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SciShow News looks at some of the firsts, highests, and lowests of the year in science.

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Hosted by: Michael Aranda
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Michael: I don't know about you, but to me, 2014 had a lot of ups and downs, and I'm not just talking about Brazil in the World Cup or the price of oil. Ups, for instance, included the amount of carbon dioxide measured in the atmosphere this year, as well as global temperatures. Among the downs: an elusive whale that set a new deep diving record.

These were just some of the super superlatives of 2014. The firsts, highest, biggests, and lowests in the world of science. I'm Michael Aranda and this is SciShow News.

SciShow Intro Music

 First Earth-Like Exoplanet (0:32)

In April, the Kepler Space Telescope discovered a planet outside out solar system that so far seems to resemble our home planet more than any other yet found.

The planet was named Kepler 186F and was the first rocky, Earth-sized exoplanet ever discovered.

It's about 1.1 times the size of Earth and only 500 light years away.  Practically next door.

It orbits a red dwarf on the outer edge of its so-called "habitable zone," the ring-shaped region around a star where liquid water could theoretically be present on its surface.  But being in that region doesn't mean that this new world actually is habitable, because both Venus and Mars are in the habitable zone of our Sun and trust me, your do not want to spend your vacation at either of those places. 

Astronomers have learned some important basics about Kepler 186F, like that it orbits its star once every 130 days and it gets about a third as much energy from its star and Earth gets from our Sun. 

But we don't know much about the planet's other important qualities, particularly its atmosphere. So, scientists say that Kepler 186F isn't an "Earth twin," it's more like an "Earth cousin" that's "reminiscent" of our planet. Still, an impressive first. 

 Highest CO2 Emissions

Back here at home though, Earth had kind of a bad year. Industrialized nations pumped more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere this year than ever before. We're talking 40 billion metric tons, a 2.5 percent increase in the CO2 emissions from last year. And guess what, temperatures went up too. 

During the first 10 months of 2014, the average global temperature on land and at sea was 14.78 degrees Celsius. That's almost a full degree higher than the average temperature during the entire 20th century. 

Plus, data from satellites, weather buoys, and meteorological stations all over the world found that the months of August, September, and October were the warmest months since records were first kept in 1880.

We're still waiting on the data, but if that continues in November and December, 2014 will be the single warmest year in recorded history.

 Deepest Dive

But if you're looking for a feel-good story of the year maybe this guy could help, a cuvier's beaked whale. Look at him. He looks like a swimming sausage and he's awesome. In March scientists off the coast of California observed a pod of eight cuvier's beaked whales plunging up to 2.9 kilometers beneath the surface of the sea and staying down there for up to 138 minutes. These were the deepest and longest dives ever recorded among mammals. Now the 5 to 7 meter long cuvier's are notoriously hard to study. They stay far away from the shore, and biologists can't get close enough to the to tag them like they do with other whales. So from a distance, scientists had to use air rifles to attach trackers with transmitters that record depth to the whales. They haven't quite figured out how the cuvier's whales can stay so low for so long but most marine mammals have rib cages that can actually fold in and collapse the lungs reducing air pockets and allowing them to make the most of every breath. *Inhales*

The cuvier's dive shattered a record previously held by the southern elephant seal, which lives off the coast of Antarctica and can descend 2.4 kilometers and stay there for 120 minutes. 


There is so much more I'd like to talk about if we had the time. The Rosetta mission and the first rendezvous with a comet, Ebola and it's worst outbreak in history, or the carved seashell found in Indonesia that's the oldest work of art ever found. But for now we have a warming Earth, a deep diving sausage whale, and a planet that might have Anne Hathaway on it? Is it, is it still okay to make Interstellar references? Anyway, happy new year! SciShow News will be taking a break during the first week of January but we'll see you again right after that. 

Thanks to everyone who has watched and subscribed to SciShow this year. If you want a present this episode was brought to you by audible, which is giving away a free audiobook to SciShow viewers. Head on over to where you can download books like Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle by Douglas J. Emlen who will actually be talking to you soon on SciShow Talk Show. You can also get like practically any other book for free. So And don't forget to to go and subscribe.