Wednesday, 1 January 2014

What Happened In 2013? An Uncomprehensive Guide

In case you've forgotten what happened during 2013, or just forgot how long ago each event was, here's a rundown of some of the major events that occurred, in chronological order, during the totally-arbitrary solar sojourn that was the year 2013 CE.

It's not comprehensive - it'd be too long to read, if it were - and it might be a tad anglo-centric, but i've tried my best. Enjoy...


Malala Yousafzai - the the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by Religion, in October 2012, for wanting to go to school but being a girl - is discharged from hospital, in Birmingham, the UK.

Researchers successfully restore sight in mice, by injecting photosensitive cells into their retinas. This promises a future cure for retinitis pigmentosa.

The AllTrials campaign is launched, pioneered by Ben Goldacre, to gain access to vital pharmaceutical research data. Medical organisations from around the world sign up almost immediately, with many pharmaceutical companies refraining, for obviously capitalistic reasons.

A cloud of atoms is made that appears to 'break temperature' by going below absolute zero. What it really does is to expose the insufficiency of Classical Physics, in describing very low-energy ensembles.

Researchers create a super-omniphobic material. Everyone gasps at how clean it is.

Quadruple helix DNA is discovered in human cells. "Wow, that's amazing" Unfortunately, it's associated with cancer. "Boo, hiss"

A sucrose-based skin patch is developed, to deliver vaccines without the need for a scary-looking needle. It means the potential for self-administered vaccination, as there is less risk of misuse or accident, and the patch can't be reused, which also means protecting more people from horrible diseases.


Glory-hunters claim to have found the remains of King Richard III of England, under a Leicester car park. In actual fact, the genetic tests they used are insufficient to determine such a conclusion - they could be one of many thousands of ancestors - but who cares when it gets publicity!

Antarctic researchers discover bacteria, living under sub-glacial ice, in Lake Whillans. This means they can survive without light, in persistently low temperatures.

A meteor splinters and crashes into the frozen ground near Chelyabinsk, in Russia. At almost the same time, another meteorite passes Earth, from the opposite direction, too small to be detected. Conspiracy theorists go crazy, ignoring the fact that neither the USA nor Russia have a meteorite cannon in outer space.

Fox News mistakenly uses a picture of a lesbian couple to cover an article promoting 'traditional marriage'. Butch lesbians, eh - FSM bless 'em all!

Pope Benedict 'Rattie' XVI resigns his infallibility to become Pope Emeritus. The Vatican is struck by lightning on the same day, and superstitionists conclude it's a message from Yahweh. Presumably, a very poorly worded one.

A researcher of the ideation of conspiracy theories publishes a paper about it, and is subsequently subject to conspiracy theories about his study of conspiracy theories. Or is this story a conspiracy to make us think it was?

Australian-based comedy group 'The Sunny Coast Skate' shoots a dance video to Baauer's 'Harlem Shake' song, starting a meme that will last half the year.


The UN imposes stricter sanctions on North Korea, for conducting nuclear weapons tests, detected by seismology. Three days later, North Korea withdraws from its armistice with South Korea.

The Curiosity Lander makes its first major discovery, examining the rocks in Gale Crater, and sends back extraordinary images of the Martian surface.

MIT reveals their running cheetah robot. Surprisingly, it doesn't fall over.

The Planck telescope reveals an almost perfectly smooth universe, with a mysterious but incredibly subtle pattern hinting at mysterious early-universal physics. Theoretical Physicists order new crates of chalk.

An Italian man who worked in the UK for 10 years, pretending to be a lawyer, was convicted on 25 charges of deception, fraud and money laundering. He claimed to have worked with train robber Ronnie Biggs, Saddam Hussein, Harold Shipman, and Slobodan Milosevic.

Maurice Goeller - a Swiss quackupuncturist - is sentenced to 13 years in prison, for giving 16 people HIV via standard acupuncture practice. The I-SCAM industry does not commit to any kind of reform, and no official investigation of the fraudulent industry ensues.

