Two hundred years is not a long time, in the grand scheme of things. In 1812, Napoleon was busy invading Russia, and advancing the technology of canned food and military coat buttons.
Things have changed dramatically since then. Computers full of vacuum tubes that once filled large rooms are obsolete next to the phone you have in your pocket, and access to mass transportation and the standard of living have never been higher. There are more people living productively and happily today than at any other time in history.
Last year was yet another year in which technology outstripped our imaginations. According to a Buzzfeed article, 2012 was the year that science fiction became science fact.
Below are a few awe-inspiring developments from 2012:
A 3D printer printed a full-size house in a single session: You probably thought building homes was for homebuilders, but now a machine can do it in a matter of hours. According to the article, building a house using robotics takes a quarter of the time required to build the same structure using traditional means.
Voyager I left the solar system: One-hundred years ago, this development would have been seen as totally inconceivable and probably blasphemous—like firing a rocket through heaven. But the Voyager I spacecraft, launched in September 1977, has reached the edge of the heliosphere and is braced to enter interstellar space.
The Higgs boson was discovered at CERN: The theoretical Higgs boson became a reality in June 2012 at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. The particle is also jocularly known as the God Particle, since it is thought to be responsible for matter having mass.
Implants gave sight to the blind: Researchers in the United Kingdom have developed a bionic eye that interacts with the human brain. While the implants haven't granted their users complete vision, they have begun to see shapes and dream in color. Scientists are hopeful that as the test subjects' brains start to accommodate the implants, they will begin to see objects and details more clearly.
Cloaking technology is on its way: It might not be Harry Potter's Invisibility Cloak, but we're getting damned close. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., have independently developed silicon carpets that can bend infrared light in such a way that obscured objects become completely invisible.