January 2010, a 7.0-magnitude quake occurred in Haiti, devastating the
nation's capital, Port-au-Prince. With a death toll of more than 230,000,
it was one of the deadliest on record.* Many notable landmark buildings were damaged or destroyed, including
the Presidential Palace, the National Assembly building, the Port-au-Prince
Cathedral, and the main prison. Among those killed were Archbishop Joseph
Serge Miot and the opposition leader, Micha Gaillard. The headquarters
of the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) collapsed, killing
many including the Mission's Chief, Hédi Annabi.
morgues were quickly overwhelmed, with many tens of thousands of bodies
having to be buried in mass graves. As rescues tailed off, supplies,
medical care and sanitation became priorities. Delays in aid distribution
led to angry appeals from aid workers and survivors, with looting and
sporadic violence observed.
January the UN noted that the emergency phase of the relief operation
was drawing to a close, and on the following day the Haitian government
officially called off the search for survivors.
longest solar eclipse of the 3rd millennium occurs
January 2010, a solar eclipse occurred in the Indian Ocean. It was the
longest eclipse of this millennium, with a duration of 11 minutes, 8
seconds. It was first visible as a partial eclipse over Central Africa,
before entering the Indian Ocean, where it reached greatest eclipse.
It then passed over the Maldives, remaining at totality when passing
over the capital city, Malé, at 12:20:20 UTC. The path continued
over India and into Myanmar, finally ending after reaching China. The
next eclipse of a longer duration will not occur until December 3034.
iPad is Apple's first tablet computer – a device category between a
smartphone and laptop computer. Similar in functionality to a larger
and more powerful iPhone or iPod touch, it runs a modified version of
the same operating system (iPhone OS). Its included applications are
also redesigned to take advantage of the larger screen with added functionality
similar to their Mac OS X counterparts.
has a 9.7-inch (25 cm) LED backlit multi-touch display with a pixel
resolution of 1024x768, 16 to 64 gigabytes (GB) of flash memory, a 1-gigahertz
(GHz) Apple A4 processor, Bluetooth 2.1, and a dock connector to sync
with iTunes and connect wired accessories.
Constellation Program is essentially cancelled
Obama's budget plan for 2011 included no future funding for the Constellation
Program – NASA's space exploration plan after the retirement of the
Shuttle. Despite numerous objections from senators and astronauts, including
Neil Armstrong, Mr. Obama remained firm in his decision. The space program
as a result shifted away from Moon exploration and towards new rocket technology.
This more or less replaced the Constellation Program and would eventually
be used in a human flight to Mars in the 2030s.
worst marine environmental disaster in US history
April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded
in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and injuring 16 others. The
rig was owned and operated by Transocean and was drilling for BP in
the Macondo Prospect oil field, about 40 miles (60 km) southeast of
the Louisiana coast. The explosion caused the Deepwater Horizon to burn and sink, and started a massive offshore oil spill. This became
the second largest environmental disaster in American history – behind
the Dust Bowl of the 1930s – and the worst marine accident on record.
On 15 July
2010, the leak was stopped by capping the gushing wellhead, after it
had released some 4.9 million barrels (780,000 m³) of crude oil.
An estimated 53,000 barrels per day (8,400 m³/d) were escaping
from the well just before it was capped. The daily flow rate diminished
over time, starting at 62,000 barrels per day (9,900 m³/d) and
decreasing as the reservoir of hydrocarbons feeding the gusher was gradually
On 19 September
2010, the relief well process was successfully completed, and the federal
government declared the well "effectively dead".
caused extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and to the
Gulf's fishing and tourism industries. In late November 2010, 4,200
square miles (11,000 km²) of the Gulf were re-closed to shrimping
after tar balls were found in shrimpers' nets. The amount of Louisiana
shoreline affected by oil grew from 287 miles (462 km) in July to 320
miles (510 km) in late November 2010.
2011, an oil spill commissioner reported that tar balls continued to
wash up, oil sheen trails were seen in the wake of fishing boats, wetland
marsh grass remained fouled and dying, and crude oil lay offshore in
deep water and in fine silts and sands onshore. A research team found
oil on the bottom of the seafloor in late February 2011 that did not
seem to be degrading.
ships, floating containment booms, anchored barriers, sand-filled barricades
along shorelines, and dispersants were used in an attempt to protect
hundreds of miles of beaches, wetlands and estuaries from the spreading
oil. Scientists also found immense underwater plumes of dissolved oil
not visible at the surface, as well as an 80-square-mile (210 km²)
"kill zone" surrounding the blown well.
Government named BP as the responsible party, and officials committed
to holding the company accountable for all cleanup costs and other damage.
