The H1N1 pandemic, the Copenhagen climate talks, the restart of the world's biggest experimental device—2009 sped by many scientifically relevant mile markers. The year also celebrated several important past events: It saw the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his Origin of Species; the 40th anniversary of the first humans on another world; and the 400th of Galileo's report that proved not all heavenly bodies circle the Earth. The year also marked the first occasion in which the science Nobel Prize committee honored more than one woman—four, in fact.

Science, of course, typically progresses in small steps, not giant leaps. It often takes years of experiments and data gathering to prove a theory or confirm a finding. Many achievements in 2009 could very well be the basis for future paradigm shifts but are now not quite recognized for what they are. (Did someone say they found dark matter?) We'll just have to see how things turn out in the years ahead.

Slide Show: Top 10 Science Stories of 2009