Sunday, December 28, 2008

Top 100 Stories of 2008

#1: The Post-Oil Era Begins

12.22.2008 Electricity may be what fuels our future—electricity from renewables, nuclear, and even from burning biomass.

by Ben Hewitt


#3: The FDA Tackles Tainted Drugs From China

The realities of globalization hit the U.S. drug industry. 12.22.2008

#4: Slime Is Turning the Seas Into Dead Zones

Pollution, overfishing, and the rise of microbes spell doom for many bodies of water. 12.22.2008

#5: Nations Stake Their Claims to a Melting Arctic

Undiscovered oil and gas reserves below the ice set off a polar gold rush. 12.22.2008

#6: Phoenix Lander Strikes Ice on Mars

Finally, positive confirmation of what we long thought and hoped for 12.21.2008

#7: Invisibility Becomes More than Just a Fantasy

Researchers are cloaking materials from light, sound, and even matter itself. 12.21.2008

#8: Cavemen: They're Just Like Us

Neanderthals were a sophisticated bunch, according to new research. 12.21.2008

#9: Your Genome, Now Available for a (Relative) Discount

The first cost around $1 million; now, it's more like $200,000. 12.21.2008

#10: Coming to the Americas

Several studies sharpen the picture of life and migration through the Arctic and into the New World. 12.21.2008

#11: Effective Kidney Transplants Without a Lifetime of Powerful Drugs

A new technique help transplant patients live, even with mismatched organs. 12.20.2008

#12: Plastics Come Under Fire

The BPA debate rages on as the public demands action. 12.20.2008

#13: China Takes Its First Space Walk

A nation delights in its pioneering venture. 12.20.2008

#14: All Flus Lead to Asia

The Far East is the incubator of every strain—and the key to treating the disease. 12.20.2008

#15: The Lost Cities of the Amazon

What is now sparsely populated jungle held large urban settlements hundreds of years ago. 12.20.2008

#16: Researchers Produce Human Blood from Stem Cells

It's not quite the same, but lab-generated blood gets the job done. 12.19.2008

#17: Cell Reprogramming Could Help Cure Diabetes—and Other Diseases

Stem-cell guru says reprogramming adult cells might actually work better. 12.19.2008

#18: Two Alzheimer’s Drugs Show Promise

The new drugs use a totally different mechanism than most would-be treatments. 12.19.2008

#19: Salmonella Outbreak Shines Light on Food Safety

Two deaths and countless dollars later, the chinks in the food system are exposed. 12.19.2008

#20: The “Doomsday Vault” Stores Seeds for a Global Agriculture Reboot

Humanity's chances to survive global warming and nuclear attacks just increased. 12.19.2008

#21: Plants Inspire a Better Way to Store Solar Energy

Using the principles of photosynthesis, scientists create more efficient storage for solar power. 12.18.2008

#22: Mercury Reveals Its Secrets

The planet comes into focus during NASA's first visit in 33 years. 12.18.2008

#23: Black Holes Birth Baby Stars

Computer simulations reveal the source of mystery constellations. 12.18.2008

#24: Gene Therapy Returns (Some) Sight to (Some) Blind People

Genetic tinkering helps repair one rare form of congenital blindness. 12.17.2008

#25: EPA Searches Soul, Tries to Figure out If It's a Climate Cop

The agency moves toward acting on greenhouse gases, but change will probably wait for Obama. 12.17.2008

#26: Sun Catcher Promises Cheaper Solar Power

Using laser technology, scientists build a low-cost solar concentrator. 12.17.2008

#27: Astronomers Spy the Youngest Planet Ever Found

The latest, newest protoplanet is a "dusty, rocky, gaseous lump." 12.17.2008

#28: Lithium May Be the Answer for Lou Gehrig’s Disease

A new study brings some hope that the disease can be treated. 12.17.2008

#29: A New Law Bans Genetic Discrimination

After over a decade, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act becomes law. 12.17.2008

#30: Magpies Recognize Themselves in the Mirror

The birds pass the test for "rudimentary sense of self." 12.17.2008

#31: Fish Farming Threatens Wild Salmon

Lice, interbreeding, and contaminants are killing off the species. 12.16.2008

#32: DNA Sleuthing Cracks the Anthrax Case

Microbial forensics seems to have solved an infamous whodunnit. 12.16.2008

#33: The First Known Case of Virus-Attacks-Virus

Sputnik virus seems to have influenced evolution of the Mamavirus. 12.16.2008

#34: Anti-Malaria Gene Boosts HIV Vulnerability

An adaptation against tropical disease makes people of African descent more prone to AIDS. 12.16.2008