Companies that bank with Cyprus - a tax-haven - are given a $13 billion bailout, by the EU. And who is made to pay for this? The people who actually live in Cyprus, via a tax on their savings accounts! Protests are met with disdain.

A species of fly is discovered that is only 0.13 millimetres long. Unsurprisingly, they found it while hunting for fly eggs, not trying to spot it in flight.

Chinese scientists further develop aerogel to produce the least-dense material ever created by mankind. It's carbon-based, and only slightly more dense than air.

Jon Millward reveals what a real porn star looks like, and how they live their lives, through statistics. They turn out to be very 'average' - men are 5'10", women 5'5", but weighing a couple of stone less than the USA's population. That's not hard! The average female's measurements are 34B-24-34, and her hair colour is 'brunette'.
She is proportionally representative of all ancestral backgrounds, and gets into the industry at the same age as her predecessors 40 years ago - at 22. Men, however, are starting younger - 25, down from 29. They're not noteably kinky, but they are more open to new ideas, and experience higher-than-average self-esteem, social support, and sexual satisfaction. Also, the majority do more than three shoots before deciding to quit.
The research jars horrendously with what common prejudice says about pornographers and the porn industry. But that's exactly what you'd expect of people who are ignorant of it!

The world's first entirely-algae-powered building is constructed in Hamburg, Germany. It is, quite literally, a green building.

In Bangladesh, an 8-storey manufacturing building collapses, claiming the lives of 1,129 people, and injuring 2,515. The profit margins of companies that used the employees' labour - like Benetton, Bonmarché, Matalan, Primark, and Walmart - were barely affected, although some did make a meagre effort to pay reparation.

Lady Thatcher - the only woman to ever be Prime Minister of the UK, past or future, unless the Tories let people forget her - receives a funeral, partly funded by British Labour Party-voting taxpayers. They do not receive shares in her cemetery plot. Atos later declares her fit for work.

IBM produces the world's smallest movie: 'A Boy And His Atom'. It was shot through a Scanning Electron Microscope, and made with carbon monoxide molecules.

James McCormick is arrested for selling dowsing rods to the UN, USA, UK, and Iraqi security services, as well as others, calling them 'bomb detectors'. His crimes are recognised by the courts, but they, governments, and the Media, continue to pretend that the root problem is not that dowsing is nonsense, and that he is as much a charlatan as a friendly homeopath!

The first gun to be manufactured by a 3D-printer is fired. It breaks. Some others don't fire, at all. But the question still remains: is it a good idea to empower any chump/sociopath with a gun obsession, and enough money to buy a printer, with the ability to manufacture such an item?

The second of twins was born, 87 days after their sister! Some commenters make it clear that they need reminding what 'twins' really means.

Angelina Jolie receives a double mastectomy, due to medical advice. Epidemiologists go to town, futilely attempting to explain to the scientifically-illiterate Media what her risks really were, and why genetic screening - especially that offered by 23andMe - is not advised, in attempts to be safe.

Lego produces a full-scale model of a Star Wars X-Wing fighter - the largest in history - using 5,335,200 bricks.

The New York Times reports that the USA spends the most on healthcare, of any country in the world, yet has the worst healthcare of any developed country. The reason: lack of universal healthcare. They leave medicine in the hands of the private sector, which forces up costs.

Andy Murray becomes the first British winner of the Men's Singles competition at Wimbledon, for 77 years. It had been 36 years since a woman won the Women's Singles, 6 years since Andy's brother - Jamie - won the Mixed Doubles, and only 1 year since a Brit won the Men's Doubles.
Many newspapers failed to report this correctly, when they truncated their headlines to paraphrases of "First Brit to win Wimbledon in 77 years". Wrong!

Edward Snowden reveals himself to be the man who released top-secret documents regarding the activities of the USA's NSA - they had been undergoing covert surveillance, spying on individuals, organisations and governments alike. All, quasi-legally. He is prosecuted under the guise of 'national security'. The spying continues, while the world waits for another hero. Bradley Manning - another whistleblower - announces his body dysmorphia, and that he wishes to be known as Chelsea Manning. A transsexual hero!

