Brevity is in. If what you have to say can’t be delivered in 140 characters or less, you should reconsider your message — or so it seems in a world agog with texting and Twitter. Compiling Science News’ annual list of scientific highlights brought home the good and bad of this trend. Indeed, some of this year’s best stories are easily conveyed in a handful of words: a surprising human ancestor, Ardi, was unveiled, the moon is far wetter than supposed, the LHC set a new energy record. Some science works short and sweet.
But much of the year’s great science can’t be communicated so quickly or simply. Science is a world of uncertainty and subtlety, and writing about it requires caveats and modifiers. Boiling down the research described in these pages and online over the past year also meant, in some cases, abandoning the golden nuggets that brought a story to life or leaving out context and larger implications.