2015 timeline contents

1. Mighty shaking of the earth, heavens, and the spirituality of the church
2. Hosea Prophecy will Increase
3. A world leader will die changing things politically somewhere in the world
4. Russia will fight back the economic sanctions
5. ISIS will grow stronger in Middle East and around the world
6. Pope Francis will shock the world
7. Revival breaking out somewhere
8. Christian persecution will be as bad or worse
9. Illuminati will become bolder
10. Devastating earthquakes
11. Financial Distress among nations, especially in the west
12. Israel will defend it’s borders
13. More deadly diseases and plagues will break out on earth
14. Extreme weather will intenisify
15. Blood Moons / Blood Water / Blood Shed

16. us economic collapse

2015-2019

Global economic recovery remains slow

Despite indications of recovery, the global economy remains in a fragile state. While growth is strongest in developing countries, it is still slower than during the pre-crisis period. A cautious attitude and ongoing aversion to risk mean that business confidence is tepid – especially in the EU, which has borne the brunt of this disruption.* There is continued political and social unrest in the southern European countries of Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain, where debt continues to spiral.*

After reaching a plateau in 2008, global trade is showing improvement now, but is still trending at or below the average for the previous few decades. Unemployment remains high in Europe (12%), which consumes one-third of the world’s traded goods* and where austerity measures have persisted.* Although it is undertaking reforms like the Single Supervisory Mechanism,* Europe’s banking system has yet to be fully repaired.

The US is seeing faster growth than Europe, but remains in a fiscal deadlock over its debt ceiling, with periodic brinkmanship between Democrats and Republicans,* now more polarised than ever before.* Although the annual budget deficit has fallen significantly,* it will soon begin rising again* – due to pressures of an aging population, rising healthcare costs, expansion of federal subsidies for health insurance, and growing interest payments on national debt, the latter still alarmingly high at over 70% of GDP and set to reach 100% by the 2030s.*

China’s annual growth rate, while high compared to most countries, has been slowing in recent years* – due to a combination of local government debt, environmental issues, overcapacity and structural imbalances.* Demographic challenges have emerged from its aging population and declining workforce. The resulting labour shortages are driving up wages, reducing the competitiveness of its exports.* This demographic trend is even more of a problem for neighbouring Japan.*

Emerging OECD members that are faring much better include Chile, Israel, Mexico, South Korea and Turkey.* Overall, the global economy is recovering, but frustratingly slowly compared to previous such crises. Some of the most rapidly growing industries now include agriculture,* alternative energy,* biotechnology,*computer systems design, e-commerce, healthcare, mining* and scientific/technical consulting.*

 

global economic recovery 2015

 

 

Personal genome sequencing enters the mainstream

The use of bioinformatics in healthcare is growing exponentially during this time, thanks in large part to the falling cost of genome sequencing. This is creating a new generation of personalised diagnosis and treatments that can be specifically tailored to an individual’s own DNA.*

After the Human Genome Project was finished in 2003, its potential for public use began to be realised. It had taken nearly 15 years and billions of dollars to identify and map all 3.3 billion base pairs in the human genome. However, the methods used to achieve this goal were improving at a rate even faster than Moore’s Law in computer chips.* From 2008, the cost per genome went into freefall.

Among the early adopters was 23andMe, a company which offered partial genome sequencing to customers. Despite a slowdown of cost reductions in the early 2010s,* along with regulatory hurdles,* this company along with a range of others entering the market had already opened the floodgates. In the second half of the 2010s, average costs for whole genome sequencing would continue to fall* – reaching less than $1000** – while even greater advances were made in the portability* of machines for analysing samples. Thanks to nanopores and other novel technology,* these were now becoming so compact and fast that it was possible to get results from a handheld device in a matter of hours, at low cost.

By the end of this decade, these genome sequencers have a wide range of practical applications. They can be used at crime scenes, for example, to analyse biological evidence without having to return to the laboratory, saving time and money. Foreign aid workers in developing nations can identify viruses and verify water quality. Food inspectors can check for harmful pathogens in restaurants. Wildlife biologists can study genes in the field.

But perhaps the most widespread use of genome sequencing is now among the general public, who can utilise it for a mere fraction of the cost in the previous decade. Just as the Internet seemed to appear out of nowhere during the mid-1990s, personalised genomics is now entering the mainstream. Its popularity stems from the health benefits and medical insights it offers: after the base pairs are sequenced, an individual’s genotype can be cross-referenced with a database of published literature to determine the likelihood of trait expression and disease risk later in life. This allows them to prepare years or even decades in advance and to seek treatment or advice at a much earlier stage.* By 2020, tens of millions of human genomes have been sequenced in countries around the world. At the same time, however, concerns are being raised over privacy of information and the potential for “genetic discrimination”, as well as the psychological impact of test results.

 

genome sequencing timeline

 

 

Five-year survival rates for thyroid cancer are approaching 100%

The thyroid is one of the largest endocrine glands. Found in the neck, it controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins and controls how sensitive the body is to other hormones. It does so by producing thyroid hormones which regulate metabolism and affect the growth and rate of function of many other systems in the body.

Worldwide, an estimated 213,000 people were diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2008. More than a quarter of cases occurred in the US. However, treatments already existed that offered an excellent prognosis. In addition to surgery (which included thyroidectomy, lobectomy and tracheostomy), numerous drugs were being developed that improved the outlook for sufferers still further. In the second half of the 2010s, five-year survival rates are approaching 100% in much of the developed world.**

 

thyroid cancer 5 year survival rate 2015 2020 trends graph

 

 

Virtual reality makes a comeback

Exponential improvements in processing power (doubling every 18 months) are enabling the creation of highly lifelike graphics and 3D environments. At the same time, faster broadband is opening up new frontiers in cyberspace, allowing the development of Web 3.0 – the next generation of Internet. This is being combined with developments in on-person hardware, creating renewed interest in virtual reality.* Having been something of a gimmick in the 1980s, it is now becoming a serious tool for business, leisure, education and training. Much of the content in these 3D environments is user-generated, with online communities for sharing and exchanging virtual objects, buildings, avatars, etc. Among the hardware configurations to emerge is a circular treadmill-like interface, allowing players to move freely and naturally in all directions.*

 

virtual reality 2015 technology timeline future vr

 

 

2015

Lithuania joins the Eurozone

On 1st January 2015, Lithuania officially adopts the euro as its currency, replacing the litas and becoming the 19th Eurozone country. The euro had previously been expected to replace the litas in 2007, but the economic crisis and persistent high inflation – reaching 11% in October 2008, well above the acceptable limit of 4.2% – delayed Lithuania’s adoption. In July 2014, the Council of the European Union agreed that Lithuania met its entry criteria and would be allowed to adopt the euro as its currency.

