Top 25 Science Stories of 2013

[post_intro]From Science News: Last year it was easy to choose a story to lead our annual Top 25 list. The discovery of the Higgs boson was a watershed moment, ending a decades-long quest by thousands of physicists to fully describe the subatomic realm.[/post_intro]

This year, nothing so momentous came to pass. But science isn’t just about dramatic announcements and tremendous technical feats. Anyone who reads Science News regularly appreciates that great new insights often arise from countless little bits and pieces of new knowledge. This year, careful readers may have noticed a steady accumulation of revelations about the bacterial communities that call the human body home. It has long been known that those microbes are essential to processes like extracting nutrients from food and fighting off their less benign brethren. But this year a growing body of research demonstrated that bacteria engage their hosts so vigorously that in some situations, scientists are left wondering which party is the tail and which is the dog.

  1. Your body is mostly microbes – Microbiome results argue for new view of animals as superorganisms
  2. Bioengineers make headway on human body parts – New techniques produce mimics of brain, liver, heart, kidney, retina
  3. Planck refines cosmic history – Satellite hints at slower expansion rate for universe
  4. New discoveries reshape debate over human ancestry – Relationships among early hominids disputed
  5. A double dose of virus scares – MERS, H7N9 join list of potential pandemics
  6. Sleep clears the cluttered brain – Gunk between cells is cleansed during slumber
  7. High court rules against gene patents – Justices open way for choices in DNA testing
  8. Language learning starts before birth – Babies seem familiar with vowels, words heard while in womb
  9. Caffeine triggers cloning advance – Human embryonic stem cells copied successfully
  10. Carbon dioxide levels pass milestone – Panel affirms humans’ role in warming
  11. Putting kids at risk – Parents lax on vaccinations
  12. Voyager 1 reaches interstellar space – Planetary probe is first to pass beyond heliosphere
  13. Death of a planet hunter – Kepler ends successful mission
  14. Below absolute zero, but hot – Lab trickery achieves negative temperature
  15. DSM-5’s controversial debut – Diagnostic manual updates disorder criteria
  16. Obama unveils brain initiative – Project to seek secrets of thinking, learning
  17. Methane shortage on Mars – Trace of gas not enough to be sign of life
  18. Canine genealogy – Competing clues confuse story of dog domestication
  19. Dark energy gets more confusing – New data raise prospect of ‘Big Rip’ destroying cosmos
  20. Slain king’s bones dug up – Richard III’s skeleton reveals fatal wounds
  21. Progress made toward twin prime proof – Surprising advance sparks flurry of work on mathematical conjecture
  22. Visitor from the Oort cloud – Comet ISON meets demise in solar flyby
  23. Odd cicada history emerges – Brood II returns better understood
  24. Gift of steroids keeps on giving – Mouse muscles stay juiced long after doping ends
  25. Meteorite makes an impact – Space rock fires a warning shot

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