2008 in Photos--10 Biggest Science Stories

A slide show looking back at the people, places and discoveries that shaped the world of science over the past year
1 of 10


The eyes of the world turned to other worlds as astronomers made huge strides in the study of planets outside our solar system . The biggest coup came in November when two teams simultaneously published the first photographs of such planets (one of them, Fomalhaut b, is pictured here).....[ More ]


The saga of the 2001 postal anthrax attacks that killed five people appeared to have reached its conclusion in July with the apparent suicide of Bruce Ivins (pictured), an army biodefense researcher and the federal authorities' prime suspect in the plot.....[ More ]


DNA tests dropped in price significantly in 2008 , generating a flurry of excitement, skepticism and worry. For a few hundred dollars, proponents claim, anyone can trace their genealogical roots, their predisposition to certain diseases , and even their potential for athletic greatness --all with a mere swab of the mouth.....[ More ]

HIV AT 25:

2008 marked 25 years since the virus that causes AIDS was first identified . For that discovery, virologists Luc Montagnier (pictured here) and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi shared half of this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.....[ More ]


A convergence of factors--surging fuel prices, an agricultural shift toward biofuels , increased demand for meat in newly prosperous nations, crop-straining droughts--drove food prices to dangerous highs in 2008.....[ More ]


What began the year as a fringe environmental concern went mainstream in 2008: Bisphenol A (BPA), a common ingredient in household plastics, came under suspicion as a potential health risk. BPA, studies showed , could be especially harmful to the development of the nervous and hormonal systems of babies and youngsters.....[ More ]


The world's eyes turned to China with the arrival of the summer Olympics in Beijing. Amid a building boom (as evidenced here by the new China Central Television Headquarters) and facing a mounting pollution problem , the nation took some aggressive steps to rein in its environmental troubles and put forth a greener profile in the glare of the spotlight.....[ More ]


The world's biggest science experiment got off to a rocky start, but it nonetheless dazzled with what it might accomplish in 2009 . The LHC, a gargantuan particle collider at CERN, the European lab for particle physics near Geneva, had just been fired up when a catastrophic electrical malfunction put the kibosh on its activities in September .....[ More ]


The Red Planet captivated our attention this past year, as the massively popular Phoenix lander outlived its original mission, digging up water ice , spotting falling snow , Twittering its feelings, and ultimately perishing as it passed into Martian winter.....[ More ]


The 2008 U.S. presidential election culminated the longest and one of the most contentious campaigns ever. When the primaries whittled the crowded race to two, the candidates and their running mates tangled over a number of issues, including those of energy and environmental policy .....[ More ]

risk free title graphic

YES! Send me a free issue of Scientific American with no obligation to continue the subscription. If I like it, I will be billed for the one-year subscription.

cover image Subscribe Now
Share this Article:

Starting Thanksgiving

Enter code: HOLIDAY 2015
at checkout

Get 20% off now! >


Email this Article