Vol. 198 No. 11
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More Stories from the December 19, 2020 issue

  1. Science & Society

    This COVID-19 pandemic timeline shows how fast the coronavirus took over our lives

    Look back on how the coronavirus pandemic took over 2020 and how efforts to fight back evolved.

  2. Science & Society

    Hear from people taking action against COVID-19

    Researchers, a health care worker, a clinical trial volunteer and others share their experiences during the pandemic.

  3. Science & Society

    What will life be like after the coronavirus pandemic ends?

    Researchers offer a range of perspectives on the possible long-term social consequences of COVID-19.

  4. Science & Society

    From Elvis worms to the Milky Way’s edge, these science stories sparked joy in 2020

    During a gloomy year dominated by a pandemic, these scientific discoveries were reminders that we live in a world of wonder.

  5. Climate

    Wildfires, heat waves and hurricanes broke all kinds of records in 2020

    Climate change did not take a break during the pandemic.

  6. Space

    Here are the highlights from a busy year in space launches

    Satellites, Mars rovers and astronauts launched into space in 2020.

  7. Animals

    Rumors of a ‘murder hornet’ apocalypse may have been exaggerated

    Murder hornets sightings in the Pacific northwest inspired a mix of concern and delight.

  8. Health & Medicine

    Against all odds, 2020 featured some good health news

    Good health news in 2020 included a first treatment for peanut allergies, a rare self-cure for HIV, and an Ebola outbreak ends.

  9. Science & Society

    These science claims from 2020 could be big news if confirmed

    Scientific findings reported this year that still need more proof include potential signs of life on Venus and Earth’s oldest parasites.

  10. Neuroscience

    Psilocybin may help treat depression, a small study finds

    Researchers found that a compound in psychedelic mushrooms eased depression symptoms, but larger studies are needed.

  11. Plants

    These plants seem like they’re trying to hide from people

    A plant used in traditional Chinese medicine has evolved remarkable camouflage in areas with intense harvesting pressure, a study suggests.

  12. Physics

    Supercooled water has been caught morphing between two forms

    A new experiment used ultrafast techniques to reveal high-density water transforming into low-density water at subfreezing temperatures.

  13. Space

    Planets with many neighbors may be the best places to look for life

    Solar systems with many planets in circular orbits suggest a calm life-nurturing past, while single exoplanets with eccentric orbits hint at chaos.

  14. Space

    Astronomers spotted colliding neutron stars that may have formed a magnetar

    Astronomers may have witnessed the formation of a kind of rapidly spinning, extremely magnetized stellar corpse for the first time.

  15. Health & Medicine

    The FDA has approved the first drug to treat the rapid-aging disease progeria

    Children with a rare genetic disorder called progeria age quickly and often die before they are 15. A newly approved drug may give them more time.

  16. Anthropology

    Homo erectus, not humans, may have invented the barbed bone point

    Carved artifacts excavated from Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge suggest now-extinct hominids made barbed bone points long before humans did, researchers say.

  17. Paleontology

    How massive long-necked dinosaurs rose to rule the Jurassic herbivores

    New dinosaur fossil dates to same time as a volcanic surge, suggesting ensuing changes in plant life allowed these long-necked giants to emerge.

  18. Animals

    Guttural toads shrank by a third after just 100 years on two islands

    Introduced in the 1920s, toads on two islands in the Indian Ocean have shrunken limbs and bodies that may be evidence that "island dwarfism" can evolve quickly.

  19. Archaeology

    The biblical warrior Goliath may not have been so giant after all

    Archaeological finds suggest the width of the walls of Goliath’s home city were used to metaphorically represent the Old Testament figure’s height.

  20. Planetary Science

    Farming on Mars will be a lot harder than ‘The Martian’ made it seem

    Lab experiments developing and testing fake Martian dirt are proving just how difficult it would be to farm on the Red Planet.

  21. Earth

    Technology and natural hazards clash to create ‘natech’ disasters

    Hurricanes, wildfires and nature’s other extreme events are increasingly causing damage to infrastructure crucial for safety and communication.

  22. Tech

    A smartwatch app alerts users with hearing loss to nearby sounds

    With a new smartwatch app, users who are deaf or hard of hearing can get alerts that an alarm is going off or someone is knocking at the door.

  23. Animals

    A fish’s fins may be as sensitive to touch as fingertips

    Newfound parallels between fins and fingers suggest that touch-sensing limbs evolved early, setting the stage for a shared way to sense surroundings.