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15 scientific breakthroughs from 2015 that made our world a little better.

From rhino cameras to tiny molecules to space explorations, these 15 scientific discoveries were pretty earth-shattering.

15 scientific breakthroughs from 2015 that made our world a little better.

In 2015, science helped us learn a lot about the universe we’re living in.

From the tiniest molecules making up the building blocks of matter to gigantic planetary systems billions of light years away, we witnessed countless scientific discoveries, advancements, and inventions this year.

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Say hello to Neil DeGrasse Tyson, king of science.



Regular people created amazing inventions to save humans and animals. Scientists discovered new species and planets. And researchers even learned new things about parenting and children.


Here are just a few of the most amazing and world-changing breakthroughs you might remember reading about:

1. We finally got a close-up of Pluto.

For the past 10 years, a small probe has been hurtling through space toward the rock that was once the smallest planet in our solar system. (This is a true #tbt.)

(Pluto’s first selfie, from the NASA Instagram.)

This July, that little probe finally got close enough to snap some pics of Pluto’s surface. Since Pluto was discovered in 1930, scientists have proposed several flybys and exploration journeys to learn more about it. Now, those same scientists hope that New Horizons will be able to tell us a lot more about Pluto and our solar system’s history in the coming years.

2. We found a hairy-chested crab at the very bottom of the Antarctic Ocean.

Forget about outer space for a second — there are a lot of surprising and outer-space-like things on our home planet, too. For example, last year, scientists found a new species of hairy-chested crab.

This crab lives so far down in the Antarctic Ocean that it uses the heat given off by churning lava at the center of the Earth as its own space heater. Seriously.

3. An 18-year-old figured out how to help visually impaired people “see” with echolocation.

Usually, human eyes take in light waves, sending that information to the brain and creating what we know as vision. But for people who are visually impaired, sound waves could be an alternative to light waves.

That’s the science behind a Canadian teenager’s echolocation device, which could change navigation for people who are blind. Pretty darn impressive, especially for a high schooler.

4. Rhinos got their own security systems.

GoPros aren’t just for daredevils, nature enthusiasts, and kitten rescuers anymore. This year, conservationists began painlessly implanting cameras in the horns of rhinos, too.

A small camera in a rhino’s horn. Image used with permission by Protect.

If a poacher is threatening a rhino, an alarm goes off and the camera turns on to tip off nearby rangers. Rhino poaching in South Africa alone has increased by 9,000% in the past seven years, so if we want rhinos in our future, this is a pretty important invention.

5. (Almost) everything you need to know, you learned in kindergarten.

That is, as long as you learned how to be kind, resolve problems, and share. A study wrapped up this year showed how much those early behaviors shape our lives years later. It also showed that if you weren't the most cooperative kindergartener, it’s never too late to drop your bad habits.

6. A guy beat cancer by getting new 3D-printed bones.

A man in Spain needed to have a tumor in his chest removed. Surgeons were able to take out the infected bone and replace it with customized, titanium, 3D-printed ribs and sternum.

Photo by iStock/Anatomics. Used with permission.

You can expect to see more 3D printing in medicine in the future — it's an awesome trend that could truly change how we make things and cure illnesses.

7. We found out (again) that vaccines don’t cause autism.

An anti-vaccine group funded a study on the link between vaccines and autism. Spoiler alert: The study found no such link. Go get your shots, y’all.

8. Researchers confirmed the existence of a new subatomic particle called the pentaquark.

OK, in the first place, it’s pretty awesome that we have a giant machine (a supercollider) that slams atoms together so we can learn more about physics. And it’s even more awesome when that machine shows us things we’ve never seen before.

In July 2015, that supercollider showed us the pentaquark — four quarks (which live inside protons) stuck to one antiquark.

Pentaquark rendering by CERN.

Even though they've discovered the pentaquark, scientists still have no idea what it actually does. Here's to more research!

9. Chimpanzees are catching up to us.

Um, apparently we’re not the only ones making scientific discoveries. A report this year found that non-human primates are making crude tools — just like we were during the Stone Age. They haven’t exactly figured out how to make a wheel yet, but this report shows that chimp cultures are clearly more advanced than we previously thought.

10. We planned to put a huge floating structure in the ocean to clean up pollution.

This awesome structure will collect trash in the ocean that harms fish and plant life. And that’s pretty important, since 8 million pieces of trash end up in the water each year.

This thing is going to help preserve our oceans’ ecosystems. Photo from The Ocean Cleanup.

11. A diver had a conversation with a whale.

Maybe that’s oversimplifying what happened. But a beluga whale did imitate human speech patterns after hanging out with human trainers. We already know that whales can communicate with each other — maybe someday soon, they’ll be able to communicate with us!

12. We figured out how to save newborns’ lives by keeping them warm — for cheap.

When babies — especially preemies — are born, they need to stay warm. Embrace infant warmers are being used instead of incubators to keep babies cozy, comfy, and healthy. So far, they’ve saved 150,000 babies (which, by the way, is a LOT of babies).

This is what an Embrace infant warmer looks like. Do they make an adult size?!

13. A computer science student created an app to help autistic people communicate during panic attacks.

With Emergency Chat, a person with autism who is having a meltdown can just show their phone to someone to communicate that they need help. And because the app’s creator has autism, he was able to craft it to best suit the needs of people using it.

14. A fifth-grader figured out how to make stuffed animals safe for the operating room.

Yet another young person doing cool stuff: Preteen Gaby Zane figured out that simply washing stuffed animals eliminated most of the bacteria they carry. Previously, kids couldn’t take their stuffed animals into the O.R. because they were germy — but Gaby’s discovery means they can.

Pretty cool, huh?

15. Minneapolis opened a chlorine-free pool that naturally eliminates bad bacteria.

No chemicals in this pool. Photo courtesy of Angela Doheny.

The pool drains twice a day and gravel, limestone, and plants help filter it. No more burning eyes from chlorine!

What's even better than this whole list is that all these sweet discoveries are just a sample of the scientific work that was done this year.

Scientific discoveries encourage us to think bigger, push harder, and strengthen our imagination. Put simply, science is just really freaking cool.

So, as science accelerates into hyper-speed, we’re looking forward to 2016 blowing our minds as well. Off we go.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."