Photo

#4. Higgs Boson Collision Diagram/Solar Transit of Venus

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/GettyImages



No, I didn't just want to make my image of the year pick(s, if you're being technical) sound as much like a late-'70s prog rock battle of the bands as possible. If I did, the words "Project" and "Experience" would be shoehorned in there as well. It just so happens that a couple of things transpired this year that smacked of Roger Dean cover art, and I mean that in a good way.

In case that reference means nothing to you, I'm going to insert a flashy image here to smooth things over. This will give you the sensation that your reading experience is in good hands.

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/GettyImages
"You are entertained."

You see that shit?! Looks like Chris Cunningham directed a glow stick orgy. Looks like a dubstep sea urchin getting razzed by an electric eel. Looks like a color-coded computer construct diagramming the results of a high-energy particle collision ... on WEED. Or a big weird bug or something. Should have stopped at three.

Now check out this guy:

NASA/SDO/AIA

Holy Spicoli! Looks like the angry sun has donned a crown of planets. Looks like a black pearl necklace around the throat of a Hellmouth. I'm going to stop at two, because I think I nailed them and I've grown a lot since the last paragraph.

That top image represents possible confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson particle (and corresponding field, I think), the first really exciting discovery made by the folks at the Large Hadron Collider since the discovery that they can spit mad electromagnetic fire.

The bottom one represents the recent solar transit of Venus, the last time it will pass between the Earth and sun for more than a century. I don't have a rap video about that.

Two pictures, both computer generated, one concerning things too small to be seen, and one things too vast to be comprehended. Yet the Higgs boson is responsible for the quality of mass that keeps Venus and Earth in orbit, allows the sun to combust and lets thermoses keep cool liquids cool and hot liquids hot.

Why mention all this? Because inwardly or outwardly, up or down, connected or unconnected, right in front of you or reconstructed with electromagnetic telescopes and 3-D modeling software, cool shit abounds. Keep your eyes peeled, and post lots of pictures.

SDO / NASA via Getty
Try not to drool.

After all, I have to write another one of these damn things next year, assuming the LHC doesn't finally make good on that micro black hole they keep threatening the world's governments with whenever their funding runs out. We GET it, physicists; you hold our very lives in your hands! You don't have to be dicks about it.

#3. Clinton and Obama

GQ



I love photos that you can immediately hear in your head. And if you're like me, when you see this photo you immediately hear a sitcom laugh track and applause, the kind that would always accompany Kramer when he'd burst into the room on Seinfeld. The "wacky annoying neighbor" look on Clinton's face says that he's just uttered his famous catchphrase and is soaking up the reaction while Obama groans. Needless to say, this became a meme:

KnowYourMeme

#2. McKayla Maroney Is Unimpressed

Brian Snyder / Reuters



Only a few short months after the flame died in London and all the spent condoms were cleared away from the Olympic Village, the names of athletes we wept for, cheered on and celebrated have already slipped from our memories. Do you even remember Lolo Jones' spectacular finish for bronze in the 100-meter hurdles? Or Hungary's fourth straight gold in water polo? Or Cuba's unprecedented dominance in baseball? I'll save you the trouble of answering and say that no, you don't, because none of those things actually happened. See, that was a trap, but a trap to prove a very important point: Without McDonald's, NBC and American Express forcing it down our throats, we don't actually give a shit about the Olympics.

However, one remnant from the London games has refused to go away. It's still bouncing around in the echo chamber of the Internet as a meme because it's absurd, but also because the picture says more about our bandwagon fandom of Olympic athletes than most of us are willing to admit. It's the photo of American gymnast McKayla Maroney standing on the winners' platform, arms crossed and looking sour about her stupid silver medal. The look on her face betrays the same ambivalence all Americans feel the second Bob Costas signs off for the last time after the closing ceremonies. It says, "If the world isn't actively celebrating us for being the best, we're no longer interested in paying attention."

Know Your Meme

#1. Kate Middleton Topless

Closer via ShowbizSpy

There is no bigger paparazzi catch than snapping candid topless photos of an A-list actress or celebrity. Using the kind of lens normally reserved for deciding if that's a face on the surface of Mars or just a few conveniently placed mountains, a photographer captured the newest addition to the royal family dropping her top on a deck in France.

Royalty boob is a pretty big deal. Even the weekend-warrior-type perverts are going to turn out for that. So when word spread that the pictures had leaked, men and women alike took to the Internet in droves to see for themselves if these rumors about Kate Middleton having human breasts underneath her clothing were indeed true.

They were. And unless you were looking at the pictures from prison, you were massively disappointed. We're used to seeing Kate Middleton looking like this ...

Tim Graham / Getty

It takes a special blend of preparation on Kate's part and trickery on the part of any number of newspapers, magazines and websites to bring you the signature Kate Middleton look you see above. But for some reason, when we hear that topless photos of a smoking hot celebrity have leaked, even if only briefly, we always assume that what we're going to see is the nude equivalent of the picture posted above.

But candid photos are called that for a reason. You're not going to get red-carpet-worthy looks by catching a woman off-guard. Shots of someone sunbathing in private take a little less work for all involved. There's no makeup, no one has to get their hair done. It's very casual. The victim shows up intent on living a normal life, and some dirtbag hanging from a tree 700 feet away denies her that with a camera. Image quality is going to drop exponentially every single time in that situation.

Closer via ShowbizSpy
But hey, nipples! So who cares.

It happens damn near every time we hear of another celeb who's joined the "topless photos linked to the Internet" club. With rare exceptions, topless pictures of hot young celebs are useless, grainy images that only the most completist of fappers would consider using as study material.

The topless pictures of Kate Middleton were no exception.

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