Looking Back on 2011
End-of-the-year lists are popular, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps we feel the need to tie up a calendar year with some form of encapsulation. Or we like to open a new year by placing the preceding year in perspective.
Or perhaps our brains just enjoy lists.
I looked at 2011 from the perspective of a science nerd, a writer, and someone involved in education, and collected my own personal favorite moments. They’re here, in no particular order, for your perusal.
While some magazines offer as many as 100 of their top choices, I’ve narrowed it down to three stories that I felt were the most fascinating.
#3: A collection of gamers were able to solve a puzzle that had stumped researchers working on HIV. Scientists had worked for ten years on this particular issue; a group of video game buffs worked collectively to figure it out in ten days. It was part of News For Nerds in September. I love the notion that collective computer - and human - power can produce such incredible results. Imagine what might be next.
#2: You might find it strange that I would include what - to me - is a sad story, but I believe that the retirement of the space shuttle fleet was huge. It was the subject of several News For Nerds installments - including this one - but, for me, the biggest issue of all is: What do we do now?
#1: Kepler, Kepler, and more Kepler. It hurts to think that this incredible mission, which has been successful beyond expectations in such a short time, is already at the mercy of NASA’s budget dilemmas. Kepler is the master Planet Finder, including some that are either closely the size of Earth, or in the so-called Goldilocks Zone.
Other cool science stories included the most relaxing song in the world, the physics of the BMX Triple Backflip, and the 50th anniversary of human spaceflight.
The Big Brain Club
This was a fun year for my non-profit education foundation, as we continued our mission to help young people become the best version of themselves. We had fantastic partnerships with the Colorado Mammoth, Cantina Laredo, The Melting Pot, and LePeep, each of whom made generous donations. Thank you, as well, to the many, many individuals who donated to the foundation. We couldn't do it without you!
We were also thrilled to watch one of our partner schools - Preston Middle School, in Fort Collins, Colorado - claim a couple of big awards. First, the school won the state Science Olympiad in April, and then followed that up by being named an Intel School of Distinction, one of only six schools in the nation - and one of only two middle schools!
Congrats to all of the students, faculty, and parents at Preston. And a HUGE thank you to everyone who contributed to The Big Brain Club in 2011. We’re anticipating an even better year ahead.
Personally, here are the books I enjoyed the most in 2011. Some of these are quite old, but 2011 is when I finally discovered them.
Excellence, by John W. Gardner
The Singularity is Near, by Ray Kurzweil
The Tourist, by Olen Steinhauer
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson
Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
The 25th Hour, by David Benioff
Time and Again, by Jack Finney
Ford County, by John Grisham
Deal Breaker, by Harlan Coben
As for my own books, I’m happy to report that the Galahad series unveiled two new entries in 2011. The Dark Zone was released in the spring, while Cosmic Storm debuted in late September.
The sixth - and final - installment in the series will be published on Valentines Day, 2012.
And then there was The Mindbender Book, Volume 1. Released in late October, it has sold out in many locations around Colorado, and shot to the #1 spot in the Denver Post’s listing for non-fiction paperbacks. Thank you VERY MUCH to everyone who picked up The Mindbender Book! Good news: Volume 2 will be coming in mid-2012.
Finally, of all the articles I penned in 2011, these are the three that resonated with me the most, personally.
Has YA Fiction Gone Too Far?
The Death of Books
This was a fun year for me, both professionally and personally. Thanks again for all of your support, and best wishes to you and your family for the coming new year!