Photograph courtesy of istock
“I had a bet with Gordon Kane of Michigan University that the next particle wouldn’t be found. It seems I have just lost $100.”
Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking on the discovery in July of the Higgs boson, the particle that gives the universe mass. The breakthrough was made using Europe’s Large Hadron Collider, a $10 billion particle accelerator that enables protons to collide at 99.9999991% of the speed of light. It seems 2012 was a big year for the universe.
– Time (US)
“We pay taxes, fight wars for this country, nurse you when you are sick, make you laugh, sing and dance for you, play netball for you, star in your movies, cook your meals, decorate your store windows. And, chances are, gay people designed whatever it is you’re wearing. All Australians, including gay Australians, should have exactly the same rights, including the right to love, marry and take care of our partners. The law as it stands means that you could be a serial killer and have killed all of your spouses and yet you would still be considered fit to marry.”
Rights to same sex marriage dominated social debate in 2012. Comedian Magda Szubanski, of Kath & Kim fame, who came out as gay earlier in the year, lent her voice in support of equal rights for same sex couples, putting her in line with – among many others – the Federal Member for Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull.
“Four more years.”
Within 22 minutes of being tweeted on 7 November, this message from Barack Obama, with an attached photo of the newly re-elected prez hugging the First Lady, set the world record for the most retweeted tweet of all time, beating Shane Warne’s one about baked beans (joke).
– via Time (US)
“[My gender] doesn’t explain everything, it doesn’t explain nothing, it explains some things. And it is for the nation to think in a sophisticated way about those shades of grey. What I am absolutely confident of is it will be easier for the next woman and the woman after that and the woman after that. And I’m proud of that.”
Australia’s first female PM Julia Gillard bowing out with dignity during her concession speech, after being deposed by the person she deposed in 2010. Both PMs have now been fully deposed by the Australian people.
“No-one, however smart, however well-educated, however experienced…is the suppository of all wisdom.”
In a self-illustrative sentence, PM-in-waiting Tony Abbott admits to not being an anally inserted pill, but nonetheless leads his party to victory.
– Sydney Morning Herald
“The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions. But nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”
Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai in a speech to the United Nations, on what was her 16th birthday, 12 July. Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 after speaking out for the rights of girls to have an education.
– The Guardian (UK)
“Thank you all for helping me through this time with your enormous love and support. Cory will forever be in my heart.”
Glee star Lea Michele’s tweet, following the death of fellow star and boyfriend Cory Monteith, was the most retweeted tweet of 2013 — about 408,000 times in more than 130 countries.
– The Age
“I’m not straight. I’ve wanted to [come out] for some time, but I couldn’t, I didn’t feel as though I could. The problem was, I was asked at such a young age about my sexuality.”
After years of rumours and denials, champion Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe set the record bent during an interview with Michael Parkinson: “I don’t want young people to feel the same way that I did. You can grow up, you can be comfortable and you can be gay.” Another gold medal, we say.
– Channel 10
“I was very clear in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.”
US President Barack Obama on what US officials have generally referred to as “enhanced interrogation techniques” that followed the September 11 terrorist attacks. A wide-ranging CIA torture report released later in the year detailed those wrongdoings and their general ineffectiveness.
– Newsweek (US)
“You have a very dangerous virus in three of the countries in the world that are least equipped to deal with it. The scale of this outbreak has just outstripped the resources. That’s why it’s become so big.”
Daniel Bausch, a World Health Organisation doctor from the department of tropical medicine at Tulane University, Louisiana, on the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. The death toll from the epidemic is now approaching 7000, despite outbreaks in Nigeria and Senegal officially being declared over.
– Business Insider, BBC (UK)
“We selected ‘shirtfront’ because we saw it really dominated the media this year. We are also, as the Australian National Dictionary Centre, looking for an Australian word ideally that has really influenced public debate, has really had prominence in the Australian social and cultural landscape.”
Amanda Laugesen, director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre, on “shirtfront” being voted as Australian word of the year, after PM Tony Abbott used it to describe his approach to diplomacy with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Because it's 2015.”
Justin Trudeau, Canada's new Prime Minister, on why half of his cabinet members are women.
– The Guardian (Aus)
“France is going to endure. And I’ll tell you why: if you’re in a war of culture and lifestyle with France, good fucking luck. Because, go ahead, bring your bankrupt ideology. They’ll bring Jean-Paul Sartre, Edith Piaf, fine wine, Gauloises cigarettes, Camus, camembert, madeleines, macarons, Marcel Proust and the fucking croquembouche! You just brought a philosophy of rigorous self-abnegation to a pastry fight, my friend. You are fucked.”
US television host John Oliver on why France will survive: pastries.
– Wall Street Journal (US)
“I don’t believe that my wealth, or frankly most people’s wealth, is entirely a function of hard work. There are cleaners that work harder than I ever have, or you ever have, and they don’t have much money.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on wealth and its connection (or disconnection) to work.
– The Guardian (Aus)
“My whole life, really, has been a ‘no’. It has not been easy for me. I started off in Brooklyn. My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars. I came into Manhattan, and I had to pay him back, and I had to pay him back with interest.”
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on his tough, riches-to riches story.
– Today (US)
“The 14th Dalai Lama has taken an extremely frivolous and disrespectful attitude towards this issue… Decision-making power over the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, and over the end or survival of this lineage, resides in the central government of China.”
Zhu Weiqun, a Chinese Communist Party official, on recent comments by the Dalai Lama that maybe he just won’t go and reincarnate himself this time. The government says it’s not his call, but a party matter.
– The New York Times (US)
2016 so far…
“He kept [his illness] private in an age we’re living in with Twitter when everyone knows everything about everything – he kept it to himself. He made two albums without anybody knowing he was making them... And that is the mystique of the man, because we know David Bowie the figure, the singer, the outrageous performer, but actually, we don’t know anything about him – and that’s the way it should be in music and should be in any art form whatsoever.”
Elton John on David Bowie, who died on 10 January, at 69. Elton paid tribute to Bowie during a concert in which he played ‘Space Oddity’ mashed up with his own hit song, ‘Rocket Man’.
– The Independent (UK)
“It is time to acknowledge that drugs are infinitely more dangerous if they are left solely in the hands of criminals… Scientific evidence and our concern for health and human rights must shape drug policy. This means making sure that fewer people die from drug overdoses and that small-time offenders do not end up in jail, where their drug problems get worse. It is time for a smarter, health-based approach to drug policy.”
Former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan, on why it’s time to rethink drugs policy and consider legalisation of some drugs via prescription.
– Der Spiegel (Ger)
“I always have to caution people when they watch American politics. We go a little crazy during the political season and it’s a very long season. I think it was Winston Churchill said, ‘You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they have exhausted every other possibility’. So you know it’s all going to be fine; it’s just going to take us a minute.
Actor George Clooney (Up in the Air, Gravity) tries to reassure the world that America is not going to make Donald Trump president.