Friday, 2 January 2015

What Happened In 2014? An Uncomprehensive Guide (The Sequel)

In case you've forgotten what happened during 2013 2014, 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 2014 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...

And yes, i did just copy that text out of last year's round-up. But then, why should i change it? :-P


1st January
Asteroid 2014 AA releases 500 tonnesworth of TNT in energy, when it dismantles over the Atlantic. A great start for the year :-D

6th January

Research is published that first demonstrates the use of acoustic tweezers (sound waves coming from multiple directions) to levitate objects with three-dimensional control.

10th January
Researchers report that they've seen Harlequin Ladybirds flying at 1100m altitude, and travelling at speeds of 60 kilometres per hour.

12th January
Hindus are documented drinking urine from a cow, thinking that it'll make them healthier.

14th January
Christians are documented eating grass from a field, under instructions from a preacher, in order to demonstrate their superstition in Jesus (faith in Christ).

14th January
Female capuchin monkeys are documented throwing stones at male capuchin monkeys, as a form of flirtation.

16th January
Hiroo Onoda - the Imperial Japanese Army officer who remained at his jungle post on an island in the Philippines for 29 years, refusing to believe that World War II was over, returning to an unrecognizably-different Japan in 1974, dies at 91.

16th January
Guenter Zettl is awarded a copy of 'Painter Man' by 'The Creation', for correctly identifying it in a radio competition, 45 years before, when he was 18.

17th January
Physicists publish the first ever evidence of ball lightning actually existing, having recreated it in their laboratory.

20th January
Scientists directly image a brown dwarf for the first time, with the Keck Observatory.

21st January
CERN's ASACUSA experiment succeeds, for the first time, to produce a beam of antihydrogen atoms - atoms made of antiprotons and antielectrons.

25th January
NASA's Curiosity Rover becomes the subject of celebration, having been on Mars for 10 years, and still being functional.

30th January
A large study confirms that alcohol (in the form of vodka) consumption is the major cause of the extraordinarily high risk of early death in Russian men.


1st February
Indonesian volcano Sinabung erupts for the second time in 4 years. It hadn't erupted for 400 years before then, and last time forced the displacement of 30000 people. Like with Typhoon Hagupit, in December, learning from experience keeps mortality and morbidity dramatically lower than the time before.

4th February
Bill Nye 'The Science Guy' debates Ken Ham 'the gibbering creationist rubberbrain', cueing speculation about who 'won'.

6th February
NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover sends back a picture, from Mars, of Earth, pictured like an 'evening star' the way Mars is usually seen from Earth.

7th February
By going beyond the common smooth-fronted-tie look, mathematicians extend the number of possible permutations of tie knots to 177477!

10th February
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California announce that they've developed the highest-watt LASER ever, with petawatt power - 1,000,000,000,000,000 watts of total power! But only for 30 femtoseconds at a time - that's 0.00000000000003 seconds.

15th February

NASA solves the Mars doughnut mystery.

17th February
Conspiracy theorists who desecrated sites at the Giza Pyramids, in Egypt, while attempting to prove that 'aliens' are somehow involved in something vague and handwavey face criminal charges for vandalism.

19th February
The US Army presents a pizza that can last 3 years, without refrigeration, before becoming inedible.

19th February
The first ever evidence of a cannabis overdose is announced, following a study that revealed the deaths of two men to be caused by THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, through heart arrhythmia. In so many decades, that's a very low mortality rate. Certainly much better than the legal drug alcohol.

22nd February
The Joris Laarman Lab, in Amsterdam, pioneers 3D printing... but with metal.

23rd February
Evidence that atom-probe tomography that has proved a zircon crystal from Australia to be 4.4 billion years old is published. That makes it the oldest known piece of Earth's crust.


3rd March
We learn of a newly-found virus - Pithovirus sibericum - that has been dug out of the permafrost of the coastal tundra in Chukotka, near the East Siberia Sea, where the average annual temperature is minus 13.4 degrees Celsius. When thawed out, and placed in agar jelly, the virus resumes replication, indicating that it has not been denatured by the experience. It turns out to be 30,000 years old!

4th March
An analysis of more than 6000 heart attacks and strokes finds that, in the 2 hours after an angry outburst, people are nearly five times as likely to have a heart attack and more than three times as likely to have a stroke than usual. So if you're 'at risk' try to keep calm.

