20 Things That Happened for the First Time in 2018

bdnews24 desk
Published : 23 March 2019, 03:32 PM
Updated : 23 March 2019, 03:32 PM

Painting sets record for living African-American artist

The painting "Past Times" by Kerry James Marshall set a new record as the highest amount paid for a painting by a living African-American artist, selling for $21.1 million, according to the auction house Sotheby's. The 1997 pastoral, which depicts black figures at leisure, was purchased by music mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs. It was sold by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, in Chicago, which bought it for $25,000.

Apple becomes first company to reach value of $1 trillion

Apple became the first publicly traded company to reach a market value of more than $1 trillion in August, with Amazon in close pursuit, reaching the benchmark just a month later. The rise of these so-called superstar firms have helped spur a long period of economic growth in the United States, but may have also contributed to a shrinking middle class and rising income inequality, experts say.

A new kind of human adaptation

Researchers have reported a new kind of human adaptation — to the ocean. According to the journal Cell, a group of people known as the Bajau, who traditionally live in houseboats or houses on stilts in villages in Southeast Asia, have evolved to be better divers. The researchers' findings reveal that the Bajau — regardless of whether they're divers or have other jobs — have spleens that are about 50 percent bigger than those who live 15 miles inland. Studies have shown that larger spleens can aid in deep diving among marine animals.

A unified Korea, at least on the ice

Members of the women's ice-hockey team from North Korea and South Korea played as a joint team at the XXIII Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, marking the first time the countries had a unified Olympic team. The team lost in its first game, to Switzerland. South Korea, however, went on to win a total of 17 medals in the games, including five gold medals.

First-ever "sausage dog" museum opens

Two former florists opened what they say is the first museum dedicated to "sausage dogs." The Dackelmuseum, which is in Bavaria, Germany, features canine stamps, dog-shaped breads, porcelain figurines, prints and other items dedicated to the dachshund, one of Germany's oldest canine breeds.

First pedestrian fatality by a self-driving car

A self-driving Uber test car killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, in March, in what is believed to be the first pedestrian fatality caused by an autonomous vehicle. Although the car had a backup driver, neither he nor the car's light detection and radar system sensed the pedestrian, a woman who was attempting to cross the street with her bicycle, in time to stop.

Saudi Arabia hosts first fashion week

Saudi Arabia hosted its first-ever fashion week in Riyadh, in April. The event still bore hallmarks of the conservative kingdom. Despite the all-female audiences, a social media ban was in place so photos of women without their abayas, or floor-length overgarments, wouldn't leak. Organizers, however, hailed the event as a pivotal moment for women in a country where they still are expected to defer to their male guardians.

Chinese company surpasses Apple's smartphone sales

For the first time, the Chinese company Huawei has outstripped Apple smartphone sales, selling more than 54 million phones in the second quarter of 2018, compared to Apple's 41 million, and trailing only Samsung. The company's success is all the more impressive considering that Huawei has failed to make inroads in some of the world's largest markets, including the United States, in part because of corporate and government espionage fears.

Paris museum opens its doors to nudists

For the first time in Paris, a museum has welcomed nude figures of a different kind: living ones. The Palais de Tokyo contemporary art museum opened its doors to nudists for a one-off tour scheduled by the Paris Naturists Association. Paris also has the world's first naturist restaurant, O'Naturel, which opened in late 2017, as well as an area at a public park that is dedicated to people who prefer wearing their birthday suits.

Machine tackles sea of plastic garbage

The world's first machine designed to clean up plastic detritus from the ocean — the brainchild of a college dropout who came up with the idea as a teenager— was deployed in September toward what's widely known as the "great Pacific garbage patch." This expanse of ocean, located between Hawaii and California, has the world's largest accumulation of ocean plastic. Some experts, however, are worried that the machine will do more harm than good, arguing that it would be better to focus on efforts preventing plastic from entering the seas in the first place.

French lawmakers ban smart devices in schools

A law banning smart devices at schools in France went into effect in September. Students between the ages of 3-15 will have to leave their smartphones, tablets and any other digital devices at home or turned off on school premises, with exceptions for disabled students or during extracurricular activities. Some lawmakers scoffed at the new law as overkill, citing an existing rule that already prohibits smartphone use during instruction time in classrooms.

Female fighter pilot breaks gender barrier in Japan

Japan, which has a male-dominated workforce, named its first female fighter pilot in August. First Lt. Misa Matsushima, 26, who cited the American movie "Top Gun" as an inspiration, joined the Japan Air Self Defense Force in 2014. The JASDF began accepting female applicants in 1993, but women couldn't apply to be fighter pilots until 2015, when a ban was lifted as part of a nationwide initiative to increase the numbers of women in the workplace.

Africa launches its first waste-to-energy plant

Ethiopia is the first country in Africa to open a waste-to-energy plant. Top government officials, including Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome, were on hand at the inauguration of the $120 million plant, called Reppie, which was built in a landfill on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. It is supposed to take about 80 percent of the daily waste generated by the capital and fulfill about 30 percent of its energy needs.

Ikea opens first store in India

Ikea opened its first Indian store in Hyderabad, tweaking its usual strategy by cutting prices and changing its inventory — and even its cafe offerings — to appeal to the Indian consumer. The world's largest furniture retailer plans to open three other stores in the next two years to cater to the country's rapidly growing middle class.

Russia flexes its muscles

In its largest show of military strength since the days of the Cold War, Russia assembled nearly 300,000 troops, 1,000 aircraft and 900 tanks for the exercises known as Vostok-2018. And for the first time, China participated in the exercises, sending helicopters and about 3,200 of its troops.

Mexico's first reality series

"Made in Mexico," which follows the lavish lives of nine socialites in Mexico City, started streaming in September. The Netflix-backed series, Mexico's first reality program, has faced some heat, however, with critics pointing out that it's in poor taste in a country where nearly half the population lives in poverty.

Canada legalizes recreational marijuana

Canada became the first major world economy to legalize recreational marijuana. It's the second country in the world — after Uruguay — to pass such legislation. Since mid-October, people over 18 could legally purchase and use dried cannabis flowers and oils. Legalization is expected to generate billions of dollars in revenue once fully implemented.

More pigs than people in Denmark

Pigs now outnumber people in Denmark: 215 pigs per 100 people, according to new statistics released by Eurostat. The agency estimates that about 150 million pigs live in the European Union, with 40 percent of them in Germany and Spain. And according to new figures released by the Spanish government, the number of slaughtered pigs, at 50 million, outnumber the country's population of 46.5 million.

India's high court strikes down ban on gay sex

For the first time in more than 150 years, a law banning consensual gay sex in India has been deemed unconstitutional by the highest court in the land. Introduced to Indian law under British colonial rule, the rule was rarely enforced, but critics said it made the blackmail, sexual assault and harassment of L.G.B.T. people permissible.

First NASA spacecraft named after living person launches

The Parker Solar Probe, the first NASA spacecraft named after a living person, was launched in August. The craft is named after astrophysicist Eugene N. Parker, who was the first to describe solar wind in 1958. The probe, which has set a new record as the fastest spacecraft, is the closest any manmade object has been to the sun.

Looking Ahead

Disneyland to serve alcohol publicly for the first time

Bottoms up, Mouseketeers. Disneyland will serve alcohol to the general public for the first time in 2019, when Oga's Cantina opens in the highly anticipated Star Wars–themed attraction, Galaxy Edge.

First test flights for commercial space taxis scheduled

The year 2019 is slated to be an exciting one for commercial space travel: Both the SpaceX Dragon capsule and the Boeing Starliner spacecraft are scheduled for their first crewed test flights.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher