2011's Strokes of Genius: The Inventions, Emails, Tweets, and Ideas that Blew Our Minds

(Photo by ThinkStock)(Photo by ThinkStock)This year's best and brightest ideas, innovations and moments of glory ranged from the very noble to the totally ridiculous. And that's just how we liked it. Here's a look back at 2011's bursts of brilliance, both big and small.

'If you believe in yourself you will know how to ride a bike' boy

Not only did this kid own two wheels, he mastered the art of inspirational speaking.

This year's Nobel peace prize

2011's Nobel prize winners
Three women, two from Liberia and one from Yemen took top international honors for their work in war-torn regions where women's freedom's are constantly challenged. Their work began long before 2011, but this was the year they were finally recognized globally.

Dogs who prevent bullying

Service dogs were integrated into several anti-bullying classroom programs as a way to create a more supportive environment. Teaching kids at a young age how and why to be kind to animals, proved to be influential long-term and fostered a much more positive school culture.

The Spipster movement
Bridesmaids: cinematic stroke of genius
This year the perpetually single lady had multiple 'strokes of genius', if you will. You know the term spinster, used to describe single women of a certain age? 2011 ate that term and spit it out with a much cooler outfit. Spipster (my not-so-genius portmanteau for hipster spinster) is one way explain the new face of the single lady that emerged in 2011. Case in point: The most critically acclaimed romantic comedy of the year, and possibly ever, wasn't about being a bride, but being a bridesmaid. "The movie Bridesmaids, I mean come on, it's genius," Diane Keaton told Yahoo Shine in an interview. She too was responsible for one of this year's break-out single lady celebrations. Her bestselling memoir "Then Again" takes an unflinching look at a life of falling in love and staying single. Meanwhile, Katie Bolick wrote a groundbreaking article in the Atlantic ("All the Single Ladies") that smartly turned the Rubik's cube of what it means to be married. All this, while the stereotypical new age 'spinster' also got a comedic makeover, courtesy of Your Aunt Diane. Way to go Spipsters!

Aelita Andre's painting
The 4 year old Picasso at work.
Aelita Andre is abstact expressionist painter. She's also 4. One of her massive splash art canvases sold for $27,000 this year. Pretty genius.

The inner-child restaurant
Your place setting at Next:Childhood.
Fancy Mac and Cheese and PB&J revivals have been making rounds in the foodie world for a few years. But in October, chef Grant Achatz went a step further and opened a restaurant designed to make you feel like a kid. The Chicago based Next:Childhood, a three-month project, serves up cake batter, finger painted main courses and a Superhero optional dress code.

The perfect out-of-office email
The smartest way to hang a
A guy named Josh Kopelman wrote the best away message ever before he left for vacation. Really, check it out.

The bento box school lunch
That's Cinderella's head made out of cheese.
This year, the internet gave way to the creative efforts of mom and a divided lunch tray. Quirky cut-outs and surprise displays inspired picky eaters to embrace healthy lunches. It also inspired people to lose hours looking at photos of those artistically arranged lunches.

The amazing costumed dad
It was a busy school year for Dale Price.
Throughout the entire school year, ending this past June, stay at home dad, Dale Price made sure his son was the star of the school bus. Dressed in a new costume each day (from pirate to blushing bride) Price made it his mission to surprise his son with a new ridiculous outfit and wave as his son got on the bus in the morning. Pretty soon, everyone on the bus considered seeing Dale, and subsequently going to school, the best part of the day.

The Photoshop detector
The new Photoshop detecting tool points out changes made to images of Fergie.
Image forensics researchers developed a photo analyzing tool that can pick out retouched images in magazines and ads. Can you imagine how much more media literate we could be when we're beach reading?

Famous-actresses-against-plastic-surgery club
Kate Winslet, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Thompson have vowed not to get cosmetic surgery. Photo by Getty Images
Britain's best and brightest actresses, namely Kate Winslet, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Thompson got together to put a stop to Hollywood's unrealistic demands on women. Together they co-founded the British Anti-Cosmetic Surgery League, an organization that promotes the benefits of aging naturally.

The beat-less heart replacement
An X-ray of artificial blood pumps developed to replace a heart.
Two doctors from the Texas Heart Institute developed a whirring device that completely replaces non-working hearts, pumping blood continuously through the body keeping patients alive. Because it's a complete organ replacement, the mechanism allows the body to continuously function without any heartbeat.

The virtual dressing room
Your personal electronic clothing tryer-oner.
The company FITS.ME has created an application that allows online shoppers to virtually try on clothes with the help of a 3D dress frame with matching measurements. In other words, you can now buy jeans online without returning them twice.

This photo contest entry
This image took American Apparel by storm. Photo by Shannon Skloss
Nancy Upton didn't get mad about American Apparel's pedantic approach to a plus-size photo contest, she got even. Starring in a series of parody photos gorging on food, she won the most votes in the contest and better yet, an mea culpa from the company.

A teenager's bucket list
Alice with her dog Mabel. (photo via Alice's Bucket List)

When 15-year-old Alice Pyne was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she created a bucket list of things she'd like to do and posted it on line. Number 1: make everyone who's eligible sign up to be a bone marrow donor. Her list went viral and with in weeks, she'd helped enlist countless new donors and raised thousands of dollars for bone marrow research. Now that she has a built-in audience eager to help, she's hosting a charity auction to raise money for other families of kids with her condition. All that from an idea, a blog post and a big heart. Genius.

Best celebrity couples of 2011
Best and worst fashion of 2011
Best recipes of the year