 

lithuania 2015 euro

 

 

The Eurasian Union is formed

The Eurasian Union (EAU) is a political and economic union consisting of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. It creates a single economic market of 171 million people and a gross domestic product of US$3 trillion. The idea, based on the EU’s integration, was brought to attention in October 2011 by then-Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin, but was first proposed as a concept by the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, during a 1994 speech at a Moscow university.

In November 2011, the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia agreed on a target of establishing the EAU by 2015. The agreement included a roadmap for future integration and established the Eurasian Commission (modelled on the European Commission) and the Eurasian Economic Space, which started work on 1st January 2012. A treaty to enlarge the group to include Armenia was signed in October 2014 and Kyrgyzstan followed in December 2014, with all five members officially establishing the Union in January 2015.

It was speculated that future expansion of the Union might allow membership for other countries with close historical or cultural ties – such as Finland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, China and Mongolia, incorporating them into a common state body with Russian as the common language of communication and economic cooperation. According to Vladimir Putin, the Eurasian Union would build upon the “best values of the Soviet Union”. However, critics expressed some concern at this “re-Sovietization” of Russia and Central Asia. The United States opposed the integration effort on human rights grounds.*

 

eurasian union 2015 map
Credit: Ranko15 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

 

 

The first solar aircraft to circumnavigate the globe

Solar Impulse is a Swiss long-range solar-powered aircraft project, led by Swiss psychiatrist and aeronaut Bertrand Piccard (who co-piloted the first balloon to circle the world non-stop) and Swiss businessman André Borschberg. In 2015, they aim to achieve the first circumnavigation of the Earth by a piloted fixed-wing aircraft using only solar power.

An earlier prototype had performed its first test flight in 2009, and demonstrated 26 hours of continuous flying in 2010. The team completed successful solar-powered flights from Switzerland to Spain and Morocco in 2012, and conducted a multi-stage flight across the USA in 2013.

Building on the experience of this craft, a larger follow-on design (Solar Impulse 2) was planned to make a circumnavigation of the globe. This flight was initially planned for 2014, but following a structural failure of the aircraft’s main spar during static testing, it was rescheduled. The mission takes place over a period of five months from the beginning of March to the end of July 2015, using zero fuel to cover a distance of 35,000 km (22,000 miles).*

Solar Impulse has the wingspan of a Boeing 747, but weighs just 2,300 kg (5,070 lb). It uses 17,000 solar cells to charge lithium batteries in daytime, allowing it to fly at night with virtually unlimited autonomy. Its maximum speed is 143 km/h (88 mph) and it features environmental support systems for cruising at an altitude of 12,000 metres (39,000 ft).

 

 

 

Expo 2015 is held in Milan, Italy

The Universal Exposition is held in Milan this year, the first time the city has hosted the event since 1906. The main theme of the exposition is the future availability of food and water supplies and the state of nutrition and health in the years to come. New technology is on display with the aim of reducing poverty and famine around the world, as well as the spread of infectious diseases. A working prototype of a vertical farm is also presented as an alternative to traditional agricultural methods. The event is a catalyst for talks among concerned parties such as farmers, non-profit organisations, humanitarian workers and environmentalists, initiating new movements for change. More than 100 nations from around the world participate in the Expo, which runs from 1st May until 31st October. By the time it finishes, many millions of people have visited.*

 

milan 2015 expo timeline italy world exposition

 

 

The Large Hadron Collider reaches its maximum operating power

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator. By smashing together sub-atomic particles at close to the speed of light, it aims to recreate the conditions that existed just a fraction of a second after the birth of the universe. In doing so, it is expected to address some of the most fundamental questions in physics.

The LHC lies in a tunnel 27 kilometres (17 mi) in circumference, as much as 175 metres (574 ft) beneath the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland. This synchrotron is designed to collide opposing particle beams of either protons at an energy of 7 tera-electronvolts (7 TeV) per particle, or lead nuclei at 574 TeV per nucleus. The term “hadron” refers to particles composed of quarks.

The machine was built by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) with the intention of testing various predictions of high-energy physics, including the existence of the hypothesised Higgs boson, and of the large family of new particles predicted by supersymmetry. It was built in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 countries, as well as hundreds of universities and laboratories.

In September 2008, the proton beams were successfully circulated in the main ring of the LHC for the first time – but nine days later its operations were halted due to a serious malfunction. In November 2009, they were successfully circulated again, the first recorded proton-proton collisions occurring three days later at the injection energy of 0.45 TeV per beam. After the 2009 winter shutdown, the LHC was restarted and the beam was ramped up to half power, 3.5 TeV per beam (i.e. half its designed energy). In March 2010, the first planned collisions took place between two 3.5 TeV beams – a new world record for the highest-energy particle collisions. The LHC continues to operate at half power until 2015, when it reaches maximum capacity of 7 TeV.*

Initially, the experiment sparked fear among the public that the collisions might produce a doomsday scenario, involving microscopic black holes or hypothetical particles known as strangelets. Two CERN-commissioned safety reviews examined these concerns and concluded that the experiments at the LHC presented no danger and that there was no cause for concern, a conclusion endorsed by the American Physical Society. The LHC would be followed by even bigger particle accelerators in 2028 and 2035.

 

large hadron collider 2015 particle accelerator maximum power

 

 

The world’s first fully sustainable, zero-carbon, zero-waste city

The first phase of Masdar City – a $22 billion eco-project – is completed in 2015.* This huge development is located outside of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Entirely pre-planned and self-contained, it is the world’s first carbon neutral, zero waste and fully sustainable city. A multitude of green technologies are utilised – including the largest solar power plant in the Middle East, rooftop photovoltaics, wind farms, geothermal sources and a hydrogen power plant. The city’s water needs are fulfilled by a solar-powered desalination plant. There are extensive recycling systems too.

