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  • Feature

    Ebola, Rosetta, e-cigarettes and more top stories of 2014

    West Africa’s Ebola epidemic captured the attention of both the scientific world and the world at large in 2014, placing it first among the Top 25 stories of the year. Other big news included the rise and fall of a claimed detection of gravitational waves, new findings about the history of early humans from analyses of DNA and the spectacular landing of the Rosetta spacecraft’s robotic...

    12/17/2014 - 13:00 Science & Society
  • Feature

    Science’s good, bad, ugly year

    In the race for Top Science Story of 2014, some of the contenders stumbled before reaching the finish line.

    A South Pole–based experiment called BICEP2 appeared to hit a Nobel-winning home run in March, with researchers proclaiming the detection of gravitational wave imprints in radiation left over from the Big Bang. But upon further review, galactic dust may have been responsible for...

    12/17/2014 - 12:30 Science & Society
  • Feature

    Year in review: Science faces Ebola epidemic

    1

    West Africa’s 2014 Ebola epidemic demonstrated what can happen when a contagious virus emerges amid a population served by a broken medical system, and where cultural practices, public fears and porous borders fuel the spread of disease.

    The outbreak also...

    12/17/2014 - 10:05 Microbes
  • Feature

    Year in review: Dust obscures possible gravitational wave discovery

    2

    Gravitational waves from the Big Bang captured worldwide attention in 2014. But then interstellar dust clouds stole the show.

    Detection of such waves — ripples in the fabric of space — would be direct evidence for the theory of cosmological inflation, a brief epoch immediately after...

    12/17/2014 - 09:00 Astronomy
  • Feature

    Year in review: Old humans reveal secrets

    3

    Scientists probed the complete genetic secrets of an unprecedented number of ancient humans this year, revealing insights into how people, ideas and disease spread around the world.

    Researchers have gotten so good at working with ancient scraps of DNA that, this fall, they unveiled...

    12/17/2014 - 08:00 Human Evolution
  • Feature

    Year in review: Rosetta mission hits its target

    4

    With a hop and a skip, a robot called Philae bounded onto comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, perhaps a bit too eager to explore the alien world.

    The touchdown on November 12, amid cheers and tears on Earth, marked the first time scientists have set a probe on a comet. But the...

    12/17/2014 - 07:00 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • Feature

    Year in review: Memories vulnerable to manipulation

    5

    Memories can often seem hazy, but the brain creates and destroys them with exacting precision. New experimental results reported in 2014 helped bring scientists closer to understanding how the brain manipulates memories to make sense of the world.

    The results have practical...

    12/17/2014 - 06:00 Neuroscience
  • Feature

    Year in review: Kepler gets second chance at life

    6

    The Kepler space telescope is not quite dead. NASA’s planet-hunting space observatory got a second chance at life this year. And mission scientists analyzing already-collected data unearthed hundreds of new worlds, including a potentially habitable Earth-sized planet.

    For four years...

    12/16/2014 - 15:00 Exoplanets, Astronomy
  • Feature

    Year in review: Risks of e-cigarettes emerge

    7

    Electronic cigarettes are marketed as a safer alternative to inhaling the combustion products of tobacco. And to some extent, that’s correct.

    “There’s no question that a puff on an e-cigarette is less toxic than a puff on a regular cigarette,” says Stanton Glantz of the University of...

    12/16/2014 - 14:00 Health, Toxicology
  • Feature

    Year in review: Young blood aids old brains

    8

    Ingredients in young blood can rejuvenate old mice’s bodies and brains. A group of papers published in 2014 detail how youthful plasma can improve some signs of deterioration (SN: 5/31/14, p. 8).

    The findings evoke thoughts of eternally young and bloodthirsty vampires, but in reality...

    12/16/2014 - 13:00 Neuroscience, Biomedicine