Love Science? Welcome Home.

Support Amazing Science Journalism.

Create the New Science Generation.


Feature

Science News of the Year 2005

By
3:53am, December 20, 2005
Sponsor Message

Science News of Yesteryear

Anthropology & Archaeology

Astronomy

Behavior

Biomedicine

Botany & Zoology

Cell & Molecular Biology

Chemistry

Earth Science

Environment & Ecology

Food Science & Nutrition

Mathematics & Computers

Paleobiology

Physics

Science & Society

Technology

Food for Thought

MathTrek

Science News for Kids

An asterisk (*) indicates that the text of the item is available free. The full text of any article can be obtained by Science News subscribers who have registered and signed in.


Science News of Yesteryear

"Construction of two rigid airships of approximately 6,000,000 cubic foot capacity at cost not over $8,000,000 for both [was] authorized by Congress but no funds appropriated."

That item from 1926 led the first annual review of "Scientific Events" by Science News-Letter. In October of that year, Science Service began publishing a printed weekly newsletter in addition to the mimeographed packet of news stories that the organization had been providing primarily to newspapers. Every year since, the writers at Science News-Letter and later Science News have selected what they consider the current year's most compelling stories that they had covered. Since 1996, we've also put the list up on Science News Online, where it remains one of the most popular features through the following year.

So, what else was hot in science 79 years ago? Some stories covered lines of research still recognized as valuable today. For example, anthropologists regarded the discovery of a Neandertal skull, reported in a story entitled "Woman Finds New Cave Man Skull at Gibraltar," as an opportunity to learn more about the habits of these extinct "people."

Other items of note:

"Observable region of space was shown by Dr. Edwin Hubble of Mount Wilson Observatory to be a sphere of 140 million light years radius, including some 2,000,000 nebulae, all of them embryo or grown stellar systems." This was one of the measurements that led to proof that the universe extends far beyond the Milky Way and contains countless galaxies with their own star populations.

"The discovery that plants, as well as animals, have in their cells the special bits of living matter known as the sex chromosomes, was announced by Dr. Kathleen B. Blackburn, British botanist."

"Prof. A. A. Michelson of the University of Chicago announced his new determination of the speed of light as 299,786 km, or 186,284 miles per second."

"A machine for automatically coding cipher telegraphic messages was perfected."

"The valuable constituent of insulin was prepared in crystalline form by Dr. John J. Abel, of Johns Hopkins University. The first enzyme . . . was made in a crystallized form by Dr. James E. Sumner at Cornell University Medical School."

"Dr. W.D. Coolidge, of the General Electric Company, demonstrated a new cathode ray tube, with which these rays are for the first time obtained in quantity outside the tube."

"Tests made with 100 young children showed that a two year old child that can scarcely talk is already developed into a personality type, with characteristic emotional reactions, it was reported by Dr. Leslie Marston, of the Iowa Child Welfare Research Station."

"Two-way radio communication was established for considerable lengths of time between New York and London."

"Plans were completed . . . for the establishment of a chain of seismograph stations around San Francisco to detect microscopic earth tremors and so to more adequately warn of future quakes."

"Hydrogen was transmuted into helium by Prof. F. Paneth and Dr. Peters of Berlin University. Gold was claimed to have been transmuted to mercury by Dr. A. Gaschler, of the Berlin Technical High School." This research was part of a burst of activity triggered by the discoveries of the atomic nucleus and radioactivity earlier in the century.

"A great sun dial, built by astronomers of the Maya race over 1,500 years ago, was discovered at the ruins of the Maya city of Copan, Honduras, by archaeologists of the Carnegie Institution of Washington."

Some of the 1926 entries now give us pause:

"Berlin established a matrimonial bureau where candidates for marriage can receive medical and genetical advice."

"Tetraethyl lead" anti-knock gasoline was declared by the U.S. Public Health Service to be not unduly dangerous to health . . ."

"Center of New Guinea, only place where white man has not yet roamed, penetrated by American-Dutch party."

"Lieut. Commander R. E. Byrd, U.S.N., reached the North Pole, May 9, by airplane from Spitsbergen, making first flight to pole. Amundsen crossed the North Pole, May 12, in the airship Norge, traversing 2,700 miles in 71 hours." There is now a debate about whether Byrd made it to the pole at all.

"The mind of a person is organized and important mental attitudes determined before birth, Dr. Stewart Paton of Princeton University declared."

"Mississippi enacted an anti-evolution law."

This year, Science News echoed some of the items in that early news summary:

"Bacteriophage, the enemy of germs, discovered by Dr. F. d'Herelle, was declared by him to be a living parasite of parasites and not just a chemical factor." In the last few years, bacteriophages have been considered for various uses, including growing nerve tissue (SN: 5/28/05, p. 341).

"By coating them with gold, Prof. H. Beehod, German scientist, made visible minute bacteria formerly beyond the power of any microscope." In 2005, bacteria were again gold coated, but this time with nanoparticles to build an electromechanical device (SN: 10/22/05, p. 259).

"The Health Organization of the League of Nations built up an epidemiological service to check the spread of infectious diseases between countries." This year, the World Health Organization monitored bird flu (SN: 9/10/05, p. 171), among other diseases.

"Intelligence tests given to 5,500 New England school children of foreign parents were found by Dr. Nathaniel Hirsch to show that there is no connection between high intelligence and any one particular racial type." In 2005, researchers reported tests indicated that Chinese children outscore Western kids in IQ because reading the pictorial symbols in Chinese writing fosters superior spatial abilities (SN: 2/12/05, p. 99).

"Earthquake on west coast of Sumatra cost 400 lives." This quake occurred about 500 kilometers southeast of the temblor that started the December 2004 tsunami (SN: 1/8/05, p. 19).

Some of the items are difficult to comprehend or the conclusions didn't stand the test of time:

"The theory that vitamins have opposites, "toxamins," which occur in certain foods and prevent proper bone formation and cause serious nervous diseases, was advanced by Prof. Edward Mallanby, of Sheffield University, in England."

"Two Prague scientists discovered a way of using washed animal blood in human transfusions."

"Indications were found that trachoma, a disease of the eye for which immigrants have been barred from entering the U.S., is due to a deficient diet, by Dr. B. Frankline Royer, medical director of the national committee for the prevention of blindness."

"High steam pressure boilers promised to revolutionize future locomotives."

"Children whose characters become warped so that they steal and commit sex offenses as a result of sleeping sickness may be reeducated by training in good habits, according to results obtained by Helvi Haahti, Finnish psychiatrist at the Institute of Juvenile Research of Illinois."

It's anyone's guess which of the items listed in the following pages will turn out in future decades to be important advances and which will have future readers scratching their heads.

Julie Ann Miller, Editor in Chief, Science News


The following review lists important science stories of 2005 reported in the pages of

Science News. The reference after each item gives the date and the

volume and page number on which the main article on the subject appeared (vol. 167 is

January–June; vol. 168 is July–December). An asterisk (*) indicates that the

text of the item is available free on Science News Online. The full text of any article can be obtained free by Science News subscribers who have registered and signed in or for $2.50 from ProQuest (

href="http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/sciencenews">http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/sciencenews

).

Back issues are available for $3 (prepaid). Send orders to Science News,

1719 N Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036.


Science News of the Year 2005

Anthropology & Archaeology

Astronomy

Behavior

Biomedicine

Botany & Zoology

Cell & Molecular Biology

Chemistry

Earth Science

Environment & Ecology

Food Science & Nutrition

Mathematics & Computers

Paleobiology

Physics

Science & Society

Technology

Food for Thought

MathTrek

Science News for Kids

An asterisk (*) indicates that the text of the item is available free. The full text of any article can be obtained by Science News subscribers who have registered and signed in.

