What an exciting year 2011 has been! For the scientific community and the tech community, this year has been marked with many new discoveries and seen the start of some fascinating new lines of research.

In the astronomy community there was excitement over the discovery by the Kepler experiment of an Earth like planet which may support life. There is no method available yet for determining if life is indeed present, but this planet is the right size and position to support all of the building blocks of life. This year astronomers also reported indirect detection of supermassive black holes in the center of distant galaxies which are far larger than anything previously thought possible - so large in fact that new models of physics may be required to explain how they could grow so quickly.

Meanwhile the Canadian scientific community earned some attention this year with the launch of the Curiosity probe to explore Mars, which will carry with it an experiment designed and constructed by Canadian faculty and companies, and which could be used to detect signs of life on the red planet in the near future. And of course the Voyager 1 space probe possibly made history this year as the first man made object to leave the solar system (the exact boundary of the solar system is not known precisely, but some experiments on the probe itself suggest it has already left).

On a slightly longer scale, DARPA announced this year plans to begin initial development for a long range spacecraft expected to become reality in the next century. Of course a lot can change in 100 years - as evidenced by looking back to where space exploration and technology in general were in 1911! But this project will no doubt create many new innovations and discoveries that will become part of our everyday life, even if the end result never happens.

On the small scale, particle physicists made a false discovery and came tantalizingly close to making a huge discovery. Last year came the announcement that scientists had created packets of neutrinos which exceeded the speed of light, and made claims about violating Einstein's theory of relativity. Unfortunately more detailed analysis by other groups quickly determined that it was more likely an error in calculations and that the neutrinos had not broken the fundamental speed limit.

Meanwhile particle physicists at the Large Hadron Collider have been collecting data throughout the year and have hinted that in the new year the long sought after Higgs boson could finally be revealed after more than forty years of hunting.  

 And of course throughout the scientific community there were countless other discoveries and preliminary findings too numerous to list. This year saw the first macroscopic quantum entanglement, in an experiment in which two diamond chips appear to have interacted with each other over a relatively large distance. It also saw an fascinating new creation of a biological cell that was engineered to generate laser light, creating hope that in future some illnesses could be treated with a 'glow-in-dark virus'. 

And of course on a more local note, this year that started with a struggling economy has ended with announcements from Microsoft and a host of other high-tech companies that they intend to setup shop in Victoria in the coming year and further boost an already strong tech sector. 

Once again we have witnessed a year of great advances in science and technology, and one can only imagine what even greater advancements and achievements await us in 2012...

Happy New Year!!