Year in Review 2013

In terms of reading, I didn’t get as many physical books read as I would have liked, though in fairly recent times I’ve been getting more and more into audiobooks which is accelerating my consumption rate (though there are others who are far and away my seniors at this time). Podcasts and lecture series make up a large portion of my information diet as well, even though I haven’t reviewed them here. I consumed a fairly monstrous amount of fiction this year, at least.

My favorite article that I wrote this year was “Has the Solar Age finally arrived?” on the topic of energy consumption, which is related to a recent article on the Kardashev scale.

Now for the metrics of civilization update. Since we’re on Year 3, it’s time to make a table. I’m going to drop the telescope aperture metric since observatories aren’t built that often, so it would likely just sit idle for years at a time before jumping up, and that’s boring. Plus, astronomy is already covered by the exoplanet and interplanetary probes metrics. The LHC is in shut down this year, so there’s no update to total integrated luminosity of particle colliders. The interplanetary probes section excludes missions to the Moon, and I added one to the two prior years since the STEREO mission involves two probes.

2011 2012 2013
Supercomputer (PFLOPs) 10.51 17.59 33.86
Known exoplanets 716 854 1055
Active interplanetary probes 23 24 25*
ATLAS Integ. Lumin. (fb-1) 5.30 27.03 27.03 
GenBank base pairs (billions) 135.1 148.4 156.2
World population (billions) 7.0 7.1 7.1

* The Deep Impact EPOXI mission ended, and the Mangalyaan and MAVEN missions began. Some notable but not included mentions go to the recently launched Gaia and Chang’e 3 missions.

Based on this limited sample, our scientific civilization continues to grow. Looking ahead to around 2015, there are a few more interplanetary probes to be launched along with an influx of lunar missions, though I’m most looking forward to the Dawn mission reaching Ceres and the New Horizons mission reaching Pluto. We’ll get close up images of two hitherto blurry worlds and add them to the family. Also, in 2015 the LHC should, if things go well, boot up again and being collecting more data. I don’t anticipate we’ll hit 100 PFLOPs by 2015.

ATLAS int lum 2011-12

EDIT: Added 1 to each interplanetary probe column to account for WIND which is still returning data.

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