50 Years Ago

  1. an aerial photo showing a solar farm. There are rows and rows of solar panels grouped into squares as far as the image stretches. The sun is low in the sky.

    50 years ago, the future of solar energy looked bright

    In the 1970s, scientists and engineers were coming around to the idea of “farming” the sun’s energy on a large scale.

  2. a photo of a jojoba shrub branch of with green acorn shaped seeds hanging off of it

    50 years ago, scientists thought a desert shrub might help save endangered whales

    Fifty years ago, scientists sought a sustainable alternative to prized oil from endangered sperm whales.

  3. a photo of a person in a hyperbaric chamber
    Health & Medicine

    50 years ago, oxygen was touted as a potential memory loss treatment

    In 1972, researchers were studying whether hyperbaric chambers could help reverse senility. Today, science is still piecing together clues.

  4. a photo of human sperm

    50 years ago, freezing sperm faced scientific skepticism

    In 1972, scientists debated the long-term viability of frozen sperm. Fifty years later, children have been conceived with sperm frozen for decades.

  5. a photo of the demolioshed Arecibo Observatory
    Planetary Science

    50 years ago, Arecibo got an unprecedented view of Venus’ surface

    Over its 57-year lifetime, Arecibo’s radar system measured the mountains around Venus’ middle, studied the textures of many rocky bodies in outer space and more.

  6. a lady with grey hair examining some marijuana
    Health & Medicine

    50 years ago, researchers thought Americans outgrew marijuana

    In the 1970s, it was thought that adults over age 25 may “outgrow” marijuana. Fifty years later, older adults are in on the action.

  7. Launch of Atlantis space shuttle

    50 years ago, NASA’s space shuttle program got the green light

    For over 30 years, space shuttles helped revolutionize science. Now, NASA is tackling new frontiers with help from commercial spaceflight companies.

  8. mosquito

    50 years ago, scientists were genetically modifying mosquitoes

    In 1971, scientists turned to genetics to control disease-spreading mosquitoes without DDT. Today, there are a variety of pesticide-free methods.

  9. an electron micrograph showing the rabies virus

    50 years ago, a 6-year-old boy became the first known rabies survivor

    In 1971, a doctor thought he’d found a cure for rabies. Fifty years later, we still don’t have one.

  10. an illustration of connectiosn between neurons

    50 years ago, scientists were on the trail of ‘memory molecules’

    In the 1970s, scientists found the first “memory molecule.” Several other candidates have popped up in the decades since.

  11. Anthropology

    50 years ago, X-rays revealed what ancient Egyptians kept under wraps

    In the 1970s, scientists used X-rays to unravel mummy secrets. Now, advances in technology are providing unprecedented views of ancient Egyptians.

  12. A bottle of aspirin
    Health & Medicine

    50 years ago, scientists found a link between aspirin use and pregnancy complications

    Scientists are still learning about the risks and benefits of taking aspirin at each stage of pregnancy.