December 22, 2018 | Science News

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December 22, 2018View Digital Issue

Editor's Note

Editor in Chief Nancy Shute discusses creating Science News' annual Top 10 science stories of the year.
By Nancy Shute | December 17, 2018
Magazine issue: Vol. 194, No. 12 , December 22, 2018 , p. 2


Hurricane Florence


2018 was a year all about impact — on the planet, on solving crimes, on mosquito populations, on reversing paralysis, and more.

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Editor's Note

Editor in Chief Nancy Shute discusses creating Science News' annual Top 10 science stories of the year.


Hurricane Florence
2018 was a year all about impact — on the planet, on solving crimes, on mosquito populations, on reversing paralysis, and more.

Year in Review

moon craters
In 2018, AI bested humans at following fauna, diagnosing disease, mapping the moon and more.
image of the center of the Milky Way galaxy
From black hole insights to the future of self-driving cars to figuring out what it means to be human, 2019 will be a big year in science.
Parker Solar Probe illustration
This year, some missions started exploring the cosmos, while others were winding down.
ANITA experiment in Antarctica
Discoveries about fossils, the Big Bang and more could shake up the scientific world – if they turn out to be true.
sexual harassment protest
In the #MeToo era, the scientific community is confronting its own sexual harassment problems and looking to research for solutions.
hurricane flooding
Climate attribution studies and new data on global warming targets put climate change in the spotlight this year.
Jiankui He
A researcher in China announced he created two babies using CRISPR. Many scientists questioned the study’s ethics and medical necessity.
Sacramento sheriff and Golden State killer
DNA searches of a public genealogy database are closing cases and opening privacy concerns.
IceCube detector
Particles associated with a blazar kick-start the field of neutrino astronomy.
Greenland crater illustration
Scientists disagree on what a possible crater found under Greenland’s ice means for the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis.
Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes
An early lab test of exterminating a much-hated mosquito raises hopes, but is it really such a great idea?
person covering wine glass
Studies claiming that alcohol in even small amounts is dangerous weren’t designed to address risks of moderate drinking.
hand holding an e-cig
High schoolers’ use of e-cigarettes shot up from 2017 to 2018, and public health officials are concerned that a new generation is at risk for nicotine addiction.
Mars south pole
Planetary scientists are still trying to explain how a lake could have formed beneath a kilometer and a half of Martian ice.
Gert-Jan Oskam walking with crutches
A handful of people paralyzed from spinal cord injuries have learned to walk again.
painting on cave walls in Spain
Human ingenuity began on treks across Asia and in fluctuating African habitats.


woman looking pensive
When implanted electrodes stimulated a brain region just behind the eyes, people’s spirits were raised immediately.
Dead Sea
An archaeological site not far from the Dead Sea shows signs of sudden, superheated collapse 3,700 years ago.
stone tool artifact
Ancient Homo species spread advances in toolmaking far beyond East Africa.
cactus spine poking a finger
The shapes of cactus spines influence how they poke passersby.
More than 40 meters up, balloon traps in Mali caught females of malaria-spreading mosquito species.
gut bacterium
A friendly microbe in the gut may be the key to staving off insulin resistance, a study in mice finds.
an illustration of the new aircraft
A small aircraft prototype is powered by ionic wind flowing in one direction and pushing the plane in the other.
After a year of careful peanut protein exposure, most kids in a clinical trial could tolerate the equivalent of two large peanuts.
male flowers and bees
Colorado’s legal fields of low-THC cannabis can attract a lot of bees.
Camp Fire destruction in California
As urbanization extends its reach into once-natural areas, more homes and people are at risk from wildfires.
star VVV-WIT-07
The irregular flickering of star VVV-WIT-07 is reminiscent of Tabby’s star, which brought speculation of alien megastructures.
Tibetan Plateau site excavation
Stone tools that are at least 30,000 years old suggest that people settled the high-altitude Tibetan Plateau earlier than scientists thought.
vanilla beans
Residue of the aromatic substance in 3 jugs dates to around 3,600 years ago.
illustration of microneedle patch
A bandage that sticks to the surface of the heart exudes proteins and other molecules that help muscle cells grow.
August-born kids have higher rates of ADHD diagnosis than kids born in September in U.S. states with a September 1 cutoff for starting kindergarten.
an illustration of protons in the nucleus of an atom
New study indicates that the proton is much more than just the sum of its parts.
Mars crater
NASA’s Mars 2020 rover is going to Jezero crater, the site of an ancient river delta that may harbor signs of life.
ancient game
A newly discovered rock pattern suggests that the game traveled fast from the Near East to Eurasia thousands of years ago.


Apollo 8 launched on December 21, 1968, with three astronauts on board, making 10 revolutions around the moon — the first manned lunar orbits.
heavy rainstorm
Climate change could shorten the time it takes for the world to receive half its annual precipitation from 12 days to 11 by 2100.
The elasticity of wombats’ intestines helps the creatures shape their distinctive poops.
comparison of newly discovered herbivore to modern-day elephant
A newly named plant-eater from the Late Triassic was surprisingly hefty.

Reviews & Previews

collage of book covers
Science News writers and editors pick which science books were this year’s must-reads.

Science Visualized

Earth’s largest known impact crater measures 160 kilometers in diameter. The newest, yet to be confirmed, stretches a still-whopping 31 kilometers.

Letters to the Editor

From male birth control to wombat poop, Science News online readers had a wide variety of favorite stories on our website.