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10 Science Letdowns of the New Millennium [Slide Show]

Few flying cars and no fountains of youth: Since 2000 many old science goals have remained as far away as ET's signals

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SPACED OUT

Although the deep oceans sometimes get in on the game, space remains the final frontier—still holding the cool, distant allure that it has for decades. Scientists continue to learn plenty about the great distant darkness, but most curious civilians have yet to get a chance to go into orbit—or even into the stratosphere.....[ More ]

ENERGY REMAINS GRID-LOCKED

Wind farms might be sprouting across the country, but about 7 percent of the energy that they—and other sources—generate is still getting lost to inefficient transport in the country's aging power grid .....[ More ]

HIV ROADBLOCKS

By 1997, some 25 million people worldwide had contracted HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus). That year, President Bill Clinton set up a special center at the National Institutes of Health to develop a vaccine for HIV, setting a goal of a decade for completion.....[ More ]

CLIMATE STILL CHANGING

With many of the world's glaciers melting and millions of climate refugees projected to soon be on the move, the swiftness of government regulations to slow these changes has been comparatively, well, glacial.....[ More ]

ANCESTRAL ANGST

Advances in technical analysis and several big finds have moved the passing decade's study of human origins along steadily, making it "a thrilling one for paleoanthropology ," says Kate Wong , a paleontology editor for Scientific American .....[ More ]

ET WON'T PHONE HOME

By 2000 , the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project had swept a good chunk of the Milky Way for radio signals and come up with not much more than static—even a move to look for optical signs in 2001 has yet to locate any nearby neighbors.....[ More ]

BRAINS STILL BAFFLING

In the 1990s, improving your neural networks might have seemed as simple as popping a ginkgo supplement and opening up the Sunday crossword . That decade, proclaimed the Decade of the Brain by President George H.....[ More ]

ELECTRIC CARS ON EMPTY

Regardless of who killed the electric car , it has shown few zombie-like tendencies in this decade. Since GM and others pulled the plug on their programs in the 1990s, electric cars have remained pretty much as dead as a road-tested battery after 40 miles.....[ More ]

CANCER CARRIES ON

Recently dubbed the Forty Years' War by The New York Times , the long road to curing cancer is strewn with myriad provisional treatments—and countless combative metaphors. The past decade has seen attempts to thwart the disease by injecting vaccines , targeting stem cells and repurposing proteins .....[ More ]

EVOLUTION OPTIONAL

2009 marked both the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin 's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his On the Origin of Species . But despite the passage of time and the accumulation of supporting data, teaching evolutionary theory in the classroom is still a hot-button issue in some U.S.....[ More ]

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