Vol. 186 No. 13
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cover of the December 27, 2014 issue

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More Stories from the December 27, 2014 issue

  1. Life

    Iguanas’ one-way airflow undermines usual view of lung evolution

    Simple-looking structures create sophisticated one-way air flow in iguana lungs, undermining old scenarios of lung evolution.

  2. Cosmology

    Galaxies may be aligned across 1 billion light-years

    Powerful plasma jets from cores of galaxies seem to mysteriously align with one another and hint at an unknown mechanism shaping galaxy groups.

  3. Physics

    Negative mass might not defy Einstein

    Repulsive matter could have played a role in the early universe, a computational study finds.

  4. Oceans

    Robotic subs reveal thicker Antarctic sea ice

    New measurements by robotic subs suggest that scientists have underestimated Antarctic sea ice thickness.

  5. Tech

    Blu-ray Discs get repurposed to improve solar cells

    Polymer solar cells capture more sunlight when they are imprinted with movies’ and TV shows’ Blu-ray Disc etchings.

  6. Animals

    Vulture guts are filled with noxious bacteria

    Vultures’ guts are chock-full of bacteria that sicken other creatures.

  7. Health & Medicine

    Turning the immune system on cancer

    A new class of drugs uncloaks tumors in some patients, awakening home-grown cells to fight several cancer types.

  8. Life

    Tadpole eye transplant shows new way to grow nerves

    Wiring replacement organs into the body may be as easy as discharging a biological battery, new experiments with tadpoles suggest.

  9. Planetary Science

    Year in review: Rosetta mission hits its target

    The Rosetta spacecraft and its lander Philae are providing an intimate look at the life of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

  10. Neuroscience

    Year in review: Memories vulnerable to manipulation

    New experimental results in 2014 helped bring scientists closer to understanding how the brain manipulates memories to make sense of the world.

  11. Archaeology

    Human ancestors engraved abstract patterns

    Indonesian Homo erectus carved zigzags on a shell at least 430,000 years ago.

  12. Cosmology

    Most precise snapshot of the universe unveiled

    New results from the Planck satellite provide the most detailed look yet of the makeup of the universe.

  13. Astronomy

    Starlight robs galaxy of stellar ingredients

    Light from newborn stars drives gas out of a distant galaxy, a process that may prevent future stars from being born.

  14. Health & Medicine

    Old drug reduces herpes symptoms, spread in animal tests

    The antidepressant tranylcypromine might also work as antiviral against herpes, animal studies suggest.

  15. Climate

    Greenhouse gases may spell wet future for Africa

    Greenhouse gases played a role in boosting rainfall in Africa 14,000 to 21,000 years ago, a finding that may help predict future abundance of water on the continent.

  16. Environment

    Year in review: Microbes exploit their killer

    Triclosan, an unregulated antimicrobial chemical found in consumer products, may aid, rather than deter, microbes that invade people’s bodies.

  17. Neuroscience

    Year in review: The nose knows a trillion odors

    Humans can suss out more than 1 trillion different smells, a 2014 study estimated.

  18. Genetics

    Year in review: Easy stem cells a no go

    An incredibly easy method for making stem cells turned out to be impossible, again tainting the stem cell research field with controversy.

  19. Animals

    Year in review: Insect, bird evolution revisited

    Insects got an entirely new family tree after an extensive genetic analysis rearranged the creatures' relations.

  20. Genetics

    Year in review: Genes linked to tameness

    A look at the genes of domesticated animals offers possible insights into why taming has altered animals’ appearances.

  21. Anthropology

    Year in review: Asian cave art got an early start

    Stone Age cave painting began at about the same time in Southeast Asia as in Europe, challenging the idea that Western Europeans cornered the market on creativity 40,000 years ago.

  22. Earth

    Year in review: Life thrives under Antarctica

    Thousands of microbe species thrive in Lake Whillans deep beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet.

  23. Planetary Science

    Year in review: Tectonics active on Europa

    Jupiter’s frozen moon Europa has a shifting exterior analogous to Earth’s plate tectonics.

  24. Health & Medicine

    Year in review: Gut reacts to artificial sweeteners

    Saccharin messes with the body’s ability to metabolize fuel, a condition that often precedes diabetes, obesity and other metabolic problems.

  25. Neuroscience

    Year in review: Young blood aids old brains

    Ingredients in young blood can rejuvenate old mice’s bodies and brains, scientists reported in 2014.

  26. Health & Medicine

    Year in review: Risks of e-cigarettes emerge

    Electronic cigarettes dispense water vapor laced with flavors and often a hefty dose of nicotine. These vapors may be far from benign, studies in 2014 suggested.

  27. Astronomy

    Year in review: Kepler gets second chance at life

    This year, Kepler engineers figured out how to stabilize the almost-defunct Kepler telescope, while astronomers found hundreds more worlds.

  28. Archaeology

    Year in review: Roster of dinosaurs expands

    With the discovery of several new species and a few dogma-shaking revelations, dinosaurs got a total rethink in 2014.

  29. Particle Physics

    Year in review: Neutrinos leave tracks in ice

    The IceCube experiment has started to pinpoint the birthplaces of some high-energy neutrinos.

  30. Planetary Science

    Year in review: Ocean may power Enceladus’ geysers

    NASA’s Cassini spacecraft builds a stronger case for a subsurface ocean on Enceladus that drives ice geysers on the moon’s south pole.

  31. Animals

    Year in review: The post-pigeon century

    Birds' troubles received an eerie emphasis in the news when biologists marked the 100th anniversary of the death of the last known passenger pigeon.

  32. Planetary Science

    Year in review: Business booming on Mars

    Mars now has seven robots studying it and together they have given scientists their best view of any planet in the solar system other than Earth.

  33. Humans

    Year in review: Genes, bones tell new Clovis stories

    The genes and bones of the Clovis people reveal the range and legacy of the early North Americans.

  34. Climate

    Year in review: Climate warnings heat up

    Climate change is here and the world is unprepared, scientists and policy makers declared multiple times in 2014.

  35. Genetics

    Year in review: Life’s complexity recoded

    New genetic letters in bacteria and a simplified yeast chromosome showcase scientists' advances in understanding the simplicity and complexity of life.

  36. Animals

    It’s bat vs. bat in aerial jamming wars

    In nighttime flying duels, Mexican free-tailed bats make short, wavering sirenlike sounds that jam each other’s sonar.

  37. Health & Medicine

    Electric detection of lung cancer

    In 1964, researchers hoped to improve lung cancer diagnosis by measuring the skin’s electrical resistance.

  38. Science & Society

    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.

  39. Microbes

    The year in microbiomes

    This year, scientists pegged microbes as important players in several aspects of human health, including obesity and cancer.

  40. Genetics

    The year in genomes

    From the tiny Antarctic midge to the towering loblolly pine, scientists this year cracked open a variety of genetic instruction manuals to learn about some of Earth’s most diverse inhabitants.