As the year rushes to its close, a predictable feature is the appearance of “year in review” programs. This is good for the broadcasters and other such because they already have the footage, and they just re-run whatever portions needed to fill air time. Other outlets do something similar: Ten Best this or that. You know. Wired News is featuring a post on the Top Scientific Discoveries of the year, and I think their selection was pretty good. Everybody would give the nod to the account of what may be first real indication that the so-called Higgs boson has been experimentally detected. If you are a particle physicist, this is good news. If you are not, it’s still good news, because the discovery implies that researchers have really puzzled out the way things work and don’t have to start over again. The so-called Standard Model with its tweaks, is correct. Physicists are being very shy about putting too much weight on this right now, lest the ice give way and all that. But it was news, really. Genome science got a boost also, as researchers came to the somewhat surprising conclusion that a very large number of human heritable diseases are due to random and relatively recent mutations. Natural Selection has not had time to eliminate them yet. Mars exploration got a nod from the Wired pickers. That one was well-deserved, surely. The operation went well and the lander was deposited on the Martian surface ‘right prettily’ as they used to say. Ingenious design, meticulous care, dedicate people working hard help pushed this tricky program over the top. The little guy is still up there doing the job. In all, not a bad year at all.
The story is in the left hand column, in Image Gallery,.