Masdar City will initially be home to around 7,000 residents and 15,000 commuters. Its commercial sector is primarily concerned with the manufacture of environmentally-friendly products. Automobiles are banned from the city, residents instead using integrated forms of mass transit and personal rapid transit.* It is connected to the rest of Abu Dhabi through rail and existing roadways. It contains a university, an institute of science and technology and hosts the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Masdar City will undergo major expansion. The final phase of the project will be completed by 2025, covering an area of 6 sq km (2.3 sq mi). By then, it will contain over 50,000 residents and 1,500 businesses.*

 

 

 

The first self-regulating artificial heart

In 2013, French Professor Alain Carpentier engineered the first self-regulating artificial heart, using biomaterials and electronic sensors. The device weighed 900g, was roughly the same size as a real heart and could imitate its functions exactly. In a 10-hour operation, it was successfully implanted within a 75-year-old patient at the Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris.*

Permanent artificial hearts had been around since 1982, with similar inventions that preceded them going back to the 1940s. Unlike previous versions, however, Carpentier’s invention was the first to be completely artificial and self-regulating. Electronic sensors and microprocessors could monitor blood pressure and flow in real time – instantly adjusting the pulse rate – while a “pseudo-skin” made of biosynthetic, microporous materials could prevent blood clots, which had been a major issue in the past. By 2015, after a period of clinical trials, it is available within the European Union, priced between 140,000 and 180,000 euros (about US$190,000 to $250,000).*

 

artificial heart 2013 2015 technology
Credit: CARMAT

 

 

A new generation of hi-tech supercarriers

The first in a new generation of US aircraft carriers is launched this year. The Gerald R. Ford-class replaces the aging Nimitz-class which has been in service since 1975. This new class of ship includes some major improvements over previous generations. These include: increased automation, electromagnetic aircraft launch systems to replace previous steam mechanisms, increased stealth, a new type of nuclear reactor for more efficient power consumption, high tech radar and flight control, as well as the ability to carry the new F-35 Lightning II fighter jet. Ten carriers are commissioned in total, at a cost of $14bn each (including research and development). The 10th and final ship is launched by 2040.*

 

gerald ford class aircraft carriers 2015 us navy

 

 

The United States and South Korea dissolve the Combined Forces Command

The Combined Forces Command has been in place since the end of the Korean War. It acts as a command structure for the multinational military forces supporting South Korea. For more than 50 years, military operations along the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea have been under the command of the USA. This structure is dissolved in 2015, with operations being handed over to South Korea.* From this point onwards, South Korean and American forces will operate as two separate entities during wartime. This event comes at a time of great stress between North and South Korea. North Korea has continued to conduct missile tests, to the continued disapproval of South Korea.

 

2012 timeline of events south korea map
Credit: Ksiom

 

 

The first large-scale solar updraft towers are operational

The first large-scale solar updraft towers are completed in 2015.* Built by EnviroMission – a start-up company that purchased land in Arizona, USA – they stand 800 metres in height, over twice as tall as the Empire State Building. Each generates 200 megawatts of clean, renewable energy – enough to serve 150,000 homes – and equivalent to removing 220,000 polluting cars from the roads.*

The towers work by combining three old and proven technologies: the chimney effect, the greenhouse effect, and the wind turbine. Air is heated by the Sun and contained in a very large greenhouse-like structure around the base; the resulting convection causes air to rise up the chimney. This airflow then drives turbines, producing electricity.

The towers have a number of advantages:

  • Because they work on temperature differential, not absolute temperature, they work in any weather;
  • Because the heat of the day warms the ground up so much, they continue working at night;
  • Since large areas of hot, dry land provide the best results, they can be built on useless and uninhabited land in the middle of the desert;
  • They use no resources such as coal or uranium – just air and sunlight;
  • They emit zero pollution. The only “emission” is warm air from the top of the tower. In fact, because of the greenhouse underneath, they can also be used for growing vegetation;
  • They require virtually no maintenance and will last for almost a century;
  • They can serve as tourist attractions, with money being generated from people wishing to experience their viewing galleries at the top.

This new technology offers hope for the future, coming at a time when the world faces an impending energy crisis. Once proven to be commercially successful, it will be deployed on a wider scale in the 2020s.

 

 

 

Queen Elizabeth II is the longest reigning monarch in British history

On 10th September 2015, Elizabeth II becomes the longest reigning monarch in British history – surpassing the record held by Victoria, her great-great grandmother. Having ascended to the throne on 6th February 1952, Elizabeth II has now reigned for 63 years and 217 days.*

The six decades of her reign have witnessed enormous changes on the world stage – including the dismantling of the British Empire, the civil rights movement, the growing empowerment of women in society, the development of the Space Age, accelerating globalisation, the fall of communism in Europe, the end of the Cold War, the dawn of the information age, and the rise of China, to name but a few.

Now aged 89, she is becoming noticeably frailer and has scaled back her official duties. The next milestone (assuming she lives that long) will be in 2022 – her Platinum Jubilee. Her eldest son Charles will succeed her, becoming King Charles III.

 

queen elizabeth ii reign timeline

 

 

Personal biometric scanners for online banking

In 2015, the United Kingdom introduces Finger Vein Authentication Technology (VeinID) to improve banking security.** These devices are initially provided to corporate clients, but soon made available to regular consumers. Other countries had already used this form of personal biometric scanning in certain banks and cash machines, but the UK is the first to offer it for homes and remote offices globally.

Desktop card readers, phone authentication and PIN codes are no longer needed, as vein pattern recognition is both faster and more reliable. It is practically impossible to spoof or replicate – even more accurate than fingerprint ID – and the finger must be attached to a live human body in order for veins in the finger to be scanned. The process takes just two seconds, using a near-infrared (NIR) LED and monochrome CCD camera sensor to make the red pigment in blood (haemoglobin) absorb NIR light, with veins appearing as dark lines. No public record is kept, as the user’s pattern is stored on their SIM card only.

 

biometric scanners uk banking 2015 technology

 

 

DDR4 memory reaches the home PC market

DDR4 is the fourth generation of double data rate, synchronous dynamic random-access memory (SDRAM) after DDR (2002), DDR2 (2004) and DDR3 (2007).* It features greater speed, memory density and energy efficiency, with devices using 20 nanometre (nm) process technology allowing consumer-grade modules of up to 32 GB.* Though Samsung and others introduced DDR4 memory boards in 2013, processor boards like Intel’s Broadwell did not yet support this standard. High-end servers in data centres were able to take advantage of DDR4 in 2014. However, the home PC market would have to wait until 2015.*

 

DDR DDR2 DDR3 DDR4
Year of release 2002 2004 2007 2013
Speed 266 Mhz 400 Mhz 1066 MHz 2133 MHz
Maximum size 1 GB 2 GB 16 GB 32 GB
Energy required 2.5 volts 1.8 volts 1.5 volts 1.2 volts

 

ddr4 timeline

 

 

Windows 10 is released by Microsoft

Following the much-criticised Windows 8, Microsoft launches a major overhaul of the operating system in 2015. Skipping past version 9.0, this instead becomes Windows 10. It is designed to run on a wide range of platforms – including the “Internet of Things” – with a tailored experience for each. Windows 10 addresses a number of usability issues, refining the “Metro” interface and bringing back the traditional Start Menu. Users can now switch between multiple desktop screens for a tidier workspace. The OS features a more unified code base, for improved compatibility and simpler transfer of data between various devices and services. There is a greater focus on apps. Advanced gesture recognition is also incorporated, now that 3D cameras are becoming more common. It also deals with power management issues. Initially codenamed “Threshold”, it is released in the second half of 2015.**

 

Click to enlarge

windows 10 2015

 

 

The Archival Disc format is launched

This year sees the release of a new optical disc format with up to 300 GB capacity, jointly developed by Sony and Panasonic. For comparison, dual-layer Blu-rays can store up to 50 GB. Known as Archival Disc,* it is initially aimed at industries like digital cinema (for storage of 4K/2160p video), broadcasters and cloud centres handling big data. The discs can withstand changes in temperature and humidity, in addition to dust and water, ensuring readability for at least 50 years. Future versions with capacities of 500 GB and 1 TB are planned.