5th March
HUVr fakes a hoverboard video, which YouTuber Captain Disillusion goes on to debunk comprehensibly. This will not be the last attempted hoverboard scam, this year.

9th March
That 'First Kiss' video thing happens.

10th March
Alan Turing is demonstrated to be even more genial than thought, 60 years after his death, through validation of his morphogenetic hypothesis. Researchers found all six foetal development patterns that he predicted, plus one that he didn't.

18th March
The day Fox News accidentally broadcast a penis, on live television, through the Linear Media's lazy drive to plagiarise all of their work from Twitter :-D

19th March
Paleontologists announce the discovery of a North American 'chicken from hell' - Anzu wyliei - which lived 66 million years ago, and stood 3 metres tall (1.5 at the hip) and 3.5 metres long.


1st April
CERN issue a Press Release regarding the man who's travelled back in time to stop the LHC from being completed.

2nd April
It's revealed that, for women who are too young, mammogrammatic (breast cancer) screening is just as useless as the defamed PSA test for prostate cancer. So-called 'patient groups' push on with lobbying for pointless expense, regardless.

7th April
The results of a small but blinded study find that 'elite' violinists are unable to distinguish Stradivarius' violins from modern-made violins.

11th April
A Norwegian fisherman finds a large, orange vibrator inside the stomach of a cod that he'd just fished out of the sea. It sounds like the fish died happy, at least.

20th April
The palcohol scam happens. I later learn that the idea of dusty alcohol is one that recurrs every ten years.

21st April
The lead petrol and crime thing bobs up again, as it has every few years for decades. I ramble about it.

23rd April
The mysterious sounds of the bio-duck, heard in the waters of the Southern Ocean, is finally identified as the call of the Minke Whale.

23rd April
Harvard researchers discover a new shape - the hemihelix.

27th April
A report, published by Academics Review, shows that foods labelled 'organic' are sold through "intentionally-deceptive marketing and advocacy related practices". People choose 'organic' labelled food because they want to avoid pesticides, because they believe it is more nutritious and healthy, because they think it is environmentally better, and because they think organic food tastes better. None of these beliefs are true.

30th April
The mite Paratarsotomus macropalpis, which is no bigger than a sesame seed, is recorded running at up to 322 body lengths per second - the equivalent of a person running about 2000 kilometres per hour! That's a new land animal speed record.


2nd May
The as-yet-unnamed 177th element of the Periodic Table is identified in practice, through collaboration between the accelerator and detection technologies at GSI, in Mainz, in Germany, and the actinide isotope production and separation facilities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the USA.

7th May
Paleontologists announce the discovery of a Tyrannosaur with an odd, elongated snout. They name it 'Qianzhousaurus sinensis' and nickname it 'Pinocchio rex'.

13th May
Pope Frank declares his willingness to indoctrinate aliens, if he gets the chance. Religionists try to present this as a good thing, but in reality he's just another superstitionist doing their worst to look a nutter.

11th May
In a bigly symbolic move, Barack Obama puts solar panels back on the White House. Some went on in '79, by Carter, then in '87 Reagan had them pulled down. Oddly, Bush Jr. had some put on the Cabana, to heat the swimming pool, but never put any on the House itself.

11th May
In a less-hugely symbolic move, a bearded transvestite is voted winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. The Russian duet are booed.

14th May
The US Air Force commences its summer shutdown of HAARP - the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program that conspiracy 'theorists' love to make shit up about - having finished all of its atmospheric experiments, for good.

22nd May
Winkgate happens, adding to the woes of Ozzie PM Tony Abbott, and to the fortunes of Ozzie comedians.

28th May
The Solar Freakin' Roadyways thing happens.

28th May
Researchers announce the oldest find of an avian pollinator ever - the 47-million-year-old fossil remains of a bird, with pollen grains in its stomach, making it a vector for pollination of flowering plants.


1st June
The WKSE 'right to be forgotten' thing happens. Thousands of people beg it to help them forget who Katie Hopkins is.

3rd June
For the first time ever, a planet is seen transiting the Sun. Not from Earth, this time, however - it's seen from Mars, via NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover.

4th June

A species of bat from the Papua New Guinean rainforest, is reclassified from 'extinct' to 'extant', having not been seen in 120 years. Species are typically declared extinct after 50-60 years, but PNG's rainforest is big and uncharted, and bat's are small and elusive.