Anthropology & Archaeology

 Researchers used new fossil finds and a digitally rebuilt skull to argue that the oldest known member of the human evolutionary family lived in Africa between 7 million and 6 million years ago

Researchers used new fossil finds and a digitally rebuilt skull to argue that the oldest known member of the human evolutionary family lived in Africa between 7 million and 6 million years ago (April 9, 167: 227*).


Brunet

  • Wee relations New finds in an Indonesian cave indicated that a species of tiny, humanlike individuals lived there as recently as 12,000 years ago, although the evolutionary status of the group generated controversy (Oct. 15, 168: 244). An analysis of a fossil skull from one of the small island dwellers yielded hints of advanced brain organization (March 12, 167: 173).
  • DNA trail When scientists compared the genome of a chimpanzee with that of people, they discovered new molecular differences (Sept. 3, 168: 147*). Other data suggested that people, but not nonhuman primates, have evolved changes in regulation of a gene that assists in making key brain chemicals (Nov. 26, 168: 342).
  • Civil signs Excavations indicated that the earliest known civilization in the Americas appeared about 5,000 years ago in what's now Peru (Jan. 1, 167: 6), not far from the area where researchers discovered South America's oldest irrigation canals (Nov. 12, 168: 307).
  • Few founders DNA data from Native Americans portrayed the original population of North American settlers as a group of only 200 to 300 people (May 28, 167: 339*).
  •  p420.2.jpg

    An unexpected discovery at an ancient Maya settlement suggested that the outpost had once been a city about which investigators have long speculated (Oct. 8, 168: 227*).


    Yale Univ.

  • With the grain Remnants of a Chinese site situated along a river included evidence of salt-making that began around 4,000 years ago (Aug. 27, 168: 132*).
  • Hooking up Controversy flared over a fossil analysis indicating that human ancestors living in eastern Africa more than 3 million years ago formed long-term mating partnerships (June 11, 167: 379).
  • Wave hello A new model of human evolution proposed that anatomically modern folk evolved in small groups that interbred with each other and created a genetic wave that moved from Africa across Asia (Aug. 6, 168: 91).
  • Big cuts Incisions on 130,000-year-old fossils previously found in a Croatian cave indicated that Neandertals ritually dismembered their comrades and perhaps ate them (April 16, 167: 244).

Back to Top

Astronomy

  • Titanic achievements A space probe parachuted onto Saturn's moon Titan and encountered terrain resembling parts of Earth (Jan. 22, 167: 51*; April 30, 167: 282). The probe's mother craft found evidence of a methane-carved shoreline in the moon's southern hemisphere (Oct. 29, 168: 286).
  • Extrasolar planets Astronomers found the closest known cousin to Earth, a solid world just 15 light-years beyond the solar system (June 18, 167: 387*). A newly discovered extrasolar planet appeared to have the most massive core of any planet known (July 9, 168: 19). A newfound, Jupiterlike extrasolar planet proved to be associated with a trio of stars, posing a puzzle: How can massive planets form in multiple-star systems (July 16, 168: 38*)?
  • Step aside, Pluto Astronomers discovered what may qualify as the 10th planet, a body larger and more distant than Pluto and possessing a moon (Aug. 6, 168: 83*; Oct. 29, 168: 285).
  • Grand slam NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft slammed into Comet Tempel 1 on July 4, producing some heavenly fireworks and excavating material that probably hadn't seen the light of day since the birth of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago (July 9, 168: 22*; Sept. 10, 168: 168*).
  • Pluto partners Pluto revealed two moons in addition to the one already observed there (Nov. 5, 168: 291*).
  • Planet or not? A tiny dot of light showed up next to a young, sunlike star, but it could be either the glimmer of a brown dwarf or the long-sought image of an extrasolar planet (April 9, 167: 228*). Astronomers also debated whether an image of an object orbiting a brown dwarf qualifies as the first image of an extrasolar planet (May 7, 167: 291).
  • Young and near Youthful versions of massive galaxies like the Milky Way might be only a cosmic stone's throw away from Earth, astronomers speculated (Jan. 1, 167: 4).
  • Mars geology Images taken a few years apart by spacecraft revealed that Mars has had recent landslides, freshly carved gullies, and a crater gouged in its surface no earlier than 1980 (Sept. 24, 168: 196). Images taken by two Mars spacecraft suggested that a volcano on the Red Planet erupted long ago at the confluence of two riverbeds, indicating that the region had water and heat, two prerequisites for life (April 23, 167: 269). A flat region near the Red Planet's equator yielded evidence of a recently frozen ocean that was once as deep and big as the North Sea (March 5, 167: 149*).
  •  p421.2.jpg

    Swooping above and below the plane of Saturn's rings, the Cassini spacecraft revealed how the gravity of Saturn's moons sculpts waves, kinks, and knots in the ring system (Nov. 19, 168: 328*). The craft spotted a new moon of Saturn, only the second one known to lie within the planet's main rings (May 28, 167: 349).
    JPL/NASA, Space Science Institute, Univ. of Colo. at Boulder

  • Lightweight world Astronomers for the first time discovered an asteroid with two moons (Aug. 13, 168: 101*).
  • Atmospheric moon Saturn's moon Enceladus proved to have an atmosphere containing water vapor (April 16, 167: 253). The body continues to feed its atmosphere by undergoing icy eruptions (Aug. 27, 168: 141).
  • Saturn says cheese Planetary scientists assembled the largest and most-detailed global portrait of Saturn ever made

    (March 19, 167: 190).

  • Planet potential Recording radio waves from the region around a young star, astronomers for the first time documented a key step in the rocky road to planethood (July 2, 168: 5). Barely more massive than planets, some brown dwarfs were shown to be cloaked in disks of gas and dust from which planets may coalesce (Feb. 5, 167: 83; Dec. 24 & 31, 168: 416). Warm dust seen surrounding a star only 41 light-years from Earth seemed analogous to the solar system's asteroid belt, an indication that a planet may also be present (April 23, 167: 259).
  • Planetary territory The Hubble Space Telescope examined in unprecedented detail what may be one of the nearest and youngest homes yet discovered for extrasolar planets (Jan. 8, 167: 30). Astronomers found that a star-forming region 1,500 light-years from Earth contains stars with enough material around them to make planets (July 30, 168: 78).
  • Heavenly flashes A telescope for the first time detected X rays from an ongoing gamma-ray burst, the most powerful type of explosion in the universe (Feb. 12, 167: 110). The brightest flash of light ever recorded from beyond the solar system could provide information about a puzzling group of extremely short-lived gamma-ray bursts from distant galaxies (Feb. 26, 167: 132). Another short-lived gamma-ray burst may have given astronomers their first glimpse of two neutron stars colliding to forge a black hole (May 14, 167: 308*). Astronomers found the most-distant, and oldest, gamma-ray burst ever, hailing from just 900 million years after the Big Bang (Sept. 17, 168: 179*).
  •  p422.1.jpg

    X-ray telescopes captured the earliest and clearest view of the core of a gas cloud about to transform into a star (March 12, 167: 174).
    Hamaguchi et al., NASA, ESA