#35: Scientists Find the Key to Bringing Dead Zones Back to Life

Phosphorus levels can make or break a lake, it turns out. 12.16.2008

#36: Creationism Lurks in Public High Schools

One in six teachers say they believe the earth is 6,000 years old. 12.15.2008

#37: Shorebird Population Is in Rapid Decline

Australian and Asian birds are a clear example of population collapse. 12.15.2008

#38: Cholesterol Drugs Are Prescribed for High-Risk Kids

8-year-olds can now take statins to reduce the chances of heart disease. 12.15.2008

#39: Amazonian Tribe Doesn't Have Words for Numbers

The Pirahã people overturned scientists' belief about human cognition. 12.15.2008

#40: The First Known Binary Black Hole System

One of the most massive things in the universe turns out to have a little buddy. 12.15.2008

#41: A Synthetic Genome Is Built From Scratch

The art of recreating an entire bacterial genome. 12.14.2008

#42: Geneticists Uncover the Origin of Blue Eyes

A single genetic mutation gives life to baby blues. 12.14.2008

#43: Next-Level Quantum Spookiness

Photons instantaneously send signals over 11 miles. Einstein remains perplexed. 12.14.2008

#44: The Baffling Bee Die-Off Continues

Colony Collapse Disorder continues its relentless march. 12.14.2008

#45: Huge Population of Lowland Gorillas Found

For once, researchers come up with good news for an endangered species. 12.14.2008

#46: FDA Approves Food From Cloned Animals

Meat and milk products from cloned livestock may soon hit the shelves. 12.13.2008

#47: Biologists Watch HIV Replicate in Real Time

Using fluorescent proteins, researchers observer the virus forming. 12.13.2008

#48: Cyber Attacks May Be Connected With Real War

As tensions with Russia mounted, Georgia got slammed by hackers. 12.13.2008

#49: Plant Migration Tied to Climate Change

When the going gets hot, vegetation runs for the hills. 12.13.2008

#50: Confirmed: 1969 Meteorite Brought Genetic Building Blocks From Space

More evidence that asteroids may have led to the emergence of life on earth. 12.13.2008

#51: Physicists Build the World’s Smallest Transistor

The tiny device measures an astonishing 10 atoms by 1 atom. 12.12.2008

#52: Musical Ability Seems to Be 50 Percent Genetic

Beethovens of the world may have innate advantages like better signaling from inner-ear hair cells. 12.12.2008

#53: Bizarre Aquatic Creatures Are Secretly "Lesbian Necrophiliacs"

Asexual bdelloids aren't really asexual after all. 12.12.2008

#54: An “Elite” Immune System Can Prevent AIDS

A select few infected with HIV never become ill. 12.12.2008

#55: Polar Bears (Finally) Make the Endangered Species List

At long last, the government acknowledges the species is threatened. 12.12.2008

#56: Memory Training Can Make You Smarter

Your intelligence isn't just what you're born with. 12.11.2008

#57: Schizophrenia Linked to Large Genetic Alterations

Some sufferers of the disease have entirely unique DNA duplications or deletions. 12.11.2008

#58: Smart People Are Better Able to Keep a Beat

Good neural functioning is good neural functioning. 12.11.2008

#59: Low-Fat Is Officially Inferior to Low-Carb

A comprehensive study gives a big piece of ammunition to the Atkins crowd. 12.11.2008

#60: Mars Became Lopsided After Massive Asteroid Collision

After 30 years, the debate over the red planet's shape may be over. 12.11.2008

#61: A New Drug Delivers “Fitness” Without the Workout

Take a pill and simulate the effects of exercise. 12.10.2008

#62: Researchers Discover Why Wound-Licking Works

Compounds in saliva actually do speed healing. 12.10.2008

#63: Lizardlike Tuatara Sets a Speed Record for DNA Change

The reptile undergoes rapid molecular evolution but is largely unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs. 12.10.2008

#64: Spain Gives Great Apes Legal Rights

The animals have the right to life and protection from harmful research practices. 12.10.2008

#65: Long-Prophesied Circuit Element Could Revolutionize Computing

Instant booting and decreased power consumption may soon be realities with the new "memristor." 12.10.2008

#66: Natural Selection Helped Indonesians Find the Perfect Canoe

Darwinian-style evolution pushes cultural change, a new paper argues. 12.10.2008

#67: Drilling, Not Earthquake, Caused Giant Hot Mud Volcano

Some claim an earthquake caused this mud river, but new research says otherwise. 12.10.2008

