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Each New Year I have chosen a Probaway Person of the Year. The guiding principle is to choose someone who will probably be remembered in 500 years, for something they did in the previous year. The search usually doesn’t begin in March, but Alan Guth’s discovering something that happened in the first millionth of a second of the Big Bang creation of the Universe has got to be a major contender. This same discovery requires an advanced civilization to accomplish, but that civilization could be located anywhere in the entire universe and get the same results. This isn’t just a discovery of the year, it is a discovery of all time.

There is one problem for the definition of the Probaway Person of the Year, being something done the previous year, because Guth proposed this the theory of Big Bang Expansion over thirty years ago, and it was the astronomical observations done at the South Pole over this last year that demonstrated the validity of his theory. Thus what was done this last year would fall most clearly within the preexisting definition, but the efforts and expense to find the markers of his theory would never have been attempted without Guth. Thus, it seems the major credit for the discovery should go to him, and the actual discoverers should have their names mentioned as the provers of the theory but not as its creator. I heard Guth present this theory to a small group in Berkeley over ten years ago, and only spoke to him long enough to thank him for his work, and for making such a strange idea seem so reasonable.

The complete up-to-present list of – Probaway Person of the Year:

  • 2014 – Jennifer Doudna created a method for insertion of designed DNA precisely into existing DNA.
  • 2013 – Plague Inc. is a computer game that explores the problems of creating a disease that will kill every last human being on Earth.
  • 2012 – Zebrafish research-technique advances made it possible to observe drug interactions within living animals.
  • 2011 – Craig Venter  laid the groundwork for creating entirely new forms of life (greater than species) out of computer-generated DNA sequences.
  • 2010 – Nadya Suleman (Octomom) and the society that created this travesty of good sense will be remembered into the distant future by many hungry people.
  • 2009 – Jimmy Wales for Wikipedia, which will be still be used after our current computer operating systems are surpassed and forgotten.
  • 2008 – Cesar Millan (the dog whisperer) because he shows people how to relate to dogs and people much better than anyone else. His videos and techniques will be remembered and used as long as there are people and dogs.