Vol. 196 No. 11
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More Stories from the December 21, 2019 issue

  1. Health & Medicine

    Measles got a foothold in the United States this year and almost didn’t let go

    Areas of low vaccination are blamed for the United States' largest number of measles cases in more than 25 years.

  2. Climate

    Record-breaking heat amplified waves of student climate protests in 2019

    While the world experienced record-breaking heat, Greta Thunberg and other activists pushed decision makers to take climate change seriously.

  3. Health & Medicine

    Vaping’s dangers loom large amid more than 50 U.S. deaths this year

    Lung injuries and deaths linked to vaping in 2019 are a sobering indication of the dangers of e-cigarettes as teen use continues to rise.

  4. Humans

    Mysterious Denisovans emerged from the shadows in 2019

    Denisovan fossil and DNA finds this year highlighted the enigmatic hominid’s complexity and our own hybrid roots.

  5. Genetics

    The first U.S. trials in people put CRISPR to the test in 2019

    Trials of the gene editor in people began in the United States this year, a first step toward fulfilling the technology’s medical promise.

  6. Quantum Physics

    Google claimed quantum supremacy in 2019 — and sparked controversy

    Google’s quantum computer outperformed the most powerful supercomputer on a task, the company reported. But some scientists aren’t fully convinced.

  7. Animals

    A year of big numbers startled the world into talking about nature

    One million species are at risk. Three billion birds have been lost. Plus surges in Amazon burning.

  8. Space

    China stuck its moon landing this year. Others weren’t as lucky

    Fifty years after Apollo 11 landed on the moon, Earth’s sidekick is getting renewed attention from space agencies around the world.

  9. Health & Medicine

    In 2019, a ketamine-based antidepressant raised hopes and concerns

    Ketamine and related molecules might ease severe depression, but the drugs come with baggage.

  10. Humans

    Why screening DNA for ‘designer babies’ probably won’t work

    While simulations suggest it’s possible to predict a child’s height from looking at an embryo’s DNA, real-world examples say otherwise.

  11. Space

    NASA’s Parker probe reveals the sun’s rogue plasma waves and magnetic islands

    Scientists have analyzed the Parker probe’s first data, giving a peek at what’s to come as the craft moves closer to the sun over the next few years.

  12. Archaeology

    Infrared images reveal hidden tattoos on Egyptian mummies

    Infrared images show a range of markings on seven female mummies, raising questions about ancient Egyptian tattoo traditions.

  13. Archaeology

    A carved rock found in Jordan may be the oldest known chess piece

    The 1,300-year-old game piece, which resembles a rook, or castle, was found at an Early Islamic trading outpost.

  14. Health & Medicine

    Medications alone work as well as surgery for some heart disease patients

    Patients with stable ischemic heart disease may be able to avoid stents or bypass surgery with medications alone.

  15. Physics

    Mounting evidence suggests neutrinos are key to why antimatter is rare

    The source of matter’s dominance over antimatter might be revealed by the tiny subatomic particles.

  16. Tech

    A tiny switch could redirect light between computer chips in mere nanoseconds

    Microscopic switches that ferry information using light, not electric current, could help create better, faster electronics.

  17. Animals

    Flipping a molecular switch can turn warrior ants into foragers

    Toggling one protein soon after hatching makes Florida carpenter ants turn from fighting to hunting for food.

  18. Astronomy

    19 more galaxies mysteriously missing dark matter have been found

    The finding reveals a population of dwarf galaxies that defy common wisdom about how these star systems form and evolve.

  19. Climate

    The loss of ‘eternal ice’ threatens Mongolian reindeer herders’ way of life

    Mongolian reindeer herders help scientists piece together the loss of the region’s vital “eternal ice” patches.

  20. Space

    How two gamma-ray bursts created record-breaking high-energy photons

    Light packing up to 1 trillion electron volts of energy bolsters a theory for how these cosmic explosions produce such high-energy radiation.

  21. Space

    NASA gave Ultima Thule a new official name

    The distant world briefly visited by New Horizons is now called Arrokoth, a Powhatan word that means “sky.”

  22. Neuroscience

    Some people with half a brain have extra strong neural connections

    Brain scans of six people who had half their brains removed as epileptic children show signs of compensation.

  23. Archaeology

    An AI found a hidden Nazca Line in Peru showing a humanoid figure

    An artificial intelligence program designed to go through massive datasets for hints of ancient geoglyphs called Nazca Lines has discovered a new one.

  24. Space

    50 years ago, scientists didn’t know where heavy elements came from

    Five decades ago, scientists suspected ordinary supernovas created heavy elements. Now we know they don’t, but merging neutron stars do.

  25. Paleontology

    Science News’ favorite fossils of 2019

    Fossil discoveries reported this year included Cambrian creatures, ancient bone cancer and a peek at life’s recovery after the dinosaur die-off.

  26. Space

    How 2019’s space missions explored distant worlds

    Planets and asteroids and Arrokoth, oh my. Space probes had a busy year.

  27. Science & Society

    These science claims from 2019 could be big deals — if true

    Some of this year’s most tantalizing scientific finds aren’t yet ready for a “best of” list.