January 2010, a magnitude 7 quake took place in Haiti, devastating the
nation's capital, Port-au-Prince. With a death toll of 222,000,
it was among the deadliest earthquakes on record.* Many landmark buildings were destroyed or heavily damaged including
the Presidential Palace, National Assembly building, Port-au-Prince
Cathedral and the main prison. Those killed included the Archbishop Joseph
Serge Miot and opposition leader, Micha Gaillard. The headquarters
of the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) collapsed, killing
many including the Mission's Chief, Hédi Annabi.
morgues were quickly overwhelmed, with many tens of thousands of bodies
having to be buried in mass graves. As rescues tailed off, supplies,
medical care and sanitation became priorities. Delays in aid distribution
led to angry appeals from survivors, with looting and
sporadic violence. On 22nd
January, the UN noted that the emergency phase of the relief operation
was drawing to a close, and on the following day the Haitian government
officially called off the search for survivors.
longest solar eclipse of the 3rd millennium occurs
January 2010, a solar eclipse took place across the Indian Ocean. With a duration of 11 minutes and eight seconds, it was the
longest eclipse of this millennium. It first became visible as a partial eclipse over Central Africa,
before entering the Indian Ocean, where it reached greatest eclipse.
It then passed over the Maldives, remaining at totality when passing
over the capital city, Malé. The path continued
over India and into Myanmar, finally ending after reaching China. The
next eclipse of a longer duration would not occur until December 3034.
debuts the iPad
iPad was Apple's first tablet computer – a device category between a
smartphone and laptop computer. Similar in functionality to a larger
and more powerful iPhone or iPod touch, it ran a modified version of
the same operating system (iPhone OS). Its applications were
also redesigned to take advantage of the larger screen with added functionality
similar to their Mac OS X counterparts.
featured a 9.7-inch (25 cm) LED backlit multi-touch display with resolution of 1024 x 768, 16 to 64 GB of flash memory, a 1-gigahertz
(GHz) Apple A4 processor, Bluetooth 2.1, and a dock connector to sync
with iTunes and connect wired accessories.
Constellation Program is essentially cancelled
Obama's budget plan for 2011 included no future funding for the Constellation
Program – NASA's space exploration plan after the retirement of the
Shuttle. Despite numerous objections from senators and astronauts, including
Neil Armstrong, Mr. Obama remained firm in his decision. The space program
as a result shifted away from Moon exploration and towards new rocket technology.
This more or less replaced the Constellation Program and would eventually
be used in a human flight to Mars in the 2030s.
worst marine environmental disaster in US history
April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded
in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and injuring 16 others. The
rig was owned and operated by Transocean and was drilling for BP in
the Macondo Prospect oil field, about 40 miles (60 km) southeast of
the Louisiana coast. The explosion caused the platform to burn and sink, and started a huge offshore oil spill. This became
the second largest environmental disaster in American history – behind
the Dust Bowl of the 1930s – and the worst marine accident on record.
On 15th July
2010, the leak was stopped by capping the gushing wellhead, after it
had released some 4.9 million barrels (780,000 m³) of crude oil.
An estimated 53,000 barrels per day (8,400 m³/d) were escaping
from the well just before it was capped. The daily flow rate diminished
over time, starting at 62,000 barrels per day (9,900 m³/d) and
decreasing as the reservoir of hydrocarbons feeding the gusher was gradually
On 19th September
2010, the relief well process was successfully completed, and the federal
government declared the well "effectively dead".
caused extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats, and to the
Gulf's fishing and tourism industry. In late November 2010, 4,200
square miles (11,000 km²) of the Gulf were re-closed to shrimping
after tar balls were found in shrimpers' nets. The amount of Louisiana
shoreline affected by oil grew from 287 miles (462 km) in July to 320
miles (510 km) in late November 2010.
2011, an oil spill commissioner reported that tar balls continued to
wash up, oil sheen trails were seen in the wake of fishing boats, wetland
marsh grass remained fouled and dying, and crude oil lay offshore in
deep water and in fine silts and sands onshore. A research team found
oil on the bottom of the seafloor in late February 2011 that did not
seem to be degrading.
ships, floating containment booms, anchored barriers, sand-filled barricades
along shorelines, and dispersants were used in an attempt to protect
hundreds of miles of beaches, wetlands and estuaries from the spreading
oil. Scientists also found immense underwater plumes of dissolved oil,
not visible at the surface, together with an 80-square-mile (210 km²)
"kill zone" surrounding the blown well.
Government named BP as the responsible party, and officials committed
to holding the company accountable for all cleanup costs and other damage.
