Online favorites of 2014

Stories mirror editors' top 25, with a few surprises

Man vaping with e-cigarette

Janet Raloff's exploration of the potential health risks of e-cigarettes was the most-viewed story on Science News' website this year.

Goodluz /iStockphoto

More than 150,000 people visit the Science News website each week, and tracking that traffic lets us know which news stories and blog posts catch readers’ attention. The favorites sometimes mirror editors’ picks in our Top 25 list, but there are always a few surprises.

Top magazine news stories

1. Health risks of e-cigarettes emerge (#7 in Top 25)
While vaping is less detrimental to your health than smoking, it comes with the risk of inhaling toxic chemicals and promoting antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections (SN: 6/28/14, p. 9).

2. Earliest pants worn by horse riders
Two pairs of ancient wool trousers, roughly 3,000 years old, protected the legs of Asian nomads while they straddled horses during long journeys and mounted warfare (SN: 6/28/14, p. 16).

3. Forecast: Cloudy, 100% chance of ash
A simulated eruption of the big volcano under Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming predicts a pileup of ash across the country. Depths range from a couple of millimeters in New York and Atlanta to more than a meter in nearby states (SN: 10/4/14, p. 32).

4. A tale of touching tubes
A decades-old math puzzle about how to arrange seven cylinders so each touches all the others finally receives a satisfying solution (SN: 5/3/14, p. 15).

5. Artificial sweeteners may tip scales toward diabetes (#9 in Top 25)
Saccharin comes under scrutiny in a study that shows how the sugar substitute can disrupt the gut’s microbial communities, potentially kicking off problems with the body’s metabolism (SN: 10/18/14, p. 6).

Top blog posts

Context Top 10 things everybody should know about science The crucial principles of science are so simple you could tweet them, as managing editor Tom Siegfried demonstrates in this helpful list ( SN Online: 5/9/14 ).

Gory Details
The most (and least) realistic movie psychopaths ever
Forensic psychiatrists reviewed 126 films to figure out which psychopath portrayals are most true to life (SN Online: 1/14/14).

Growth Curve
A timeline of a baby’s first hour
Infants have a lot to do when they arrive in the world, and examining these early moments may help hospitals develop better methods to encourage breastfeeding (SN Online: 10/9/14).

Addiction showcases the brain’s flexibility
The brain has an amazing ability to adapt, a trait that’s vital to understanding the complex neuroscience behind addiction (SN Online: 8/5/14).

Science Ticker
Siberian crater mystery may be solved
Methane gas pooling under thawing permafrost might be to blame for the 30-meter-wide hole that opened up in Siberia in July (SN Online: 8/1/14).

Wild Things
After 2,000 years, Ptolemy’s war elephants are revealed
A genetic study sheds light on an ancient account of a battle between African and Asian war elephants (SN Online: 1/21/14).

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