8th June
A chatbot kind-of passes the Turing Test, but doesn't really. Not unless you warp and buckle the idea of a Turing Test so far that it barely resembles the original idea of someone chatting to someone else and not being able to tell whether they're human or AI.

9th June

Paleontologists announce their discovery of the first organisms to engage in penetrative copulation - placoderms, 400 million years ago.

15th June
Biologists find that, in mice at least, digestion influences circadian rhythm, by triggering insulin release, which helps calibrate the circadian rhythm according to mealtimes.

18th June
Researchers tell of the fact that crabs do indeed have a sense of hearing, and it works through the little hairs lining their statocysts - the pits in which their antennae are situated.

20th June
Researchers at KIT announce that they've developed a metamaterial that is the touch equivalent of an invisibility cloak - a physicality cloak. Put something under it, and push down, and you won't be able to tell that the object's there.

24th June
Suarezident Evil's banned from playing soccer for 4 months, having bitten someone on the shoulder, during a soccer tournament.

24th June
The UK government bans Qat - a widely popular drug in East Africa - despite it being no more dangerous than coffee.

30th June
The Cassini mission to Saturn becomes the subject of celebration, for having explored Saturn and its moons in a mission that's run for 10 years, so far.


2nd July
A small experiment finds that some people would rather electrocute themselves than be left alone with their thoughts.

4th July
A study of Primary School children demonstrates which times tables they have most difficulty with, and demonstrating that you're not alone if you find the middle-ish sums most difficult.

7th July
The BBC promises to end 'false balance' by not inviting 'cranks' onto its Science programmes. Half a year later, and nothing seems to have changed. Most pseudoscience is found outside lengthy documentaries, anyway.

7th July
Paleontologists tell of a fossil of the largest known bird of all time - Pelagornis sandersi. It was twice the size of the largest modern-day bird, at 6-7.5 metres from wingtip to wingtip. The largest known flying reptile - Quetzalcoatlus - measured to an estimated 11 metre wingspan.

9th July
We learn from dermatologists, that our skin has smell receptors, all over it. There are more than 350 types of olfactory receptors in the nose, and it's already known that about 150 are also found in the heart, liver and gut, but they have been harder to study than the skin.

9th July
Archeologists inform us of the oldest case of Down's Syndrome known, in a child buried in France, more than 1500 years ago.

9th July
Physicists unveil the world's smallest ever painting, with colour, of Claude Monet's 'Impression, Sunrise' using only physical nanoscale aluminium structures - no pigment involved - like in the irridescent wings of butterflies and birds. It measures just 300 micrometres across.

13th July
Researchers from Brown University, Shanxi University and Tsinghua University in China announce that they have made a boron-based equivalent of C60 - Buckminsterfullerene 'bucky balls'. Made of 40 boron atoms, it's named borospherene.

14th July
The Cult of England grants female bigots the ability to be more authoritatively bigoted than before, by giving them permission to do a job. That's it, CoE - always leading from the back :-D

17th July
Russian Imperialists in Ukraine shoot a passenger aircraft down - MH17 - and loot its wreckage. Conspiracy theorists immediately start fantasising narratives about who did it and why. And, of course, TV Channels around the world make a tragic farce about the entire subject, even going as far as to ask charlatans where they think the plane might be.

20th July
A court orders tobacco company R.J.Reynolds to pay $23.6 billion to the wife of a smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996. A jury found that Reynolds was negligent in informing consumers of the dangers of smoking.

25th July
A kind of dobsonfly is declared the largest known living aquatic insect, with an adult wingspan of 210 mm.

27th July
Mike Adams - the 'Health Deranger' who runs the Natural News website - makes a public call to murder anyone who isn't superstitiously opposed to evolved foodstuffs (GMOs) and then pretends to be someone else in order to present a list of potential targets. The FBI gets on his case.


3rd August
Paleontologists tell us about Palaeeudyptes klekowskii - the largest penguin ever known - which lived in Antarctica 37 million years ago. Extrapolation from bone measurements says it was 2 metres long - much larger than modern Emperor penguins, which measure 1.3 metres at their longest.

6th August
The Rosetta spacecraft arrives at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, having travelled 300 million kilometres to catch up with it, while careering through space at 55000 kilometres per hour, and employs its odd triangular trajectory to get into orbit.

7th August
Replicative evidence confirms that gluten sensitivity is not actually real, and therefore that the only people who need avoid gluten in their diets, are people with Coeliac Disease. Previously, it was thought that some people might have NCGS (non-coeliac gluten sensitivity) but this has been shown to be wrong. 'Gluten Free' persists as a pseudoscientific marketing buzzphrase, however.

