It's nearly the end of 2012, a year which has seen heartbreak and triumph in equal measure. Sitting down to predict the events which would dominate 2012, few would have suspected that a Britain would have succeeded in winning the Tour de France. Of course there were those stories which were destined to be remembered forever; the London Olympics, a prime example. Where then is the world placed after 2012? For Britain it seems unlikely that 2013 will bring anything near the excitement and triumph which has characterised this year. The world continues on the path to a shaky economic recovery, with even more nail- biting Euro-crisis headlines to come. Sports has enjoyed a memorable Olympics with records being smashed at every turn; the previously unheard of double-triple was successfully defended by Usain Bolt. China experienced their leadership change whilst America re-elected Obama for another term of office. Therefore if 2012 has hurried by a bit too quickly, then here are a few events which you really should remember...
|anti-Assad protesters |
Bashar Al Assad's brutal repression of the Syrian people has never been far from the headlines during 2012. Originally Syria was an off shoot of the Arab Spring revolutions. This year has however seen the conflict develop into full blown civil war. Estimates suggest that the crumbling regime's battle to remain in power has cost the lives of 40,000 Syrians. Despite the bleak outlook heading into 2013, the seeds of victory for the rebels are beginning to emerge. December saw the USA join Britain, France, Turkey and the Gulf states in recognising Syria's National Coalition as being the official representatives of the Syrian population. The rebels themselves have made significant gains by taking the fight to the capital Damascus which has previously been the stronghold of the Assad regime. Though progress is being made, the devastation to the country coupled with Assad's continuing resistance means that Syria's recovery is likely to take decades.
The discovery of the Higgs boson represents one of the greatest breakthrough in physics of the year, if not the decade. In July, physicists working at CERN reported the discovery of a particle which possessed similar properties to the Higgs Boson, offering compounding evidence for the existence of the elusive “God particle.” The discovery of the particle helps physicists to better understand the workings of The Standard Model. The search for the particle has captivated particle physicists for almost half a century since Peter Higgs first presented his hypothesis of the Higgs mechanism in 1964. The particle being a part of Higgs theory plays a crucial part in Prof Higgs' explanation for why particles possess mass. Representing an investment of £2.6bn, the discovery if confirmed would help to usher in a new era of particle physics.
The Internet's contribution to the events of the year has been remarkably varied. From Twitter controversy, to Invisible Children's campaign to raise awareness about Joseph Kony. Though important at the time, they lack the scale and longevity to really be considered memorable. Gangnam Style by contrast, has taken the Internet by storm. PSY's song has averaged almost 10 million views per day. Recently in November, Gangnam style became the first Youtube video to clock up 1 billion views. PSY's exploits also include inspiring a variety of parodies which include Gandalf Style and Mitt Romney Style to name a few. Such widespread notoriety and popularity makes it seem only fair that if one song were to define 2012, it should undoubtedly be Gangnam style.
|Rebecca Brooks and Andy Coulson under investigation|
Woes which originated in the depths of the phone hacking scandal, characterised the year for the media of Britain. Selecting but a few headlines demonstrates the immense difficulties and uncertainties which face the future of journalism. The year for Andy Coulson and Rebecca Brooks will be one they would rather forget. Crucially however this year saw Lord Leveson report the findings of his investigation. Predictably the findings were filled with criticism of the media world, especially those engaged in the “dark arts” of phone hacking. Judgements were not only reserved for journalists though, but also for those politicians who regularly courted the media elite. Why might an investigation which is limited predominantly to a British sphere of influence be so emblematic of 2012? Focusing on the suggestions which Lord Leveson makes in the investigation, it is difficult not to be struck by the profoundness of his ideas. The propositions include a call for the foundation of the first press law since the 17th century. Whether or not the Government chooses to implement Leveson's ideas about press regulation, the report still represents a period of scrutiny of media ethics and practices. Coupled with recent investigations into Jimmy Saville, its is fast becoming impossible for the media to avoid the calls for reform any longer.
|Felix Baumgartner's skydive from Space|
Pushing the boundaries has appealed throughout history to a select few. Examining the limits of human endurance has been the subject of expeditions, death defying feats and extreme sports. Felix Baumgartner's skydive from 24 miles above the Earth's surface has demonstrated the dream to push limits is still very much alive. The skydive smashed aviation records which included the highest height ever achieved by a balloon, the furthest skydive, and the greatest speed achieved by a free falling human being. Felix endured speeds of 833mph in order to become the first human being to break the sound barrier whilst falling. Indeed many including Felix's own family were convinced that the stunt could not be achieved. The risks included falling into a “death spin” during the flight or having his blood to boil in seconds due to a tear in the space suit. The greatest service which Felix's skydive has done though, is to help inspire the current young generation which has previously lacked any form of iconic feats of space exploration. Where before, generations spoke of the excitement of the moon landings, perhaps the skydive from the edge of space will become the iconic space event for younger generations.