Even denser storage mediums will eventually be possible using molecular, holographic systems to read/write data in three dimensions. A technology known as Holographic Versatile Disc (HVD) had been demonstrated in the prior decade, with standards published in 2007. A number of release dates were announced, but these all passed.* This format will later resurface, however,* as storage requirements continue to grow exponentially.

 

300gb optical discs

 

 

The Carteret Islands are abandoned

Due to rising sea levels, the inhabitants of the Carteret Islands in Papua New Guinea are being forced to abandon their homelands.* These people are among the first climate refugees. Crops, trees and wells have been contaminated by seawater, while buildings on the islands have been destroyed. Attempts to build sea wall defences were unsuccessful – these were simply washed away. The melting of polar ice sheets and glaciers, together with thermal expansion, could raise the level of Earth’s oceans nearly 5 feet by 2100 – potentially displacing hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

 

cataret islands 2015 flooding future
Credit: EVS-Islands

 

 

Dawn arrives at Ceres

Dawn was a robotic spacecraft sent by NASA on a mission to the asteroid belt.* It reached Vesta in 2011, before rendezvousing with the dwarf planet, Ceres, in March 2015. Ceres and Vesta are the two most massive members of the asteroid belt: 950 and 530 km in diameter, respectively. Dawn was the first probe to study and photograph them at close range. Both bodies formed very early in the history of the Solar System, thereby retaining a record of events and processes from the time of the formation of the terrestrial planets.

Of particular interest on Ceres were two distinct bright spots (high-albedo features) inside a crater,* which led to speculation about a possible cryovolcanic origin or outgassing. NASA later said the spots were consistent with highly reflective materials containing ice or salts, but that cryovolcanism was unlikely. Higher resolution images also confirmed that, instead of one or two spots, there were actually several. In addition to being the first probe to explore a dwarf planet, Dawnwas also the first to enter into orbit around a celestial body, study it, and then re-embark under powered flight to a second target. (previous multi-target missions, such as the Voyager program, involved rapid planetary flybys).

 

ceres 2015 timeline future

 

 

New Horizons arrives at Pluto

In July 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft performed a close flyby of Pluto, becoming the first mission in history to visit the distant world. This probe – launched in January 2006 – had travelled 3 billion km through space. At its closest approach, it flew 12,600 km (7,800 mi) above the surface, with a relative velocity of 13.8 km/s (49,600 km/h; 30,800 mph).

The initial photos revealed a surprisingly young terrain, evidenced by the lack of impact craters and suggesting that volcanism or some other geological process reshaped the landscape within the last 100 million years. The onboard cameras showed icy mountains reaching up to 11,000ft (3,300m) high, comparable to North America’s Rocky Mountains. A large, light-coloured region measuring 1,590 km (990 mi) across was nicknamed “the heart” and then formally named Tombaugh Regio, in honour of astronomer Clyde Tombaugh who discovered Pluto in 1930. New measurements also showed that Pluto was slightly larger than previously thought, with a diameter of 2,370 km (1,472 mi), compared to earlier estimates of 2,306 km (1,432 mi).

Because of the vast distance between Pluto and Earth (radio communications took four and a half hours, even at the speed of light), it was only possible to return a faint signal at 1 or 2 kilobytes per second. It would therefore take over a year to transmit all of the images and data. New Horizons would continue to explore the Pluto system for five months, including its five moons, before entering the Kuiper belt* and eventually leaving the Solar System, heading in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.*

 

pluto new horizons 2015 timeline

 

 

Electric car ownership reaches 1 million worldwide

In 2010, there were about 25,000 electric cars on the world’s roads. This number grew exponentially during the next five years,* reaching over a million by the end of 2015. Pure electric car sales were led by Japan with a 28% market share of global sales, followed by the United States with a 26% share, China at 16%, France with 11% and Norway with 7%.* On a per capita basis, the leaders by far were Norway (6.1%) and the Netherlands (5.55%) with Iceland (0.94%) considerably behind in third place.* The biggest electric car companies were Nissan, GM/Opel, Toyota, Tesla and Ford.

Despite growing rapidly, electric cars still only accounted for a tiny percentage (0.1%) of the billion or so total cars in the world. The main factors limiting their uptake were the high cost (even after government incentives), range anxiety, charging times and lack of public recharging infrastructure. A number of notable innovations were underway, however, that would allow these vehicles to continue their upward trend.

Arguably the greatest advance was an ongoing fall in the price of batteries; from an average of $900/kWh in 2010, to under $600/kWh in 2015 and forecast to reach $300/kWh by 2020. Battery production would see a dramatic increase with Tesla’s “Gigafactories” beginning in 2017.* Tesla was also constructing a “supercharger network”, offering high-speed charges for free. By the end of 2015, around 98 percent of the US population would lie within range of a station. Networks were being established in Europe and Asia too.

Battery swapping was another method being developed, whereby a depleted battery is exchanged for a fully charged one in five minutes, saving the delay of waiting for the battery to charge. The first modern commercial deployment of this technology* ended in bankruptcy for the company involved* – but others would continue to develop and standardise the technology.

Other opportunity areas for cutting costs included vehicle lightweighting to extend range, electric-drive systems fully integrating motors and electronics, employing wide bandgap semiconductors, nanotechnology materials and non-rare earth motors. By the 2020s, wireless electricity is becoming a fairly common feature of urban centres and this further enhances the appeal of electric cars.*

With increasing concerns over energy and the environment – alongside breakthroughs in technology and cost – these vehicles have a bright future in the years and decades ahead.*

 

electric cars trend 2015

 

 

Trucks with emergency braking systems are mandatory in Europe

In November 2015, an EU law comes into effect which mandates that all new trucks must be fitted with emergency braking and collision warning systems.* This has been introduced in an effort to lower the number of rear-end collisions, which account for a significant proportion of road accidents.

