I'm ending this year with an uplifting example of engineering, Uzbekistan's 1MW solar-powered Nd:YAG laser research facility. I'm not exactly sure what the intended research objective is, but if I had to wager a guess, I'd say it has something to do with energy transmission from orbit. What (relatively) poor, resource-rich, Uzbekistan, with its large deserts, is to gain from orbital solar power is somewhat unclear, so I may be wrong here. Still, while I'm posting this for the obvious Dr. Scaramanga connotation, this project is an example of rationally justifiable, cost-efficient science with a clear objective, at least if compared to madman's schemes such as magnetic confinement fusion, the Space Launch System, or the occasional FP7 project (link in German), or most of what I've seen at AGI-11 this year. Cheers to 2012 !