Monday, December 31, 2012

Rewind YouTube Style and science year in review 2012

As I concluded my previous post:
Look for my year in review tonight at midnight EST, when New Year's Eve arrives here.
Time to reverse my usual serious to silly progression and work my way up from the ridiculous to the sublime.  First, YouTube on YouTube: Rewind YouTube Style 2012

We invited some YouTubers to star in a mash-up of culturally defining moments of 2012. Can you spot all the references?

Can you name all the YouTube stars in the video? Watch carefully and you might even find a few surprises... (Hint: try moving your mouse around in the player!).

Yes, Psy is number one. No surprise there.

I'm not done being silly, although I'm working my way up with Stephen Colbert, for This Year @NASA!

In case you missed it, here's Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert and his shout out for NASA TV's "This Year @NASA!"
Speaking of This Year @NASA, here it is.

This Year @ NASA, 2012

Curiosity Has Landed, Flight of the Dragon, Antares Rolls and so much more...
The rest of the year in science over the jump.

General Science

Scientific American: The Top 10 Science Stories of 2012
A devastating storm, a new phase of Mars exploration, a recipe for a pandemic flu—these and other events highlight the year in science and technology
December 20, 2012
Many more than 10 events took place during 2012 that reveal how science and technology play integral roles in our lives. As a broad topic, climate change took center stage, offering many possible choices, including efforts to combat it head-on with a rogue geoengineering experiment meant to suck carbon dioxide out of the air as well as efforts to develop clean energy, such as the creation of microbes that convert seaweed into ethanol.

The Internet and other communications technology still creates challenges for policymakers, companies and individuals. Among the most notable controversies was the one centered on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which led to a blackout protest by some well-trafficked sites, such as Wikipedia.

And research in basic science continues to assault conventional thinking, such as the reported discovery of ovarian stem cells. If confirmed, the finding would overturn the long-held notion that women are born with all the eggs they will ever have.

Alas, cultural norms and conventions dictate that we stick to 10 items; channeling Spinal Tap and dialing it up to 11 would hardly help.
NBC News: The Year in Science: Higgs boson leads 2012's list of breakthroughs
By Alan Boyle
As 2012 draws to a close, physicists are celebrating — and being celebrated for — the end of a four-decade scientific quest to find a subatomic particle known as the Higgs boson. The discovery, made at the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider and reported in July, won honors this week as Science magazine's Breakthrough of the Year as well as a piece of the spotlight in Time magazine's Person of the Year package.
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But the story of what some have nicknamed "the God particle" isn't over yet. (Physicists hate that nickname, by the way.)

"This particle has the potential to be a portal to a new landscape of physical phenomena that is still hidden from us," the scientific team behind the LHC's Compact Muon Solenoid detector writes in a Science paper that lays out the details behind the discovery.
Science News: Science News Top 25
The Year in Science 2012
By Science News Staff
Print edition: December 29, 2012; Vol.182 #13 (p. 16)
When it came to choosing the year’s best stories, the editors of Science News applied a simple criterion: We picked the ones that kept us up at night.

The top two stories on our list literally had us working the graveyard shift. In the wee hours of July 4, we tuned in online as physicists in Geneva held a morning (their time) seminar announcing the discovery of the long-sought Higgs boson. The next month found us working in our pj’s yet again, this time as NASA’s Curiosity rover executed a spectacular touchdown on Mars in the early a.m. of August 6, Eastern time.

Then there were the stories that thwarted our sleep with their terrifying implications. In June, researchers described in two controversial papers how easily bird flu can be mutated to render it capable of airborne transmission. And if global pandemic flu wasn’t enough to keep us staring at the ceiling, we could rest assured that no rest would come from pondering a warming trend that, far from being a theoretical concern for the distant future, is a clear and present danger. Several studies this year pinned recent record heat waves and droughts on human-caused warming, and in September the Arctic Ocean’s sea ice cover reached its smallest size on record, surpassing the previous record low by almost 20 percent.

But it wasn’t just anxiety and dread that kept us tossing and turning. Other stories made the list because they filled our sleepy heads with fascinating questions: Will we ever visit the planet that has been discovered in the Alpha Centauri system, just a few light-years away? What led humans to meet and mate with Neandertals and even more exotic relatives whose DNA has ended up in the genes of people living today? It’s enough to keep you up for days.