A radar and camera, working together to identify and monitor vehicles in front, can prevent a collision with a moving target at relative speeds of up to 44 mph (70 km/h). When the system detects a vehicle that the truck will hit at its current speed, the warning system activates a constant red light in the windscreen in order to attract the driver’s attention.

If the truck fails to detect any reaction from the driver, such as steering or braking, the light begins to flash red accompanied by a beeping sound. If there is still no reaction, the system applies the brakes gently. When all this fails too, an emergency braking system is activated, bringing the truck to a complete stop. In addition, to alert other drivers to the situation, the brake lights on the rear of the truck will change from fixed to flashing.

By the end of this decade, the system is being extended to cars, too.* As more and more technology appears both in vehicles and road infrastructure, the number of accident fatalities continues to trend downwards,* reaching almost zero in the latter half of the century, with human drivers being entirely replaced by AI.

 

 

 

The deadline for the Millennium Development Goals

In 2000, the largest gathering of world leaders in history took place, as 193 UN member states met in New York to discuss the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These were eight international objectives with ambitious targets for developing countries, most of them to be achieved by the end of December 2015.*

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
– By 2015, reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day.
– By 2015, reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
– By 2015, ensure a full course of primary schooling for boys and girls alike.

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
– By 2005, eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education; and at all levels of education by 2015.

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality rates
– By 2015, reduce by two-thirds the number of children dying under age five.

Goal 5: Improve maternal health
– By 2015, reduce by three quarters the number of women dying from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
– By 2015, halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.
– By 2015, halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
– Reverse the loss of environmental resources.
– By 2015, halve the proportion of people lacking access to safe drinking water.
– By 2020, achieve significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.

Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development
– Address the special needs of the least developed countries, landlocked nations and small island developing states.
– Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures, in order to make debt sustainable in the long term.
– In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications technologies.

 

un flag future timeline 2015

 

To accelerate progress towards the MDGs, the G-8 Finance Ministers met in London in June 2005 and reached an agreement to provide enough funds to the World Bank, the IMF and the African Development Bank to write off $55bn of debt owed by the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC). This would allow these impoverished nations to re-channel the money saved from the cancelled debt to social programs for improving health and education and for alleviating poverty.

Achieving the MDGs would not necessarily depend on economic growth alone and expensive solutions. In the case of MDG 4, some developing countries like Bangladesh showed that it was possible to reduce child mortality with only modest growth, via inexpensive but effective interventions such as measles immunisation. A number of important and innovative new technologies were also emerging – such as the $100 laptop project,* the LifeSaver bottle* and the genetic engineering of mosquitoes.*

 

2015 laptop technology future timeline millenium development goals africa developing world
The $100 laptop project. Credit: cellanr

 

By 2010, some countries had achieved many goals, while others were not on track to realise any. The countries with major success stories included China (whose citizens in poverty fell from 452m to 278m), India, Brazil, Thailand, Vietnam, Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Ethiopia.

However, some regions in Sub-Saharan Africa failed to make any significant changes in improving their quality of life. The prevalence of hunger in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for example – Africa’s 2nd largest country – more than doubled, while Zimbabwe saw a nearly 50% increase in poverty and Kenya’s child mortality rate increased from 105 to 128 per 1000.

Progress towards reaching the goals was therefore mixed. There were setbacks and disappointments. But overall, the reduction in poverty and increased access to health, education, technology and other essential services was without precedent in many countries’ histories. Of particular note was the number of deaths due to AIDS, which saw a dramatic levelling off and decline.* A new set of goals is established for 2016-2030.

 

 

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2014 timeline contents

2. Confiscation of pension fund the elite will do a Cyprus like event in the us  the Fed pension fund will decrease by 30 precent by early next year problem

3. Global currency reset thus cause a Revaluation of the of currency  This will happen because the us will no longer be the reserve currency  and the us will not like that so re set their currency to stay close to the us currency as possible

4. there will be a new one back by precious currency china take front stage and The elite are putting their money in to it

5. Gas’s price will increase

6. Smart meter will be use to dum u down further

7. There will be increase meorite actives on the earth and space

8. Nasty event due to peace process

9. Winter Olympic terror and fear

10. Violent storm on the earth

11. Increase in dead bird fish and large animals

12. Idols worship will increase

13. God will reveal holy gost power with miracle

14. Israel will be betray

15. Mark of the beast tech will advance

16. Cristian bloodshed will rise

17. Raging water kill many

18. Major earthquake increase around the world

19. Major Middle East fighting and peace

20. Blood moon will cause turmoil

2014-2060

At some point during this period, the USA is struck by the most devastating earthquake in its history

The Cascadia Subduction Zone is a 600 mile-long converging plate boundary stretching from northern California to southern British Columbia. The fault causes a major earthquake about once every 300 years. Compared to other fault lines, this is an unusually long return time – resulting in greater stress build-up and stronger subsequent earthquakes. The last major event (a so-called megathrust quake) took place in 1700 and was estimated to have had a magnitude of at least 9.0.

Since then, the movement of the two plates has steadily built up pressure. In the first half of the 21st century, the fault exceeds the vast majority of previous time intervals in recorded history.* During this time, the plates finally slip, resulting in the single most devastating earthquake in United States history.*** It is centred on the state of Oregon, with a duration of several minutes, inflicting deadly damage to major population centres like Portland, Seattle, Olympia and even Vancouver and Victoria. Of course, many structures have been retrofitted and are able to withstand the earthquake, along with the majority of newer buildings. However, years of economic trouble, as well as a general inexperience of large earthquakes, have left many structures vulnerable.

Bridges and highways collapse, while the ground in the Seattle bay area liquefies, dragging buildings underwater. Broken gas mains and power lines spark many fires. The quake generates massive tsunamis,* which inundate coastal communities from California to Alaska. These giant waves are sent racing across the Pacific, causing damage as far away as Hawaii and Japan. Millions are left without power, while emergency responders struggle to adapt to the scale of the disaster. The death toll quickly reaches into the thousands, while the financial cost exceeds $100 billion. Along with the similarly devastating southern California earthquake, this disaster pushes much of the American west coast toward financial ruin.

