1. Gabby Douglas won several Olympic firsts:
As a member of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team at the 2012 Summer Olympics, she won gold medals in both the individual and team all-around competitions, making her the first woman of color and the first African-American gymnast in Olympic history to become the individual all-around champion, and the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics.
2. Felix Baumgartner jumped to earth from the edge of space:
Felix Baumgartner set the world record for longest skydive/free fall when he jumped down some 24 miles from outer space in October, 2012.
3. Miranda Ferguson did almost 3 dozen handsprings in a row:
16 year-old cheerleader Miranda Ferguson broke the world record of most-consecutive summersaults when she successfully executed 35 handsprings in a row.
4. Oscar Pistorius became the first amputee to compete in the Summer Olympics:
South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius had previously competed and won in several Paralympic games but as a double amputee, his inclusion in this year’s London Olympic games was groundbreaking.
5. Chris Hadfield set out to hang out in space for 5 months:
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield became the first Canadian to command the International Space Station. He will be in outer space for over 150 days.
6. Scientists may have discovered the “God Particle”:
Scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN, discovered a particle in July of this year which they believe is the Higgs Boson, or God Particle. Scientists have been hunting for the particle for over 40 years.
7. 20 women were elected to the Senate:
The newly elected officials include Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin, who will become the first openly gay person in history to serve as a Senator.
8. NASA’s $2.6 billion rover, Curiosity, landed safely on Mars:
On August 5, 2012, scientists rejoiced at the safe landing. The first pictures from the planet’s surface have started trickling in over the last few weeks.
9. Doctors at Johns Hopkins made an ear grow in someone’s arm:
Sherrie Walter knew she would never want to wear a prosthetic ear after she lost hers to cancer - but little did she know science would enable her to grow her own ear from her own tissue a few years later. The incredible operation was performed by crafting the ear out of cartilage from her rib cage then placing it under the skin of her arm for four months to allow it to grow.
10. U.S. Runner Manteo Mitchell ran in a 4x400-meter relay heat despite a broken leg:
Manteo Mitchell ran his leg of the 4×400 in an impressive 45.6 seconds, which is all the more impressive when it was later found out he had run the last 200 meters with a broken fibula to avoid letting his teammates down.