This blog began on January 2nd, 2008, with Probaway Person of the Year, and I have repeated that search every year since. It was prompted by the TIME Person of the Year being persons who were not going to be remembered for very long. Thus my search strategy was to place myself five hundred years into the future and ask, “Who did something in that year that is still remembered?” Neil Armstrong, who first set foot on the Moon, will be remembered but John F. Kennedy, who set the whole effort into motion, won’t be remembered.
The complete up-to-present list of – Probaway Person of the Year:
- 2017 – Albert Einstein for predicting black holes, their collisions creating gravity waves, and the laser for observing the gravity waves.
- 2016 – Xi Jinping for taking China from a backward economy to the most powerful one on Earth.
- 2015 – Peter Higgs and Alan Guth created theories that led to proofs this year of mass and gravity sources.
- 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.
These may seem like strange choices but they are people involved in potentially long-term-memorable events which had a major tipping point the year before their selection.
At the moment the discovery of the collision of two neutron stars by the LIGO instruments, while similar to last year’s pick, is of Universal importance. It begins a whole new era of astronomy, but the LIGO instrument was also involved in the reason why last year Albert Einstein was chosen. After the neutron star collision was detected by LIGO the web network permitted many of the major visual telescopes of the world to observe the results of the collision. This is of great importance because they were able to see the Fraunhofer lines and thus to discover the source of the heavy elements on the Periodic Table of Elements. The energy needed to create some elements is greater than is produced by a supernova. Nearly all the elements necessary for life are the lighter ones, but there may be some of the heavy ones that are needed. Trace elements in the human body include boron, chromium, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, silicon, tin, vanadium, and zinc. I don’t know at this time if any of these elements need a neutron star collision for their formation, but some are candidates.
The discovery of the creation of the heavy elements of the Universe is a major event.