Our favorite science news stories of 2018

first_img DEAN MOUHTAROPOULOS/GETTY IMAGES Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe CaoWei/Getty Images Our favorite science news stories of 2018 Email Outer space may have just gotten a bit closer NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY Naked mole rats defy the biological law of agingNaked mole rats: Is there anything they can’t do? These homely little mammals rarely get cancer, don’t feel some types of pain, and can survive up to 18 minutes without oxygen. They also appear not to age, according to this story. ‘I’ve never seen anything like it.’ Video of mating deep-sea anglerfish stuns biologistsYou can’t argue with a cool video, and this is one of the coolest we saw this year: the first known footage of anglerfish—some of the creepiest denizens of the deep—mating. One expert says: “It was really a shocker for me.” Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) MICHAEL BLANN/GETTY IMAGES Quantum measurements could power a tiny, hyperefficient engineYou’ve heard of a steam engine and an internal combustion engine—but how about a measurement engine? This unusual device—based on a bizarre aspect of quantum mechanics—could run with nearly 100% efficiency, far greater than a car engine. It’s all hypothetical for now, but physicists say it might actually be possible to build one. Some of our favorite stories fundamentally change our understanding of how the world works—and where that world begins and ends. In this case, it’s the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. It turns out that it’s a lot closer than we thought. Most ankylosaurs were fossilized belly up. Now, scientists think they know whyA dinosaur story seems to make our list every year, and this one’s a doozy. Most fossils of the heavily armored ankylosaur are found upside down. The reason was a mystery for decades, but thanks to an unusual collaboration between paleontologists and armadillo experts, scientists may finally have an answer. By David GrimmDec. 20, 2018 , 2:00 PMcenter_img Birth canals are different all over the world, countering a long-held evolutionary theoryIt’s known as the “obstetrical dilemma”: the idea that two opposing evolutionary forces have shaped the human birth canal. But this story—one of our most popular of the year—suggests this long-held theory may not hold up. Far from just a paradigm shift, the work could improve practices surrounding childbirth. National Geographic Creative/Alamy Stock Photo traskevych/POND5 Lia Betti This Roman ‘gate to hell’ killed its victims with a cloud of deadly carbon dioxideThe ancient Romans staged elaborate sacrifices at what they believed were entrances to the underworld. The animal victims died quickly, but the humans who accompanied them returned unharmed. Is this proof of the supernatural, or is there a much simpler, geological explanation? The secret sex life of strawberriesStrawberries aren’t just delicious—they have the youngest known sex chromosomes of any plant or animal, meaning they branched into male and female forms relatively recently. This fascinating story explores how they did it—and what the implications are for the rest of the kingdom of life. R. CHABUKSWAR ET AL.; ARXIV:1804.07389V1, 2018, ADAPTED BY J. YOU/SCIENCE Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Your gut is directly connected to your brain, by a newly discovered neuron circuitYou may think your gut has a mind of its own—especially when it wakes you up in the middle of the night in search of brownies. This isn’t too far from the truth, finds our most popular item of the year. Our gut has a direct connection to our brain through a neural circuit that allows it to transmit signals in mere seconds. The findings could lead to new treatments for obesity, eating disorders, and even depression. Every year, Science publishes hundreds of news stories, both online and in our weekly magazine. And whereas many of these highlight huge advances in research (some of which get a nod in our breakthroughs of the year), a lot are simply cool stories that resonated with us, our readers, or both. And that’s what this list focuses on—some of our coolest and most popular online news stories of the year. It’s an eclectic mix, and you’re sure to find at least a few you’ll want to read—or read all over again. This ocean path will take you on the longest straight-line journey on EarthLet’s pretend you’ve got a boat—and a lot of free time. What path would send you on the longest ride in the world, without ever having to touch the steering wheel? The question, first posed on reddit, now has an answer, thanks to a team of resourceful scientists. NICOLLE R. FULLER/Science Source REBIKOFF-NIGGELLER FOUNDATION last_img read more