advances in the treatment of brain-related conditions. It was also determined that the method could be used in other parts of the body, such as muscles, and could be specialised for an individual patient. Clinical trials begin this year, in which the method proves effective in humans. In the 2020s, radical new treatments for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, brain tumours and other serious neurological conditions begin to appear on the market.*
A pill to prevent sunburn
In 2011, British researchers who analysed coral samples from the Great Barrier Reef made a remarkable discovery. Algae living within the coral were found to produce a special compound that was transported to the coral, then modified to protect both the algae and the coral from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. Not only that, but fish feeding on the coral were also found to benefit, so it was clearly passed up the food chain.
After establishing how this compound was created and passed on, it was biosynthetically developed in a laboratory, creating a sunscreen for human use. Following tests conducted on skin samples, this is now available in tablet form and provides sun protection for the whole body.
Further research on this compound is underway, as it has the potential to create sun-tolerant plants that could boost world food supplies. Genetically engineering food crops to use the coral's biochemical pathways could make it possible to grow temperate crops, such as wheat and potatoes, at high yields in the tropics.*
of the i5K project
a five year project to sequence the genomes of 5,000 insect and related
arthropod species.* It aims to identify
the vulnerable regions of insect DNA, which could then be targeted with
pesticides and other treatments. This could reduce the $50 billion spent
globally each year to control the many diseases transmitted by insects.
also aid the search for suitable compounds for use as pesticides: ones
that kill a targeted pest, but leave the beneficial pollinating insects
unharmed. This may help in reversing colony collapse disorder, for example,
which has ravaged bee populations for decades. On current trends, honeybees
had been expected to go extinct by 2035 - potentially resulting in global
famine.* The project could also be useful
in combatting malaria, one of the world's most common infectious diseases
and responsible for 2.2% of all deaths globally.
of genome sequencing have fallen exponentially in recent years - making
it feasible to cheaply sequence huge numbers of animals and plants.*
Strait of Messina Bridge is completed
largest suspension bridge - the Strait of Messina Bridge - is completed
this year, connecting Sicily with mainland Italy for the first time.* Some 3.3 km in length and 60m wide, the bridge is supported by two 382m
pillars, higher than the Empire State Building in New York. There are
two motorway lanes and one emergency lane in each direction catering
for 6,000 vehicles per hour, a two-track railway for up to 200 trains
a day and two independent lanes for service traffic and pedestrians.
China completes the largest environmental cleanup in its history
The rapid growth of China in recent decades led to some truly appalling environmental conditions in the country, particularly the developing urban areas. Since 2006, China had been the world's largest producer of CO2, a result of coal power supplying 70% of the country's energy. Smog became a major problem in cities, with lung disease affecting many millions of their inhabitants. By 2011, 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities were located in China, with Linfen, Shanxi Province the most polluted overall.* Numerous rivers and aquifers were being endangered.*
To rectify these conditions, the Chinese government in 2011 began an ambitious Five Year Plan to stem the flow of pollutants and clean up the damage done.* A tax was applied to heavy polluters, based on the output of hazardous chemicals and sewage. The goal was to fix the situation caused by the previously unregulated industrial growth, which had first attracted the polluters to the country. The resultant revenue primarily went towards restoring damaged environments. Many non-profit groups aided in the cleanup during this time. New regulations were also introduced, putting a cap on energy use. Targets were set to lower carbon emissions significantly. This went along with China's long term goal of green energy dominance.
Though some progress has been made over this five year period, the entrenchment of dirty industry and the explosive growth of the country makes it very difficult to turn the environmental situation around. It will take decades of further work before China has transitioned to a truly green economy.
US presidential election
The 58th US presidential election is held in November 2016. This takes place amidst unprecedented challenges - both domestically and abroad - as the global depression worsens.
Gotthard Base Tunnel is completed
20 years of construction, the first trains are now running through the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland.* With a route length of over 57 km (35 mi) and a total of
152 km (94 mi) of tunnels, shafts and passages, it is the world's longest
directly through the Alps mountain range - at depths of up to 2500m
- it cuts the 3.5-hour travel time from Zürich to Milan by an hour,
while the journey from Zürich to Lugano is reduced to 1 hour 40
min. Passenger trains operate as fast as 250 km/h (155 mph) through
the new tunnels.
Launch of the Titanic II
More than 100 years after the ill-fated voyage of RMS Titanic, an exact replica is built and launched by the Australian billionaire Clive Palmer. The boat sails from China – where it is constructed – to Southampton in England ahead of her maiden passenger journey to New York. Guests include leading U.S. business figures, who are treated to a dinner from the same menu as Titanic passengers on the day it sank.*
3 "If the average 59% annual growth rate of Apple’s stock continues, the company could be worth $1 trillion in as little as three years. That’s the optimistic case. If you use the analysts more conservative 23% price target for 2011 and apply that going into the future, then Apple will hit $1 trillion in six years."
See Can Apple reach $1 trillion in market value? It's possible, USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/techinvestor/2011-04-13-can-apple-hit-trillion-market-value.htm
Accessed 3rd September 2011.
12 "The technology is ready, and now we can start seeing this penetrating into the market," said Yael Edan, an engineer and robotics researcher at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. "I would say there will definitely be robots out there in five years." See Robots on the Farm, Discovery News: http://news.discovery.com/tech/robots-farming-agriculture-110412.html
Accessed 4th September 2011.
17 "...I have been researching this very closely for several
years and have some contacts working for the likes of Samsung in Asia
who develop this. I can assure you that the cost hurdles are mainly related
to research costs and the costs of developing efficient factories and
processes. Billions upon billions of dollars are currently being invested
by LG and Samsung so that they can ramp up production efficiency. The
actual technology should be ready for primetime over the next few years
- starting with some premium ~30" TVs later this year. Commercial
viability, if everything stays on track, should be expected by 2015-16.
Thus LCD technology will likely be phased out over the coming decade,
as I said." -- PCM2 http://forums.overclockers.co.uk/showthread.php?p=18211773#post18211773
Accessed 5th June 2011.
18 "LG is prepared to ramp up quickly to take the lead in the OLED segment that is expected to reach 7.2 million units in 2016, by which time it should be much more affordable."
See LG launches the first next-generation OLED 55" TV, Future Timeline Blog: http://www.futuretimeline.net/blog/2013/01/3.htm
Accessed 3rd January 2013.