There’s just one story here that’s not worth losing a wink of sleep over. Despite archaeological evidence to the contrary, some modern-day mystics have claimed that the ancient Maya predicted a global apocalypse on December 21, 2012. Now we can put that one to bed for sure.
io9: The Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs of 2012
Robert T. Gonzalez and Annalee Newitz
December 26, 2012
This was an incredible year for science and engineering. We sent a powerful robot scientist to Mars, and we discovered the elusive Higgs Boson particle, plus there were world-changing innovations in medicine and materials science. We sequenced the genome of a human ancestor, and looked into the mind of an artificial intelligence that recognized the content of images on the web for the first time (of course it included cat faces). Here are the seventeen biggest scientific breakthroughs of 2012.
io9: The Most Futuristic Predictions That Came True in 2012
George Dvorsky   
December 28, 2012
Yesterday we told you about the biggest scientific breakthroughs of 2012. But now we turn our attention to those developments that make us realize just how futuristic things are quickly becoming.

And the past year provided no shortage of futureshock. We watched a cyborg compete at the Olympic Games, and marveled at the news that NASA was actually working on a faster-than-light warp drive. It was also a year that featured the planet's first superstorm, the development of an artificial retina — and primates who had their intelligence enhanced with a chip. Here are 16 predictions that came true in 2012.
UPI: Scientists look outward and inward, forwards and backwards
By JIM ALGAR, United Press International
Published: Dec. 22, 2012 at 4:01 AM
2012 saw science looking from the cosmically large to the infinitesimally small, from the end of some efforts -- like the Space Shuttle era -- to the beginnings of others, with the search for fundamental physical particles.
UPI: Notable deaths in Science-Technology
By PAT NASON, United Press International
Published: Dec. 26, 2012 at 2:02 PM
The first man on the moon, the first American woman in space and several Nobel laureates whose work transformed everyday life topped the list of figures in science and technology who died in 2012.
Daily Kos: This week in science: good riddance 2012 by DarkSyde


NBC News: The Year in Space: Hello to Mars ... farewell to Neil Armstrong
By Alan Boyle
Every year marks beginnings and endings, but when it comes to space exploration, 2012 ranks as a big year for both starts and stops. SpaceX opened what could be a new era for commercial spaceflight. NASA's Curiosity rover began what could turn out to be a decade-long mission on Mars. First moonwalker Neil Armstrong, arguably the world's best-known (and most private) astronaut, passed away. So did Sally Ride, America's first woman astronaut. And after 30 years of service, the space shuttle fleet finally settled into museum retirement.

We've put together a slideshow that hits the off-world highlights of the past year. We've also put together an unscientific poll that lets you choose the top story for 2012 and the top trend for 2013. Without further ado, here's our 16th annual "Year in Space" roundup:
NBC News: Year in Space: 2012

Smithsonian Magazine: Space Exploration and the End of an Era: Notable Deaths in 2012
December 28, 2012
The year is almost over and media outlets across the country are reflecting on the news makers of the past 365 days and the celebrated and notorious who passed away in 2012. Their compilations show that a handful of late greats of space exploration will not be with us in 2013.

2012 witnessed the passing of two legends in human space exploration: Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride.
The shuttle program itself reached the end of its lifetime in 2012.
io9: The Hottest Space Porn of 2012
Robert T. Gonzalez
Dec 24, 2012 12:30 PM
2012 was a remarkable year for jaw-dropping space imagery. Here, in no particular order, are our 22 favorite photos, videos, composites, timelapses and animations of the cosmos for the year.

UPI: 2012: The year in space
From Solar storms to the retiring of the Shuttles "Atlantis" and "Discovery", this constantly updated collection features the top space news photos of 2012.
Ancient World (Geology/Paleontology/Archeology)

Smithsonion Magazine's Dinosaur Tracking blog: The Most Exciting (and Frustrating) Stories From This Year in Dinosaurs
By Brian Switek
December 14, 2012
There’s always something new to learn about dinosaurs. Whether it’s the description of a previously-unknown species or a twist in what we thought we knew about their lives, our understanding of the evolution, biology, and extinction is shifting on a near-daily basis. Even now, paleontologists are pushing new dinosaurs to publication and debating the natural history of these wonderful animals, but the end of the year is as good a time as any to take a brief look back at what we learned in 2012.
BBC: Digging into 2012's archaeology
By Louise Iles University of Cambridge
As much as science looked to the future this year in fields ranging from particle physics to planetary exploration, 2012 also gave us a rich view into the past. Here's a month-by-month view of what excited archaeologists through the year.
NBC News: The year's ancient mysteries (and missteps) put into perspective
By Alan Boyle
Long-ago lore still has the power to ignite modern-day controversies: Witness the tempests that were stirred up this year over the Maya calendar, the purported "Gospel of Jesus' Wife," a bone box linked to early Christians, a disputed dinosaur skeleton and the plan to clone a woolly mammoth.

It turned out that there was much more to each of these cases than met the eye. Or sometimes much less. Either way, we'll be hearing more about ancient mysteries in the year to come. Here's a status report on six of 2012's most controversial mysteries (and missteps) in the realms of archaeology, anthropology and paleontology.