  • Influential monsters Supermassive black holes showed effects on galaxies far beyond the black holes' gravitational grasp (Jan. 22, 167: 52; March 5, 167: 158).
  • Ancient echoes Astronomers for the first time detected the surviving notes of a cosmic symphony created just after the Big Bang (Jan. 15, 167: 35*).
  • Big neighbor Estimates tripled for the diameter of the disk of the Andromeda galaxy, the nearest large galaxy to the Milky Way (June 18, 167: 398).
  • Some like it hot A new theory of planet formation suggested that sizzling-hot, Earthlike planets might be abundant throughout the Milky Way and will soon be detected (March 26, 167: 203*).
  • Oldster Astronomers found one of the most chemically primitive stars known, dating to just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang (April 16, 167: 244).
  • Bowled over New simulations proposed that the solar system's four biggest planets were once bunched together, suggesting that a planetary bowling game rapidly rearranged the structure of the outer solar system and tossed chunks of debris toward the sun (May 28, 167: 340).
  • Speedstar Astronomers discovered a star moving so fast that it will eventually exit the Milky Way (Feb. 26, 167: 142).
  • Ice in the rock Hubble Space Telescope observations suggested that as much as one-fourth of the mass of Ceres, the largest known asteroid, might be frozen water (Sept. 24, 168: 206).
  • Cosmic crisis? Baby galaxies that hail from the early cosmos but appear mature and nearly as massive as the Milky Way suggested a challenge to the standard theory of galaxy formation (Oct. 8, 168: 235).

Back to Top

Behavior

  • Mental ills A national study found that half of all adults develop a mental disorder at some time in their lives, although most cases are mild (June 11, 167: 372).
  • Scripted genes Two genes influencing brain development showed signs of contributing to the learning disorder known as dyslexia (Nov. 5, 168: 292). Brain-scan investigations unveiled neural paths crucial to effective reading (April 30, 167: 280*).
  • Eau de trust Experiments indicated that people become more trusting of others in financial deals after smelling a spray containing the brain hormone oxytocin (June 4, 167: 356*).
  • DNA downer People who possess one common version of a gene that regulates the neurotransmitter serotonin showed sensitivity to stress and an apparent susceptibility to depression (May 14, 167: 308).
  • Meds update In treating schizophrenia, a recently developed and heavily marketed class of antipsychotic drugs showed no superiority over older, cheaper antipsychotic medications (Sept. 24, 168: 195).
  • Thought relief People told to think in positive ways displayed a simultaneous quelling of activity in the brain's pain centers and a drop in actual feelings of pain (Sept. 10, 168: 164*).
  • Educating attention Children who completed a brief course on how to focus their attention exhibited improvements on either intelligence or attention tests (Oct. 1, 168: 214).
  • Stress rebound Rats that suffered stress because their mothers were negligent in providing care for a short time after birth showed memory losses and related brain disturbances in middle age (Oct. 22, 168: 261).
  •  p422.3.jpg

    New research highlighted the surprisingly large number of well-adjusted pre-schoolers who play with make-believe friends (March 26, 167: 200*).
    M. Taylor

  • Spatial lift Tests indicated that Chinese children outscore Western kids in IQ because reading the pictorial symbols in Chinese writing fosters superior spatial abilities (167: 99). Other evidence raised the profile of environmental influences on the often-noted superiority of boys to girls in spatial skills (Nov. 19, 168: 323).
  • Lighten up Brief periods of daily exposure to bright light showed promise as a way to fight off symptoms of major depression (April 23, 167: 261*).
  • Strong recall Danes who had experienced Nazi occupation of their country demonstrated surprisingly accurate memories of their World War II experiences (May 21, 167: 326).

