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Time-Turner (Natalie Barletta / Flickr)

With 2013 just around the corner, it’s a good time to look back and review the past year. It was special for many reasons, for instance, it was the last year of our lives with the same number for day, month and year (12/12/12), we survived what many believed was going to be the end of the world and one man did the unthinkable. Before leaping into the next year, let’s celebrate some of the triumphs 2012 brought with it.

1. Tablets

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

2012 was definitely the year of tablets. The first tablets appeared at the end of the 20th century, but it was Apple who popularized tablets into mainstream with their release of iPad in 2010. Apple’s innovative idea, sophisticated design and impeccable marketing strategies drastically changed our mobile experience and sowed the seeds of success for tablet computers. Now, there is greater variety among product choices with increasing number of manufacturers looking for their place on the tablet market. iPad is still the best-selling device used by 52% of tablet owners in 2012 (100 million iPads sold worldwide). The world’s most valuable company looks to extend its market with their release of iPad mini in November 2012, and considering its price and generally positive reviews, iPad mini is projected to gain more popularity in 2013 and compete against giant rivals Amazon’s Kindle and Google’s Nexus 10. The battle for dominance is heating up, we’ll see which tech titan will shape the market in 2013.

2. Space Jump

Red Bull Stratos - Felix Baumgartner

Red Bull Stratos – Felix Baumgartner (Photo credit: cattias.photos)

On October 14th we witnessed what really was one small step for a man, one giant leap for a mankind. Austrian extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner proved with his free fall jump from the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere that the sky is not the limit. 5-year-long preparation came down to this moment. Scientist were interested in seeing how the human body behaves in a low oxygen environment. The whole world was watching Baumgartner’s 4 minutes and 19 seconds lasting free fall and his safe landing in New Mexico. The world’s highest skydive (from 23 miles above) enabled him to become the first man is history to break the sound barrier without an aircraft. In December, Baumgartner was named “The Man of the Year 2012” by Top Gear magazine.

3. Gangnam Style

This K-pop song came out of nowhere and in the blink of an eye it became a viral phenomenon. According to urbandictionary.com, “Gangnam Style is a Korean neologism mainly associated with upscale fashion and lavish lifestyle associated with trendsetters in Seoul’s Gangnam district”. The catchy tune and unique dance moves attracted more than 1 billion viewers all over the globe, making this PSY’s smashing hit the most-watched video in YouTube history. Hundreds of thousands of covers and parodies have been uploaded to YouTube. It charted as number 1 in more than 30 countries worldwide and earned the singer a Best Video award at the 2012 MTV EMAs held in Frankfurt. In Summer, 200 000 people danced to it in Paris, but the biggest Gangnam Style party is yet to come – on New Year’s Eve Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate is the place to be. Around 1 million people will be entertained by 260 artists on 3 stages, but the most important thing the organizers have in mind is breaking another record: they want the biggest dance flash mob in the world and expect up to 1 million visitors to dance to Gangnam Style.

4. Marvel’s The Avengers

Avengers Poster - Marvel's Avengers Red Carpet...

Avengers Poster – Marvel’s Avengers Red Carpet Premiere – Toronto (Photo credit: TonyFelgueiras)

Marvel’s The Avengers takes the title for the top grossing film in 2012. Released in the second quarter of the year, the film received a largely positive reviews (92% of approved tomatometer critics have given the film a positive review). The idea was great and the time was right – in a year when many believed the apocalypse was going to happen a group of comics superheroes teams up to save the world from enemies that threaten global safety and security. It sold more than 79 million tickets and grossed around $63,3 million. The Avengers was also the third most searched film on Yahoo! Make sure you check out an interesting video from Cinema Sins that went viral in the mid of December, titled Everything Wrong With The Avengers In 3 Minutes Or Less. Other top 5 films include WB’s The Dark Knight Rises at number 2, Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games at number 3, the newest James Bond film Skyfall at number 4 and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 at number 5.

