Apple's Cook, 'God particle' on <i>Time's</i> list of 2012 notables

Tech luminaries, tech discoveries get spotlight in <i>Time&#39;s</i> annual Person of the Year issue

It has been a big year for some tech luminaries, with several of them getting a nod from editors picking Time Magazine's Person of the Year.

Calling him the "architect of the New America," President Barack Obama Wednesday was named Time's Person of the Year.

Meanwhile, the tech industry was well represented in Time's list of influential people of 2012. The list included Apple CEO Tim Cook, Yahoo's Marissa Mayer, Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Google's Larry Page. The magazine also recognized the Higgs boson particle.

Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said it's good to see so many people in the technology industry recognized for their accomplishments.

"It's not surprising to see tech industry folks on this list," he said. "Tech companies, and the people who run them, are getting a much larger share of the media spotlight these days because their products touch everyday lives so much more now than in the past."

The average person has developed a strong relationship with their technology, making the people behind iPhones, tablets, apps and online shopping sites increasingly important.

"People are interacting with tech many times a day through map programs, online shopping, social networking, entertainment and other activities," said Olds. "They develop strong feelings about the products they use and the companies that built them."

Apple's Cook was one of four runners-up for the prestigious, annual Person of the Year honor. Cook, who joined Apple in 1998, stepped into the company's top seat in August 2011 due to predecessor Steve Jobs' cancer.

"Tim Cook has the decidedly nontrivial distinction of being the first CEO of Apple since the very first to come to power without blood on his hands," Time wrote. "For most of its history, Apple has had a succession problem: it had no internal mechanism for transferring power from one CEO to the next without descending into civil war. This clearly bothered Steve Jobs, because he spoke to Cook about it shortly before he died."

Time noted that while Cook's tenure as CEO at Apple hasn't been flawless, he appears unintimidated by his role as successor to one of the greatest innovators in history.

Another runner-up was Fabiola Gianotti, a head scientist at CERN, which runs the Large Hadron Collider.

Gianotti is the physicist who presented CERN's preliminary findings on the possible discovery of the elusive Higgs boson particle.

Not to be left out of the mix, Time also tipped its hat at the Higgs boson, affectionately calling it the Particle of the Year.

The Higgs boson, a theoretical sub-atomic particle that is considered to be the reason that everything has mass, has such great mystery and scientific importance that it has been dubbed the " God particle."

The other two runners-up for the Person of the Year title were Malala Yousafzai, a teenage Pakistani girl shot in the head by a Taliban assailant and Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's president.

Other technologists recognized by Time include Jonah Peretti, founder of Buzzfeed and co-founder of Huffington Post and Erik Martin, general manager of Reddit.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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