Back to Top

Biomedicine

  • Flu fears Scientists tracked the spread of a threatening influenza virus in birds and explored strategies that could be used to halt a potential pandemic in people (Sept. 10, 168: 171*). Meanwhile, the most readily available drugs against influenza were shown to have recently declined in effectiveness (Oct. 1, 168: 211*).
  • HIV transmission Men who get circumcised reduce their risk of acquiring the AIDS virus, HIV, by more than half, research showed (Oct. 29, 168: 275*). People with HIV are more infectious to their sexual partners immediately after they acquire the virus than they are later on (April 23, 167: 260). And because a drug used to block the transmission of HIV from mother to infant can make the mother more vulnerable to AIDS, researchers looked for inexpensive alternatives (June 18, 167: 394).
  • Unique cure A 15-year-old girl in Wisconsin survived a rabies infection without receiving the rabies vaccine, a first in medical history (Jan. 29, 167: 77).
  • Promising shots A vaccine against the virus that causes most cervical cancers passed a major test (Oct. 15, 168: 243), as did a vaccine for the painful skin disease known as shingles (June 4, 167: 358). Another immunization, this one targeting the microbe that causes strep throat, generated a potent immune response in adults (Oct. 22, 168: 270). Researchers working with animals tested promising vaccines against tuberculosis (Aug. 20, 168: 115) and genital herpes (Jan. 1, 167: 5*) in people.
  • Diabetes Transplanting insulin-making pancreas cells from a cadaver into people with type 1, or juvenile-onset, diabetes reversed the disease (March 5, 167: 157). Scientists developed a technique for mass-producing the cells (Oct. 1, 168: 212), and monoclonal antibodies targeting immune cells saved the pancreatic cells from autoimmune attack for more than a year (Oct. 22, 168: 263). A study found that insulin itself might precipitate the immune system's attack in type 1 diabetes (May 21, 167: 333).
  • Cancer treatments A drug combination that inhibits an enzyme found in tumor cells showed promise (May 28, 167: 349). Heat treatments boosted radiation therapy (May 7, 167: 294) and sensitized tumor cells to the effects of a genetically modified virus, which then killed them (Aug. 6, 168: 85). Two drugs sent chronic myeloid leukemia into remission (Jan. 1, 167: 14), but certain widely used antidepressants and some women's genetic make-up were suspected of diminishing the effect of tamoxifen, a frontline breast cancer drug (Jan. 8, 167: 21).
  • Viagra and Co. Drugs used mainly to treat erectile dysfunction eased high blood pressure in the lungs (Jan. 1, 167: 14), seemed to protect fetuses in pregnant women with preeclampsia (April 16, 167: 254), and showed promise as treatments for heart disease and other conditions (Aug. 20, 168: 124*).
  • Cancer testing Protein concentrations in a woman's blood revealed hard-to-detect ovarian cancer (May 14, 167: 307*). Scientists pieced together how mutations in a protein called EGFR can lead to various malignancies (Aug. 27, 168: 139) and clarified the role of microRNA in cancer progression (June 11, 167: 371*). A gene called Reprimo proved to be shut down in several cancers but rarely in healthy cells (July 16, 168: 35*), and another gene, MGMT, was shown to often be silenced in colorectal cancer (Oct. 1, 168: 221). A study revealed that overactive genes in breast tumors betray a genetic signature that doctors could use to predict whether and when a woman's cancer might spread (Aug. 20, 168: 126). A demonstration that healthy and cancerous cells alter laser light in distinguishable ways may lead to instant identification of cancer (April 9, 167: 237).
  • Ailing heart Studies showed that people who are frequently out of breath have an increased risk of dying from heart problems (Nov. 5, 168: 291). A new drug suppressed an inflammation-causing protein linked to heart attacks (June 4, 167: 365). Low doses of the chemical that causes marijuana's high slowed the progression of atherosclerosis (May 7, 167: 301), while depressed patients recovering from heart attacks benefited from drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (July 9, 168: 20).
  • Trauma center Hundreds of injured soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were found to harbor an unusual bacterium that complicates wound healing (Oct. 22, 168: 270). U.S. football players developed drug-resistant bacterial infections from artificial-turf abrasions (Feb. 5, 167: 85*).
  • Gastric bypass Obese people who had opted for weight-loss surgery showed increased odds of subsequent hospitalization compared with their hospitalizations in the previous year, and some groups had an elevated risk of death (Oct. 22, 168: 260).
  • Cancer risk The incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancers in young adults proved to be mushrooming, possibly heralding an epidemic of cancers during the coming decades (Aug. 13, 168: 99*). Just a few cigarettes a day hiked people's cancer risk three- to five-fold (Oct. 1, 168: 213). A long-term study found no evidence that occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields triggers breast cancer (Feb. 26, 167: 142). Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication reduced smokers' likelihood of developing mouth cancers (May 7, 167: 302), and a study showed that calcium supplements protect against colorectal cancer for years after a person stops taking the pills (May 7, 167: 302).
  • False hopes The herbal remedy echinacea showed no benefit against the common cold (July 30, 168: 70). Vitamin E supplements didn't help, and might even have hurt, people with histories of heart disease or diabetes (March 19, 167: 182*).
  • Stroke help A blood-clotting drug speeded recovery in some people with bleeding strokes (Feb. 26, 167: 133*). A drug derived from a component of vampire-bat saliva cleared blood clots in the brains of people who had had blockage-type strokes (Feb. 19, 167: 126). People recovering from strokes showed less vitamin D in their systems than did healthy peers (Feb. 19, 167: 126).
  • Multiple sclerosis Adult stem cells were shown to kill inflammatory immune cells and so protect the brain against inflammation in brain disorders including MS (July 16, 168: 36). A protein produced by nerve cells proved essential for making the fatty sheath that surrounds healthy nerve fibers but erodes in MS (Sept. 10, 168: 163). People who grow up with younger siblings close to them in age were less likely to develop MS than were people without such siblings (Jan. 29, 167: 68).
  • HIV and AIDS Medical care for people infected with HIV has saved about 2 million in years of life in the United States, but more than 200,000 U.S. residents have undiagnosed HIV infections and so aren't receiving treatment (March 5, 167: 147). A compound called valproic acid, in combination with other drugs, ferreted out HIV lying dormant in cells (Sept. 10, 168: 174). An experimental vaccine given to people infected with HIV appeared to reduce their dependence on antiviral drugs (March 12, 167: 174). An experimental protease-inhibitor drug seemed to help AIDS patients for whom existing drugs fell short (March 26, 167: 205).
  • Neurology Penicillin and related antibiotics appeared to prevent the type of nerve damage that occurs in people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other diseases (Jan. 15, 167: 46). Brain surgery has kept many people with severe epilepsy free of seizures for decades (July 9, 168: 30). A study found that emotional stress can lead to symptoms that mimic a heart attack (Feb. 12, 167: 100*). A new biochemical profile of blood promised earlier diagnoses of autism (April 16, 167: 254). A cell-surface protein found in the nervous system was implicated in neuropathy (April 9, 167: 227).
  • Racial medicine Taking race into account when choosing medical treatments could be a stepping-stone to targeting medicines according to individual patients' genetics, but some researchers were troubled by the implications of race-based medicine (April 16, 167: 247*).
  • Acute care Some heart attacks are diagnosed at hospitals that can't offer the best treatment, but emergency transport to a better-equipped facility has its own risks, studies revealed (June 25, 167: 408).
  • Alzheimer's disease A new test that detects the beginnings of protein clumps associated with Alzheimer's promised to be a means of providing an early warning of the disease (Feb. 5, 167: 83*). Putting extra copies of the gene for a nerve-cell-growth factor into the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease appeared to slow the degenerative condition (April 30, 167: 275*). Biomedical engineers developed polymer molecules that bind to and block the activity of proteins associated with Alzheimer's (April 2, 167: 222).
  • Hemorrhagic viruses Two new vaccines protected monkeys against the lethal Ebola and Marburg viruses (July 16, 168: 45). Animal carcasses were found to provide timely clues about impending Ebola virus outbreaks (Feb. 5, 167: 84).
  • Aneurysms Insertion of tiny platinum coils to seal off bleeding brain aneurysms appeared safer in the long run than conventional brain surgery (Sept. 17, 168: 180).
  • Feeling sleepy High schools that begin classes as early as 7:30 a.m. were found to deprive teenagers of sleep, and attempts to reset adolescents' biological clocks failed to solve the problem (July 2, 168: 14). Another study discovered that nighttime acid reflux often goes hand in hand with sleep problems (May 21, 167: 325).
  • Cancer mechanisms Aging of blood-producing stem cells appeared responsible for the relatively high incidence of infections and myeloid leukemia in the elderly (July 9, 168: 29). Some tumor cells were found to corrupt neighboring cells into forming blood vessels that then nourish the cancer (July 23, 168: 54).
  • Stem cells Researchers prodded stem cells in heart muscle damaged by a heart attack to regenerate healthy tissue there (July 16, 168: 45). Using umbilical cord blood, doctors rescued babies from Krabbe's disease, a lethal enzyme deficiency that causes brain damage (May 21, 167: 323).
  • Antibiotic rescue Doxycycline cured cases of elephantiasis (June 25, 167: 404), and a single dose of ciprofloxacin stopped cholera in children as well as a 12-dose regimen of erythromycin did (Oct. 29, 168: 286). But antibiotics for acne might predispose an individual to upper respiratory infections (Oct. 1, 168: 221).
  • Big pharma Drug companies' overaggressive marketing of risky drugs is hurting public safety, researchers asserted (Feb. 5, 167: 90*). Pfizer pulled its prescription pain reliever valdecoxib (Bextra) off the market in response to safety concerns (April 23, 167: 269).
  • Pregnancy A simple urine test might warn women that they have an increased risk of preeclampsia, a dangerous complication of pregnancy (Jan. 29, 167: 78). A shot that primes the immune system against a sperm protein showed promise as a male contraceptive (Jan. 1, 167: 12).
  • Cycling risk Professional bicycle riders who had competed in grueling races showed signs of heart damage decades later (Nov. 26, 168: 350).
  • Blood boost An experimental drug revved up production of platelets in people with severe shortages of these clotting agents (Jan. 1, 167: 14).
  • Ophthalmology Wearing an eye patch improved vision in children, up to age 17, with amblyopia, or lazy eye (May 14, 167: 317).
  • Tissue tinkering Tissue engineers for the first time used genetically modified human stem cells to repair damaged hearts in guinea pigs (Jan. 8, 167: 19).
  • Early progress In children who were born deaf, cochlear implants engendered better hearing the younger the child receiving them (Dec. 10, 168: 371).

Back to Top

Botany & Zoology

  • Elvis lives A video, glimpses by veteran birdwatchers, and recordings of knock-knock sounds convinced many people that the storied ivory-billed woodpecker has not gone extinct after all (May 7, 167: 291*; June 11, 167: 376*; Aug. 27, 168: 134*).
  • Weird repair Arabidopsis plants revealed a curious capacity to reinstate genes missing from their chromosomes but that had been carried by previous generations (April 9, 167: 235).
  • Plant hormone More than 70 years after biologists identified the powerful plant hormone auxin, they finally found a receptor in plant cells that binds it (July 2, 168: 14).
  • The deep Researchers found a photosynthetic microbe that uses light from hydrothermal vents in the deep sea rather than from the sun (June 25, 167: 405*).
  • Sleepless Moms and newborns among orca whales and dolphins appeared to skip sleep for as long as a month after births (July 2, 168: 3*).
  • New voices African elephants appeared to be the first land mammals other than primates to learn vocal imitations (March 26, 167: 197*). Recordings suggested that male mice serenade prospective mates at pitches about two octaves above the shrillest sounds audible to people (Nov. 5, 168: 293*).
  •  p425.2.jpg

    For the first time, researchers photographed a living giant squid in the wild (Oct. 15, 168: 253).
    Proc. Royal Soc.

