Year in Review 2012

I’ve set a goal of reading at least one more STEM book each year than the year prior. I read four books in four months at the end of 2011 giving an projected base of 12. This year I read and reviewed 18, so mission accomplished for year one and I must read at least 19 in 2013, which shouldn’t be difficult since my reading rate was miserly this year (I don’t include fiction and non-STEM non-fiction in this count).

There wasn’t really any theme for this year; I was mostly experimenting with different kinds of posts (some recent examples are back-of-the-envelope calculations and mental math).

One year ago I began compiling various “metrics of civilization” and I will continue to the numbers today, hopefully doing so for years to come. I’m going to drop the “number of digits in largest prime” since that’s mostly a measure of computing power which is already covered, and I’m switching the highest particle collider beam energy to amount of data collected (as measured by what’s called the integrated luminosity) by one of the two main experiments (I flipped a coin and picked ATLAS over CMS). Here’s the new list (last year’s numbers are in parentheses):

  • Performance of fastest supercomputer: 17.59 PFLOPS (10.51 PFLOPS)
  • Number of known exoplanets: 854 (716)
  • Number of active interplanetary probes: 22 (21)
  • Largest telescope effective aperture: 11.9 m (11.9 m)
  • Collider total integrated luminosity: 27.03 fb-1  (5.30 fb-1)
  • Number of base pairs in GenBank: 148,390,863,904 (135,117,731,375)
  • Human population (est.) at year’s end: 7.1 billion (7.0 billion)

Telescope Sizes and Year Built (Source: Wikipedia)

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