 

cascadia future earthquake

 

2014-2037

At some point during this period, a major earthquake hits California

Experts had been warning for years that it wasn’t a matter of “if” – but “when” a major earthquake would strike the Los Angeles basin.* This particular quake is of sufficient magnitude to cause tens of billions of dollars’ worth of economic damage, with much loss of human life. Thousands of buildings are destroyed and there is widespread damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

 

prediction california earthquake 2010 2012 2037

 

2014

Latvia joins the eurozone

Latvia officially adopted the euro currency on 1st January 2014, becoming the 18th eurozone country. This was despite a majority (52%) of its people opposing membership, with only 45% in support. Two years previously, many had wondered if the euro would survive. During 2013, however, the currency actually rose 4.5 percent against the dollar, finishing the year at 1.38 to the dollar. An assessment published in June 2013 asserted that Latvia had met all the convergence criteria necessary for euro adoption, which was given final approval by the Economic and Financial Affairs Council the following month.*

 

latvia euro 2014 timeline

 

 

The first gay marriages are held in England and Wales

Civil partnerships had already been permitted in the UK since 2005, following the Civil Partnership Act. This gave rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples that were identical to civil marriage between opposite-sex couples. They were entitled to the same property rights, the same exemption on inheritance tax, the same social security and pension benefits, full life insurance recognition, the ability to get parental responsibility for a partner’s children, as well as next of kin rights in hospitals.

This angered some Christian groups concerned that the sanctity of marriage was being threatened. It was criticised by gay rights activists, however, for not going far enough – since the Act stopped short of awarding full marriage status, which they still viewed as a form of discrimination.

The gay rights movement continued to gain momentum. A public consultation was conducted in 2012, aimed at further reform. This was supported by conservative Prime Minister David Cameron as part of a modernising drive included in his party’s election manifesto. It was proposed that full marriage rights be granted to gay couples in England and Wales by 2015.* In the end, the agreed date was 29th March 2014,* with Scotland following by early 2015.* Ireland would also follow during the first half of 2015.* However, its neighbour, Northern Ireland, would not.* Including these new additions, over 20 countries around the world recognise gay marriage or have it legalised in some jurisdictions.*

 

gay marriage uk timeline

 

 

Google Glass is launched to the public

Google Glass is an augmented reality head-mounted display, allowing hands-free access to the web.* The product resembles normal eyeglasses where the lens is replaced by a small electronic screen. It provides interaction via natural language voice commands, as well as eye-tracking technology.* A miniature gyroscope can tell the user’s position and orientation at all times. On the side frame is audio output, and a touch control pad, while on top is a button for recording photos and videos with a built-in camera. It was available to developers in 2013 and for the general public in May 2014.* The design allows for integration of the display into people’s day-to-day eyewear. It is light and weighs less than most sunglasses. A prototype unveiled in 2012 received criticism over the potential for Google to insert advertising (its main source of revenue) into the user’s field of vision. However, the company denied it would use adverts.

 

google glass 2014

 

 

Brazil hosts the FIFA World Cup

The 2014 FIFA World Cup – held from 12th June-13th July 2014 – was the 20th since the inaugural tournament in 1930, and the second time that Brazil had hosted the competition. It became the first World Cup to feature goal-line technology.* The ball now had embedded magnetic strips, which sent a signal to the referee if they crossed a sensor in the goal mouth. This was used in combination with a high-speed camera system which could triangulate the ball’s exact location. Germany won the tournament and took its fourth title (its first since the reunification of West and East Germany in 1990), defeating Argentina 1–0 in the final.

 

brazil 2014 world cup

 

 

The 100th anniversary of World War I

28th July 2014 marks exactly 100 years to the day since the outbreak of World War I. No living veterans from that conflict now remain, the last survivor having passed away two years earlier in 2012. Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, experiences a surge in tourism during this time. This city was the location of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination on 28th June 1914, an event that triggered the war a month later.*

 

world war 1 100th anniversary 2014
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, whose assassination led to WWI.

 

 

14 nanometre chips are released

The 14 nanometre process is used for the next generation of computer chips following the 22 nanometre size. Intel had originally planned for these to be released in late 2013, but due to production problems they were delayed until September 2014.* Transistors are now reaching extremely small sizes, prompting fears that Moore’s Law will come to an end. However, this trend in computing power will continue for some time to come, thanks to a new generation of materials such as graphene.

 

transistor size timeline 2017 2020 technology trend

 

 

Scotland votes “no” to independence

Prior to the UK general election of 1997, popular arguments against a Scottish Parliament were that it would create a “slippery slope” to independence, giving the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) a route to power. John Major, Conservative Prime Minister until 1997, famously claimed it would end “1,000 years of British history” (although the Acts of Union uniting the countries were still less than 300 years old). The Labour Party met these criticisms by claiming that devolution would fatally undermine the SNP, and remedy the long-felt desire of Scots for a measure of self-government.

Following the election of Tony Blair and Labour in 1997, a referendum was held in which the Scottish people voted in favour of a Scottish Parliament. This was established by the Scotland Act 1998, which set out its powers as a devolved legislature. The first meeting of the new Parliament took place on 12th May 1999.

In the 2007 parliamentary election the SNP emerged as the largest party but could only form a minority government. Its election manifesto had pledged to hold a referendum on independence in 2010. The draft of a referendum bill was launched to the public, detailing the options and proposals for Scotland’s future. Due to opposition from the other main parties, however, the bill was eventually withdrawn after failing to secure enough support.

During the 2011 parliamentary election, the SNP repeated its earlier manifesto pledge. This time, the party won an absolute majority, gaining a mandate to hold an independence referendum. In 2012, the UK government offered to legislate to provide the Scottish Parliament with the specific powers to hold a referendum, providing it was “fair, legal and decisive”. This would set terms of reference for the referendum, such as the question(s) asked, the electorate used and the organising body. The Scottish Government then announced that they intended to hold the referendum in autumn 2014. Negotiations continued between the Scottish and UK Governments until October 2012, when an agreement was reached.

Media reports speculated that autumn 2014 was chosen due to the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn – one of the decisive Scottish victories in the wars of independence. However, this was denied by First Minister Alex Salmond.

 

2014 scottish independence referendum

 

Salmond had been hoping to fund and build a campaign for a second question on greater devolution, but his efforts ended in failure. The referendum would instead ask a single “yes or no” question on independence.

The main arguments from those in favour of independence were political and economic freedom, allowing Scotland to have full control over its taxes, laws and natural resources. It was thought that being independent from England, Wales and Northern Ireland would give the country a greater presence on the world stage. Scotland could guide its own destiny, shaping its unique values, needs and aspirations while remaining friends with the rest of the UK.

On the other side of the debate, those who favoured maintaining the status quo pointed to the centuries-long economic and political success of the existing union – arguably one of the most stable and prosperous in the world. An independent Scotland would mean greater financial risks and a loss of security, diminishing the Union as a whole, at a time of global uncertainty.

A third viewpoint – known as Devo Plus – advocated for Scotland to have responsibility in raising the taxes it spent while keeping defence, pensions and foreign affairs at UK level.