5. EU Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

On December 10th at Oslo City Hall, the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for advancing peace, reconciliation, commitment to democracy and human rights. The prestigious award was received by the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was named the most powerful woman and the second most powerful person in the world (by that Merkel is also the most powerful European), also attended the ceremony. The Nobel Committee’s decision drew a lot of criticism and many were dissatisfied, among them the three Nobel Peace Prize laureates who questioned whether the prize has lost its reputation and significance.

6. Scream

Edvard Munch - Geschrei - The Scream - 1895 - ...

Edvard Munch – Geschrei – The Scream – 1895 – dithered color, close-up (Photo credit: Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL))

In May Edvard Munch’s Scream set a new record by becoming the most expensive work of art ever sold on an open auction. The auction took place at Sotheby’s in New York. The masterpiece was sold for $120 million to a billionaire financier. This is one of the four versions of Scream painted by Norwegian painter and philosopher and the only one in private collection (others are in Norwegian museums).

7. 2012 End Of The World Hoax

Apocalyptic scenarios are no novelty. End of the world has always been inexhaustible subject for popular culture, from comics and books to films. This year, the Mayan calendar was in focus. According to some interpretations, Mayans had predicted that the world would end on December 21. Horrific solar storms, black hole and collision with a planet Nibiru were just some of the allegedly projected scenarios. Conversely, many talked about the coming of the New Age, where humans with transformed state of mind would peacefully live in harmony, making the world a better place. Anyway, what was fear for some, for others was opportunity. Countries that were once inhabited by the Maya gained the most out of it, especially Mexico. According to Carlos Joaquín González, a Deputy Tourism Minister of Mexico, Mayan ancient culture and apocalypse predictions helped draw a record-breaking number of tourists – at least 23 million (previous record was 22.6 million in 2008).

8. Sports

London was the host city of the 2012 Summer Olympics. During the Games, Andy Murray won the gold, Serena Williams became the second female player to win a Golden Grand Slam (all four Grand Slams and the Olympic gold) and the first player in history, male or female, to win the Golden Grand Slam in both singles and doubles, Michael Phelps became the most successful Olympic athlete in history, winning his 22nd medal, woman’s boxing was included for the first time. With regards to tennis, mixed doubles returned to the Olympic programme for the first time since 1924 and during the Games, 32 world records were set in eight sports, while Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei entered female athletes for the first time. At the end, USA, China and Russia were the nations with the highest number of medals. Besides, 2012 was one of the most successful years for British sport. By winning the US Open title, Andy Murray became the first British man to win a Grand Slam since Fred Perry in 1936; Bradley Wiggins became the first British rider to win the Tour de France; Chelsea won the Champions League; Rory McIlroy won the PGA Championship, just to name a few.

9. Facebook’s Acquisition of Instagram

English: A collage showing a photograph, along...

English: A collage showing a photograph, along with the same photograph processed through all 15 filters in the iOS app Instagram (as of the date of creation in April 2011) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On April 9th, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg announced via his timeline post that they had reached agreement on acquiring Instagram, the most popular photo sharing app, for $1 billion. As Instagram user myself, I have to admit I was a little disappointed. Since then, the app was redesigned and had new filters added. The recent controversial update of Terms of Service drew a lot of criticism. Facebook suggested it would change some of the terms of service so it could use shared photos for lucrative purposes. A great number of professional photographers using Instagram stood up to Facebook’s decision by removing their photos and deleting their account. Regardless, Instagram hit 100 million users this year and continues to see daily user growth.

10. 2012 UN Climate Change Conference

From November 26th to December 8th the 2012 United Nations Climate Change Conference took place at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha. The conference had gathered to discuss the growing threats of climate change and eventually reached an agreement to extend the Kyoto Protocol until 2020. As a matter of fact, carbon dioxide growth in the atmosphere between 2000–2011 was 20% of the total concentration growth since prehistoric level (P. Tans). The Kyoto Protocol (adopted in December 1997) sets binding obligations on industrialized countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride) and two groups of gases (hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons). Click here to see the complete list of decisions adopted at the conference.

That’s all (folks), the highlights of 2012. Now we can only wait and see what 2013 holds for us, and may I just say it looks promising. Here’s to wishing you all a happy new year that is better than the previous and worse than the next!