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Top Science Stories of 2002. From cloning to neutrinos, our panel of science journalists will run down the science news of the year in review. We'll also challenge them to peek into their crystal balls and give us a look ahead at what they think might be big stories in the coming year. Audio at http://www.sciencefriday.com/pages/2003/Jan/hour1_010303.html
Scientific American: The Top Science Stories of 2002 http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa003&articleID=00077641-A3BF-1E03-8B3B809EC588EEDF&pageNumber=1&catID=1
Scientists Sequence Genomes of Malarial Parasite and Mosquito:Malaria continues to plague the world's population, particularly inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa, where it kills at least one person every 30 seconds. Efforts to eradicate the disease in the 1950s and 1960s met with failure, and current control measures such as antimalarial drugs are swiftly losing their potency. Now researchers have sequenced the genetic codes of the most deadly malarial parasite and a mosquito that carries it.
Mouse Genome Sequenced: In the name of science, researchers have fashioned numerous kinds of mice: fat, thin, hairless, or afflicted with a particular disease, to name a few. The first draft sequence of the mouse genome should make the tiny rodents even more helpful for future research into a variety of diseases.
Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation's Polarization Detected at Last: Although it was discovered less than 40 years ago, the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation has been around a lot longer than that. A relic from the early days of the Universe more than 14 billion years ago, the CMB is the oldest radiation on record. Current cosmological models posit that the CMB should be slightly polarized but this property has never been observed--until now.
Astronomers Discover Icy World Far Past Pluto: Astronomers have discovered the largest object in the solar system since Pluto was identified more than 70 years ago. The object, dubbed Quaoar (pronounced "kwa-whar") by its discoverers, is approximately half Pluto's size and nearly four billion miles away from Earth.
Meet the Oldest Member of the Human Family: After more than a decade of digging, researchers working in Chad have made the fossil discovery of a lifetime: a nearly complete skull said to belong to the oldest and most primitive member of the human family yet known. Nicknamed Toumaļor "hope of life" in the local Goran languageit belongs to an entirely new genus and species of hominid, Sahelanthropus tchadensis. And at almost seven million years old, it has taken scientists several crucial steps closer to the point in time at which humans and chimpanzees diverged. Yet as is the case for most spectacular finds, this one raises as many questions, if not more, than it answers.
New Findings Fan Debate over Origin of Vinland Map: Ever since it surfaced in 1957, the Vinland Map has been controversial. Some experts purport that it was drawn in the 15th century and that it chronicles the Vikings' travels to the New World, prior to Christopher Columbus's 1492 journey. Others argue that it is instead the work of a 20th-century counterfeiter. The results of two new studies are adding further fuel to the debate.
Chinese Fossil May Be Mother of All Placental Mammals: Researchers have unearthed the fossilized remains of what may be the mother of all placental mammals, so-named for the placenta that nourishes their young during gestation. The 125-million-year-old specimen is the earliest and most primitive known representative of the placental group, to which the vast majority of living mammals--humans among them--belong.
Scientists Spin Spidery Silk: Few things appear as delicate as a spider's web, each gossamer strand one-tenth the width of a human hair. Yet pound for pound, the sturdiest spider silks are stronger than steel and stretchier than nylon. With such remarkable properties, it's no wonder that researchers have made numerous attempts to synthesize spider silk for industrial and medical applications. (Efforts to farm the arachnids have failed as a result of their territorial nature.) Indeed, in the words of one scientist, this goal has long stood as the "Holy Grail of material science."
Physicists Create a New State of Matter: Cool a gas of rubidium atoms to one-hundred-millionth of a degree above absolute zero or less and something strange happens. The atoms lose their individuality and merge into a single quantum state, forming what is known as a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). In this condensate atoms flow without friction, endowing the ultracold gas with the property of superfluidity. Scientists have known that much since 1995. Now new research has taken that work one step further, revealing a surprising BEC behavior. It appears that under certain conditions, the condensate undergoes a reversible quantum phase transition, switching from a superfluid to a patterned fluida new type of matter.
Science News of
the Year 2003.
A review of important scientific achievements reported in Science News during the year 2003.
Breakthrough Of The Year: Illumination Of The Dark, Expanding Universe
In 2003, new evidence cemented the bizarre idea that the universe is made mostly of mysterious "dark matter," being stretched apart by an unknown force called "dark energy." This set of discoveries claims top honors as the Breakthrough of the Year, named by Science and its publisher, AAAS, the nonprofit science society.
to young scientists
Accept that you don't need to know everything, swim for the choppy waters, forgive yourself for wasting time and know your history are four golden rules for scientists at the beginning of their careers.