Slate: The Top Newfound Species of 2012
Meet the gorgeous, creepy, goofy plants and animals discovered this year.
By Kara Brandeisky
Posted Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, at 5:15 AM ET
It’s been a great year for newly discovered wildlife. Some of the plants and animals documented for the first time come from places like Papua New Guinea that are teeming with species unknown to science. Others come from college-town backyards.
LiveScience via MSNBC on MSN: The 10 Weirdest Animal Discoveries of 2012
By Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer
updated 12/19/2012 1:45:55 PM ET
As the year comes to an end, it's time to look back at the grossest, oddest and simply most fascinating animals to make the headlines in 2012. There were zombie worms and penis fish, not to mention turtles with a strange way of getting rid of urine. Read on for 2012's most bizarre.

UPI: Obesity rates decline, but U.S. health falters
By ALEX CUKAN, United Press International
Published: Dec. 28, 2012 at 4:30 AM
After decades of increasing U.S. child obesity rates, 2012 might be the watershed year when this trend started to reverse -- several cities and even the state of Mississippi, which for many years ranked the fattest state in the nation -- showed declines in child and teen obesity.
However, in other rankings the United States maintained a relatively poor showing when it came to health.

The United States trailed many countries in life expectancy. The CIA World Factbook ranked the United States at 51 for life expectancy -- at birth U.S. life expectancy was 78.49 years in 2012 -- lower than for people born in Monaco at 89.7 years, Macau at 84.4 years and Japan at 83.9 years.

The infant mortality rate -- the number of deaths of infants age 1 and younger per 1,000 live births -- is another indicator used to evaluate the level of health in a country. The United States ranked 51 with six deaths per 1,000 live births. Monaco led the world again with infant mortality of 1.8 per 1,000 live births, followed by 2.12 per 1,000 births in Japan and 2.47 per 1,000 births in Bermuda, the CIA World Factbook said.
The U.S. also lagged behind other countries in maternal mortality.  On the other hand, smoking rates are way down.

UPI: Medicine trying more innovative approaches
By ALEX CUKAN, United Press International
Published: Dec. 27, 2012 at 5:27 AM
2012 was not the year for new blockbuster drugs, but researchers used existing drugs for different purposes and tried innovative approaches to save patients.
LiveScience via NBC News: Joys of hottie dating-- and 11 other 'no, duh' studies of 2012
By Stephanie Pappas and Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience
For scientists, an answer to a question, or solution to a problem, is not true until proven so. And sometimes that means revealing what mere mortals already knew, like, say the fact that getting to the hospital quicker can save heart-attack victims, or, the seemingly far-fetched idea that exercise is good for you.

Here are a few of the most obvious findings of 2012.

Earth Island Journal: The Top Ten Environmental Stories of 2012
From oil to agriculture to wilderness, a rundown of the most important headlines of the year
by Jason Mark
December 25, 2012
On the interwebs the year-end “Top Ten” lists and “Best Of” rundowns have become as ritualized a part of the winter solstice season as holiday shopping and putting lights on the house. I’ve been known to suffer from good case of FOMO (ICYMI, that’s “fear-of-missing-out”), so I thought I should compile a list of my own this year. Here’s my take on the environment-related stories from 2012 that are likely to have a lasting impact beyond this calendar year.
Smithsonian Magazine: The Ten Best Ocean Stories of 2012
December 18, 2012
Despite covering 70 percent of the earth’s surface, the ocean doesn’t often make it into the news. But when it does, it makes quite a splash (so to speak). Here are the top ten ocean stories we couldn’t stop talking about this year, in no particular order.
Discovery News: The Year in Natural Disasters: Photos
This year wasn't particularly bad in terms of natural disasters, but it may not have felt that way.

LiveScience on NBC News on MSN: The 10 Most Blushworthy Science Stories of 2012
By Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer
updated 12/20/2012 12:54:32 PM ET
Sex is a part of life — and a subject of scientific research. This year was particularly sultry, with studies covering everything from hormone-triggered masturbation to our species' history with Neanderthal nookie.

Here are the top 10 science studies that made us blush in 2012.

Physics World: Physics World reveals its top 10 breakthroughs for 2012
Dec 14, 2012
The Physics World award for the 2012 Breakthrough of the Year goes "to the ATLAS and CMS collaborations at CERN for their joint discovery of a Higgs-like particle at the Large Hadron Collider". Nine other research initiatives are highly commended and cover topics ranging from energy harvesting to precision cosmology.
Physics Central: Top 10 Physics Buzz Stories of 2012
Friday, December 28, 2012
It's been an eventful year in the world of physics. Curiosity landed on Mars, physicists found a Higgs-like particle, and ponytail physics made its popular debut. We covered these big stories in 2012, but many others proved more popular on our blog.

