With just a few weeks to go until the ball drops at Times Square, it’s time to look back at the year that was. The past 12 months were marked by scandals, tragedies, and loss, but also by innovation and progress. As we look forward to a new year, here are 8 photographs that capture key moments and emotions of 2013.


South Africa mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela

Photo by Mike Hutchings/Reuters


Mandela Mourning


South Africa’s anti-apartheid leader, Nelson Mandela, died on Thursday, December 5. Scores of tributes pour in from all over the world as South African’s mourn the loss of their first black president and Nobel Peace Prize winner. He was 95.



Janet Yellen nominated as first woman chair of the Federal Reserve

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


Janet Yellen


Current Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen was nominated by Barack Obama in October to replace Ben Bernanke as head of the U.S. central bank. She is expected to win Senate approval and succeed Bernanke in 2014, becoming the first female to lead the Fed.



Pope Benedict XVI resigns; cardinals elect Jorge Mario Bergoglio as his replacement

Photo by Paul Haring/CNS




Shocking Catholics around the globe, Pope Benedict resigned in late February, sighting health as the reason. He is the first pope to do so since Gregory XII in 1415. Shortly after, Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina was elected the new Pope, taking the name Francis. Since his election, Pope Francis has been making headlines for his humbler approach to the papacy.



Terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon

Photo by Kelvin Ma/Bloomberg


Boston Scene


A pair of crudely made bombs were detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15. What ensued a few days later captivated the nation – a 20-hour manhunt for the duo of brothers responsible for the attack, which ended with one dead, and the other captured.



Edward Snowden leaks top-secret NSA documents revealing U.S. surveillance methods

Photo by The Guardian




NSA computer analyst Edward Snowden’s in-depth revelations of NSA surveillance tactics shocked the country due to the methodology and extent of the surveillance. Snowden, considered a fugitive by American authorities due to charges of espionage, fled to Russia where he has been granted temporary asylum, further straining American–Russian relations.



The “Bionic Eye” receives FDA approval

Photo by AFP


Bionic Eye


A breakthrough in the field of visual prosthesis, the Argus II from California-based company Second Sight becomes the first commercial “bionic eye” to be approved by the Food & Drug Administration. Via video signals transmitted to the implant in a patient’s retina, individuals suffering from vision loss are able to see.



Healthcare.gov is plagued with problems, further adding fuel to the already thriving health care debate fire

Image from DailyTech




The brains behind the most talked about website of 2013 forgot to do one thing – ensure the right infrastructure was in place prior to launch. This definitely qualifies as the biggest #ITfail of the year.



Typhoon Yolanda ravishes the Philippines

Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images


Typhoon aftermath


In November of 2013, Typhoon Yolanda touched down in the Philippines killing at least 5,800 and leaving millions homeless. The cyclone’s impact will be felt for years, as extensive resources are needed to rebuild. Yolanda also caused significant damage in neighboring Vietnam.  


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