50 Years Ago

  1. a photo of a whaling ship hauling in a catch

    50 years ago, U.S. commercial whaling was coming to an end

    Commercial whaling has brought many whale species to the brink of extinction. But after bans, some show signs of recovery.

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  2. an illustration of a Brontosaurus
    Animals

    50 years ago, scientists made the case for a landlubbing Brontosaurus

    In 1971, a scientist argued for a landbound Brontosaurus instead of a swampy swimmer. Recent evidence comes from studies of its ancient environment.

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  3. an illustration of the molecular structure of water
    Physics

    50 years ago, scientists poked holes in the existence of polywater

    In 1971, scientists were casting doubt on an anomalous form of water. Fifty years later, water’s odd properties are still mysterious.

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  4. a microscopic image showing the sickle curved shape of blood cells
    Health & Medicine

    50 years ago, urea showed promise as a sickle-cell treatment

    In 1970, scientists found the first treatment for sickle-cell disease. 50 years later, they’re trying to cure it with CRISPR.

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  5. Murchison meteorite fragment
    Planetary Science

    50 years ago, scientists caught their first glimpse of amino acids from outer space

    In 1970, scientists detected amino acids in a meteorite. Fifty years later, a variety of chemical ingredients for life have been found in other space rocks.

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  6. a microscopic image showing several radiolarians
    Earth

    50 years ago, scientists named Earth’s magnetic field as a suspect in extinctions

    In 1970, researchers saw a link between magnetic pole reversals and extinctions. Fifty years later, scientists have uncovered more suggestive examples but no strong evidence of a direct link.lamb

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  7. a photo of clouds
    Microbes

    50 years ago, scientists suspected microbes flourished in clouds

    In 1970, scientists presented early evidence that microbes in clouds may be alive and kicking.

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  8. earthquake damage in Magna, Utah
    Earth

    50 years ago, scientists were looking for ways to predict earthquakes

    Though earthquake prediction remains elusive, early warning systems can help keep people safe.

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  9. the libido-boosting drug Addyi
    Health & Medicine

    50 years ago, an experimental drug hinted at serotonin’s many roles in the brain

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  10. a microscopic image of Naegleria fowleri
    Microbes

    50 years ago, scientists were on the trail of a brain-eating amoeba

    In 1970, scientists were studying a brain-eating amoeba that had been implicated in a newfound disease. Today, infections by the parasite are still poorly understood.

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  11. electric car charging
    Health & Medicine

    50 years ago, scientists were trying to develop a low-emission car

    Electric cars have surged in popularity, but the vehicles still contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

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  12. antarctic ice
    Earth

    50 years ago, scientists clocked the speed of Antarctic ice

    Today’s instruments offer a more precise view, and reveal the effects of climate change.

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