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I believe 2013 will be a grand year.

Big things are coming. First of all, astronomers expect a cloud of gas roughly three times the mass of Earth to begin falling into a supermassive black hole in September. It’s not just going to be amazing (blasts of x-rays and radio waves!), it will be the first time such a thing happens within range of human instrumentation, which means we get to watch.

This is also the first year we expect private spaceflight to begin delivering payloads into orbit at the regularly scheduled intervals with which we move big things around here on Earth. Also, the post-Higgs era begins this year. Like I say, lots to look forward to.

But what will make 2013 truly grand is not the big, cosmic stuff. 2013 is going to rock because of all the tools and innovations that are about to be available to us.

2013 is going to rock because of all the tools and innovations that are about to be available to us.This year, you and I will gain access to a new investing mechanism. A provision of the JOBS Act that takes effect this year makes it possible for any American to offer an equity stake in an enterprise over the Internet. That sort of activity could democratize investment in the same way that technology has democratized media. Anyone from a fledgling chef to a garage inventor can issue shares in his or her dreams, and receive payment for them from all over the country. (We explain this further here.) The rise of 3-D printing will let inventors and designers prototype their own creations in new materials with new properties. And in 2013, the growing availability of data is going to open business, government, and intelligence to an ever-larger group of citizen-analysts. (I’ll also say that as a new father, I hope this is the year we’ll finally see the adoption of the anti-concussion technology Tom Foster discovered in his exposé of the football helmet industry—an industry that, as he so capably writes, has shown an appalling inability to get on the right side of history.)

The financial woes and political rancor of 2012 may have sapped our strength and distracted us from our goals. I’m looking forward to putting all of that behind us. My greatest wish is that 2013 rewards your boldest dreams and brings you endless creative energy. Happy New Year.

–Jacob Ward

jacob.ward@popsci.com | @jacobward

PS: If you happen to receive a tablet for the holidays this year, may I suggest an app? Popular Science’s Evolver makes you the star of the history of human evolution. With new image-mapping technology, we show you what you might have looked like as everything from an early Australopithecus to the last of the Neanderthals. Download it at the iTunes store.

Go here to read the January issue of Popular Science.

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