#68: Solved: The Mystery of Gravity-Defying Sap

One synthetic tree accomplishes what loads of scientists never could. 12.10.2008

#69: Physicists Create a Perfect Place to Store Electricity

New "superinsulator" can hold a charge forever without leakage 12.10.2008

#70: A Single Electron Is Caught on Film

Scientists make one of the world's most remarkable movies. 12.10.2008

#71: Slime Molds Show Surprising Degree of Intelligence

A creature with no brain can learn from and even anticipate events. 12.09.2008

#72: Prozac Cures Lazy Eye

The antidepressent might be the answer to wiping out amblyopia for good. 12.09.2008

#73: Giant Ice Meteors Fall From Clear Skies

20-pound chunks of ice falling on a sunny day? It's no urban myth. 12.09.2008

#74: Viruses Are Put to Work Building Superbatteries

Engineers turn viruses into little engineers. 12.09.2008

#75: Chilies' Fire Is Self-Defense Against a Surprising Foe

Capsaicin keeps fungus from chomping on pepper plants but does nothing to dissuade hungry bugs. 12.09.2008

#76: Europe’s Oldest Hominid Makes Its Debut

Archaeologists in Spain uncover the remains of a 1.2-million-year-old human. 12.09.2008

#77: X-Rays Reveal Ship-Wreckage to Be 2,000-Year-Old Astronomy Computer

The Antikythera Mechanism tracked heavenly movements like clockwork. 12.09.2008

#78: The Galaxy that Spins a Giant Magnetic Web

This "fiery spiderweb" uses magnetic fields to survive tough storms. 12.09.2008

#79: The Ancient Rat as Big as a Bull

This giant rodent weighed as much as a compact car. 12.09.2008

#80: Invented: Self-Healing Rubber Made From Vegetable Oil and Pee Ingredient

Hydrogen bonds let ripped material re-form. 12.09.2008

#81: Smart-Matter Robots Reassemble Themselves

Like the Terminator T-1000, these robots can fix themselves after being scattered. 12.08.2008

#82: The New Immune System Weapon: A DNA Catapult in Your Gut

Triggered by harmful bacteria, cells fling killer webs of DNA to ensnare the intruder. 12.08.2008

#83: Bulletproof Paper Is Stronger Than Kevlar

New nanopaper is not only super-strong, but made from renewable materials. 12.08.2008

#84: 9,000-Year-Old Milk Cartons Found

A new study examines the world's oldest cattle ranchers. 12.08.2008

#85: Smackdown Over Ancient "Hobbit" Continues

A mysterious skeleton puzzles scientists who wonder if it was human. 12.08.2008

#86: You, Too, Have a Photographic Memory

When put to the test, your brain remembers images with astonishing accuracy. 12.07.2008

#87: Speedy Sperm Explains Flower Power

The quickest out of the gate, angiosperms dominate the plant world. 12.07.2008

#88: Bacteria Can Control the Weather

The tiny organisms may play a big role in causing precipitation. 12.07.2008

#89: Archaeologists Find the World’s Oldest Arrowheads

While others were still hurling spears, these ancient people were felling prey with arrows. 12.07.2008

#90: The Platypus Genome Is a Mash-Up of Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals

One animal, three completely different ancestors. 12.07.2008

#91: Humans Have 5 Universal Facial Muscles—and 10 Optional Ones

For the first time, psychologists mapped muscle variation in the face. 12.05.2008

#92: A 380-Million-Year-Old Fish Gives Birth

Paleontologists unearth a prehistoric pregnant skeleton. 12.05.2008

#93: Physicists Discover the Source of Earth’s "Mystery Hiss"

A strange electromagnetic wave follows the path of sound waves through water. 12.05.2008

#94: Seaweed Creates Its Own Sunscreen

The soggy brown kelp protects itself with iodides. 12.05.2008

#95: Organic Matter Found in Saturn's Mystery Moon

Icy Jets from the planet's sixth-largest moon contain primitive components of life. 12.05.2008

#96: Ancient Traders Sailed the South American Seas

Using no more than sail-bearing rafts, these travelers carried goods almost 4,000 miles. 12.04.2008

#97: All-Powerful Astronomers Turn "Dwarf Planets" Into "Plutoids"

Faced with an outcry over ungainly titles, the IAU comes up with a better alternative. 12.04.2008

#98: You're More Like a Sponge Than a Comb Jelly

A gelatinous zooplankton can now trace its roots back to the world's first life. 12.04.2008

#99: Jupiter Grows (and Loses) a New Spot

The massive planet passed behind the sun and arrived with a brand new decoration. 12.04.2008

#100: This Animal Has the Strongest Bite on Earth

A bite from the biggest great white sharks leaves nearly every other species—both alive and extinct—in the dust. 12.04.2008

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