  • Not so faithful A study found that prairie voles, presumed to be models of monogamy, have a substantial number of out-of-pair sexual encounters (Aug. 27, 168: 142).
  • Mixed tuna The largest study yet of tagged Atlantic bluefin tuna suggested that two groups of the fish feed together but spawn on opposite sides of the ocean (April 30, 167: 277).
  • Singing in the brain Young white-crowned sparrows didn't have to hear a song straight through in order to learn it but could piece it together from shuffled phrase pairs (Jan. 15, 167: 46). Researchers learned that young zebra finches get worse at performing newly learned songs after they sleep but recover and then improve as the day goes on (Feb. 19, 167: 118*).
  • Splitsville Populations of European corn borers that favor different host plants offered a new model for how one species might split in two (April 30, 167: 286).
  • Extreme fitness Observations revealed that when a Burmese python eats, it can bulk up its heart muscle 40 percent in just 2 days (March 5, 167: 149*).
  • Flower power Common flowers, such as four-o'clocks and portulacas, proved to be truly fluorescent in visible wavelengths (Sept. 17, 168: 180*).
  • Mars-Venus Researchers declared one kind of male and female fire ants nearly separate species because males and queens essentially clone themselves (July 2, 168: 6).
  • Crowbars A rearing test showed that the New Caledonian crow has an innate tendency to make and use tools (Jan. 15, 167: 38*).

Back to Top

Cell & Molecular Biology

  • Embryo imbroglio A South Korean scientist claimed to create 11 new stem cell lines by priming embryonic cells with DNA (May 21, 167: 323*), but he later sought to retract the study after a coauthor said that some of the data were faked (Dec. 24 & 31, 168:406*).
  • Hearing repaired By turning on a gene that's normally active only during embryonic development, researchers restored hearing in deaf guinea pigs (Feb. 19, 167: 115*).
  • Killer revived Two new studies shed light on the 1918-flu virus. One team of researchers wrapped up efforts to sequence the virus' genome, and another team used the genes to construct a living model of the killer flu (Oct. 8, 168: 227*).
  • Do no harm Scientists devised two new ways to isolate embryonic stem cells without destroying viable embryos: by multiplying a single cell removed from an embryo and by removing a gene pivotal to normal development (Oct. 22, 168: 259*).
  • Charting individuality Scientists completed a new map that delineates small genetic differences among people, which could eventually be used to figure out why some individuals get certain diseases and how to customize their treatments (Oct. 29, 168: 277*).
  • Same difference A study of identical twins indicated that environmental influences affect which of a person's genes are turned on or off throughout life (July 9, 168: 19*).
  •  p426.1.jpg

    With the help of satellites, scientists obtained the first photos of a phenomenon known as a milky sea, an expanse of seawater filled with bioluminescent bacteria (Oct. 1, 168: 213*).
    Miller

  • Frozen in time Researchers put mice in suspended animation by exposing them to low concentrations of hydrogen sulfide. A similar hibernation-like state could eventually help people endure the long wait for organ transplants or limit damage from strokes (April 23, 167: 261*).
  • Make a muscle Scientists created slivers of muscle in the lab that produce their own network of blood vessels, a first for the field of tissue engineering (June 25, 167: 405).
  • Gray's roots Scientists unveiled that the major cause of hair going gray is aging and death of stem cells that bear pigmented cells within hair follicles (Jan. 22, 167: 61).
  • Sugar coated The mammalian immune system doesn't attack native gut bacteria as foreign invaders because the bacteria disguise themselves with the same sugar molecules that gut cells secrete, researchers found (March 19, 167: 180).
  • The short haul Scientists devised a way to make single-cell algae bear loads over distances of several centimeters, a tactic that could prove useful in miniature machines (Aug. 20, 168: 117*).
  • Longer life A class of antiseizure drugs significantly extended the life span of roundworms. (Feb. 5, 167: 94).

Back to Top

Chemistry

  • Greener nylon A one-step process synthesized the primary ingredient of nylon-6, used to manufacture items ranging from clothing to car parts, in an environmentally friendly manner (Sept. 17, 168: 179).
  • Presto, change-o A simple technique to switch an oil-like solvent into a waterlike one promised to provide chemists with a way to avoid some environmentally troublesome solvents (Aug. 27, 168: 133).
  • Cactus purifies water Scientists investigated a substance inside nopal cactus leaves that can separate solids and heavy metals from water. The group planned to make an inexpensive water filter for small Mexican communities (Sept. 17, 168: 190*).
  • Lube tune-up A technique that transforms recycled plastic into high-performance lubricating oils promised to boost the fuel efficiency of vehicles (June 25, 167: 406).
  • Into the void Chemists devised a way to create crystalline material with some of the biggest pores yet, which could be catalysis sites for large molecules (Oct. 1, 168: 212).
  • Crystal clear Growing drug crystals on polymer surfaces increased the variety of crystalline forms, a development that could be used to create new pharmaceuticals (May 14, 167: 317).
  • Molecular cage Researchers devised a technique to lock a pair of hydrogen atoms inside a carbon buckyball, an approach that promised to endow the structures with unique electronic properties (Feb. 19, 167: 125).
  • Artificial cells Scientists created artificial cells that can live and produce proteins but can't replicate, providing a new tool for studying cellular processes (Jan. 29, 167: 78).
  •  p426.2.jpg

    An ultrathin coating made up of water-loving nanoparticles and tiny air pockets prevented fogging and glare on glass surfaces (Sept. 3, 168: 148*).


    Rubner

  • Hungry for hydrogen Microbes dwelling in Yellowstone National Park's hot springs derive energy from hydrogen rather than sulfur, a study found, suggesting that hydrogen metabolism by bacteria may be common (Jan. 29, 167: 69).
  • Biblical palette deciphered Scientists characterized the paints decorating the margins of Gutenberg Bibles, information useful for restoring and preserving the books (June 4, 167: 366).
  • Novel hydrogen reaction Chemists found a new, if not yet practical, way to produce hydrogen using only water, an organic liquid, and a metal catalyst (Sept. 17, 168: 190).
  • How hot was it? Heat-sensing polymers, filled with photoluminescent dyes, indicated exposure to high temperatures by changing color under ultraviolet light (Sept. 17, 168: 190).
  • Nosy nanotubes Researchers demonstrated that individual nanotubes decorated with DNA could rapidly detect gases, including the explosive dinitrotoluene and a derivative of the poison sarin (Oct. 8, 168: 238).
  • Color trails A new chemical technique for extracting natural dyes from ancient textiles promised to reveal the dyes' plant origins and perhaps much about how ancient people used natural resources (April 9, 167: 230).
  • Exclusive pigmentation The spectacular red feathers of certain parrots owe their vibrancy to a rare set of pigments found nowhere else in nature, a study found (March 19, 167: 190).

Back to Top

Earth Science

 p427.1.jpg

Debate continued about whether global warming is making hurricanes stronger and more frequent (Sept. 17, 168: 184*). Meanwhile, the North Atlantic experienced its most active hurricane season ever (Dec. 24 & 31, 168: 406), with 14 of 26 named storms reaching hurricane status, three reaching category 5 status, one—Wilma—being the strongest hurricane on record, and another—Katrina (shown above)—being one of the nation's costliest hurricanes.