Here's the list of our 10 most popular blog posts of the year based on pageviews.
Physics World: Physics World's 2012 Book of the Year
Physics World's choice of the 2012 Book of the Year is How the Hippies Saved Physics by David Kaiser
Dec 18, 2012
A generation from now, 2012 may be remembered as the year when research on quantum fundamentals came of age. The awarding of the year's Nobel Prize for Physics to two quantum-control pioneers, Serge Haroche and David Wineland, was a milestone in the field's development, and with stunning new experiments on quantum measurement or entanglement appearing in Physics World's annual list of top "breakthroughs" four years in a row, more honours seem likely to follow.

Not that long ago, however, the accolades were not so forthcoming. Well into the 1970s and 1980s interest in fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics was largely confined to a handful of physics oddballs, many of whom combined their enthusiasm for Bell's theorem and quantum entanglement with a penchant for psychedelic drugs and New Age philosophy. Their story is told in David Kaiser's book How the Hippies Saved Physics – our pick for Physics World's 2012 Book of the Year.

Chemical & Engineering News: Chemical Year In Review
By Josh Fischman
December 24, 2012
This past year, C&EN’s weekly coverage had hundreds of articles on important research advances, industry developments, and vital policy news. Our annual Research Year In Review, beginning on page 20, reveals some of the superlative achievements we featured in 2012. For instance, scientists made major progress in atomic-resolution imaging and began to capitalize on the synthetic potential of so-called frustrated Lewis pairs. Our selections, displayed in no particular order, are subjective and not intended to be comprehensive. What they do represent are some of the many ways that chemists are pushing the boundaries of what we know and are capable of doing.
In the U.S. Congress, the past year was less than rosy, which is our focus starting on page 31. Bitter partisanship between Democrats and Republicans in the legislature meant there was little progress on tackling key science issues such as climate change, energy policy, or attempts to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Federal lawmakers, however, did manage to pass some legislation, including measures to protect federal whistle-blowers, reauthorize user fees at the Food & Drug Administration, and normalize U.S. trade relations with Russia.

But a shadow has been cast over all of this activity: The stalemate over deficit reduction and arguments about ways to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, which involves significant cuts to federal programs that fund research, as well as expiring tax cuts.
A more in-depth but difficult to summarize review comes from Chemistry World: Cutting edge chemistry in 2012.

Nature: Nature Chemistry by the numbers – 2012
Posted by Stuart Cantrill
23 Dec 2012
As 2012 is winding down, I thought I’d take a look back at volume 4 of the journal. This isn’t a terribly in-depth analysis, and it’s based on what we’ve published rather than what was submitted, but you might find it a little bit interesting. Here are the covers of the 12 issues that made up the 2012 issues.
And now, to complete the circle by taking this back from the serious to the silly, I present 2012's...

Weird Science

NBC News: From sex-starved flies to murderous chimps: Pick the weirdest science
By Alan Boyle
Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll and the Apocalypse: 2012 had it all. But only 10 stories about the past year's strangest scientific research can make it into our Weird Science hall of fame — so we're going to need your help.
The sixth annual Weird Science Award competition follows the precedent we've set in past years: We offer up 30 nominees from the past year, and it's up to you to pick the top 10. We've included a couple of studies that have won Ig Nobel awards — which are given annually to recognize "research that makes people laugh — and then think." That's a fine criterion for the Weirdies as well. Or you can go with research that makes you laugh — and then makes you wonder, "What on earth were they thinking?"

Write-in votes and second-guessing are encouraged; you can register them in your comments. If a write-in vote gets enough support from commenters, the research in question will be added to the ballot.

The 10 nominees that get the most votes as of noon ET Jan. 2 will be the 2013 winners of the Weirdy Awards.
Scientific American: The Strangest Non-Stories of 2012
UFOs, the Mayan apocalypse, eagle-snatching baby and more strange science stories that weren't this year
By Benjamin Radford and LiveScience Bad Science Columnist
December 27, 2012
A lot of things happened in 2012, including scientific breakthroughs, a presidential re-election, and a tragic school shooting. But a lot of things didn't happen this past year.

We realize it's a little strange to discuss things that never occurred — after all, countless things didn't happen in 2012, from an asteroid hitting Earth, to Justin Bieber marrying a supermodel, to Abraham Lincoln climbing out of his grave to praise Steven Spielberg's  "Lincoln" as being more historically accurate than "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter."

But there were a handful of stories that made the news, often with a splash, promising big news, and turned out to be non-stories, non-events. Here are a few.
And that's it for the year now ending in science.  I'll have science and space events to look forward to in 2013 next at Midnight GMT.

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