Decade 2001-2010: A Doodled Past

Last year, when G was five years old, he asked me about the September 11 attacks on the United States. Another five-year old had mentioned it to him, and he had no idea what it was, or what it meant. It hadn’t really been a topic I volunteered, and I really don’t have good reason for why not. We had been tackling history going forward, i.e. starting from prehistoric, and moving forward in time, largely ignoring recent history. I realized we were missing out.

So I doodled the most recent past decade for him. The hardest thing is picking out just a few global phenomena in multiple areas (science, technology, politics, economics, culture, etc), so it’s likely I will miss some important events. But it serves its purpose: to give my six year-old some awareness of recent events. Plus, it’s easy to supplement these drawings with other activities, like going on relevant trips, listening and dancing to the era’s music, sharing personal stories (like where Mommy and Daddy were, and how we reacted to the events), and more.

2000’s: Human Genome Project, Social Media, Hottest Decade

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international* research done to create a genetic map/ blueprint of our species, Homo Sapiens. It started in 1990 and was completed in 2003. The most obvious impact of this feat is in our understanding of human health, which can benefit prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of illnesses.

The decade also saw the birth of social media. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and predecessors (mySpace, etc) have undoubtedly made a huge impact not just on our social interactions, but in almost all other areas of modern life (politics, culture, economics, etc).

While last year, 2014, was the hottest year on record, which probably puts 2011-2020 in the running for hottest decade on record, the current decade record holder is 2001-2010.

* United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, and China.

2001: September 11 attacks, Invasion of Afghanistan (later Iraq), and First Asteroid Landing

On September 11, 2001, two planes were intentionally crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, another plane into the Pentagon just outside of Washington, D.C., and another plane in a field in Pennsylvania. These four planes were hijacked by a few members of the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda to carry out attacks on the United States. After these attacks, the U.S.A. invaded Afghanistan in an attempt to take down the al-Qaeda and the group hosting and supporting it, the Taliban. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.

Also in 2001, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous – Shoemaker (NEAR Shoemaker) landed on one of the largest of the near Earth asteroids, after orbiting for over a year. It was the first asteroid landing, and it took the highest resolution pictures we have of an asteroid.

2002: First Drone Strike

Shortly after the September 11 attacks, the first drone strike was deployed in Afghanistan to disastrous results. Instead of the Talibans, and specifically then Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, innocent civilians were killed.

2004: Deadliest Tsunami in Recent History, Spirit and Opportunity Land on Mars

A 9.1 magnitude earthquake caused the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. The tsunami cost over $10 billion in damages and killed around 230,000 people.

Earlier that year, NASA’s twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, landed on Mars, carrying scientific equipment to scope out their surroundings, seek out signs of heat, and get a close look at rocks on the surface of the red planet.

2005: First Landing on Foreign Moon (Titan of Saturn)

In early 2005, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Huygens probe landed on Titan, a frigid moon orbiting Saturn. It sent back images of the foreign moon, including something that looked like a shoreline, and channels carved by what seemed like water, but was not.  It was liquid hydrocarbons.

2006: Nintendo Wii Hit the Market

In the mid-80’s to the 90’s, Nintendo was a dominant player in the gaming industry. But by 2006, it no longer was… until they introduced the Wii. The Wii, which had worse graphics and slower processing power than the more popular game systems at the time, had a strong weapon: it was easy and fun to use for most everyone, mainly because of its gesture-based controls. Suddenly, everyone could play video games, and enjoy it! This resulted in greater sales, putting Nintendo back in the game (so to speak).

2007: First iPhone Released (/followed by iPad in 2010)

The iPhone is so ubiquitous that it’s hard for my 6-year old to imagine that there was once a time we didn’t have them. So it was interesting for him to know that the first generation iPhone was introduced just over a year before he himself was born.

2008: Financial Crisis (Subprime Mortgages), Obama Becomes President of U.S.

There are numerous articles and books analyzing the financial crisis in 2008. The cause and sequence of events leading up to it are complex, but the consequences can be more easily enumerated. Many people lost their homes (foreclosures), unemployment rose, lending became more difficult, which all lead to tougher times for a lot of American families.

Also that year, in a historic election, Barack Obama became the United States’ 44th president.