Felix Baumgartner’s space jump
felix baumgartner put new meaning into skydiving by jumping off a balloon in the stratosphere at a height of 39 km on October 14, 2012, thus displaying the extent to which human bodies can be pushed. He created a new record, and was the first human to break the sound barrier outside of a vehicle by falling at a speed of 843.6 mph.
on march 11, 2011, an earthquake measuring 9 on the Richter Scale, with its epicentre off the coast of Japan, caused a tsunami that hit the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in northern Japan. The meltdown at three of its six reactors—it was the worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl catastrophe of 1986—resulted in not just Japan, but major European powers, reconsidering their nuclear power policy.Image: Yuriko Nakao / Reuters
Image: Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters
The Crimean crisis
in february 2014, president yanukovych signed an economic pact with Russia to reverse years of economic stagnation and corruption. Protests against the pact sparked violent clashes in Kiev, Ukraine. Yanukovych fled the country, while an interim government came to power. Russia refused to recognise this government, and, from February 26, began to take control of the Crimean Peninsula. The crisis reopened deep differences between the West and Russia, as eastern Europe once again became the centre of a power struggle.Images: Getty ImagesCivil unrest
the arab spring, which began on December 18, 2010, saw anti-government protests and riots in the Arab world. It began with the suicide of a Tunisian street vendor on December 17. Small protests against his suicide triggered the Tunisian Revolution, and uprisings in other countries, forcing out rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. The Syrian revolution morphed into an ongoing civil war.
Partly inspired by the Arab Spring, the Occupy protests—with calls against social and economic inequality its slogan was ‘We are the 99%’—spread across the world in 2011-12. The first protests took place in Wall Street, New York, in September 2011. Social media was used extensively.Image: Mark Wessels / ReutersNelson Mandela’s death
nelson mandela, an anti-apartheid icon who led south africa’s transition from white-minority rule, died on December 5, 2013, at the age of 95. Mandela spent 27 years in prison for fighting racial segregation enforced by the South African government until 1994. South Africa observed a national mourning period of 10 days following his demise, and his funeral was testimony to the impact he has had across countries and generations.
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(This story appears in the 30 May, 2014 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)