In the highly competitive world of cell and molecular biology, there are no prizes for coming second. But is the pressure to be the first to publish 'hot' results distorting scientific progress? Helen Pearson investigates.
from the 2003 Scientific American 50
A microscope that can see objects smaller than an atom. The first field test of a fleet of electric vehicles powered by fuel cells. A tariff to limit vehicular traffic in central London. These are but a few of the path-breaking developments that have taken place in recent months in laboratories, corporate suites and the halls of government. For the second year, the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN 50 recognizes the singular accomplishments of those who have contributed to the advancement of technology in the realms of science, engineering, commerce and public policy.
The Elegant Universe
This is an excellent program about the universe and string theory. It airs on PBS Tuesday at 8 PM (EST) See http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ and http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/. Watch the Program. View the first two hours online now (hour 3 available Nov. 5). Watch a Preview
ASA Meeting: You are cordially invited to join ASA members and friends for the 7th meeting of the Eastern Pennsylvania Section of the American Scientific Affiliation. Topic: Days of Creation: Why Christians disagree over the meanings of Genesis and modern science. We will be meeting at Eastern College in Saint Davids, PA on Saturday November 8, 2003 starting at 1:30 PM until 4:45 PM. Cost: $10.00 (students and spouses free) RSVP by November 6th Alan McCarrick firstname.lastname@example.org. Panelists are Paul Humber, David Wilcox, Robert Newman, Stephen Meyers, and Frank Roberts. Campus directions and map: www.eastern.edu.
journal hits press
New journal challenges pay-per-view science. October 10, 2003
New Audio clips from Dr. Meyers with the Institute for Biblical & Scientific Studies:
- Is the Bible Scientific?
- Bible and archaeology: Proof or Problem
- Is the earth old or young?
- My Journey to the dark side, or right side?
No Science articles in August
No Science articles in July
No Science articles in June
No Science articles in May
No Science articles in April
No Science articles in March
God and Science: A Public Dialogue: Messiah College has developed
a comprehensive project entitled God and Science: A Public Dialogue.
Supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, this series of
events seeks to engage legislators, educators, clergy, students, and community
members in a positive, constructive public conversation on science and religion,
and to develop greater understanding as to how these two important areas
inform each other. All events feature guest lecturer Dr. Edward Larson,
a prominent historian, legal scholar, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author
of several books, including Evolutions Workshop: God and Science
in the Galapagos Islands. You may also visit our web site at www.messiah.edu/Godandscience
for more information on Dr. Larson and the God and Science events.
You may also contact Dr. Edward Davis, Distinguished Professor of the History
of Science, Messiah College (email@example.com)
Information about Edward J. Larson available at: http://www.uga.edu/history/faculty.html#Larson
Tues, Mar 25 7:30 - 8:45 pm. Public lecture, Eugenics,
Human Gene Testing and Genetic Discrimination, in Brubaker Auditorium
(Messiah College campus). Free. Directions to the college are
available at: http://www.messiah.edu/visitors/direction.shtml
Wed, Mar 26 9:00 am - noon: Seminar on Creationism and the Law, Grace United Methodist Church, Harrisburg, PA. By invitation only. Interested persons should contact Professor Davis. 7:00 - 9:00 pm. Public event on God and the Galapagos, Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, Harrisburg, PA. (http://www.whitakercenter.org). $10. Tickets available from Messiah College box office. 717-691-6036. A showing of the IMAX film Galapagos (45 mins), followed by a lecture (45 mins) by Larson, God and Science in the Galapagos Islands, with questions/answers (30 mins)
From June 23-27, Messiah College will offer a workshop on evolution and creationism for secondary science and social studies teachers. Clergy and college faculty are also invited to attend. Interested persons should contact Professor Davis.
Today's vision of the science of tomorrow: See http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/04/opinion/04EDGE.html?pagewanted=print&pos=
science grads: Endangered species?
In an advanced graduate physics class I am teaching, there are three students from China, two from Bulgaria, one from Thailand, one from Sri Lanka, and one American. Of all our graduate physics students, only one-third were born in the United States. See http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/editorial/4979003.htm
Why are so many visionaries ignored? This is a question which confronts fundamental issues about how science and discovery operate. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/aheadoftheirtime.shtml
- Science, 20 December 2002: Breakthrough of the Year
- nature science update: picks of the year
- Discover Magazine's Top 10
- Scientific American: The Top Science Stories of 2002
- Popular Science | The Best of What's New
- Science News of the Year 2002: Science News Online, Dec. 21, 2002
- CBC News - Indepth: Year in Review 2002
- Physics News Update