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  • Letters to the Editor

    Reader favorites of 2013

    For this issue, the editors selected the 25 most important and intriguing science stories of the year. But online readers seemed to point to a different bunch, showing just how subjective such an exercise can be. While it’s difficult to gauge reader opinions based solely on letters, we can and do follow readers’ mouse clicks online. Here are the most popular magazine stories of the year,...

    12/31/2013 - 08:05 Technology, Science & Society
  • Science Visualized

    Best maps of the universe, bugs and all

    Maps from the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite reveal the cosmos in a range of microwave and infrared frequencies.

    Planck’s primary mission was to precisely measure the cosmic microwave background, or CMB, which is 13.8-billion-year-old radiation that allows astronomers to probe the universe’s first moments (SN: 12/28/13, p. 21). The CMB appears as speckles; blue regions are...

    12/30/2013 - 15:38 Cosmology, Astronomy
  • The List

    Unusual new species names of 2013

    1. Siats meekerorum

    Newly found fossils of this dinosaur show it was anything but meek, probably terrorizing the ancestors of Tyrannosaurus rex.

    2. Cardiocondyla pirata

    The pirate ant gets its name from the dark ribbon across females’ eyes, resembling a pirate’s blindfold for walking the plank.

    3. Cthulhu macrofasciculumque

    Found in termite hindguts, this tiny creature with more than...

    12/30/2013 - 10:12 Animals
  • The List

    Top genomes of 2013

    Scientists continue to decode the genetic blueprints of the planet’s myriad flora and fauna — both alive and long dead — shedding light on biology, evolution and disease. Highlights from the year include:

    View as a slideshow

    1. Comb jellies

    A genomic analysis of comb jellies confirmed that the squishy marine predators are the new oldest animals, bumping the much simpler sea sponges...

    12/29/2013 - 11:18 Genetics
  • The List

    Top exoplanet finds of 2013

    With the addition this year of 180 new worlds to the Paris Observatory’s list of confirmed exoplanets, there are now more than 1,000 known planets orbiting stars other than the sun.

    Here are some of the year’s most notable finds:

    View as a slideshow

    1. The Earthiest

    Kepler-78b is most similar to Earth in mass, diameter and composition; it could be made of rock with an iron...

    12/28/2013 - 11:38 Astronomy