The US Supreme Court rules that non-synthetic genes may not be patented, with significant implications for future medical research. Permitting Intellectual Property legislation to encroach on science in this way could easily hold humanity back - practically, enforcing a form of blasphemy law, where people are prohibited from freedom of information, at another's selfish whim.

Bizarre stories of goblins running amok continue to come from Zimbabwe, where goblins are believed to be real. The serious moral of these stories is yet another one warning against superstition. Lives will continue to be lost, if they don't discover the true causes of the events.

China's Shenzhou 10 manned spacecraft returns safely to Earth, having conducted China's longest manned space mission to date. But this is not their biggest achievement to come, in 2013.

The President of Egypt - Islamist, Mohammed Morsi - is deposed, and onlookers wait to see whether there will be any genuine changes made, as failed to happen with their last revolution.

The male guppy is found to grow claws on its genitals, in order to improve its chances of successful reproduction! Penisia dentata? Be afraid!

The London Array - the world's largest offshore wind farm - opens in the UK, in the London Estuary. Thousands of hysterical Londoners instantly get psychogenic migraines.

Solar Impulse completes the second leg of its global flight, powered only by the light of the Sun. Last summer, it flew from Madrid to Rabat, in Morocco. This leg crossed the USA - from San Francisco to New York.

Two new, massive types of virus are found, that are larger than some bacterial cells, and hence visible to the naked eye - Pandoravirus dulcis and Pandoravirus salinus. Virologists' minds swim with the prospect that they've been overlooking species because they were too big.

Studies of bottlenose dolphins off the Florida coast, reveal that they use names to identify each other, in just the same way humans do. They don't say whether dolphin mothers use the wrong names for their children, in just the same way human mothers do, however.


Climatologists report that the trend of increasingly large and dangerous wildfires in the USA is set to continue, as the climate changes. You can guess what the deniers did...

The world's first lab-grown burger is cooked and eaten at a conference, in London, UK. 20,000 slivers of beef muscle were grown over three months, each 1 millimetre thick and 2.5 centimetres long, in order to make the burger. It's pricetag was put at $370,000, but was described as lacking flavour, because it was all muscle, and so contained very little fat. Scaling the process up could lead to a more-efficient way to satiate people's meaty desires, without having to grow and slaughter animals.

Leading Indian Rationalist Narendra Dabholkar is assassinated. Charlatans across India breath an inappropriate sigh of relief. Sanal Edamaruku has already left India, fearing prosecution under the power of the bullying Christian Church.

Biologists release the first study of homosexual behaviour in insects. Homosexual behaviour has been seen in ~150 vertebrate species, and in them, it is usually caused by their complex sexualities, often evolved to enhance social bonds. In insects, however, the researchers found that homosexual encounters are accidental - with pheromones circling in the air, they blindly stumble into the wrong sex. The FSM must have a sense of humour!

Other biologists produced the first synthetic brains from human stem cells. The pea-sized bundles of neurons were unable to 'think' the way we do, but this advance suggests what might be possible for medical training, research, or CNS transplantation.

NASA reveals a newly-discovered canyon hidden under Greenland's ice-sheet. It's 800 m deep in some places, and 700 km long - longer than the Grand Canyon. Christian Creationists have yet to explain how the Great Flood carved it, when it's underneath all that ice.


Voyager 1 officially leaves the solar system, becoming the first human product ever to be placed outside it. So far, it has completely missed all those aliens that pass it to draw pictures in our wheat.

A UK gardening firm starts selling Tomtato plants: tomato and potato plants, cleaved together. Scientifically illiterate journalists incorrectly call it a hybrid.

Palaeontologists discover the oldest known fossil of a jawed fish, dating back to 419 million years ago. Creationists pretend not to be surprised.

The Mars Curiosity Lander discovers "abundant, easily accessible" water in soil samples in Gale Crater. Meanwhile, droughts are becoming increasingly common and severe, on Earth.

The Conservative Party of the UK clamours for bloodshed in Syria, but fails to win a vote for it, in the House of Commons. The pro-Warists lost by two votes, because two of its members were in the next room along, at the time! David Cameron's shiny face grows redder.

