50 Years Ago

  1. 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.

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  2. 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.

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  3. a photo of a papyrus boat
    Archaeology

    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.

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  4. a superconductor being squeezed between two diamonds
    Physics

    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.

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  5. Moses Bayou
    Environment

    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.

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  6. 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.

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  7. 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.

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  8. solar eclipse
    Space

    50 years ago, scientists were studying why the sun’s corona is so hot

    In 1970, scientists were hoping to learn why the sun’s corona is so hot during an eclipse. Fifty years later, the corona’s magnetic field may hold some answers.

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  9. Trans-Alaska Pipeline
    Environment

    50 years ago, protests and promises launched the Trans-Alaska Pipeline

    50 years ago, the upcoming Trans-Alaska Pipeline prompted an economic boom amid outrage from environmental and Native American groups.

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  10. smallpox vaccination
    Health & Medicine

    50 years ago, scientists debated the necessity of a smallpox vaccine

    In 1970, scientists debated the necessity of routine smallpox vaccinations as the disease declined. Fifty years later, the debate continues.

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  11. moon
    Space

    The sterile moon may still hold hints of how life began on Earth

    50 years ago, scientists found no signs of life on the moon. Today, lunar mission regulations may be relaxed in light of that fact.

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  12. supernova
    Space

    50 years ago, scientists didn’t know where heavy elements came from

    Five decades ago, scientists suspected ordinary supernovas created heavy elements. Now we know they don’t, but merging neutron stars do.

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