WASHINGTON — From Russia's invasion of Ukraine to Queen Elizabeth's death, it's been quite an eventful past 12 months, with major events happening at a fast pace.
While it would be impossible to cover everything that happened over the last year, here are 37 important events that shaped the year 2022.
Apple's stock hit $3 trillion
Apple's stock hit an all-time high on Jan. 3, reaching a market cap of $3 trillion. It's the first company ever to do so. Over four years, the company's stock has tripled in value. While the massive market cap is largely symbolic, it's a sign that Apple continues to be ubiquitous in the smartphone and tech markets going forward.
Elmo vs. Rocko
While this rivalry didn't start in 2022, it definitely deserves to be on this list. The origin of Elmo's hatred for Rocko can be traced back to the rock's first appearance in 1999, while 2022 saw the internet explode with laughter over Sesame Street character Elmo's beef with his friend Zoe's imaginary friend after a viral tweet on Jan. 4. It seems people even now can relate to not wanting to give their favorite cookie to a rock that isn't even alive.
The biggest puzzle craze to hit the world since, well, crosswords. Originally designed by one man for his wife's entertainment, the game gives players six guesses to determine a five-letter word, with the only clues being the letters you got right. The New York Times bought the game on Jan. 31 and although many players say it made the game harder, it actually remained the same.
The Winter Olympics were a big one, held between Feb. 4 and Feb 20, just a year after the Summer Olympic Games (which were pushed back by COVID). While the U.S. placed fourth in the final medal rankings, the widely viewed event relaunched a familiar conversation about mental health among the world's top athletes. U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin failed to finish any of the five individual races she competed in despite being a favorite to medal, with her visible frustration drawing support from athletes such as Simone Biles. Meanwhile, a doping scandal erupted involving Russian figure skating star Kamila Valieva. While she helped the Russian team win gold in the team event, the case has yet to be settled and no medals have been given for that competition.
Baby Formula Shortage
On Feb. 17, Abbott Labs announced a recall of baby formula produced at their Michigan plant. As one of the three major formula producers in the U.S., Abbott's recall exacerbated pandemic-related supply chain issues. For months, formula was hard to come by, with the Biden administration authorizing shipments from Europe to cover the gap.
Brittney Griner detained
WNBA star Brittney Griner was detained by Russia on Feb. 17, arrested on charges of having hashish oil in her luggage. In a saga that has paralleled the Ukraine invasion, U.S. diplomatic efforts with Russia focused on returning Griner over nearly a year. Finally, on Dec. 8, she was traded in a one-to-one prisoner swap for a Russian arms dealer and returned home to the United States.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine
Perhaps the single biggest event of 2022 was the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces on Feb. 24. In the ten months since, what Russia believed would be a swift victory has turned into a drawn-out military conflict. Ukraine, supported by the West, has managed to push back much of Russia's advances in the early days of the war, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his troops won't stop until all of Ukraine is returned — including Crimea, which was annexed in 2014.
Will Smith slaps Chris Rock
Was that real? During the Oscars on March 27, while comedian Chris Rock was about to present an award, he made fun of Will Smith's wife Jada Pinkett Smith. In a shocking moment, Smith got on stage and slapped Rock, later heckling him from the audience and saying to "keep my wife's name out of your f***ing mouth." In the months since, Smith has publicly apologized for the incident, and has been banned for a decade from future Academy Award shows.
Microplastics discovered in human blood
In another distressing headline from 2022, scientists on March 28 announced that a majority of humans likely have microplastics swimming around in their blood. The study found about 77% of people tested had the tiny particles. Plastic shreds over time into microscopic particles, and scientists for years have warned of the danger these microplastics could have on the ecosystem. Now, it looks like the birds are coming home to roost.
Depp v. Heard trial
One of the most-talked about trials of the year involved two major celebrities: Johnny Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard. While the case was ostensibly about libel — Heard wrote an op-ed in 2018 accusing Depp of domestic abuse without naming him — it focused largely on accusations of domestic abuse lobbed by both parties. The trial ended with Depp being awarded more than $10 million.
As if COVID-19 wasn't bad enough, the World Health Organization announced that a monkeypox outbreak had been reported outside of Africa on May 6, 2022. While the initial cluster of cases was in the UK, the virus' spread to the U.S. caused concern that another pandemic was coming. Luckily, monkeypox is treatable with the smallpox vaccine, and the outbreak didn't grow to the level that some epidemiologists feared.
Buffalo Supermarket Shooting
Ten people, all Black, were killed when a white gunman opened fire at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York in an apparent hate crime on May 14. The shooter was revealed to be a white supremacist who had written a manifesto before attacking the store, which predominantly catered to Black customers. The gunman was arrested and pleaded guilty to charges related to the shooting.
