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The Top 10 Science Stories of 2009 [Slide Show]

A hominid ancestor, swine flu, the world's biggest laser system and other highlights that defined this year in science

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Stimulus Funds for Science

The most prosaic event of 2009 may have the biggest impact. To deal with the pain of the deep recession, the U.S. committed $787 billion to jump-start the economy. Formally called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the stimulus package sets aside a good chunk for science— some $21.5 billion for federal research and development and billions more in related infrastructure and administration.....[ More ]

The National Ignition Facility

On May 29, the world's largest laser system was officially dedicated. Located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the stadium-size National Ignition Facility (NIF) required $3.5 billion and 12 years to build.....[ More ]

Water on the Moon

Forty years after Apollo 11 first delivered humankind to the moon's surface, NASA again made headlines with a lunar mission, finally confirming the long-suspected presence of water ice deposits on the moon.....[ More ]

Epigenetics and the Passing of Acquired Traits to Offspring

The same year that celebrated Charles Darwin witnessed numerous reports that give a measure of credence to a scientist historically viewed as his competitor: French biologist John-Baptiste Lamarck. ....[ More ]

Hubble Servicing Mission

The Hubble Space Telescope, one of the most productive astronomical observatories ever built, passed its 19th anniversary of reaching orbit in April, and the next month received a makeover that left the telescope looking sprightlier than ever.....[ More ]

AIDS Vaccine Results

Disappointment and hope were ironically the two main reactions to the results of an AIDS vaccine trial in Thailand , announced this fall. Costing $105 million and enrolling some 16,000 subjects, the trial was the largest AIDS vaccine test to date.....[ More ]

Copenhagen Climate Conference

Leaders from 193 nations gathered in the Danish capital this month to haggle over strategies to slow the warming of the planet. Despite a pre-conference release of stolen e-mails that seemed to be an attempt to derail negotiations, delegates agreed to a nonbinding accord developed by a core group of nations—including the U.S., China, India and South Africa—that, for the first time, extracts commitments from both developed and developing countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.....[ More ]

Ardipithecus, Our Last Common Link with Chimps

After some 4.4 million years in the ground—and another 15 years sequestered for close scientific scrutiny—the early human relative Ardipithecus ramidus was formally unveiled to the public and outside researchers in October.....[ More ]

The H1N1 Pandemic

In April news about a novel "swine flu" that was killing people by the dozens in Mexico swept around the globe, sparking anxious debate about the 1918 pandemic, the 1976 swine flu vaccine fiasco , and possible antiviral shortages.....[ More ]

Restart of the Large Hadron Collider

Last year was supposed to be the year of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), but a faulty connection between two magnets quashed the machine's operations just days after it was powered up in September 2008.....[ More ]

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