Aparna Sundaresan charts the delightful and the dreadful moments that marked 2012
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Switzerland, is the apparatus meant to find the proposed Higgs boson particle, the elementary particle which created the universe as we know it. The theory is that when two high-speed protons collide, they create a Higgs boson particle which has the power to give other particles mass. Particles that gained mass so would have clustered together to form the universe. In July, the LHC team reported that it had found a particle that behaved like the Higgs boson, paving the way for the most important scientific discovery of the 21st century.
For over 15 years, there were suspicions and accusations that Lance Armstrong had doped his way to winning seven Tour de France titles and other tournaments. His urine has been tested so many times for illegal performanceenhancing drugs that Armstrong himself believes he is the most tested athlete in the world. In October, he was declared guilty of doping and in a shocking aftermath, his Tour de France titles were stripped and he was handed a lifetime ban from cycling.
Curiosity rover landed on Mars in August to study the planet, but news of its successful landing was overshadowed by images of Curiosity’s mohawksporting flight director. Bobak “Mohawk Guy” Ferdowsi attracted so much attention for his unconventional hairstyle (and handsome face) that even US President Barack Obama told the NASA team, “You guys are a little cooler than you used to be.” Of his overnight celebrity (and heartthrob) status, Bobak said, “If my mohawk gets a few more people excited about science and this mission, that’s awesome.”
The largest power outage in history happened in India at the end of July. 22 northern states were drowned in darkness for two days when the power grid for the region collapsed after excessive electricity use by people to stave off the summer heat. North India is no stranger to power outages as the grid had failed in 2001 as well. A serious inspection and major overhaul are now long overdue.
The music video for Korean musician Psy’s song Gangnam Style went so viral on YouTube that the word viral needs a new definition. One day a nobody and the next day a global superstar, Psy became famous for his bizarre dance moves that imitate riding a horse. He has since made appearances in famous American shows Saturday Night Live and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, doing his Gangnam dance.
When 26-year-old cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was arrested in September on charges of sedition, India erupted in outrage. He lampooned the government by modifying national symbols in his cartoons to indicate how deeply entrenched corruption has become in the country. But instead of interpreting the satire in the symbols, he was charged with plotting against the nation and jailed. Intense media criticism later forced his release.
Mary Kom, who has since the London Olympics become a beacon of hope for marginalised sportspeople and women in India, famously apologised to the country for not winning a gold medal at the games. Even though this Olympics was India’s most successful in terms of medal tally, Mary felt her bronze win was not good enough. “My whole country was hoping for me to win a gold medal, and I am sorry I have not come back with that,” she said. She did win a billion hearts, though.
Austrian BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner fancied a skydive in October, so he went up to the stratosphere (where only jet planes and weather balloons fly) and parachute jumped from there. He only broke a couple of records – the highest altitude jump and the greatest free fall velocity that broke the sound barrier. In other words, he dove 39 kilometres to the earth faster than the speed of sound and redefined the word courage.
Apparently the world is ending on 21 December 2012 because the Mayan calendar says so. If you don’t believe it, here are some facts to validate your stance; if you believe it, here’s some analysis to make you feel like an idiot: the start date in the calendar is 11 August 3114 BC, the day when this world was supposedly created. If the start date is mythical, how can anyone be sure the end date isn’t? 21 December is the end of the ‘fourth cycle’ of the world (Mayans believed the world existed in cycles) but nothing in Mayan literature alludes to a catastrophe after that. Mayan scholars themselves have said that the calendar is nothing but a representation of Mayan culture and their way of thinking.
Hurricane Sandy was the most devastating storm to hit countries in the Atlantic. 70 per cent of Jamaica’s residents lost electricity. 200,000 became homeless in Haiti. 15,000 homes were destroyed in Puerto Rico. In the United States, streets, tunnels and subway lines flooded, and electricity supply was cut for at least two days. As we take Nature more and more for granted, she hits back again and again where it hurts most. If the end of the world is real, was this what the Mayans warned us about?
MANY NOTABLE PERSONALITIES PASSED AWAY THIS YEAR,ESPECIALLY:
• Neil Armstrong
• Whitney Houston
• Yash Chopra
• Robin Gibb
• Rajesh Khanna
• Vidal Sassoon
• Ray Bradbury
• Jaspal Bhatti
Volume 2 Issue 6