Breakthrough of the Year, 2012

Every year, crowning one scientific achievement as Breakthrough of the Year is no easy task, and 2012 was no exception. The year saw leaps and bounds in physics, along with significant advances in genetics, engineering, and many other areas. In keeping with tradition, Science’s editors and staff have selected a winner and nine runners-up, as well as highlighting the year’s top news stories and areas to watch in 2013.

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The Discovery of the Higgs Boson

Exotic particles made headlines again and again in 2012, making it no surprise that the breakthrough of the year is a big physics finding: confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson. Hypothesized more than 40 years ago, the elusive particle completes the standard model of physics, and is arguably the key to the explanation of how other fundamental particles obtain mass. The only mystery that remains is whether its discovery marks a new dawn for particle physics or the final stretch of a field that has run its course.

A Guide to the Higgs Boson Free Access

Read an Glossary and related articles about the Higgs boson in this issue.


Runners-Up Free with Registration

This year's runners-up for Breakthrough of the Year underscore feats in engineering, genetics, and other fields that promise to change the course of science.

Watch a video presentation of this year's Breakthrough of the Year and runners-up.


Special End-of-Year Show

A special year-in-review show featuring the Breakthrough of the Year, runners-up, and science news highlights from 2012. Listen Now (mp3)

Also in this Special Issue:


The Breakthroughs of 2012

Some thoughts on the year in science and what's ahead in 2013.

Areas to Watch

A look ahead at some exciting prospects for 2013.

The Year in News

Science's News Staff reflect on some of the important stories of 2012.


A retrospective of last year's Areas to Watch.

See Also


Breakthrough of the Year: Seekers of the Higgs Boson

Science Careers talks to three young investigators who contributed to this year's monumental discovery.

Science Careers's Person of the Year: Paula Stephan

The labor economist has worked for years behind the scenes, but this year she went public.

Treat yourself this holiday season! Get a year of Science and AAAS membership. Join today!

Previous Years' Breakthroughs

Insights of the Decade Issue Cover

2011: HIV Treatment as Prevention

Science's editors and news staff have selected one scientific Breakthrough of the Year and nine runners-up—and have also highlighted some areas to watch for 2012.