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2013 timeline contents

2013 – Food prices are triggering riots around the world | The European Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) is operational | China overtakes the USA in scientific research | Solar flares are disrupting the Earth's magnetosphere | The Gaia mission is launched | 3D technologies are widespread | Highly flexible touch sensors are appearing in a range of gadgets | Launch of the PS4 and Xbox 720 | Full-body scanners are mandatory in US airports | Direct high-speed rail from London to Frankfurt and Amsterdam | The expansion of the Port of Rotterdam is completed, tripling its capacity | 14nm chips enter mass production | The first test launch of the Falcon Heavy


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Food prices are triggering riots around the world

World grain reserves are now at historically low levels, due to record droughts and heatwaves experienced in 2012. Failing harvests were particularly bad in the United States, Russia and Eastern Europe.** As the world consumes more than it can produce, the resulting increase in food costs is sparking riots and bringing down a number of governments in Africa and the Middle East.** In the poorest countries, between 60-80% of household budgets are spent on food.* Though less of a problem in the developed world, consumers are nevertheless feeling the impact. Restaurants are taking some foods off the menu, while in supermarkets, the cost of meat in particular is becoming noticeably higher. This worrying trend continues in the years ahead, as many millions face hunger. By 2030, it has become a major global crisis, with a doubling of prices for key staples including wheat and rice.


2013 food trends 2013 food crisis



The European Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) is operational

The Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) is a new system which gives the European Central Bank (ECB) the power to intervene in any bank within the eurozone. Its aim is to reduce financial risk and prevent cross-border contagion. A legislative framework is in place by 1 January 2013, with full operation beginning later in the year.** A new permanent rescue fund – the European Stability Mechanism – allows failing banks to be recapitalised directly without adding to a country's sovereign debt. The biggest contributors are Germany (27%), France (20%) and Italy (18%).

The SSM receives a mixed reaction. On the one hand, there are those who welcome the increased regulation, something which was largely absent for years and played a major role in the crisis of 2007-2008. On the other hand, fears are raised over the centralised supervision of so many banks, viewed by many as another step towards a federal European superstate.

This banking union is of particular concern to the UK, which until now has dominated financial services with over half of all investment banking in Europe. With its own separate currency – pound sterling – it lies outside the group of eurozone members and their circle of influence, but within the European Union (EU). It therefore stands to be marginalised when decisions are taken on regulation in the EU as a whole. This triggers a major debate in the UK over the country's role in policymaking, leading to further calls for a referendum on its EU membership.


europe 2013



China overtakes the USA in scientific research

In terms of scientific output, China had been closing the gap between it and the developed world for several years. Thousands of new research papers were being published each year at an accelerating rate, while millions more students were entering universities as the country became more developed. At the same time, the United States had seen a steep drop in its own scientific and technological research. In 2004, China passed the United Kingdom, becoming second in terms of academic studies. The gap finally closes in 2013, as even the USA falls behind China.*


2013 technology trends future timeline predictions china usa science overtakes



Solar flares are disrupting the Earth's magnetosphere

The Sun reaches its solar maximum this year - the period of greatest activity in its 11-year solar cycle. Because of the unusually low level of activity in recent years, this has caused a sudden build up of energy now, with large "solar storms" hitting Earth's magnetosphere. These are strong enough to disrupt electronic systems on the ground. Satellites, air travel, car navigations, the banking system, hospital equipment, computers and many other machines are affected during this period.*


2013 solar storms flares sun cycle activity
Credit: NASA



The Gaia mission is launched

While the naked human eye can see only a few thousand stars on a clear night, Gaia will map over a billion - approximately 1 percent of all stars within our own Milky Way galaxy - over the course of its five-year mission beginning in 2013. It will chart their brightness and spectral characteristics, as well as their positions and motions, forming a highly detailed three-dimensional map.*




3D technologies are widespread

3D technology is now widespread across a range of communication and entertainment platforms. It has become a mainstream element of cinema, TV, Internet, video games and even mobile. This technology provides users with a whole new level of immersion, interaction and realism.

James Cameron's Avatar, released in 2009, was a major breakthrough in terms of developing this format and raising awareness of its potential.

In 2010, new 3D TV channels were introduced and these could even be viewed without 3D glasses.* This effect was achieved via multiple projectors behind the screen, combined with a lens array creating parallax effects from any direction. Among the TV events during this time was the first ever FIFA World Cup to be screened in 3D.

Compatibility was soon incorporated into a range of consumer products including Blu-ray recorders, games consoles and personal computers. By 2013, the technology has become widespread in homes in developed countries.*


3d technologies future explained
© Philcold |



Highly flexible touch sensors are appearing in a range of gadgets

Highly flexible, film-based touch sensors are entering the smartphone and tablet markets.* They are also extending touch capabilities into a range of new consumer and industrial products. Using roll-to-roll metal mesh technology, they provide a high-performance alternative to existing touch sensors. Larger, lighter, sleeker, curved and edgeless designs can now be developed for handheld devices. Thinner sensor stacks with flawless touch performance, excellent optical clarity, low sheet resistance and low power consumption are enabling designers to turn unique, futuristic concepts into functional designs at lower total system costs compared to previous market alternatives.




