Happy New Year! Welcome to 2013 and what promises to be another year full of scientific discoveries. This time of year always brings the requisite “Top Ten” lists from various news outlets. Several Berkeley Lab projects took prominence so I thought it would be a good time to take a look at what others thought made news this past year.
But first, let’s leave it to one of the nation’s leading magazines, Scientific American, to look ahead, and not behind. In their New Year, New Science list of what they think has yet to make news, the Berkeley Lab-led Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota shows up. Sanford Lab is an underground particle detector which began operation in 2012. The experiments may help explain the mysteries behind dark matter.
But let’s take a look back, now, at 2012. Science magazine’s top science stories of last year also touched on a Berkeley Lab affiliated particle detector, this time one half-way across the world, in Daya Bay, China. The Daya Bay facility is hunting neutrinos and in 2012 decisively solved one of the last mysteries surrounding the particle.
Science also produced a short video with the story’s author Adrian Cho. The video includes several photographs from Berkeley Lab’s outstanding photographer Roy Kaltschmidt.
The website RedOrbit also got in the mix of naming a top list of science stories. RedOrbit included the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) led by Berkeley Lab’s David Schlegel. BOSS continues to map the universe and last year gave us some of the most exact measurements of the large-scale structure of the universe, giving us some insight into the history of its expansion and how it may have been affected by dark energy:
The Dark Universe Comes To Light: Despite searching the heavens for thousands of years, the cosmos continues to give us more questions than answers. Of the open questions plaguing astronomy, the origin, composition and location of the Universe’s dark elements – Dark Matter and Dark Energy – have been the most frustrating. Mostly, because of the challenge of even measuring them, we have often wondered if they even exist. But 2012 saw scientists make great strides in understanding these mysterious forces. Researchers with the BOSS experiment mapped the motions of some of the oldest galaxies in the Universe, revealing, for the first time, what the expansion of the Universe really looked like more than 10 billion years ago…
And io9, another widely read science website, listed its biggest scientific breakthroughs of 2012. Included was research led by the Lab’s Seung-Wuk Lee, showing how a virus could be used to create electricity. Lee’s research was one of the Lab’s most-covered research projects of 2012.
Now, to be fair, there’s one story that nearly every major news organization listed in their top science stories of 2012, and that was the possible discovery of the Higgs Boson. We wrote about that earlier this year here, but that achievement could not have been possible without the help of Berkeley Lab researchers. They just didn’t always get the credit they deserved!
So, that’s it for 2012, and a brief look-ahead to 2013. As Dr. Seuss once said:
“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”