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Remembering 2010 So You Don’t Have To

The first year of the second decade of the new millennium is nearly over now. Here’s a brief review of some of the top stories of the year and all the web sites that have the details- from mainstream news to weird science, strange stories to the top events in the pizza industry.

Associated Press

The nation’s newsrooms voted these the top 10 stories of the year:

1. BP Oil Spill
2. Health Care Overhaul
3. U.S. Elections
4. U.S. Economy
5. Haiti Earthquake
6. Tea Party Movement
7. Chile Mine Rescue
8. End of U.S. combat Role in Iraq
9. WikiLeaks
10. Afghanistan

Space.com Top Space Stories

The top story in the universe over the past cosmological nanosecond we know as a “year” was the discovery of a planet very much like Earth called Gliese 581 G. It orbits a sun called Gliese 581. You would think they could have come up with a better name. It’s 20 light years from Earth or 120 trillion miles away. And it may not exist. A few months after the announcement was made, Astronomer Francesco Pepe of the Geneva Observatory claimed all researchers were actually seeing was a bunch of space noise mistaken for a planet.

Scientific American More Science Top Stories

Ranked ninth by Scientific American, but nicely segueing from the planet item above, was the story that scientists had isolated a bacterial strain from California’s Mono Lake that appears to have incorporated arsenic into its DNA, swapping out phosphorus, a nutrient element that enables “life as we know it.”

The implication here is that the things we thought were necessary for life to exist may not be true at all. Which directly affects the possible finding of Gliese 581 G. What was amazing about that planet is that it appears to contain water and many other ingredients Earth has- except if the arsenic microbe finding is accurate- life could take form on a totally arsenic-based planet as well.

And just as scientists cast doubt over the very existence of Gliese 581 G, turns out some researchers say there’s not really enough evidence to support the claim about the arsenic-based life form. So two of the top ten science stories of the year may not even be real.

Popular Mechanics Top Mechanical Stories of the Year

My favorite top-ten story from Popular Mechanics was the discovery that a single aluminum ion, vibrating a quadrillion times a second turns out to be the foundation for a new “quantum logic” clock that remains accurate to within a second every 3.7 billion years. This beats the hell out of the current cesium fountain clock which is the official standard for U.S. civilian time. That one is only accurate to within a second every 100 million years. These infinitesimal slivers of time measurement are actually important because the precision of these clocks are critical to synchronizing telecommunications networks and deep space communications. Plus the GPS you have in your car.

Infoworld.com Top Tech Stories

In the techie world, Apple’s I-Pad is being heralded as the most revolutionary technical development of the year. They’re calling it the dawn of the “Post-PC” era. Four different companies are developing their own version of tablet technology and people are going to get very rich selling these things. Sales are expected to reach nearly 55 million units next year and by 2014 they’re expected to displace 10% of the PC market.

ABCactionnews.com Top Strange Stories

The local ABC-TV affiliate in Tampa, Florida has a good list of the weirdest stories of the year complete with video links. Once you get past the story (with video) of the two-year old kid from Indonesia who smokes two packs of cigarettes a day and gets upset when you take his smokes away, the story I liked best was the clip from a 1928 Charlie Chaplin film that became an internet sensation.

It shows a woman walking down a street with something that looks for all the world like a cell-phone at her ear. This, of course, raises the possibility that a time-traveler somehow managed to make a cameo appearance in the Chaplin film. The video of the film clip shows the scene over and over in real time and slow motion. You be the judge.

If true, it raises fascinating possibilities and interesting questions. Not the least of which is why the genius who discovered time travel chose to reveal the evidence of the most remarkable achievement in the history of mankind…in a 1928 Charlie Chaplin film.

Huffington Post.comFood Stories of the Year

The top food story of the year was the war waged over salt and sugar. School districts started banning sweets for the kids. New York City called for food makers and restaurant chains to reduce sodium by 20% over the next few years. And food turned political as Sarah Palin attacked the First Lady’s campaign against childhood obesity, deriding the government as the “food police” and showing up to a speaking engagement at a school with fresh-made cookies. The final week of the year saw some of Palin’s potential Republican opponents for the Presidency criticizing her pro-obesity stance.

Pizzamarketplace.comTop Ten Pizza Stories of the Year

The #1 story in the Pizza industry was Domino’s “from the crust up” redesign of its main offering- taking advice garnered from Facebook and Twitter focus groups. Not only did Domino’s get a lot of publicity but their pizza sales went through the roof.

Not only was I unaware of Domino’s clever use of social media focus groups but I also did not know there was an actual website dedicated to pizza industry news.

I must say, I am anxiously looking forward to 2011 and what I am fairly certain will be confirmation of the discovery of a planet of pizza-eating, arsenic-based creatures from the future who watch Charlie Chaplin films on their I-Pads.

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