Launch of the PS4 and Xbox 720

2012 saw the launch of Nintendo's Wii U - the first of the eighth generation games consoles.* By late 2013, it is joined by the PS4 and Xbox 720. These new machines offer substantial improvements in graphical power. The PS4, codenamed "Orbis", is built around an AMD x64 CPU and AMD Southern Islands GPU, handling screen resolutions of up to 4000 x 2000 pixels, as well as 3D gaming in full 1080p.* The Xbox 720, codenamed "Durango", is powered by a state-of-the-art IBM Power PC CPU, featuring 16 cores, alongside a Radeon HD 7000-series graphics card.*


ps4 xbox 720 xbox720 orbis durango 2013 2014 future gaming games console timeline


Full-body scanners are mandatory in US airports

In the US, a bill called the S.A.F.E.R. A.I.R. Act has been passed, making full-body scanners mandatory in airports. These devices create a nude image of a person's body through their clothes, in order to look for hidden objects without physically removing their clothes or making physical contact. The use of these machines is controversial, raising privacy issues, as well as concerns over the use of backscatter X-rays.*


full body scanners technology 2013 tsa



Direct high-speed rail from London to Frankfurt and Amsterdam

Two of Europe's biggest financial centres - London and Frankfurt - are now connected by a high-speed rail link. Trains running at 320 kph (200 mph) provide a journey time of under five hours. Combined with cheaper fares and better onboard web access, this offers a genuine alternative to air travel. The service also runs to Brussels, Cologne, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.*


london frankfurt train high speed rail route 2013 amsterdam future transport
© Will Fox



Expansion of the Port of Rotterdam is completed, tripling its capacity

The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the busiest in the world. Completed this year is the ambitious Maasvlakte 2, the largest land reclamation project in Europe and one of the single largest earth-moving projects in history. Approximately 2000 hectares are reclaimed. With its completion, container capacity is tripled - providing a significant boost to the Dutch economy.*


maasvlakte 2 2013 future port of rotterdam expansion netherlands holland timeline
Credit: Havenbedrijf Rotterdam N.V., Projectorganisatie Maasvlakte 2.



14 nanometre chips enter mass production

The next generation of microprocessor technology is released by Intel, with transistors now based on a 14nm manufacturing process.* For comparison, a carbon atom is 0.34nm wide.* The 4GHz barrier in stock CPU is finally being passed, thanks to the performance and energy efficiency of these new chips.


transistor size timeline intel computer chips future trend roadmap 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 moores law 22nm 16nm 14nm 11nm 10nm



The first test launch of the Falcon Heavy

The Falcon Heavy - the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V - has its first demonstration flight this year. It is designed to lift satellites or spacecraft into orbit weighing more than 53 tons, or 117,000 pounds - over twice the capacity of the Space Shuttle and Delta IV Heavy launcher. At full power, it has thrust equivalent to fifteen 747's.

The rocket is being developed by SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corporation), one of two private companies that NASA has contracted to transport cargo to the International Space Station.

SpaceX's goals include simultaneously lowering the price of orbital spaceflight and improving reliability, both by a factor of ten, whilst creating the first fully reusable orbital launch vehicle. Longer term, the company intends to design an even more powerful rocket, known as a "super heavy-lift" vehicle. This would have about three times the power of a Falcon Heavy, or about 50 percent more than the Saturn V - enough to carry people to Mars.*


falcon heavy mars 2013 future space
Credit: SpaceX








1 Epic 'Dust Bowl Of 2012' Expands Again, Climate Progress:
Accessed 20th October 2012.

2 UN Warns Of Food Crisis In 2013 If Extreme Weather Persists, Climate Progress:
Accessed 20th October 2012.

3 Scientists Predict That Food Riots Will Grip The Planet Within A Year, Inhabitat:
Accessed 20th October 2012.

4 UN warns of looming worldwide food crisis in 2013, The Guardian:
Accessed 20th October 2012.

5 High Food Prices: 10 Questions Answered, World Food Programme:
Accessed 20th October 2012.

6 EU summit: Compromise deal on eurozone bank supervisor, BBC:
Accessed 19th October 2012.

7 European Council conclusions on completing EMU, Official website of the European Union:
Accessed 19th October 2012.

8 China 'to overtake US on science' in two years, BBC:
Accessed 14th July 2011.

9 Nasa's 2013 solar flare warning: how much do we need to worry?, The Telegraph:
Accessed 16th June 2010.

10 Gaia (spacecraft), Wikipedia:
Accessed 12th June 2011.

11 Toshiba show 3DTV without glasses, BBC:
Accessed 12th June 2011.

12 Cinema leads the way in opening up 3D - but TV, games and mobile are not far behind,
Accessed 20th December 2009.

13 "The company expects 'significant volume ramp' in 2013."
See Atmel's flexible touch sensors will revolutionize mobile device design, Extreme Tech:
Accessed 11th April 2012.

14 See 2012.

15 PlayStation 4 'Orbis' pegged for 2013 release, Reg Hardware:
Accessed 11th April 2012.

16 Microsoft's Xbox 360 follow-up rumored to pack 16 CPU cores, ARS Technica:
Accessed 11th April 2012.

17 Senate Introduces SAFER AIR Act That Makes Airport Body Scanners Required by 2013 and I'm Not Happy, SeattlePI:
Accessed 21st November 2010.

18 High-speed rail link for London, Frankfurt, CNN:
Accessed 30th October 2010.

19 Port of Rotterdam Expansion, Science Channel:
Accessed 24th May 2011.

20 Intel Announces first 22nm 3D Tri-Gate Transistors, Shipping in 2H 2011, AnandTech:
Accessed 15th May 2011.

21 Cell Size and Scale, University of Utah
(drag the slider from left to right to zoom in):
Accessed 15th May 2011.

22 Huge Private Rocket Could Send Astronauts to the Moon or Mars,
Accessed 26th April 2011.