7th August

Physicists discover a seam of atomic hydrogen gas 2.6 million light years long, stretching between galaxies 500 million light years away, and containing 15 billion times as much hydrogen as the Sun - more than the Milky Way and Andromeda combined!

8th August
The WHO announces the Ebola outbreak, which started in Guinea in 2013, to have become a “public health emergency of international concern”. By the end of 2014, it will have claimed more than 20000 victims, and killed more than 7800.

11th August
Mathematicians finally prove, after 400 years of struggle, that a pyramid construction is indeed the most efficient way to stack spheres. It's been mere strongly-hunched intuition for all that time, but now it's settled.

12th August
In Shark Week (2), the Discovery Channel continues to try to convince people that an extinct shark lives on, to this day. Bizarre, and clearly superstitious, they have since declared that Shark Week 2015 is on its way. Will they downsize to real sharks, next time? Who knows.

15th August
Researchers announce that they've found magpies don't like collecting shiny things. They, like most species, have a presiding fondness for familiar things, which are usually not shiny. Lots of people believe that magpies steal shiny things. This 'common sense' exposes the inadequacy of commonsensical intuition... again.

16th August
ISIS - the Islamist organisation that can't decide what it's name should be - calls for the banning of Philosophy and Chemistry, as knowledge makes it difficult for superstition to thrive.

20th August
Now is the height of the Ice Bucket Challenge - a meme exploited for fundraising Motor Neuron Disease research. It is shortly to be mimicked with the less-popular Rubble Bucket Challenge, raising awareness of the living conditions in the Gaza Strip.


4th September
BP is accorded 67% responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and is fined $18 billion. In compliance with the US Coast Guard et al, they've already spent $14 billion on cleaning up the coast, but industry representatives agree that there are no signs the oil industry has actually learned from the disaster.

7th September

Another guy, looking to sell a book, comes up with another ridiculous claim relating to the 'Jack the Ripper' murders. His claim is unscientific, and it later turns out that even the link that might have been efficacious, was based on a mistake by his 'expert' biochemist.

8th September
Zoologists publish their discovery that whales' hind legs are not in fact vestigial, because they have a modern use - holding their genitals steady, during sex. Well, whale penises are usually on a scale of metres in length!

13th September

The first Formula E race is run, in Beijing, between cars that are powered entirely by batterypack.

18th September
The Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded, for research that 'makes you laugh and then makes you think'. The Medicine Prize goes to researchers who found that shoving strips of cured pork into the nose of a child who suffers from uncontrollable, life-threatening nosebleeds, can stop the haemorrhaging.

19th September
Six Iranians are sentenced with up to one year in prison and 91 lashes, as a suspended sentence, for making a cover video of Pharrell Williams' 'Happy'. Why? Because Religion in Iran instructs sex segregation, and the wearing of headscarves by females, in order to hide their beauty.

22nd September

Jasmine Tridevil, having bought a prosthesis, pretends to have had a third boob implanted, in order to 'stop' boys from looking at her. Her hoax is exposed in due course.

24th September
Researchers find the oldest ever evidence of limb regeneration, in a 300-million-year-old fossil amphibian, suggesting that other vertebrates' genomes might share the potential for regenerative growth, which would help with scars, and possibly recovery from amputations.

24th September
ISRO - the Indian Space Research Organisation - stumps casually-bigoted hacks around the world, by showing them a team consisting of dark-skinned, middle-aged women successfully putting their Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) into orbit around Mars. Gah! How are they supposed to convince the world that scientists are all evil, cold-hearted, sexist, racist bastards now?

25th September
Scientists confirm that they've identified a species of formerly-thought-to-be extinct cat-sized mammal - the Machu Picchu arboreal chinchilla rat - to still be extant, and living in a highly inaccessible forest valley.

26th September

The Guinness World Records and CERN celebrate their 60th birthdays together.


8th October
NuSTAR announces that it's discovered an 'impossibly' bright pulsar, in M82, shining 100 times brighter than they thought would be possible for a star of its mass.

10th October
'Psychic' charlatan Sally Morgan receives a lot of unwanted attention, when her homophobic sociopathic husband-and-son-in-law double-team issue death threats, in person, to a rationalist leafleting outside one of her gigs. This leads to yet more negative exposure, for all the horrendous things she's done in person.

