Final Look at 2013: School, Science and Education

Every year on our favourite planet Earth is always eventful, and 2013 is no exception. Remember Australian PM Julia Gillard who didn't had kind remarks for K-pop? She got ousted by Kevin Rudd (not sure though if popular groups SNSD or Big Bang had anything to do with it-just kidding), who in turn got replaced by Mr Tony Abbott. Talk about exciting politics. Even so we ain't done yet. Russian President Vladimir Putin played Father Christmas this festive season as he pardoned long time rival, former Oil Magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky after 10 years in jail and made him a free man. 1000% on the magnanimity meter. Chubby North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un slayed his uncle (some sources reported with the "blessings" of his aunt), Obama's healthcare websites didn't work too well for a while, and the great Nelson Mandela passed away.

Now, if you would, observe a moment of silence with me in memory of this extraordinary man who ended Apartheid Africa and truly epitomized the vision of world peace. We have much to learn from Madiba about love, forgiveness and compassion. Too much.

Shall we begin the review proper? Scott Mackintosh joins the Awesome Daddies Hall of Fame as he squeezes into a pair of ultra skimpy shorts to teach his daughter a lesson about decent dressing:

From role-model fathers, we move on to insanely brilliant kids. What's the difference between 15 year old Jacob Barnett and other teens his age? He is out-of-this-world smart; he's currently working on a PhD in Quantum Physics, has a superhuman IQ of 170 and is tipped to scoop up the Nobel Prize someday. While boys dream of Megan Fox and other hot chicks, he dreams of numbers. Currently our best hope to debunk the Big Bang Theory. If you feel extremely inferior like I did after watching this lecture video of his, I guess its perfectly normal:

Any exciting discoveries made in Science? You bet there is. Fran├žois Englert and Peter W. Higgs at CERN have found the Higgs boson, a sub-atomic particle theorized to be responsible for the creation of mass within matter. They were rightfully awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Physics.

(A computer simulated rendition of the Higgs boson)

Next-gen devices don't come any cooler (literally) than this portable cooling gadget:

While still a prototype in development by MIT students, Wristify has almost certainly pushed the frontiers of innovative miniaturization even further than before. Expect another revolution for the consumer lifestyle in the coming decades. Not quite time yet to pop the champagne, but buy a bottle anyways. Does it scare you that our Universe is possibly just a hologram? Various calculations and simulations conducted by uber smart physicists seem to support such a theoretical hypothesis. Still, it won't stop me from re-watching Arnie's Total Recall and swooning over how gorgeous Sharon Stone was back in the 90s. Now let's turn our attention to Singapore. For the very first time in history, the Primary Six Leaving Examination (PSLE) results were released without the names of our nation's top scorers being officially announced. Not that it will deter extremely '"inquisitive" parents from probing around to seek out answers.

Singapore's 15 year olds have done the country proud by making solid improvements in the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings, coming in amongst the top five in every area of assessment (namely Reading, Mathematics and Science). Local universities NUS and NTU have also achieved better standings in the latest 2013-2014 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, as they were placed 26th and 76th respectively.

So much other wonderful stuff (and crazy shit) have happened during the course of this year, and I will never come anywhere close to listing them all. Still, hopefully through my above personal snapshot of specific eventful occurences around the world, you would have acquired fresh bits of knowledge and in the process largely maintained your faith in humanity ( we can leave angry fat nephew out of the picture though, don't you think?).

To a better 2014. Peace.

(The above was also featured in the January 9th 2014 edition of the Carnival of Mathematics.)