The largest and most sophisticated rover landed safely on Mars and the world’s most famous Moon visitor died, but the space event that most captured the public’s imagination in 2012 involved a journey to Earth.
On Oct. 14, YouTube counted 52 million streams of the Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic, record-breaking jumpfrom a balloon 24 miles above the New Mexico desert. YouTube called it “one of the most-viewed live events ever,” and it landed at No. 10 on the video-sharing site’s year-end trending list — the first time a science-related subject made the list, a YouTube spokeswoman said. (Google listed the leap as No. 7 in its Zeitgeist 2012 of trending events.)
And it was far from the only science story to go viral. To put it in 140 characters or less, social media and science found each other in 2012.
In surprising numbers, people posted, viewed and searched for science-related topics last year — sharing news from space and undersea, commenting on new discoveries and uploading photos and video in a full-out embrace of the ability to communicate with thousands of others about global subjects in real time.
The first Twitter message on Aug. 5 from @MarsCuriosity, NASA’s official rover handle — “Gale Crater I Am in You!!!” — was retweeted more than 72,000 times. Photos of the space shuttle Endeavour flying over the West Coast, on its way to its final resting place, ricocheted across the planet. And the director James Cameron’s claim to have sent the “deepest tweet” — from the Mariana Trench, about seven miles below the surface of the Pacific — was rated one of Twitter’s “moments of serendipity and just plain awesomeness” (though it was actually sent by a friend above water). Four science-related events made that list, with the Mars landing at No. 1.In an age of despair over math and science acuity, it appears that what was once considered uninteresting or unfathomable has become cool and exciting.
via The New York Times – MARY ANN GIORDANO
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