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Sunday, January 4

Top 10 Science Stories of 2008

Links to details of each item are here:
The Top 10 ScienceNOWs of 2008

  • 10 Make Way for Superfrog
  • Researchers have found a frog straight out of a comic book--an X-Men comic book to be exact. Like X-Men's Wolverine, this little guy shoots sharp claws from his hands when threatened, and he may even have the ability to heal quickly, just like the superhero.

  • 9 Did Rumbling Give Rise to Rome?
  • Ancient civilizations looking for somewhere to settle purposely chose areas prone to volcanoes and earthquakes, according to this quirky bit of research. Why? One theory is that they were trying to toughen up the next generation.

  • 8 Not so fast!
  • Two long-held beliefs at the core of Biology 101 took a hit this year: Elaborate peacock feathers are designed to attract the opposite sex, and chameleons change color to blend in with their environment. Neither, it seems, is true. Females ignore the feathers, and chameleons change colors to stick out--not to hide.

  • 7 Case Closed for Free Will?
  • If you think you're in charge of the decisions you make, think again. This study suggests that your subconscious decides what you're going to have for breakfast 10 seconds before you "make" the choice.

  • 6 Last Ant Standing
  • Researchers report the first example of an animal that commits suicide to protect its comrades--even when there is no immediate danger. Watch a video of a group of Brazilian ants taking one for the team.

  • 5 Quantum Physics Gets "Spooky"
  • Physicists have come closer to confirming the theory that subatomic particles can communicate with each other over vast distances, a property known as entanglement. The study also hints that information can travel at more than 10,000 times the speed of light.

  • 4 How Is a Lizard Like a Motorcycle?
  • You'll have to read this story to find out. Be sure to watch the cool video.

  • 3 Tool Use Is Just a Trick of the Mind
  • Hammering a nail into a wall seems like the simplest of tasks, yet tool use is a skill few species can muster. How did our brains make the leap? By treating that hammer as just another body part.

  • 2 The Grunter Gets the Worm
  • Come on down to the Eighth Annual Sopchoppy Worm Gruntin' Festival! Spend some time with the curious individuals who scrape wooden stakes against the ground to bring earthworms to the surface, and learn why the technique works. The video is not to be missed.

  • 1 Physicists Successfully Store and Retrieve Nothing
  • Our most popular story of the year is also our most vacuous--as in empty. Two teams have stored nothing in a puff of gas and then retrieved it a split second later. Why in the heck would they want to do that? All is revealed in the story.

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