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We live in an era of 24-hour news in which we’re constantly bombarded by information from websites, social media, and television. Yet despite this deluge, there are many fascinating news items you are likely to have missed. Here are nine such events and discoveries from 2021 that you may not have heard about.

1. Lost Rembrandt painting of the magi visiting baby Jesus found in Italy.

A lost Rembrandt painting, “The Adoration of the Magi,” was discovered after it fell off the wall of a country home in the province of Rome, Italy. Rembrandt painted the work in 1632–33, but it was “considered lost and never shown until now,” according to a press release from the Italian Heritage Foundation. The painting depicts a scene from Matthew 2:11: “And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.”

2. Physicists detect neutrinos for the first time using the CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.

A neutrino is a subatomic particle that is very similar to an electron, but has no electrical charge and a very small mass. Although neutrinos are one of the most abundant particles in the universe, they’ve never been directly “seen” until this year. “Prior to this project, no sign of neutrinos has ever been seen at a particle collider,” said physicist Jonathan Feng. “This significant breakthrough is a step toward developing a deeper understanding of these elusive particles and the role they play in the universe.”

3. More Bible fragments and the world’s oldest basket discovered in Jerusalem.

In a cave near the Dead Sea, archeologists have uncovered additional scroll fragments, containing passages from Zechariah and Nahum. Most of the Dead Sea Scrolls were written in Hebrew and Aramaic, but the latest fragments contain Greek letters. They also found a 10,500-year-old basket, which dates to the pre-pottery Neolithic period, making it the oldest basket in existence. As Gordon Govier notes, “It is reminiscent of the biblical baskets, such as the one that held the baby Moses in Exodus, the ones that carried the leftovers when Christ fed the multitudes in the Gospels, and the one that helped the apostle Paul escape persecution, when he was lowered over the wall of Damascus.”

4. Newly discovered millipede is first with more than 1,000 legs.

Most millipedes (Latin for “thousand feet”) are misnamed: while they have a lot of feet, they don’t have 1,000. Before this year no millipede has been found that has more than 750 legs. But deep in a mine in Western Australia, scientists discovered a species with 1,306 legs along its 3.78-inch frame. Millipedes grow new legs over the course of their lives, though, so another could be found in the future that has even more.

5. Astronomers (may) have spotted the first known exoplanet in another galaxy.

To date, more than 4,800 planets have been discovered orbiting stars other than the sun, all of them inside our Milky Way galaxy. But this year astronomers may have spotted the first known planet in another galaxy. The potential planet, called M51-ULS-1b, orbits both a massive star and a dead star in the Whirlpool galaxy, about 28 million light-years from earth. The object’s existence, if confirmed, suggests that there could be many other extragalactic exoplanets awaiting discovery. “We probably always assumed there would be planets” in other galaxies, says astrophysicist Rosanne Di Stefano. “But to actually find something, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s a humbling experience.”

6. A human brain was wirelessly connected to a computer.

Some people who have a neurological disease or injury may become unable to speak or even “locked-in,” and are unable to be helped by current assistive technologies. But scientists at Brown University were able, for the first time, to fully connect a human brain to a computer via a transmitter device. Trial participants with paralysis were able to move robotic limbs by simply imagining their movements.

7. Nail found in a foot offers first evidence of crucifixions in England.

Archaeologists in the United Kingdom have discovered a skeleton with a nail protruding from its right heel bone. The remains likely belonged to a man who was crucified by the Romans. Scientists say it’s the first evidence of Roman crucifixion ever to be found in the U.K., and also the first in northern Europe. “This shows that the inhabitants of even this small settlement at the edge of empire could not avoid Rome’s most barbaric punishment.” says osteologist Corinne Duhig.

8. First all-civilian crew spends four days in space.

Inspiration4 became the world’s first civilian mission to orbit the earth. The four person crew included Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments; Hayley Arceneaux, a physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and pediatric cancer survivor; Chris Sembroski, an Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer; and Dr. Sian Proctor, a geoscientist. They spent four days in orbit to study the human body in space and raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

9. National Geographic cartographers officially recognize world’s fifth ocean.

On World Oceans Day, the National Geographic Society—which has been publishing maps and atlases since 1915—officially recognized a body of water near Antarctica as the Southern Ocean. As the New York Times reports, the organization has drawn up a new map that acknowledges the body of water, which scientists and researchers for years have distinguished as separate from the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic oceans.

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