Uvalde School Shooting
On May 24, a gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and fatally shot nineteen students and two teachers, wounding seventeen others. Law enforcement received heavy criticism after the shooting because officers waited more than 40 minutes to enter the classroom, despite phone calls from victims inside the room pleading for help.
Roe v. Wade overturned
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn nearly 50 years of precedent by overturning Roe v. Wade sent a ripple through the U.S. unseen for years. With the majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization on June 24, the court granted anti-abortion activists what they'd been asking for decades. Conservative states immediately set out to ban abortion, with more than a dozen enacting trigger laws immediately. Women upset by the decision flocked to Democratic candidates, helping them hold the Senate and nearly maintain the House in the 2022 midterms. And it ignited a series of legal battles that are still continuing now over the future of abortion in the country.
Ketanji Brown Jackson Sworn in as Supreme Court Justice
On June 30, retiring Justice Stephen Breyer administered the oath of office to Ketanji Brown Jackson, officially welcoming her to the Supreme Court. Jackson is the first Black woman to be appointed to the court.
Shinzo Abe assassinated
On July 8, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was giving a speech in Nara when an assassin with a homemade gun fatally shot him. The gunman was reportedly upset over Abe's involvement with the Unification Church, a religious movement that had bankrupted the shooter's parents, not Abe's controversial politics. Abe's death sparked a conversation comparing gun deaths in Japan and the U.S.
RIP Choco Taco
The Choco Taco, that delightful ice cream treat, saw the end of its production with Klondike announcing it would be discontinued on July 25. By August, however, the overwhelming support for the Choco Taco appears to have made the company reconsider its plans, hinting that the Choco Taco could make a return. To be fair, its death did reveal that although many people have fond memories of the treat, almost nobody remembers the last time they bought one.
The world of chess was rocked on Sept. 4 when Magnus Carlsen lost to Hans Neimann in a surprise outcome. Many interpreted the sudden withdrawal from the tournament by Carlsen, widely considered the world's best chess player, as an accusation that Neimann was cheating. Chess fans came up with some... creative.... possible cheating methods he could have used, but none were ever proven, although Neimann has admitted to cheating in online matches. Carlsen later said he believed Neimann had cheated more often than he admitted, and possibly did so during their match.
Drama over "Don't Worry Darling"
Don't Worry Darling was a period thriller starring Harry Styles and Florence Pugh. But the movie's drama was overshadowed by the off-set drama. Fans first noticed some tension between Pugh and director Olivia Wilde when the two were seated as far away from each other as possible at press events, or when Pugh just didn't go to some events Wilde was at. Rumors say it stemmed from Wilde's relationship with Styles. But it got even wilder when at the Venice premiere of the movie on Sept. 5, eagle-eyed fans seemed to see Styles spitting on co-star Chris Pine as he made his way to his seat. While the cast has denied the rumor, it was still an odd moment in a series of strange occurrences related to the film's production.
Queen Elizabeth II's death
After 70 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II died on Sept. 8, seven months after the UK celebrated her Platinum Jubilee. After a week of ceremonies and parades in her honor, Elizabeth was laid to rest beside her husband, Prince Phillip. Her son Charles succeeded her on the throne.
Iran erupts with protests over hijab laws
Civil unrest broke out in Iran on Sept. 16 against the government after 23-year-old Mahsa Amina died in police custody after being arrested for for allegedly wearing her hijab "improperly. The protests have gained international support, and were a point of contention during the team's stint at the World Cup, including when the team refused to sing their national anthem in their opening match against England.
NASA smashes rocket into asteroid
It's a headline that looks like it could be the ending of a great sci-fi movie. NASA's DART spacecraft was flown on a one-way trip out to space, where it collided with an asteroid and changed its trajectory. The collision on Sept. 26 was the culmination of 10 months of interstellar flight for the rocket. NASA used the mission as a test of a planetary defense system: basically, they were looking to see if they could do anything if an asteroid was ever aimed straight at Earth. The answer, it appears, is yes.
Try Guys cheating scandal
In a move nobody saw coming, the Try Guys let go of one of their founding members Ned Fulmer, announcing his departure in a video on Oct. 3 after it was revealed that he cheated on his wife Ariel. Fulmer had branded himself as the "wife guy" whose on-camera love for his spouse made the betrayal that much more of a shock for the internet. The cheating was publicly disclosed after Reddit and Twitter sleuths pieced together that he had been removed from several recent videos from the group and finally found video of him making out with a coworker.