NASA

  • Big shock The tsunami-triggering earthquake that struck west of Sumatra on Dec. 26, 2004, was the largest temblor in more than 40 years (Jan. 8, 167: 19*). The estimated 9.3-magnitude quake ruptured 1,300 kilometers of an undersea subduction zone, rumbled for more than 10 minutes, and even triggered small quakes in Alaska (Aug. 27, 168: 136*). Scientists say that the Sumatra temblor significantly redistributed stress in Earth's crust and probably caused a nearby 8.7-magnitude quake 3 months later (April 2, 167: 211).
  • Tsunami disaster Spawned by the December 2004 quake, tsunamis swept coasts around the Indian Ocean (Jan. 8, 167: 19*) and killed hundreds of thousands of people. Data from several satellites, downloaded after the event, captured the waves' deadly progress (Aug. 27, 168: 136*). The tsunamis were steered by midocean ridges and measured more than 50 centimeters in height even after traveling 20,000 kilometers (Aug. 27, 168: 133). Intact mangrove forests along India's southeastern coast protected some villages, but waves wiped out neighboring settlements that weren't sheltered by vegetation (Oct. 29, 168: 276*). Within weeks, the Bush administration announced a $37.5 million program to expand the United States' tsunami-warning capabilities (Jan. 22, 167: 54).
  • To catch a wave Scientists reported that seafloor sensors near the Mississippi River delta detected a 27.7-meter wave, the tallest ever recorded, when Hurricane Ivan swept over the instruments in September 2004 (June 11, 167: 382*).
  • Explosive potential Only a dozen or so of the United States' 169 volcanoes are monitored as well as they should be, U.S. Geological Survey scientists reported (May 7, 167: 293*).
  • Shakedown Patterns of deep tremors offered scientists a possible new way to foretell earthquake activity beneath California's San Andreas fault (Jan. 1, 167: 4*).
  • Quick pick-me-up A new model describing airflow across the ocean's surface suggested that droplets whipped from waves boost the wind's speed over the water (Aug. 6, 168: 94*).
  • Pack rat piles Analyses of fossilized pack rat collections revealed that the Grand Canyon was surprisingly cool during the latter part of the last ice age (Sept. 24, 168: 198*).
  • Warm spell Sediment samples taken from remote arctic lakes indicated that the climate across large swaths of the Northern Hemisphere has been warming for many decades (March 5, 167: 148*).
  • Big chill Analyses of a soil sample from central Missouri suggested that North America's most recent spate of ice ages began about 2.4 million years ago (Feb. 5, 167: 94).
  • Sky high Enigmatic bursts of high-energy gamma rays produced in Earth's atmosphere were found to be unexpectedly strong and frequent (Feb. 19, 167: 115).
  • Useful noise Scientists established that the small, random, and nearly constant seismic waves that travel in all directions through Earth's crust can be used to make ultrasoundlike images of geologic features (June 11, 167: 382).
  • Shaken, then stirred Data gathered by equipment installed on an immense iceberg off Antarctica suggested that the ground motions spawned by large, distant earthquakes could free grounded icebergs to float again (Jan. 15, 167: 45).
  • Volcano blow The decline in sunlight reaching Earth after a major volcanic eruption can cool the seas and cause sea level to drop slightly (Nov. 5, 168: 294), a study found, and volcanic sulfates that fall on wetlands can stifle natural emissions of methane from those regions (June 18, 167: 390).
  • Under pressure By squeezing quartz-bearing minerals at high pressure and zapping them with a laser, scientists created a crystalline form of silicon dioxide previously unknown on Earth (Aug. 6, 168: 84). Another team found that compressing a common iron-bearing mineral to deep-Earth pressures makes the material much stiffer, which might explain why seismic waves travel particularly fast through some parts of Earth's crust (July 23, 168: 52).
  • Mighty river Global-positioning-system data showed that when the Amazon River swells each rainy season, the immense weight of the water causes the region to sink dozens of centimeters (Sept. 17, 168: 189). Other analyses suggested that much of the carbon in the carbon dioxide emanating from the river had been stored in plants for less than a decade (Aug. 6, 168: 93).
  • Powerful winds There's more than enough wind power to satisfy the United States' energy requirements, a new analysis of weather data suggested (July 16, 168: 36).
  • Storms coming Scientists developed a new computer model that analyzes summer-wind patterns and predicts whether the United States will suffer a damaging hurricane season (April 23, 167: 262*).

Back to Top

Environment & Ecology

 p427.2.jpg

Scientists discovered three new ways that Florida's red-tide alga can harm people and marine animals but also found antidotes produced by the alga itself (July 23, 168: 56*).


Mote Marine Laboratory

  • Nanohazards Inhaling microscopic nanospheres and nanotubes, as people manufacturing them might do, appeared to trigger damage well beyond the lungs (March 19, 167: 179*).
  • Squirt alert Scientists around the world reported that a sea squirt of unknown origins has begun overtaking ecosystems in cool coastal and offshore waters (Dec. 24 & 31, 168: 411*).
  • Gender measure Researchers linked fetuses' modest exposures to certain common solvents and plastics ingredients with genital changes in infant boys (June 4, 167: 355*). Newborns in intensive care units absorb high concentrations of at least one of these chemicals, called phthalates, from the equipment used to treat babies, a study found (Aug. 13, 168: 109).
  • Emptying nets New research challenged long-held assumptions about the wisdom of harvesting big fish ahead of little ones (Feb. 26, 167: 132*; June 4, 167: 360).
  • Stuck with nonstick From fetal life on, studies showed, people carry residues of the fluorochemicals which are used to make nonstick products and which have shown toxicity in lab animals (Nov. 26, 168: 341).
  • Man trouble Men had lower sperm counts and fragmented DNA in their sperm after they breathed air rich in ozone and other pollutants (Oct. 8, 168: 230).
  • Hog wild Many airborne bacteria in pig barns proved invulnerable to antibiotics, confirming that drug-resistant germs can spread through the air (Jan. 1, 167: 5).
  • Investigating payoffs In an effort to guide conservation, scientists continued mapping the world's ecosystem services according to their economic value (Dec. 3, 168: 364).
  • Scents of danger Researchers found that fragrance chemicals can disable cells' capacity to eject toxic substances (March 19, 167: 187).
  • Clouded minds A study suggested that millions of U.S. children suffer reading deficits caused by exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke (Jan. 15, 167: 37).
  • Imperiled amphibians Ozone and pesticides offered two additional possible explanations for the decline in frogs, toads, and other amphibians being recorded worldwide (Feb. 5, 167: 94; Oct. 1, 168: 222; Dec. 10, 168: 381).
  • Alarm allayed A massive, long-term Swedish study found no support for concern that work exposures to electromagnetic fields might trigger breast cancer (Feb. 26, 167: 142).
  • Arsenic crazy The madness of England's King George III may have been partly due to arsenic poisoning, a review of historical accounts found (Aug. 6, 168: 94).
  • Toying with pollution Stuffed animals were shown to accumulate some potentially toxic air pollutants in disturbingly high amounts (Dec. 10, 168: 381).
  • The toxic underground Airborne particles in subway stations may be more damaging to human cells than are particles in street-level air, researchers said (Feb. 19, 167: 124).
  • Solo-sniffer genetics Scientists nailed down a single gene that seems to oversee the sense of smell in a variety of insect species (March 12, 167: 173).
  • Fetal risks A study found that pregnant women who breathe polluted air deliver babies that are smaller and more likely to exhibit congenital birth defects than are children born to other mothers (Jan. 22, 167: 61; Sept. 3, 168: 158).
  • Painting out corals A barnacle-deterring pesticide in paints used on ship hulls was suggested as a contributor to the worldwide decline in corals (March 26, 167: 206).

