50 Years Ago

  1. a microscopic image of Naegleria fowleri

    50 years ago, scientists were on the trail of a brain-eating amoeba

    In 1970, scientists were studying a brain-eating amoeba that had been implicated in a newfound disease. Today, infections by the parasite are still poorly understood.

  2. electric car charging
    Health & Medicine

    50 years ago, scientists were trying to develop a low-emission car

    Electric cars have surged in popularity, but the vehicles still contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

  3. antarctic ice

    50 years ago, scientists clocked the speed of Antarctic ice

    Today’s instruments offer a more precise view, and reveal the effects of climate change.

  4. Protest at Mauna Kea in 2019

    50 years ago, Mauna Kea opened for astronomy. Controversy continues

    Current plans to build a new telescope on the volcano sparked the latest conflict.

  5. a photo of Skylab

    50 years ago, NASA prepared to launch America’s first space station

    In 1970, NASA was building Skylab. The orbiting laboratory led to many scientific firsts but was plagued by technical difficulties.

  6. a photo of livestock cows

    50 years ago, scientists first investigated antibiotic resistance in livestock

    In 1970, scientists began investigating the effects of feeding antibiotics to livestock. 50 years later, we know it can be harmful for humans.

  7. Earth

    50 years ago, scientists were getting a better glimpse inside storms

    In 1970, experts were harnessing technologies that provided a three-dimensional picture of the inside of a storm.

  8. a photo of a papyrus boat

    50 years ago, explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s Atlantic crossing hit a snag

    Explorer Thor Heyerdahl followed an aborted Atlantic voyage with a second trip that indicated ancient Egyptians could have traveled over long distances by sea.

  9. a superconductor being squeezed between two diamonds

    50 years ago, superconductors started feeling the pressure

    Today, high-pressure superconductors are a hot topic. 50 years ago, scientists were just starting to explore the possibilities.

  10. Moses Bayou

    50 years ago, American waterways were getting more protections

    A 1970 bill that became the Clean Water Act helped to double the number of U.S. waterbodies clean enough for swimming and fishing. In January, the U.S. administration changed how waters were defined, effectively removing those protections for half the country’s wetlands.

  11. rulers
    Science & Society

    The U.S. has resisted the metric system for more than 50 years

    Australia adopted the metric system 50 years ago. The United States tried by passing legislation for a voluntary conversion that was largely ignored.

  12. Multimammate rats
    Health & Medicine

    50 years ago, scientists were trying to get a grip on Lassa fever

    In 1970, scientists were on the trail of a deadly new virus. Fifty years later, a vaccine is just now being tested in people.