The biggest physics news of 2016 was certainly the detection (finally!) of gravitational wave by LIGO.
In this CERN Courier article, the physics and methodology of making such a difficult detection is described. As you read this article, keep in mind that at each step of the development and evolution of the facility, there had to be advances and improvements in the detection method, which by itself, is significant. The technology and engineering involved in many this detection, and in many other science experiments, often drives the development of the technology that eventually finds applications in the rest of the population.