5 Curious Facts About 2014

So, 2013 is over, and now we have a whole new year of weird stories to look forward to. But before we get to those, here’s a quick look at some things that might actually happen in 2014.

China’s City in the Sky Will Soar. Maybe.

Sky City, an 838 m (2,749 ft) prefabricated skyscraper in Changsha, Hunan in south-central China, may or may not be built this year. If/when finished, this will become the tallest building in the world, beating out Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.

Things are, however, a bit shaky. Sky City broke ground on July 20, 2013, but there’s some skepticism about the project’s feasibility, particularly regarding plans to have it constructed in under a year. It’s already hit some roadblocks, but in September 2013, environmental assessment on the project began. Here’s hoping everything’s stable.

Moore’s Law Will Become Obsolete

Moore’s Law states that “the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years.” Thank you Wikipedia. So far, the law has been accurate, but there’s one thing in 2014 that may mean the end of this technological pattern: the economy.

Truth is, limitations in physics aren’t the only barrier for Moore’s Law to continue: developing these new silicon technologies is simply becoming more and more expensive. Because of this, last year DARPA director Robert Colwell predicted 2014 to be the year Moore’s Law meets its end. If a company like Intel decides it’s just too expensive to pursue further R&D investments in these technologies, then it’s game over, man. Game over. We’ll see what happens.

The International Cometary Explorer Will Return Home

Launched on August 12, 1978, the International Cometary Explorer spacecraft became the first spacecraft to orbit the Lagrangian point, an area in space where the gravitational pull of Earth and the Sun cancel out. It was also the first to intercept a comet. 36 years later, in August 2014, its trajectory will bring the craft back toward Earth. At that point, NASA will have to decide if they want to retrieve the spacecraft or send it off to observe additional comets.

First Test Flight of the Orion Spacecraft Will Occur

Image: NASA

The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. The MPCV. Now this is interesting. This craft, designed by Lockheed Martin, is meant for manned voyages beyond low-Earth-orbit, to the moon, to Mars, to asteroids. In a time when manned space exploration (well, over here in the U.S., anyway) is on a downward spiral, it’s exciting to see a new spacecraft being developed together by the ESA and NASA.

The craft is meant to carry 2-6 astronauts, but its initial test flight will be unmanned. That will occur sometime this year. Unfortunately, as far as excursions to the Red Planet are concerned, we probably won’t be seeing any of those until the 2030s. Probably.

We Will Explore the Antiworld

CERN has a lot more going on than the (completed?) search for the Higgs Boson and the LHC. Later this year, they’ll perform some new experiments exploring antimatter using their Antiproton Decelerator. The AEGIS experiment, for example, will measure how Earth’s gravitational pull affects antimatter.

“It will measure the vertical distance that a beam of antihydrogen atoms falls as it travels a set horizontal distance – with even the tiniest deviation from how ordinary matter behaves possibly shedding light on the mystery of why the universe has so little antimatter.”

Really, just hop on over to Physics World for a rundown of what we can look forward to in physics during 2014. Unfortunately, the LHC is still sleeping, but it’ll awake more powerful than ever in 2015.

So, how are we feeling about 2014? Know of anything else that’ll be going on, science or otherwise?


Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.