50 Years Ago

  1. Health & Medicine

    50 years ago, a ‘cure’ for intoxication showed promise

    In 1972, vitamin and chemical injections reduced the amount of time that rats fed alcohol spent drunk. The science has yet to pan out for people.

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  2. Archaeology

    50 years ago, Stonehenge’s purpose mystified scientists. It still does

    In 1972, scientists thought Stonehenge may have been a calendar. Today, we still don’t know its purpose, but we have gained insight on its origin.

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  3. Earth

    50 years ago, scientists found a new way to clean up oil spills

    In the 1970s, researchers added chemicals to the list of oil spill cleanup methods. Soon, they may add microbes.

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  4. Earth

    50 years ago, scientists dug into Pangaea’s past lives

    In 1972, scientists wondered whether Pangaea was Earth’s only supercontinent. Fifty years later, we know it wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last.

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  5. Particle Physics

    50 years ago, physicists got a whiff of what glues together protons

    In 1972, particle smashups hinted at the gluon, which we now know not only holds together the innards of the proton, but also makes up more than a third of its mass.

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  6. Tech

    50 years ago, genes eluded electron microscopes

    In the 1970s, scientists dreamed of seeing genes under the microscope. Fifty years later, powerful new tools are helping to make that dream come true.

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  7. Health & Medicine

    50 years ago, scientists hoped freezing donor organs would boost transplants

    In the 1970s, biologists hoped to freeze organs so more could last long enough to be transplanted. Scientists are now starting to manage this feat.

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  8. Paleontology

    50 years ago, the dinosaurs’ demise was still a mystery 

    In 1972, scientists blamed dinosaur biology for the reptiles’ demise. Years later, researchers ID’d the real killer: an apocalyptic asteroid.

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  9. Earth

    50 years ago, a new theory of Earth’s core began solidifying

    In 1972, scientists proposed that Earth’s core formed as the planet came together. Fifty years later, that theory is generally accepted, though many mysteries about the core remain.

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  10. Animals

    50 years ago, eels’ navigation skills electrified scientists

    Excerpt from the June 24, 1972 issue of Science News

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  11. Space

    50 years ago, the United States and Soviet Union joined forces for science

    In 1972, U.S. and Soviet leaders agreed to work together on science. Now, Russia’s war in Ukraine is straining that decades-long partnership.

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  12. Space

    50 years ago, scientists had hints of a planet beyond Pluto

    In 1972, calculations from Halley’s comet offered evidence of another planet. Today’s astronomers are still searching for a Planet Nine.

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