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Colliding neutron stars, gene editing, human origins and more top stories of 2017

A gravitational wave discovery is the year’s biggest science story — again

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8:32am, December 13, 2017
illustration of neutron star collision

In science, progress rarely comes in one big shebang. Well, it has now, two years running. The first-ever direct detection of gravitational waves, our top story in 2016, launched a long-dreamed-of kind of astronomy capable of “unlocking otherwise unknowable secrets of the cosmos,” as physics writer Emily Conover puts it. 2017’s key event: a never-before-seen neutron star collision that immediately validated some theories in physics and killed others. And so a new way to probe cosmic mysteries wins our top spot again this year.

Another turning point is coming, and maybe soon, via CRISPR/Cas9, a biotechnology that holds the promise of curing genetic diseases (and the peril of making permanent, heritable tweaks). Nearly five years after the gene-editing tool debuted, researchers for the first time have used

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