As 2013 comes to a close, it is a time to reflect on the past year. This has been another amazing year for the scientific community, and one that has seen many discoveries and breakthroughs. 

The year started out with new data coming out of the Large Hadron Collider on the properties of the particle believed to be the Higgs boson, with a formal announcement in February of more evidence for a single scalar Higgs. As there are many variations on the Higgs mechanism, further evidence of a minimal model is indeed an interesting result. And the Higgs got another not unexpected boost when in October the Nobel Prize committee formally awarded the annual prize to two of the many theorists who developed the Higgs Model, including its namesake Peter Higgs.

On the other end of the distance scale, we went from sub-atomic to solar scales with the discovery of two new moons around Pluto - the "dwarf planet" furthest from the Sun. A contest was held to find suitable names, and in the end the winning names were Kerberos and Styx, in keeping with Pluto's underworld theme. 

In April the particle physics community saw another discovery with the announcement of CP-violation in the B0 system. While that may sound rather technical, all it really means is that in this particular particle, certain symmetry laws are not obeyed. If you look at the B0 particle, and compare it to its antiparticle, they have slightly different decay rates, which is only the fourth time this type of symmetry violation has been observed.

Then at some point over the summer (the exact date is only speculative, but is generally accepted to be August 25th) the Voyager 1 probe set a record for the furthest a man made object has traveled away from the Earth as it left the confines of our solar system and entered interstellar space. It has taken over thirty years to get that far, and is nearly dead already, but it will keep sailing out into the galaxy for a few more centuries, at which time it may collide with other planets, asteroids, stars, or any number of other objects. 

And in September another astronomy probe met its end as the Deep Impact probe was declared to be dead. It has been travelling around the solar system for a few years, collecting data from comets and such, but onboard failures seem to have ended its mission prematurely. In October, the Planck mission to collect data from outside the solar system also closed down due to equipment failure, ending an extraordinary experiment and unfortunately reducing the data it could have provided to astrophysicists back on Earth.

However the news wasn't all bad for astronomers this year, as the Fermi space telescope was able to track the source of high energy cosmic rays back to the supernovae that generated them, confirming theories about their origins. It was generally believed that they were created as particles were accelerated in these massive stellar explosions, but magnetic fields in the galaxy had obscured their paths until now. And in October, the Kepler space mission discovered Kepler-87b, the first planet outside of our solar system to closely resemble the Earth. And while it is unlikely to hold any sort of life, it does prove that such planets can exist, and perhaps in the near future we will find one that is hospitable to alien intelligences. And of course those of us without multi-million dollar satellites got our own astronomy treat as Comet Ison came past the Earth and looped around the Sun, providing interesting nighttime viewing for those with the right weather conditions.

And these few stories are really just the tip of the proverbial ice berg in this year's science news. 2013 saw announcements covering the first artificially produced hamburger generated with stem cells in August, to the MPI announcing a lower cost particle acceleration method using laser beams, to Amazon's stunning claim that in only five years they will have unmanned drones capable of door-to-door delivery. And of course we saw the science story of the year with breakthroughs in using the immune system to defeat some forms of cancer, which in theory could be one of the biggest advances in cancer treatment in many years. (Of course the greatest scientific breakthrough of the year is likely one which hasn't even made headlines, as the greatest advances are usually unnoticed for many years)

So that is 2013 in review. It was a year of great discoveries and immeasurable progress. And there can be no doubt that 2014 will hold even greater advances in science and technology, and will be even more exciting!

Happy New Year Everyone!