This week in science: Best of the year

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-12-2011-05-2008

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SaturnScale

The planet Saturn shown to scale using the lower 48 states as reference. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL

The best science images of the year, well, that’s always a matter of opinion. But in my opinion, it’s hard to beat space-porn and this year had plenty. There is the always reliable Astronomy Picture of the Day, images of the asteroid belt object—never seen up close until now—Vesta taken by the Dawn Spacecraft, new stuff from Hubble and plenty of pics of mysterious Martain features. But for sheer beauty and awe, I don’t think the Cassini-Saturn homepage can be beat. Lovely, ringed Saturn, the celebrity of our solar system, the super-model of the sun’s children, and we got our money’s worth out of the cameras aboard Cassini! The probe is still there, even now, snapping pics half a billion miles away, still going strong in the brutal cold of interplanetary space periodically blistered by sizzling radiation after five years!

  • Sometimes a finger is just a finger, even one purportedly taken from the corpse of a Yeti. In this case the science of molecular biology gives the finger to believers of mythology and legend.
  • There are too many superb science blogs to even begin to name them, let alone pick the best. But if forced to choose one off the top of my head, I found myself spending more and more time at Discover Mag’s Bad Astronomy this year. How about you?
  • Same goes for science stories, from the hunt for the nanoscopic Higgs Boson to exosolar planet finder Kepler, there are just too many great science stories to choose just one or even the top ten. But seeing a climate change denialist get his clocked cleaned by a study he championed for years was pretty sweet.
  • My favorite story of the year does not involve evolution, or space, or even science. And it was all thanks to a tiny group of protestors whose voice grew from a faint whisper into a middle-class roar. Occupy Wall Street compleletely changed U.S. political dynamics, from topics and ground the usual suspects are familiar with, to one they could find no traction on. Our Founding Fathers would be proud of you all, I know I am. The best part about OWS … Teaparty who?  


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