The IPCC releases its updated report on Climate Change, showing new, less-pleasant 95% confidence-interval figures. It directly contradicts the obstructionist Media's claims that global warming has stopped.


Newly-discovered fossils of pollen grains show that flowering plants evolved 100 million years earlier than previously thought, in the Early Triassic (252 to 247 million years ago) or even earlier. The hunt commences, for dinosaur florists.

Republicans in the US government force the furloughing of public sector employees, for half a month, over budget disagreements. NASA was worst affected, with more than 17,000 people (of 18,000) told to not go to work.

Peter Higgs and François Englert win the Physics Nobel Prize for theorizing the now-discovered Higgs Boson. The Media still insists on calling it 'the God particle', despite it actually being nicknamed 'the goddamn particle' after its difficulty to find. Some theists get confused, and start thinking God lives in Geneva.

Investment bank JP Morgan reports a $9 billion quarterly loss, having had to set aside $23 billion to pay off fines for investment misconduct. The fines are record sums, but adequate changes to banking regulations have still not transpired.

Hamza Kashgari is released after 2 years of imprisonment, for 3 vanilla statements on Twitter. He was prosecuted under Blasphemy Laws, and was fortunate not to be executed, like many atheists have been, in countries where Religion has the power and freedom to do so.

Australia experiences its earliest bushfire on record, claiming 2 lives and destroying 200 homes - its newly-elected Climate Change and Evolution denying Prime Minister ignores this fact, and sees fit to continue his administration without a Climate Council, or even a Minister for Science!


Astronomers extrapolate, based on Kepler space mission data, that there could be as many as 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of sun-like stars and Red Dwarf stars within the Milky Way galaxy. 11 billion of these estimated planets might be orbiting sun-like stars.

Satellite data reveales a net loss of 1.5 million square feet of forest between 2000 and 2012, based on 650,000 high-resolution images. Having not heard any of them fall, philosophers take to their quills.

Hurricane Haiyan claims more than 6000 lives, in the Philippines alone. Climate Change action obstructivists immediately jump to arms, to undermine people's autonomy - to prevent anyone from thinking they could do anything about it. Evidence shows warming will not make such storms more frequent, but will make them stronger, and hence more deadly. The destruction of neighbouring Malaysia's rainforests, to be replaced with Palm Oil plantations for overweight Westerners to eat, is a major cause of carbon emissions.

Complimenting the pea-sized brains made from stem cells, earlier in the year, researchers grow miniature kidneys from human stem cells. Again, one day, this technology could be used to develop personally-honed transplant organs. Or it might be used to mass-produce meals of liver and bacon. Yum yum.

Antarctic researchers discover neutrinos that likely travelled to here from another galaxy. They did not break the speed of light.

Paleontologists reveal a newly-discovered dinosaur, second only in size to T-Rex - Siats Meekerorum - which was the largest known predator for 30 million years. It could not fly, and it does not have a blog.


Nelson Mandela - former President of South Africa, who presided over efforts to end racist segregation, and to fight HIV, as well as many other causes - dies, at the age of 95 years, with great successes seen, during his lifetime.

Monty Python get back together for a series of stage shows, in order to pay off Terry Jones' mortgage.

China's Jade Rabbit - Change'e-3 lands on the moon - the first human product to do so for forty years! It does not vibrate, nor is it a luminous colour - it is not a dildo! Jade Rabbit is the character that the Chinese pareidoically perceive in the Moon, much like Europeans' 'man in the moon'. Personally, i just see a poorly-arranged nest site. You mammals are weird!

The European Space Agency's Gaia space telescope is launched. It will be used to compile a 3D space catalogue of approximately a billion astronomical objects! Sorry, ESA - that's impressive - but i think the CNSA wins the spacerace for 2013. Oh, btw, it is true - some conspiracy theorists have already decided they didn't really go. Haha!

So, that's 2013 summed up. Like i said at the top - there is a lot i've left out - and i know it.

I wonder what will happen, in 2014. Don't just wait for it, though - make it happen - and make the most of this recurring solar sojourn.

On with 2014....

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