For those who are mystically inclined, 2011 is likely a year that is pregnant with significance. In fact, not merely pregnant — the birth of a new aeon is so near that, in the radiance of cosmic time — the new age baby should be sticking its head out of the womb right about now.
Even for those of us not pinning our hopes and fears on the Mayan calendar, 2011 was a year fraught with potential paradigmatic shifts in how we see the universe (or multiverse) we happen to occupy (and, another change… can I still use the word occupy without seeming to protest too much?).
In May, CERN Scientists captured “Antimatter” for 1/6 of a second and researchers at NASA’s Astrobiology Institute claimed to find an arsenic-based lifeform.
In July, scientists punched a hole in the fabric of time with a “time clock” (And here I am merely quoting a gizmodo headline about a cloak that hides events in time) and then, physicists simulated the end of time in their lab. What the hell? They couldn’t wait a freakin’ year for the real thing?
In August, MIT scientists took another step towards ALife mimicking biological complexity using tiny polymers. Not to be outdone, scientists in Glasgow announced that they had taken the first steps toward inorganic life — something called Inorganic-Chemical-Cells or iCHELLS. Meanwhile Harvard-based Pataphysician, Hassan I Sirius, announced that he had discovered inorganic life simply by tuning in to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills on Bravo.
September brought the major cosmological upset of the season when scientists at CERN announced that they had measured neutrinos moving faster than the speed of light. Some speculated that this could be proof of extra dimensions. In November, a repeat experiment appeared to confirm the earlier results. Still, many scientists are skeptical.
In October, scientists in England announced a laser powerful enough to tear apart the vacuum of space. So, if you’ve been following along, we’ve now torn time and space… but we may have extra dimensions so no worries!
In November, Terence W. Deacon published possibly the most fully realized scientific explanation of how mind emerged from matter and researchers at the University of South Wales — using the science of quantum fluctuations — created light out of a vacuum, making the researchers, collectively, the God of the Old Testament.
Meanwhile, back amidst humanity, these are revolting times. It’s hard to believe that around this time last year, when it came to revolution, all we had was one handsome Aussie antiauthoritarian with an autocratic streak and some anonymous hackers dancing along the borderline between open cyber-revolution and the pursuit of lulz.
Indeed, as per Time magazine, 2011 was the year of the protester, represented most prominently by the uprising of the Arab Spring and, in the US, by the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement — the revolution that began with a hashtag. Meanwhile, Anonymous upped its game — at least rhetorically — by declaring war on all governments, banks and corporations. Suit up, Bernadine Dohrn!
Seriously though, as plutocracy continues to shade towards kleptocracy, questions around economic fairness will not be ignored. Observing transhumanist and Singularitarian-oriented groups on Facebook, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a strong majority responding positively to OWS, driving some libertarians and economic conservatives into fits of apoplexy. (one fellow in the Acceler8or conference threatened to nuke the world if it didn’t follow the path of a totally free market. On the other hand, it needs to be said that there are some libertarians and anarcho-capitalist supporters of OWS. After all, governance is the ocracy in plutocracy.) These issues will certainly continue to haunt the H+ world and will tend to challenge the prevailing notion in some circles that desirable change can be fostered almost exclusively by technical progress.
Have we forgotten anything? Oh yes, I think most of us have forgotten that there’s a massive wasteland surrounding a nuclear plant in Japan and people won’t be going back there for decades (or centuries?). Did that really happen this year? Doesn’t it seem like the distant past? Will we be buried by floods or earthquakes — or will our memories simply be buried under the info blitz?
Well, things aren’t all bad. Finally, a nation has recognized the importance of contemporary youth by making a twenty-something its leader. Hells yeah! 2012 is gonna be a blast!
R.U. Sirius is currently editor of Acceler8or. That’s where he got those awesome mind-breaking science links from, btw, so check it out!