Most Important Science Stories of 2006
Humans controlled computers with the power of thought, built an invisibility cloak, cracked the mystery of a 3,000-year-old computer, discovered a new element, unearthed a missing link and kicked Pluto out of the planet club--and those are just the highlights.
It's hard to imagine a world without seafood, but regional fishing stocks have collapsed before
, so what's to stop global fishing stocks from doing the same?
It's long been known that water flowed across the surface of Mars in the past
, but scientists were shocked to discover that liquid water
exists on Mars
today. Whether or not that means life has ever existed on Mars is still up for debate--but if Mars's oceans were as acidic as scientists currently believe
, all signs point to no.
As if that weren't enough, extremophiles were also discovered in an ultraheated environment as acidic as vinegar
, caught in the act of repairing chromosomes after massive doses of radiation
, and found use as models of extraterrestrial life for NASA
There's been more than a little debate about whether or not dark matter actually exists
, but the collision of two clusters--known as the Bullet cluster--revealed the existence of the mythical stuff via a measure of its gravitational lensing
The attempt to test a "superantibody" on human volunteers highlighted the pitfalls of human testing, even after extensive animal tests.
In a late-breaking end-of-year development, it appears that eliminating hormone therapy has led to a 7 percent drop in the rate of breast cancer
, after decades of increases. Researchers debated for years whether hormone therapy would have a measurable effect on rates of breast cancer
--if this finding holds, we can consider that debate settled.
Mere months after making headlines for proposing a technologically feasible way of rendering objects invisible, a research team demonstrated a rudimentary example of an invisibility cloak. Harry Potter's invisibility cloak it ain't--this one is constructed from metamaterials
, and only works in the microwave range of the electromagnetic spectrum.