Back to Top

Food Science & Nutrition

  • Hungering hormone Diet and lifestyle can induce the body's overproduction of a hormone that might foster overeating, researchers found (April 2, 167: 216*).
  • Wild menus A scarcity of fish and rising wealth in the developing world appeared as factors driving the accelerating harvest of bushmeat—from the flesh of anteaters to that of chimps—for dinner tables globally (Feb. 26, 167: 138*).
  • Soy seesaw Tests showed that as protein yields of soybeans rise, there's a decline in the quality of the proteins, making them less effective for promoting growth in livestock and children (July 23, 168: 61).
  • Proper popper The secret to better popping was proved to reside in the crystalline structure of the popcorn kernel's hull (April 30, 167: 276*).
  • Salt licked A heavy consumer of salt is nearly twice as likely to have a stroke as is a person who consumes little of the seasoning—even if the two individuals' blood pressures are equivalent—researchers found (Feb. 19, 167: 126).
  • Heartier rice Inserting a human gene into rice enabled that crop to survive an array of weed-killing chemicals (April 16, 167: 246*).
  • Mental metal Zinc fortification improved mental skills in children with normal, healthy diets, suggesting that the officially recommended intake for this mineral is too low (April 30, 167: 286).
  • Peanut protection A study showed that African peanut farmers could cut their exposure to aflatoxins—harmful fungal poisons—by more than half if they would adopt some simple harvesting procedures (June 11, 167: 374).
  • Garlic tonic Fresh garlic or its powdered equivalent appeared to prevent, in some people, a potentially lethal condition in which blood pressure in the lungs becomes elevated (April 16, 167: 254).
  • Olive therapy A molecule in extra-virgin olive oil demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties similar to those of ibuprofen, perhaps explaining some health benefits of Mediterranean diets (Sept. 3, 168: 147).
  • Raisin defense Researchers suggested that eating dried grapes can fight tooth-decaying bacteria rather than feed them (June 25, 167: 414).
  • Herpes helper A compound in licorice homed in on lab-grown cells infected with a herpes virus and induced them to self-destruct (April 30, 167: 285).

Back to Top

Mathematics & Computers

 p429.1.jpg

Mathematicians zeroed in on a remarkable minimal surface that looks like a double helix with a hole through it (Dec. 17, 168: 393*).


Weber

  • Pieces of numbers A long-sought proof forged an intriguing link between numbers expressed as sums and as products (June 18, 167: 392*).
  • Prime whopper Computers discovered a new largest prime number; it has a whopping 7,816,230 digits (March 19, 167: 188*).
  • Pushing limits Scientists moved several steps closer to constructing superefficient, noisefree, data-transmission codes (Nov. 5, 168: 296*).
  • Untangled Web A new mathematical model of the Internet showed that it might not be as vulnerable to centralized attacks as previous research had suggested (Oct. 8, 168: 230).
  • Celestial currents Mathematicians created an atlas of solar system highways along which spacecraft could coast, using virtually no fuel (April 16, 167: 250*).
  • Laziness pays Researchers developed a mathematical model that helps explain how cooperation and cheating evolve among simple organisms (Jan. 15, 167: 35).

Back to Top

Paleobiology

  • Old softy Scientists recovered pliable material from a Tyrannosaurus rex's leg bone, including possible cells and blood vessels (March 26, 167: 195*).
  • Egg citing The first find of shelled eggs inside a dinosaur fossil bolstered ideas about the reptiles' reproductive physiology (April 16, 167: 243*).
  • Young and helpless Skeletal remains in the fossilized eggs of an early dinosaur hinted that adults of that species may have cared for their hatchlings (July 30, 168: 68*).
  • Killer bite Paleontologists unearthed the remains of an ancient, mouse-size mammal that seems to have had a venomous bite (June 25, 167: 403*).
  • Ancient grazers Dinosaur coprolites unearthed in India contained remnants of at least five types of grasses, an indication that grasses evolved diverse forms surprisingly early (Nov. 19, 168: 323*).
  • It's in there The stomach contents of fossils showed that some ancient mammals preyed on young dinosaurs (Jan. 15, 167: 36*) and that some types of aquatic reptiles called plesiosaurs were bottom feeders (Oct. 29, 168: 285).
  • Long line Fossils of a raptor dinosaur suggested that the species' lineage is unexpectedly old and widespread (Oct. 15, 168: 243*).
  • It's all relative DNA analyses hint that the woolly mammoth was more closely related to Asian elephants than to African elephants (Dec. 24 & 31, 168: 403).
  • Groovy bones Remains of an ancient mammal indicated that the characteristic configuration of bones in all living mammals' ears evolved independently at least twice (Feb. 12, 167: 100).
  • Caribbean extinctions Species of sloths, now extinct, persisted on Caribbean islands until about 4,200 years ago, scientists found, strongly indicating that post-ice–age climate change wasn't the cause of the die-offs (Oct. 29, 168: 275).

Back to Top

Physics

  • Primordial ooze After more than 20 years of striving to re-create in particle accelerators the fiery gas that was the first matter of the universe, physicists declared victory—but the matter's a liquid, not a gas (April 23, 167: 259*).
  • Radioactive planet Telltale flashes in a huge underground tank of baby oil revealed the abundance of the radioactive elements thorium and uranium within Earth (July 30, 168: 67*).
  • On target The correct prediction of the mass of the subatomic Bc meson suggested that theorists could finally use the difficult theory of quarks to calculate real-world effects (May 21, 167: 324).
  • The violence within Observations of argon-gas bubbles crushed by ultrasound vibrations seemed to confirm suspicions that the light-emitting collapses, known as sonoluminescence, create conditions so hot and brutal that electrons are torn from their atoms (March 5, 167: 147*).
  • Way-back machine A theoretical time-machine design based on normal matter and the vacuum of space boosted the practicality of such machines, compared with prior concepts requiring ingredients not known to exist, such as negative energy (July 16, 168: 38*).
  • Splashes sputter Liquid droplets hitting a hard surface at below-normal air pressures don't splash, high-speed photos revealed. The finding may have implications for ink-jet printing, fuel combustion, and industrial washing and coating processes (Feb. 12, 167: 99*).
  • Pentaquacks? Much-ballyhooed elementary particles called pentaquarks may not exist after all, numerous experiments and analyses suggested (May 14, 167: 318).
  • Slosh-o-matic A quantum mechanical effect predicted 40 years ago—rapid ebbs and flows of ultracold helium-4 liquid through holes between two chambers—finally showed up in an experiment (Feb. 26, 167: 142).
  • Gait keeper A simple new mathematical model of human locomotion indicated how people's gaits minimize energy use (Sept. 17, 168: 182). Robots based on similar models were found to use less energy and to move more naturally than traditional bipedal robots do (Aug. 6, 168: 88*).
  • High gear A measurement of how fast a rare nickel isotope decays suggested that the universe cranks out heavy elements with surprising speed during supernova explosions (May 14, 167: 318).
  • Ice shock Ultrathin films of water can freeze at room temperature under the influence of electric fields, new data suggested (Aug. 27, 168: 131*).
  • Mighty mite A minuscule plug of microscopic diamond needles, forged in a powerful, hot anvil, took the world title for strongest known material (Sept. 17, 168: 189).

Back to Top

Science & Society

 p430.1.jpg

Conservationists stepped up their efforts to halt the poaching and inhumane farming of bears to supply bile, an ingredient in traditional Asian medicines (Oct. 15, 168: 250*).


