The year 2012 has seen great strides in scientific and technological advances, from landing Curiosity on Mars, to the technology to transplant organs with 3D printed images. To follow are some of the more memorable achievements of 2012.
Curiosity on Mars
NASA accomplished one of the most complicated landings ever attempted by landing the 2000-pound Rover Curiosity on the surface of Mars in what is now known as the 7 minutes of terror. Curiosity has been taking Martian samples ever since, and back in September, proved that the soil contains remnants water, a necessary ingredient for life. NASA scientist explained that the large and rounded pieces of gravel found on Mars “are too large to be transported by wind. The consensus of the science team is that these are water-transported gravels in a vigorous stream.”
The Higgs Boson
Physicists at CERN announced in July that they had most likely discovered the Higgs Boson, the missing piece of particle physics that would either prove or disprove things we know and believe about the Standard Model of physics. The Higgs Boson is believed to be the particle that gives mass to the otherwise massless particles, and would therefore explain how the universe was created out of nothing.
The Smallest Vertebrate
Scientists discovered the smallest vertebrate so far, a frog living in the rainforests of New Guinea. The Paedophryne amanuensis measures in at 7.7 millimeters long, the size of a housefly.
The First Solo Dive to the Deepest Point on Earth
Director James Cameron accomplished the first solo dive down to the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on Earth, 11 kilometers below the Pacific Ocean.
The Highest Skydive
On the other end of the spectrum, Felix Baumgartner accomplished the highest skydive ever, by jumping from literally the edge of space, 24-miles high. Though he did not break the free fall record at 4 minutes and 20 seconds, he was the first to break the sound barrier without a jet or space shuttle. Oh, and by the way, he landed on his feet.
A Step Forward in Breast Cancer Research
Scientists in the UK found that breast cancer is not one disease, but can be differentiated into 10 types, a finding which will help tailor treatment and potentially increase survival rates.
3-D Liver Printing
In the United States, an artificial liver made of sugar was printed in 3D, for blood vessels to grow into. An artificial jaw was also printed in 3D and successfully transplanted.
3D printing will continue to grow in usage and popularity in the coming year. Home 3D printers will soon drop below the $2,000 mark. Brian Barrett, the managing editor of the blog Gizmodo, explains, “Instead of printing ink onto paper, it takes these little spools of plastic, [usually], and you can feed it instructions and it will use that to form basically any shape that you want, whether it's a utensil or a replica of the White House," he said. "You can go on the Internet, find a design, download it, send it to your 3D printer, and in the course of either several minutes or several hours, depending on how large your order is, it will construct this thing. What's fascinating about it is the limits are only as far as the imagination goes."
Mobile technology develops at an ever rapid pace each year, as more and more people are using their mobile devices in lieu of computers for most tasks. Microsoft joined the fray with its new Windows 8, specifically engineered for touchscreen use. It is growing increasingly evident that touchscreen laptops will soon become the industry standard.
2012 has been quite a year for science and technology, and with the rapid development of new technologies, 2013 promises to see growth at an even faster rate. So, fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be quite a ride.