After its own internal probe, BP admitted that it made mistakes which
led to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
create synthetic life
2010, a giant leap was achieved in biotechnology as a team of scientists
led by DNA pioneer Dr Craig Venter successfully created the first artificial
lifeform. Mycoplasma laboratorium was an entirely new species
of bacterium, with man-made genetic code, originating on a
computer and placed on a synthetic chromosome inside an empty cell.
Using its new "software", the cell could generate proteins
and produce new cells.
raises profound questions about the essence of life, with concerns about
scientists "playing God". Instead of having a genetic relative
that it evolved from, the parent of this cell is a computer. Some believe
the technology may fall into the wrong hands and be used to make biological
the potential benefits of synthetic genomics will arguably outweigh
the dangers. The ability to rewrite the software of life will revolutionise
the field of biology, leading to radical new vaccines and medicines,
clean water technology, advanced biofuels and much more.*
of Pakistan is flooded
2010, Pakistan experienced one of the worst floods in modern history,
following heavy monsoon rains which affected the Indus River basin.
At one point, approximately one-fifth of the country was underwater.
According to Pakistani government data, the floods directly affected
nearly 20 million people, mostly by destruction of property, livelihood
and infrastructure. Although the death toll was relatively low (2,000
according to reports), damages from loss exceeded $43bn; almost one
quarter of Pakistan's GDP. Over 60,000 troops were involved in relief
Solar power is plunging in cost
many countries, the number of homes with solar power is growing exponentially, thanks to plummeting costs and new government incentives. This
is particularly true in the USA, where the cost of a typical five-kilowatt
rooftop system has dropped from $22,000 in 2007 to just $13,000 by the
end of 2010. This technology is becoming affordable to the middle classes.*
growing number of cellphones, cameras and other digital devices now feature augmented reality. This technology displays 3D virtual
elements on a real-world camera view. GPS units in combination with
inertial references can map a user's precise location, then relay
graphics from the web (or a web-based application such as Google
Earth) and superimpose them on-screen.
has already been used in military training (to display imaginary aircraft
and vehicles for example), but is now spreading to mainstream uses like travel, outdoor pursuits, communication, gaming and entertainment. Other applications
include architecture and interior design (to show
virtual objects in a room, for example, or to view buildings before
they are constructed).
coming years, this technology will be available in sunglasses and
even contact lenses. The market
for mobile AR services will hit $732m by 2014, with
revenues derived from a combination of paid-for app downloads, subscription
based services and advertising.
degeneration is curable
degeneration – the leading cause of blindness in people aged 65 and
older – can now be treated with a miniature "telescope" implanted
in the eye.* Consisting of two lenses within
a small glass tube, this works like a telephoto zoom lens. It combines
with the cornea to project a magnified image of whatever the wearer
is looking at over a large part of the retina. Only the central portion
of the sufferer's vision is damaged by the disease, so magnifying the
image on the eye allows the retinal cells outside the macula
to detect light, refocus it, and redirect the information to the brain.
(Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun) is a
Japanese experimental spacecraft. Launched in 2010, it is the first
spacecraft to successfully demonstrate solar-sail technology. When fully
unfurled, its membrane has a diagonal span of 20m, but a thickness of
just 0.0075mm. It is kept flat by a spinning motion. Tiny solar cells,
dust counters and reflective steering devices are mounted as panels
on the sail.
will spend six months traveling to Venus, then begin a three year journey
to the Sun. A second, far larger version of IKAROS will be launched
later in the decade, with a 50m (160 ft) sail. This will travel to Jupiter
and the Trojan asteroids.
of solar sail compared with conventional rocket technology is that it
gets low acceleration constantly, because photons keep hitting the membrane
as long as the solar sail is in space. Although this acceleration is
very small, the speed of the solar sail increases day by day. Therefore,
solar sails are suitable for extremely long flights, including missions
to the very edge of the Solar System.
is that the lack of propellant and ultra-lightweight structure greatly
reduces both the manufacturing and launch costs.
In late 2010, researchers at CERN trapped 38 antihydrogen atoms,
holding them in place for one-sixth of a second. This was the first
time in scientific history that humans had trapped antimatter. Although
antihydrogen had been produced before, it was instantly destroyed when
encountering normal matter.*
translation is common in mobile phones
Large-vocabulary, continuous, speaker-independent speech recognition
is now widespread on cellphones. It has become a popular (and free)
iPhone app, as well as being available on Symbian phones and on the
Nexus One, using Google's voice translation server.
breakthrough in robotics
manipulation of non-rigid objects – where configuration is unknown
beforehand – is now possible. A robot developed at the University of
California is capable of analysing towels "on the fly", rather
than being given a fixed set of movements. It can analyse different
shapes, colours and materials using a pair of high-resolution cameras,
then fold and arrange them into neat piles.*