1. Life expectancy has doubled over the last 150 years.
At least in the US, where people can expect to live to around 80. Averaged over the whole world, life expectancy was 70 for someone born in 2011.
2. If you’d been born in the 1800s, you probably would have died by this point.
But you haven’t! Yay!
3. And it probably would have been of something horrible, like consumption (tuberculosis), or cholera, or whooping cough.
That thankfully are much less widespread these days.
4. A few decades ago, HIV would have been a death sentence. Now, people with HIV can live almost as long as they would have without it.
Providing they catch it early and get access to the right medication, people with HIV can expect to have an almost normal lifespan these days.
5. Widespread vaccination programs have all but wiped out several diseases that used to be common.
6. And scientists are hopeful that we’ll soon have vaccines for other diseases, like malaria.
7. With the extended lifespans given to us by medical science, humans have done some pretty fantastic things.
Like go to the moon, in a spacecraft that has less computing power than a typical phone these days.
8. We’ve also put several robots on Mars.
The latest, Curiosity, landed on Mars over a year ago and has taught us a lot about the planet in that short time. But it’s main mission, to reach Mount Sharp, has barely even begun.
9. And put one in orbit around Saturn and its moons.
Cassini launched in 1997 and has been exploring Saturn and its moons since 2004. It should continue until at least 2017.
10. Giving us amazing photos of the solar system, like this on of a storm on Saturn.
11. And this one of Saturn’s second largest moon, Rhea, in front of the planet and its rings.
12. Last year we became an interstellar species when the intrepid Voyager spacecraft entered interstellar space.
It’s the first manmade object to get there. Godspeed, little spacecraft.
13. Without science, we wouldn’t have seen our home from billions of miles away.
This photograph was taken by Voyager 1 on 14 February 1990, before it turned its camera off and ventured out to interstellar space.
This one was taken by Cassini earlier this year. You really should see the bigger version.
15. We’ve found over a thousand planets outside our solar system just in the last 20 years.
The first was discovered in 1992, and in just over twenty years we’ve found 1043 planets in around 800 star systems.
16. We’re even starting to work out what the conditions are like on these planets. There’s one with sideways glass rain, for starters.
17. But it’s not just the big questions. If it wasn’t for science, we wouldn’t know the best way to pee into a urinal to prevent splashback.
19. Or that red-footed tortoises are not susceptible to contagious yawning.
21. Made things levitate.
It’s called the Meissner effect. Explanation in this video.