Polls conducted prior to the referendum consistently favoured a continuation of the Union.*** In 2014, the majority of Scots voted “no” to independence. Scotland would retain its status as part of the United Kingdom, a position it had held since 1707.*

 

2014 scottish independence referendum

 

 

The MAVEN probe arrives at Mars

In September 2014,* the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) probe arrived at Mars to study its atmosphere and climate history, with four primary objectives.*

1. To determine the role that loss of volatiles from the Mars atmosphere to space has played through time.
2. To determine the current state of the upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and interactions with the solar wind.
3. To determine current rates of escape of neutral gases and ions to space and the processes controlling them.
4. To determine the ratios of stable isotopes in the Martian atmosphere.

 

maven mars probe 2014 technology timeline

 

 

India’s first Mars mission

Joining MAVEN just two days after that probe’s arrival was another orbiter – the first Indian mission to Mars.* Launched in November 2013, the probe entered a highly elliptical orbit of 261 x 48,000 mi (421 x 77,000 km) around Mars on 24th September 2014.* Its 25kg payload included a colour camera, infrared and thermal analysers, a radiation spectrometer, methane sensor, and a Plasma and Current Experiment. Controversy surrounded the mission, however, in light of foreign aid to alleviate the country’s ongoing poverty and social problems.*

 

india mars probe 2014 technology timeline

 

 

The global average Internet connection is broadband

Consumer use of the Internet first became popular through dial-up access in the 1990s.* During the first decade of the 21st century,* many people in developed nations began using faster broadband technologies. In September 2014, a significant landmark was reached as the global average connection speed reportedly hit 4.6 Mbit/s – exceeding the minimum 4 Mbit/s threshold to meet the broadband criteria.*

South Korea had the fastest speed of any country (24.6 Mbit/s), with Hong Kong in second place (15.7 Mbit/s), followed by Switzerland and Japan in joint fourth position (14.9 Mbit/s). The average speed in the United States was 11.4 Mbit/s, 14th in the world. Four of the top 10 countries/regions experienced year-on-year increases of more than 50% in average connection speeds, led by South Korea’s 84% annual rise. Yearly increases were seen in 136 countries ranging from 1.2% in the United Arab Emirates (4.6 Mbps) to 197% in Uruguay (5.6 Mbps).

Video streaming had placed ever greater demands on bandwidth in recent years, especially now that 4K resolution was emerging. For the United States it became a significant political issue in 2014, as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considered sweeping changes to net neutrality rules and the possibility of a two-tier speed system. Nevertheless, broadband would continue to advance rapidly in the future, reaching terabits per second (Tbps) in many countries by the early 2030s.

 

broadband future timeline connection speed

 

 

A comet passes extremely close to Mars

C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) is an Oort cloud comet discovered in January 2013 by the Siding Spring Observatory. Subsequent analysis by NASA showed that it probably took millions of years to come from the Oort cloud. In October 2014, it passed within 87,000 miles (140,000 km) of Mars, equivalent to about one-third of the distance between Earth and our moon. This gave an unprecedented opportunity for the probes in orbit around the planet to study a comet and its effects at close range. None of the spacecraft were damaged by the close approach.*

 

2014 mars comet

 

 

Increased automation in retail environments

Checkout operators of retail chains are increasingly being replaced with automated systems, in order to save costs and improve efficiency. The customer simply scans the items themselves, and is prompted via on-screen instructions and audio to insert their method of payment. In 2009, around 100,000 self-service checkouts were installed worldwide. By 2014, this number has more than quadrupled.*

 

self service checkout automation future technology

 

 

The IPCC releases its Fifth Assessment Report

After three Working Group (WG) Reports in September 2013, March 2014 and April 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases the final part of its Fifth Assessment Report – known as the Synthesis Report – in November 2014. This further discusses the possible future impacts of climate change, paving the way for a global, legally binding treaty in late 2015.**

The first two assessments were released in 1990 and 1995, respectively. Both highlighted the potential rise in global temperature and the long term effects of greenhouse gases. The second report was particularly strong in clarifying that humans were affecting the climate.

The third report, released in 2001, provided even greater certainty on this and future projected temperatures. Every model presented in the report showed global temperatures and sea levels rising significantly by the end of the 21st century.

The fourth assessment report was released in 2007. This was by far the most alarming to date. New data, along with state-of-the-art computer modelling, showed a global temperature increase as high as 6.4°C (11.5°F) by the end of the 21st century on a “business as usual” scenario.

Even these dire predictions proved to be an underestimate, however, due to an incomplete scientific understanding. They failed to include the amplifying effects of certain feedback mechanisms – such as methane, released from melting permafrost – and dynamic shifts in glacier melt. Another factor being overlooked was the sudden and rapid emergence of China and India. These nations, with their enormous populations, were now becoming industrialised at a phenomenal rate, creating a huge increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Since 1990, each report from the IPCC has been more certain and more grim. The fifth assessment report continues this trend. The next generation of Earth System Models has produced petabytes of new climate data, making available more information for this document than in earlier reports. The fifth assessment expands on the predictions of the 2007 report – narrowing the range of possible temperature and sea level rises. More is known about how natural processes react to climate change, helping to build a comprehensive view of the future climate. The overall conclusion of the Fifth Assessment Report is that humanity is on a path to self-destruction and is rapidly running out of time.** Despite these warnings, and a broad scientific consensus, much of the public remains sceptical about global warming.*

 

global warming timeline future climate change ipcc fifth assessment report 2013 2014 2015

 

 

The new World Trade Center is completed

After the terrorist attacks of 2001, then-President George Bush vowed that the World Trade Center complex would be fully rebuilt and the skyline made whole again. A competition was held between several architecture firms to design an iconic new landmark. By 2010, however, only a single new building – 7 World Trade Center – had been completed, due to acrimonious disputes over money, security and the design of the other buildings. The economic downturn had also slowed the project’s progress considerably.

In 2011, construction picked up, with all of the new buildings now underway.* This new complex would be comprised of six towers, designed by five different architects. There would also be a memorial in the form of two square fountains in place of the previous Twin Towers’ foundations. These would be located in a park at the centre of the development, along with a museum and visitor center.

The tallest of the new skyscrapers is One World Trade Center, previously called the Freedom Tower. Designed by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (the same architecture firm behind the Burj Khalifa in Dubai) it stands a symbolic 1,776 ft from base to pinnacle, recalling the year in which the Declaration of Independence was signed. The tower is built with several key safety features including a blast-resistant steel and concrete internal structure, polymer-reinforced glass, chemical and biological filters, widened stairs and a more thorough sprinkler system. It also sets an example for environmentally-friendly design: the roof collects rainwater, to be used for its cooling system and, like all buildings on the site, it is heated by steam, reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The main tower – One World Trade Center – is completed in November 2014, becoming the tallest building in the US and the third tallest in the world, before being overtaken by the Shanghai Tower.* The entire complex including Three World Trade Center is finished later in the decade.*

 

world trade center 2014 timeline
Credit: NeydtStock

 

 

The European Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) is operational

Introduced in November 2014, the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) is a new system which gives the European Central Bank (ECB) the power to intervene in any bank within the eurozone. Its aim is to reduce financial risk and prevent cross-border contagion. A new permanent rescue fund – the European Stability Mechanism – allows failing banks to be recapitalised directly without adding to a country’s sovereign debt. The biggest contributors are Germany (27%), France (20%) and Italy (18%).

