My Top 10 Science Stories of 2006

There are science stories that are real breakthroughs in a given field. There are science stories that have obvious implications on society, health, or the economy. And then, there are science stories that you just can’t wait to share with other people. Just like I did last year, I compiled my favorite stories of the year, according to that single, very personal criterion. These aren’t necessarily the most relevant stories of the year scientifically or even journalistically. In a couple of cases, they aren’t even new, technically, although they were new to me. They are the stories I really wish I had covered during 2006. Well, now I have.

By Davide Castelvecchi

(Click on the titles to read the complete articles.)

#1

ASTRONOMY

Dark Matter Really Exists

Observations of a cluster of galaxies yielded the most direct proof yet that the stuff we see is only part of the story.
#2

THE ORIGINS OF LIFE

The Invisible Hand of Physics

The mystery of why life’s building blocks tend to have a preferred orientation could originate in the most unlikely of the four fundamental forces of nature.
#3

MICROBIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION

Bacteria-”R”-Us

Forget about crawling fish. The most exciting of all missing links is hidden in a microscopic bug.
#4

COSMOLOGY

Lost in a Parallel Universe, or Why I Fell In Love With Giovannina

Of all possible universes, ours seems to be tuned to an exquisite precision to allow the emergence of intelligence life. Or maybe not.
#5

MATHEMATICS

Colui Che Fece per Viltade il Gran Rifiuto

Grigory Perelman solved an incredibly difficult problem, then wanted to avoid media fame. Therefore, the New Yorker ran a big story about him.
#6

MICROBIOLOGY

Living in Liquid Nitrogen

Some bacteria can survive hundreds of thousands of years buried in Antarctic ice. That’s nothing, says Colwellia psychrerythraea 34H, check out the tricks I can do.
#7

PHYSICS

Dark Matter near Trieste: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Shining light through walls, and why it could soon be time to resurrect an old brand of laundry detergent.
#8

SPACE EXPLORATION

Water on Mars

Unquestionably the coolest science picture of the year.
#9

GENETICS

The DNA’s Hidden Code

Please go back and update your junior-high-school science textbooks. Again.
#10

ARCHEOLOGY

2,000 Years Before Pompeii, Destruction on a Grander Scale

A volcanic eruption like the one that laid waste to bronze-age villages could happen again today.

Read my Top 10 Science Stories of 2005

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