A New Year in a New Normal

January brought good and bad news to start the year.
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A dog surrounded by toys

A dog named Vicky Nina sits surrounded by her toys.

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Abigail Malate, Staff Illustrator

(Inside Science) -- With the new year, the world faces many of the same challenges it dealt with in 2020, but with some signs that changes may be coming. The United States saw the inauguration of a new president. In Brazil, demonstrators protested against their current president as COVID-19 cases spread. Around the world, researchers studied other challenges that the environment faces.

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The sea of flags at the inauguration of President Biden

The United States ushered in a new administration for their government on Jan. 20. The inauguration was unusual in many regards, but especially in terms of crowds. Above, a sea of flags is pictured lining the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Capitol. Typically, large crowds gather for the inauguration of any president. Here, each flag represents people around the country who were unable to attend due to an effort to curb the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

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Protestors in Brazil

News of mutated strains of the coronavirus came from several countries this month, including Brazil, where cases have reached alarmingly high levels. On Jan. 21, protestors demonstrated against President Jair Bolsonaro’s COVID-19 response. Participants pitched crosses at Farol da Barra in Salvador, Brazil, to symbolize the many coronavirus-related deaths in the country.

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An ice sheet in Greenland.

New research suggests that the planet’s ice is disappearing at a speedier rate over the past 30 years. A team led by the University of Leeds was the first to use satellite data to survey global ice loss. Steep losses in Greenland ice sheets, such as the one pictured here, are some of the main areas where ice is melting the fastest.

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A phone with 5G network

The claim that 5G networks worsen the spread of the COVID-19 virus is not true -- but the myth did go viral. A research team at Boston University sought out a better understanding of how misinformation about COVID-19 was disseminated across eight English-speaking countries. Using Google Trends, they were able to determine that ill-informed rumors proliferated exponentially across countries, much like any other virus.

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The dog Vicky Nina with toys

Scientists are discovering some new tricks dogs can learn -- recognizing words. The Family Dog Project research team at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest studied a few select canines who have shown an exceptional ability to learn the words of objects. Most dogs don’t have this ability, but Vicky Nina -- pictured here among her many toys -- is one of the dogs that researchers found can learn new words after hearing them only four times.

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Author Bio & Story Archive

Abigail Malate is a graphic designer at the American Institute of Physics, which produces the editorially independent news service Inside Science.