15th October
NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft provides the first optical images of ice and other frozen volatile materials within permanently shadowed craters near Mercury's north pole.

20th October
A study of American middle school students finds that, in fact, contrary to 'common sense' intuition, they have a lower degree of digital technological savvy than their middle school teachers.

20th October
The Hendo Hoverboard scam becomes the second hoverboard-based scam to hit the crowdfunding world, after the HUVr one, back in March. P.S. The BBC falls for this 'crank' rubbish, too.

21st October
It's announced that a new record has been set for the coldest place in the universe. For 15 days, a cubic metre has been held at just 6 milliKelvin - that's -273.144 degrees Celsius. Due to background radiation sloshing around in the universe, this temperature is highly unlikely to be replicated without synthetic circumstances.

23rd October
The discoveries of nearly-whole skeletons resolves the half-century-long mystery surrounding the species 'Deinocheirus mirificus' (meaning 'terrible hands, wonderful'), revealing it to be a pot-bellied, hump-backed, beaked fish-eater, and far more fascinating than anyone could have imagined.

31st October
China's first moon probe - Chang'e 5 returns to Earth, having picked up samples of the lunar dust. During its voyage, it also sent back this picture.

31st October
New Scientist magazine finally does a special feature on the threat that the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) poses to democracy, and to people's health and safety. It parallels the threat posed by the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership).


4th November
Yet another research paper joins the consistent findings that, as is starkly contrary to popular prejudice, migration is actually good for economic growth. And the less migrants' employability is restricted by sanctions, the more migrants are able to contribute to their new economic homes, aiding the growth of businesses there, and thereby increasing employment of 'indigenous' peoples too.

14th November
The Rosetta spacecraft's Philae lander finally touches down on Comet 67P/Churyomov-Gerasimenko. It bounces twice, and lands in the shade, but in its short 3-day window, it sends back enough information to keep ESA scientists busy for the next half a decade.

16th November
Multiphoton lithography - a technique resembling spot-welding, but in miniature - is used to 3D print the smallest ever sculptures of a human figure. The result: an 80 x 100 x 20 micron figure called ‘Trust’.

17th November
Epidemiologists announce that, for the first time on record, being born premature has become the top killer of infants. It's the first time an infectious disease has not been the top killer of infant humans, on record.

18th November
Journalousts spread a scare story that people shouldn't eat rice. Don't worry, you're probably perfectly fine to eat it - it would take kilos to reach a dangerous dose.

26th November
It's revealed that some delusional homeopaths have flown to Liberia, in an attempt to cure Ebola cases with their damp sugar. I'm glad to say, they got sent packing as soon as some real medical practitioners realised what they were doing.


1st December
A gimp doing a TV programme for the Discovery Channel deliberately hunts down an anaconda, in the Amazon Rainforest, to try to cajole it into eating him. Unfortunately, it doesn't succeed.

3rd December
Analysis of images of the Homunculus Nebula, over the last 19 years, reveals that it has expanded noticeably, and can be seen clearly in this GIF image.

4th December
Researchers find pufferfish don't hold their breath when they puff up - they keep on breathing, and keep on respiring.

8th December
Greenpeace cause maybe-irreparable damage to the Nazca Lines, for the sake of a publicity stunt.

8th December
Evidence sent back from the Mars Curiosity Rover shows that Gale Crater used to contain a large lake, that could have lasted tens of millions of years - long enough to nurture 'life' on the planet.

10th December
Psy's YouTube video for 'Gangnam Style' passes 2 billion views, and slightly later, forces YouTube to update its view-counting system.

12th December
Philae's landing on Comet 67P/Churyomov-Gerasimenko is named the Physics World 2014 Breakthrough of the Year.

19th December
A never-before-seen fish sets a new record for depth of living: 8143 metres below sea level!

22nd December
Bacterial biofilms are grown in shape, to spell the letters of 'MERRY XMAS'. The letters are each 2 mm wide, and you can see the picture of them at the link.

22nd December
Physicists at Nottingham University use lithography to create the smallest ever depiction of a 'Christmas Tree', by removing 42 atoms from a silicon surface.

22nd December
The gold swift moth - Phymatopus hecta - is found to have a diverse and choreographic sex life, according to research published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

And that's 2013 2014 summed up. From asteroids to bonking moths. But 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 2015. Don't just wait for it, though - make it happen - and make the most of this recurring solar sojourn.

On with 2015....

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