The Christmas list

List making seems to be among mankind’s favourite activities, particularly as the old year draws to a close and the new one begins. It seems that we all want to know what the top 100 annoying pop songs are, who are the world’s most embarrassing people and what everyone’s been watching on TV. The transition from 2009 to 2010 was no different, but some of the latest batch of lists have a few surprising entries.

According to the Global Language Monitor, ‘twitter’ was the top word of 2009. No surprises there, but ‘hadron’ came in at number 8 on the list. ‘King of pop’ was top phrase, according to the same source, but ‘god particle’ came in at number 10. And while ‘Barack Obama’ was the name of the year, ‘Large Hadron Collider’ came in at number four.

The Global Language Monitor was not the only organization whose lists included particle physics references. ‘The Large Hadron Collider returns’ made Time magazine’s list of top ten scientific discoveries in its end-of-year issue, while on the flip side of the same coin, Time rated ‘bird drops bread’ at number 8 in the odd news list. In an earlier issue, the LHC came in at number 4 in the magazine’s list of 10 essential stories.

Even the scientific press couldn’t resist the annual urge to make lists. In its 7 January issue, the magazine nature looked forward to what it expects to be the key events from the research world in 2010, with evidence for supersymmetry at the LHC making the list.

All of this is perhaps not surprising when you consider the level of public interest in CERN. To take one measure, CERN made nearly 5500 appearances in the world’s media between 20 November and the end of the year. Perhaps it’s become one of the top 10 things that people are talking about?

Oh, and the most annoying pop song of all time? According to the BBC, Celine Dion’s ‘My heart will go on’, just pipped the crazy frog to the top spot.

by James Gillies