The SSM receives a mixed reaction. On the one hand, there are those who welcome the increased regulation, something which was largely absent for years and played a major role in the crisis of 2008. On the other hand, fears are raised over the centralised supervision of so many banks, viewed by many as another step towards a federal European superstate.

This banking union is of particular concern to the UK, which until now has dominated financial services with over half of all investment banking in Europe. With its own separate currency – pound sterling – it lies outside the group of eurozone members and their circle of influence, but within the European Union (EU). It therefore stands to be marginalised when decisions are taken on regulation in the EU as a whole. This triggers a major debate in the UK over the country’s role in policymaking, leading to further calls for a referendum on its EU membership.

 

europe 2013

 

 

Rosetta deploys its lander on comet 67P

Rosetta is a probe launched in 2004 by the European Space Agency and intended to study the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The craft studies two asteroids, 2867 Steins and 21 Lutetia, before rendezvousing with the comet in 2014. It then deploys a lander. This uses harpoons to anchor itself to the surface, and has legs designed to dampen its initial impact. During its week-long mission, the lander uses a variety of scientific instruments to examine the surface and internal composition.*

 

rosetta probe lander philae comet asteroid 67P Churyumov Gerasimenko 2014 future mission nasa esa

 

 

The first test flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft

The Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle was originally part of NASA’s Constellation Program which was cancelled in 2010. However, the design was carried forward as the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion MPCV), as part of NASA’s new plans for manned exploration to the Moon, Mars and asteroids.

The first test flight is in December 2014.* For this particular mission, the capsule is unmanned. Nevertheless, it reaches a higher altitude than any spacecraft intended for human use since 1973. Orion makes two highly elliptical orbits of the Earth, before re-entering the atmosphere and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

This test supports the development of the Space Launch System – a new dedicated rocket, which itself will be tested in 2017. The first manned flight of Orion will occur in the 2020s, depending on Nasa’s future funding.*

 

nasa orion 2014 spacecraft timeline

 

 

Laser guns are in naval use

Following several years of research and development, the first Solid State Laser (SSL) weapon is now being integrated into U.S. Navy warships as a form of short-range defence. These high-powered beams of directed energy can hit targets moving at 300 mph (480 km/h). This extremely accurate system can protect against drones and other flying vehicles, or be used against suicide boats. The SSL is vastly cheaper than conventional projectiles, with a single shot costing less than $1 – compared to hundreds of thousands of dollars required to fire a missile – very useful in a time of budget constraints. The weapons had been scheduled for deployment in 2016,* but were ready two years earlier than planned.** In the 2020s, even more powerful weapons known as railguns will be deployed with phenomenal range and power.*

 

2014 navy lasers future military technology
Credit: U.S. Navy

 

 

Smart watches are the latest must-have gadget

Worldwide, the market for smart watches has grown from 500,000 in 2013, to over 5 million by the end of 2014.* These devices – which function as wearable computers – are the most important new product category in consumer electronics since the iPad. Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung are among the firms launching a variety of premium, hi-tech watches, incorporating a range of new hardware and software features to boost their appeal to consumers. Among the most popular uses are in health and wellness monitoring, sports and fitness. The market for traditional watches is being disrupted by the added functionality of this new generation. These devices continue to grow rapidly in popularity, numbering over 100 million by 2019.*

 

smartwatch 2014
Credit: Sony

 

 

NATO ends combat operations in Afghanistan

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, the U.S. Congress passed legislation authorising the use of military force against those it deemed responsible. Less than a month later, on 7th October 2001 – in what was called “an act of self-defence” – the U.S. government launched military operations in Afghanistan, with support from Britain. This occurred without the authorisation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

On 20th December 2001, with Taliban forces having abandoned the city of Kabul, the UNSC authorised the creation of an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). This would help the Afghan Interim Authority in maintaining security. Command of the ISAF passed to NATO in August 2003, following the US invasion of Iraq during March of that year.

Mullah Omar, spiritual leader of the Taliban, reorganised the Taliban movement and in 2003 launched insurgency against the Afghan government and ISAF forces. Though vastly outgunned and outnumbered by NATO forces and the Afghan National Army, the Taliban insurgents waged asymmetric warfare with guerrilla raids and ambushes in rural areas, suicide attacks against urban targets, and turncoat killings against coalition forces. The Taliban exploited the weak administration of the Afghan government, among the most corrupt in the world, to reassert influence across many areas of southern and eastern Afghanistan.

By 2004, the war had expanded into neighbouring North-West Pakistan, with Pakistani Army forces clashing with local tribes hosting al-Qaeda and Taliban militants. The U.S. military began launching drone attacks in Pakistan to kill leaders of the insurgent groups. In 2006, NATO boosted its troop numbers for operations to “clear and hold” villages and began “nation building” projects to “win hearts and minds”. These numbers proved to be insufficient, however, and further increases in support were needed in subsequent years. The war reached its peak in 2010 with over 100 coalition casualties in a single month.

 

nato 2014 timeline casualties

Credit: Nigelj (CC BY-SA 3.0)

 

As the decade drew to a close, Obama’s incoming administration proposed a new strategy. U.S. troop numbers would be increased again by 30,000 – bringing the total to 100,000. A phased withdrawal would then proceed from 2011 to 2014, with Afghan forces gradually assuming responsibility for security. A major turning point was reached on 2nd May 2011, as U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. The following year, leaders of NATO countries endorsed an exit strategy for removing their soldiers from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

In the meantime, UN-backed peace talks got underway between the Afghan government and Taliban. Tens of thousands of people had been killed in the war, mostly militants and ordinary civilians. In addition, more than 4,000 ISAF soldiers and civilian contractors as well as over 10,000 Afghan National Security Forces had died. Support among the U.S. public for continued operations in the region had declined substantially.*

Although combat operations were intended to end by 31st December 2014, several thousand training personnel, Special Operations and military assets would remain until 2024, to support Afghanistan’s army and police forces, ensuring the country did not fall back into chaos.* Furthermore, $16bn in development aid – closely monitored to avoid corruption or mismanagement – would assist the nation in rebuilding itself.*

 

nato 2014 timeline