After its own internal probe, BP admitted that it made mistakes which
led to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
create synthetic life
2010, a giant leap was achieved in biotechnology as scientists,
led by DNA pioneer Dr Craig Venter, created the first artificial
lifeform. Mycoplasma laboratorium was a new species
of bacterium, with man-made genetic code, originating on a
computer and placed on a synthetic chromosome inside an empty cell.
Using its new "software", the cell could generate proteins
and produce new cells.
raised profound questions about the essence of life, with concerns of
scientists "playing God". Instead of having a genetic relative
that it evolved from, the parent of this cell was a computer. Some believed
the technology could fall into the wrong hands and be used to make biological
the potential benefits of synthetic genomics would arguably outweigh
the dangers. The ability to rewrite the software of life could revolutionise
the field of biology, leading to radical new vaccines and medicines,
clean water technology, advanced biofuels and much more.*
of Pakistan is flooded
2010, Pakistan experienced one of the worst floods in modern history,
following heavy monsoon rains which affected the Indus River basin.
At one point, approximately one-fifth of the country was underwater.
According to Pakistani government data, the floods directly affected
nearly 20 million people, mostly by destruction of property, livelihood
and infrastructure. Although the death toll was relatively low (2,000
according to reports), damages from loss exceeded $43 billion; almost one-quarter of Pakistan's GDP. Over 60,000 troops were involved in relief
Solar power is plunging in cost
many countries, the number of homes with solar power was growing exponentially during 2010, thanks to plummeting costs and new government incentives. This
was particularly true in the USA, where the cost of a typical five-kilowatt
rooftop system fell from $22,000 in 2007 to just $13,000 by late 2010. This technology would soon become affordable to the middle classes.*
Reality (AR) is entering the mainstream
By 2010, a growing number of cellphones, cameras, and other digital devices now featured augmented reality. This technology displayed 3D virtual
elements on a real-world camera view. GPS units in combination with
inertial references could map a user's precise location, then relay
graphics from the web (or a web-based application such as Google
Earth) and superimpose them on-screen.
had already been used in military training (to display imaginary aircraft
and vehicles for example), but it was now spreading to mainstream uses like travel, outdoor pursuits, communication and entertainment. Other applications
included architecture and interior design (to show
virtual objects in a room, for example, or to view buildings prior to their construction).
coming years, this technology would be available in sunglasses and
even contact lenses. The market
for mobile AR services was estimated to reach $732 million by 2014, revenues being derived from a combination of paid-for app downloads, subscription-based services and advertising.
degeneration is curable
degeneration – the leading cause of blindness in people aged 65 and
older – became treatable in 2010 using a miniature "telescope" implanted
in the eye. Consisting of two lenses in
a small glass tube, this could function like a telephoto zoom lens. It combined
with the cornea to project a magnified image of whatever the wearer
was looking at over a large part of the retina. Only the central portion
of the patient's vision is damaged by the disease, so magnifying the
image on the eye allows the retinal cells outside the macula
to detect light, refocus it, and redirect information to the brain.*
first demonstration of solar-sail technology
Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of Sun (IKAROS) was a
Japanese experimental spacecraft. Launched in 2010, it became the first
spacecraft to successfully demonstrate solar-sail technology. When fully
unfurled, its membrane had a diagonal span of 20m, but a thickness of
just 0.0075mm. It was kept flat by a spinning motion. Miniature solar cells,
dust counters and reflective steering devices were mounted as panels
on the sail. The craft spent six months traveling to Venus, then began a three year journey
to the Sun. A second, far larger version of IKAROS was planned for launch in 2019, with a 50m (160 ft) sail. This would travel to Jupiter
and the Trojan asteroids.
of solar sails compared with conventional rocket technology is a low but constant acceleration, with photons hitting the membrane
as long as the solar sail is in space. Although this acceleration is
very small to begin with, speed increases day by day. Therefore,
solar sails are suitable for extremely long flights including missions
to the outer Solar System. Also noteworthy
is that the lack of propellant and ultra-lightweight structure greatly
reduces both the manufacturing and launch costs.
In 2010, researchers at CERN trapped 38 antihydrogen atoms,
holding them in place for one-sixth of a second. This was the first
time in scientific history that humans had trapped antimatter. Although
antihydrogen had been produced before, it was instantly destroyed when
encountering normal matter.*
translation is common in mobile phones
Large vocabulary, continuous, speaker-independent speech recognition had become widespread on smartphones by 2010. It was now a popular (and free)
iPhone app, as well as being available on Symbian phones and on the
Nexus One, using Google's voice translation server.
Robotic manipulation of non-rigid objects
manipulation of non-rigid objects – where the configuration is unknown
beforehand – became possible during 2010. A robot developed at the University of
California was demonstrated analysing towels "on the fly", rather
than being given a fixed set of movements. It could scan different
shapes, colours and materials using a pair of high-resolution cameras,
then fold and arrange them into neat piles.*