Alex Jones goes to trial against Sandy Hook parents
Some parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook shooting and others who were affected by the tragedy received a win in court after conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was ordered to pay nearly $1.5 billion in damages for defamation in a series of lawsuits against him. The largest of the settlements, nearly $1 billion, was imposed on Oct. 12. In the aftermath of the 2012 attack, Jones claimed the parents and their dead children were "crisis actors" as part of a government conspiracy to take away guns from Americans.
Liz Truss and the cabbage
Liz Truss' reign as prime minister didn't even last as long as a head of cabbage. That's the takeaway from her historically short seven-week stint at the top of the British government. Her first (and only) weeks in office were marred by blowback from an economic proposal she made that would cut taxes for top-income earners. A Twitter account monitoring if her tenure would last as long as a head of cabbage purchased when she was elected on Sept. 6 concluded with her Oct. 25 resignation that the cabbage did in fact have a longer shelf life than Truss.
Elon Musk buys Twitter
In possibly the wildest Twitter saga yet, Elon Musk concluded his purchase of the social media platform on Oct. 27. The purchase was made after months of Musk trying to back out of the deal, and since it went through, his reign over the social media platform has been chaotic to say the least. A majority of Twitter's staff appears to have been fired or resigned. Twitter now allows people to buy the blue verified checkmarks (leading to chaos and mass impersonations). And Musk appears to be walking back a promise to step down as CEO after a poll on his Twitter showed a resounding number of users want him gone.
The 2022 midterm elections were supposed to be a blowout for Republicans. President Biden had a low favorability rating, and the president's party tends to lose seats in midterm elections. But Democrats defied the odds on Nov. 8, partly due to voters angry about the overturning of Roe, and kept control of the Senate. Republicans will start the next session of Congress with a single-digit margin in the House even smaller than what Democrats had for the past two years.
$2.04 billion Powerball drawing
On the morning of Nov. 8, one lucky Powerball player in California learned that they had won more than $2 billion as the single person to get the jackpot. It's the largest lottery prize in history. It was also the highest prize in a year full of massive jackpots. A $1.337 billion Mega Millions ticket was sold in July in Illinois.
The world's population reaches 8 billion
The United Nations projected that the world reached a population of 8 billion people on Nov. 15, 11 years after hitting 7 billion. The news reflects improvement in fields such as global health and poverty eradication, although experts warn more humans could increase the stress on the planet's resources. India is expected to surpass China as the country with the highest population by 2023 with 1.4 billion residents.
NASA launches Artemis 1
On Nov. 16, NASA's Artemis 1 rocket launched into orbit. The Artemis, an unmanned rocket orbiting the moon, is the first major flight from the rocket's namesake program, which aims to return humans to the moon after the Apollo program decades earlier.
Club Q nightclub shooting
Five people were killed and 25 were injured when a gunman opened fire just before midnight on Nov. 19 at a gay club in Colorado Springs during a drag queen's birthday party. Patrons and employees at the club were able to subdue the gunman until police arrived.
The world's largest active volcano erupts
The world's largest active volcano — Mauna Loa in Hawaii — began erupting on Nov. 27, creating a spectacular display of molten rock gushing down the island's slopes and drawing crowds of spectators. It also threatened structures, prompting evacuations for weeks until the eruption finally subsided about halfway through December.
Student debt forgiveness put on hold
The Biden administration announced in August that they would be removing as much as $20,000 in debt from many Americans who went to college. But following a Republican-led legal challenge, the Supreme Court kept the program paused until they could rule on it sometime in 2023.
The world's oldest DNA sample found in Greenland
Scientists in Denmark announced on Dec. 7 that they had found the world's oldest DNA in Greenland. Although it won't be used to make Jurassic Park a reality, the DNA shows what life was like near the Arctic 2 million years ago. Back then, the land was abundant with plant and animal life, including mammoths.
Nuclear fusion announced
The U.S. government announced on Dec. 13 that scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory had successfully produced a nuclear fusion reaction with a net energy gain. While it's still a test case in a lab, the announcement could signal the way for a new generation of clean energy.
U.S. marks 10 years since Sandy Hook
Dec. 14 marked the 10-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, in which a gunman killed twenty children and six adults at the school in Connecticut. The shooting outraged Americans, but little gun reform has been made at the federal level in the 10 years since, despite pushes from Presidents Obama and Biden and countless school shootings since.
Argentina wins the World Cup
They did it! They really did it! Lionel Messi and Argentina managed to win the World Cup on Dec. 18, granting Messi the one trophy that has eluded him his entire career during his last World Cup match. The final game came down to a penalty kick shootout with France after the game tied 2-2 in regular play and 3-3 in extra time.