World Society for the Protection of Animals

  • Benched science Analysts indicated that three Supreme Court decisions have greatly limited scientific and medical evidence reaching juries in cases alleging personal injuries (Oct. 8, 168: 232*).
  • Hurricane havoc In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, affected Gulf Coast researchers forged on—many, far from home (Nov. 19, 168: 330).
  • Drug pushers Studies indicated that pharmaceutical marketing to patients and physicians influences which medicines get prescribed (July 30, 168: 75*).
  • Ethical judgments The National Institutes of Health issued new rules to prevent activities by its employees that might represent conflicts of interest (Feb. 12, 167: 108).
  • Smoke out An international tobacco-control treaty went into effect in February (Jan. 1, 167: 13).
  • Shark bait Makers of a controversial and unproved dietary supplement ran afoul of the law—and science—by maintaining that the shark cartilage in their products fights cancer (March 5, 167: 154*).
  • Noble Nobel A Science News reporter described the pageantry surrounding the Nobel prize ceremony in Stockholm (Jan. 22, 167: 59*).

Back to Top

Technology

 p430.2.jpg

Bacteria coated with gold beads functioned as living humidity sensors (Oct. 22, 168: 259*).


Berry and Saraf/Angewandte Chemie

  • Robot scramble Demonstrating a leap in robotic-vehicle proficiency, five unmanned, autonomous vehicles successfully raced through a 210-kilometer course in the Mojave Desert. Last year, no vehicle completed the race (Oct. 15, 168: 244*).
  • Quick study A new type of gene-sequencing machine proved that it can decipher the genetic code up to 100 times as fast as conventional machines can. The novel device processes hundreds of thousands of DNA snippets at a time (Aug. 6, 168: 85).
  • Tiny tube tech Researchers formed carbon nanotubes into clear, strong, ultrathin sheets that may find uses as lightbulb filaments and solar cell electrodes (Aug. 20, 168: 115*). Other new nanotube developments included a high-definition television screen and an X-ray scanner (May 28, 167: 342; May 28, 167: 349).
  • Power walker A new type of backpack converted mechanical energy from up-and-down walking motions into electricity for a cell phone or other portable electronic gadgets (Oct. 1, 168: 221*).
  • Good riddance Scientists showed that prototype fixatives and cleaning agents could pin down or soak up much of the radioactive remains of a dirty bomb (Oct. 29, 168: 282*).
  • On the road Bioengineering and chemistry advances increased the possibility of many cars running on biofuel from agricultural wastes (Oct. 1, 168: 218*). Tests of a drag-reducing strategy for big trucks showed potential for saving billions of gallons of diesel fuel annually (Jan. 29, 167: 78).
  • Mind control Brain-computer interfaces that transmit and interpret neural signals increasingly enabled paralyzed people to interact with computers and operate machines such as mechanical limbs and motorized wheelchairs (Jan. 29, 167: 72*).
  • Space tug Using gravity alone, a massive, unmanned spacecraft could pull an asteroid away from a collision course with Earth, astronaut-scientists proposed (Nov. 12, 168: 310*).
  • Mini me Chips with chambers containing living cells mimicked animal and human bodies in tests of drugs and toxic chemicals (Jan. 8, 167: 24).
  • Grow your own In a medical first, scientists grew cells into the shape of blood vessels and implanted them into patients (Nov. 26, 168: 339*). Following recent strides in dental science, researchers geared up to reproduce whole teeth in coming years (May 14, 167: 312).

Back to Top


Science News Online

foodlogo2.gif

 p431.1.jpg

TEA TRIMMING. Men who drank oolong tea enriched with compounds that naturally occur in green tea lost weight while those drinking a regular oolong brew didn't (http://www.sciencenews.org/
articles/20050212/food.asp
).
PhotoDisc

  • Runaway rust A new fungal disease stood poised to hammer wheat yields globally (http://www.sciencenews.org/
    articles/20050924/food.asp
    ).
  • Rogue algae New studies indicated that an alga once thought harmless was responsible for severe food-poisoning outbreaks in people who ate tainted mussels (http://www.sciencenews.org/
    articles/20050129/food.asp
    ).
  • Immersion therapy Slicing fruits and veggies while they're submerged in water proved to keep the produce fresh days longer than when it was cut on a countertop (http://www.sciencenews.org/
    articles/20050820/food.asp
    ).
  • Poor nutrition A demographic study of U.S. residents' weight concluded that the obesity epidemic "is a largely economic issue," with many poor people becoming overweight by eating unhealthy food (Money Matters in Obesity).
  • Vitamin bonus People who got plenty of vitamin D from their diets or the sun were more likely to remain diseasefree after lung-cancer surgery than were people who were D deficient, a study showed (Season Affects Cancer-Surgery Survival).
  • Leaden chocolates Scientists tried to puzzle out why chocolates are among the most lead-tainted foods (Leaden Chocolates).
  • Inflammation-fighting fat An unusual dairy fat modulated the injurious, runaway inflammation that underlies diseases ranging from arthritis to lupus (Inflammation-Fighting Fat).
  • Pet poison A veterinarian triggered an investigation that showed that "pocket pets" such as mice and hamsters—not food—were behind a Salmonella outbreak in the United States (The Case of the Suspicious Hamsters).
  • Organic, but ... Organic produce, especially root crops such as carrots, was found to carry traces of long-banned pesticides

    (Organic Doesn't Mean Free of Pesticides).

  • Laser diagnosis A new device promised to limit farm costs and environmental pollution by using polarized light to analyze how much fertilizer each crop plant needs and then directing sprayers to dispense only that amount (Using Light to Sense Plants' Health and Diversity).
  • Cancer-fighting beer In tests on lab animals, beer limited the DNA damage triggered by carcinogens that form in overcooked meat (Beer's Well Done Benefit).

Back to Top

mathtreklogo2.gif

  • Twin primes New developments in characterizing the distribution of prime numbers suggested that mathematicians are nearing a long-sought proof that there are infinitely many pairs of primes that differ by only 2 (Closing the Gap on Twin Primes).
  • Who's first? A new ranking scheme shuffled the national standings of college football teams (Ranking College Football Teams).
  • Climbing high Mathematicians discovered how water-walking insects manage to scale steep, watery slopes (Climbing a Watery Slope).
  • Ask a friend Researchers developed a model showing that paying for answers to questions improves the chances of getting responses from a social network (Ask-a-Friend Marketplaces).
  • Space patrol Mathematical insights from atomic physics led to new, energy-saving routes for spacecraft (Celestial Atomic Physics).
  • Pass or fail Computer scientists developed an authentication scheme in which a computer creates a test that it can't pass but most people can (Captcha the Puzzle).
  • Crash stats A statistical study revealed that the number of fatal car accidents goes up in the hours following a telecast of a Super Bowl (Super Bowl Crashes).
  • Decoded knots Scientists began to untangle mysterious Inca messages encoded in knotted strings (Knotted Strings and Inca Accounts).
  • Strange orbits Researchers uncovered further evidence that orbiting bodies can follow weird trajectories, from figure-eight loops to complex, interlocked paths

    (Strange Orbits).

  • Getting there A new mathematical model showed that the world's air-transportation network resembles the Internet (Air Transport Central).
  • Tennis ace The probability of winning a tennis set or match doesn't depend, in theory, on which player serves first (Winning at Tennis).
  • Research rank A physicist developed a formula for characterizing the scientific output of a researcher (Rating Researchers).

Back to Top

snkids.gif

Back to Top

Science News of the Year 2004

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News