January E-News: 2012 – A Year of Scientific Wonder!

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How and why did the universe come into being?  What underlying forces shaped the universe as we know it today? These are the questions that have made Professor Stephen Hawking a scientific legend. His life’s work has transformed much of yesteryear’s science fiction into science fact, and presented his findings to the general public in a simple, awe inspiring manner.

Stephen Hawking was born on the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death. He has come to be thought of as the greatest mind in physics since Albert Einstein. Stephen Hawking’s ideas became more tangible than ever in 2012. The year was filled with astronomical discoveries that have pushed our imagination to the limits, reshaping all that we know about the Universe & how it works. From black holes to planets made of diamonds (yes, diamonds!) – this was no doubt, a groundbreaking year for not only scientists, but anyone with a love of space, astronomy and the vast, mysterious universe we live in. In celebration of Stephen Hawking’s birthday, here is our list of the most extreme and exciting cosmic finds of 2012!

“My goal is simple. It is complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.” – Stephen Hawking

10: Largest Black Hole in History Discovered: (November 28, 2012) 

Researchers were mystified by 2 black hole discoveries in 2012. The first was the record-breaking Central Black Hole – coming in at a whopping 17 billion times more massive than the sun! Scientists were in for another mind-boggling discovery as they came across an enormous reservoir of H2O floating in the middle of space. Scientists say the reservoir is literally an ocean several times larger than planet Earth – Incredible! . Read More

9: Milky Way Crammed With 100 Billion Alien Worlds? (October 26, 2012)


The search for life on other planets received a jolt when 2012 brought forth the discovery of the Milky Way galaxy being filled with billions of exoplanets! These alien worlds appear to all be orbiting other stars in the same way that Earth orbits the Sun. Might there even be an Earth 2.0? Fingers crossed. Read more

8: Ancient Galaxy: Most Distant Galaxy ever Seen! (Dec. 12, 2012)


Much like the 100-meter dash world record, the record for farthest known galaxy often changes. The newest potential record-holder was discovered by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and is said to have taken shape when the universe was only 380 million years old. Read More

7: The Transit of Venus 2012 (June 5, 2012)


2012 marked the last time that residents of planet Earth will see Venus pass across the sun for over 100 years. This once-in-a-lifetime experience sparked a global celebration of astronomy & celestial mechanics. Read More

6: Neil Armstrong, Apollo Legend, Has Died (Aug. 25, 2012)


This year the world lost one of the most legendary figures in the world of Astronomy when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong passed away. In an eerie coincidence, Armstrong was laid to rest on the same night of the 2012 Blue Moon. Millions of people across the globe stepped out to view the lunar phenomenon in tribute to the man who achieved the impossible & inspired the next generation of space explorers. Read more

5: Super-Earth Discovered in Star’s Habitable Zone (Nov. 7, 2012)


Exoplanet hunters & scientists were awe-struck when they discovered HD40307g within the “habitable zone,” a “super-Earth” at least seven times more massive than the planet we call home. Will 2013 be the year that gives us the need for inter-galactic zip codes? Read More

4. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Planet – A World Made of Diamonds (October 11, 2012)


Move over, Hope Diamond. The most famous gems on Earth have new competition in the form of a planet made largely of diamonds! If this news wasn’t exciting enough, astronomers believe they have honed in on an orbiting companion with the density of platinum! Who knows, jewelers may be offering planetary diamond rings sooner than we think! Read More

3. Particle ‘Consistent’ With Higgs Boson Discovered (July 4, 2012)


After decades of research, physicists announced they had discovered the last remaining puzzle piece for the standard model of physics. Most commonly known as the “God Particle,” the Higgs Boson discovery could, quite possibly, solve the greatest scientific mystery of all time – the meaning of the Universe. Read more

2. Sugar Found in Space (August 29, 2012)


Astronomers made a sweet discovery, opening the door to the real possibility of extraterrestrial life on other planets. Found floating some 400 light-years away, these simple sugar particles are the building blocks of life. Read More

1. Touch Down! Mars Rover Curiosity Lands (Aug. 6, 2012)


On the morning of August 6th, the world was captivated by the landing of NASA’s robotic explorer – Curiosity. The globally televised landing transformed us into planetary explorers as it blazed through the pink skies of Mars – 7 minutes later, a new era of scientific discovery kicked off as it touched down inside one of the red planet’s many giant craters. Over the next 2 years, Curiosity will study the planet – we are excited to learn what lies ahead in this realm of endless possibilities. Read more

As 2012 rolls to a close, we can look back at an incredible 12 months of space exploration – many of which sound like they’ve been taken straight out of a Stephen Hawking lecture. Could this be one of the most profound years in space history? It might just be, but as we throw out our old calendars and replace them with ones marked “2013” we look forward to another groundbreaking year in space that might be even more historic.

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