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Top Science Story of 2013?

December 27, 2013

So what’s your top science story from 2013? Atmospheric CO2 hits 400 ppm? Or was it organs from stem cells: liver buds and brain organoids? Or else the host of new gene therapy miracle cures that avoid mentioning AIDS-related vectors? Or the non-surprise that fracking does cause earthquakes? Or the truly amazing discovery of argon-containing molecules in the Crab Nebula?

I have my own choice, but first let’s hear all yours.

  1. December 27, 2013 8:30 pm

    I like the inception-like false memory implant for coolness:
    and “ASTEROID may ‘BLOW UP EARTH’ in 2032, warns Russian space boss” for the writing:

    • December 28, 2013 11:27 am

      Brain imaging looks spookier all the time. There is some credible research claiming to read dreams. I think this area looks more impressive in science than science fiction; by contrast, the film Inception looked laughable IMHO.

  2. December 27, 2013 10:03 pm

    I’m biased, but I was very pleased to hear of a new cure for Hep C

    • December 27, 2013 11:18 pm

      Yes, the past two years have seen enormous advances in understanding Hepatitis C and approving new treatments. My third edition has a whole new section on HCV.

      • December 29, 2013 2:03 am

        I don’t know why that would surprise me–there’s never been any limits on your abilities. You’re a writer and a teacher and a microbiologist–why wouldn’t you be writing the text for the subject, as well? You never fail to impress, Ms. S.

        Hope you and yours had a great holiday–and will find even more happiness in the coming year.

  3. Baldscientist permalink
    December 28, 2013 10:43 am

    Not strictly a 2013 invention/discovery, but all the really cool things that people are doing with 3D printers blow my mind. It is the closest that we have ever gotten to replicators…

    • December 28, 2013 11:25 am

      The most amazing 3D idea is the prospect of 3D printing new tissues and organs.

  4. samldiener permalink
    December 29, 2013 12:05 pm


    More of an engineering story, but I was excited and amazed to hear that the first commercial wave-powered water desalination plant is about to go on-line ( It’s a clean energy/clean water two-fer.

    But the accelerating discovery of earth-like planets, and the new estimates of the huge numbers of these earth-like planets in the Goldilocks zone, has to go to the top of my list. See, for example, Maybe we’re really not alone?

    • December 29, 2013 12:55 pm

      That’s really encouraging about desalination; we certainly will need more fresh water (and the load under Greenland is unlikely to help.)

      I’m encouraged to hear that “one in five stars” may have a habitable planet. Back when I started writing SF, the consensus was more stark. Astronomers argued that there were so many picky factors that had to be “just right,” that getting a livable planet was almost impossible.

      • samldiener permalink
        January 1, 2014 2:34 am

        The other water story I found fascinating this year was this one: Vast freshwater reserves found beneath the oceans: HUGE, but hard to access and non-renewable.

        • January 1, 2014 9:38 am

          The existence of undersea freshwater is fascinating for its implications of what kind of life may exist there. As a practical source for drinking, the problems are (1) Math. Do we spend more energy drilling for the water than desalinating seawater? (2) Pollution & destabilization. Like fracking, will the means to get the water permanently pollute the sediment–and perhaps cause undersea landslides?

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