Monday, January 01, 2007

The Best Look at Last Year ...

.... is here at New Scientist. It's a list of their most-visited stories in 2006. There's a wonderful set of items here - a mixture of the delightful, the curious, and the alarming:

1. Imagine Earth without people

Just how profound an impact have we had on our planet? This intriguing thought experiment captured your imaginations.

2. Marooned Mars rover returns stunning panorama

Too weak to move for six months over Martian winter, NASA's Spirit rover produced the most detailed panoramic view of the Red Planet ever made.

3. Invention: Apple's all-seeing screen

The patents in this article included an electronic display screen that acts as a video camera, and a flashy new way of judging a person's age.

4. A future with no bananas?

The world's most popular fruit and the fourth most important food crop of any sort is in deep trouble, as wild and traditional varieties collapse in India.

5. Get ready for 24-hour living

A new wave of drugs will make it a breeze to go days without sleep, and give you a good night's shut-eye in two hours – are you ready for 24-hour living?

6. Invention: Invisible drones

The patent applications in this article included a near-invisible spy plane, a foot-controlled computer and cabling that repairs itself when damaged.

7. Mysterious glowing clouds targeted by NASA

A new spacecraft is designed to observe the silvery blue clouds that have spread around the world and brightened in recent years, possibly due to global warming.

8. Huge 'launch ring' to fling satellites into orbit

A hoop of superconducting magnets several kilometres wide could hurl satellites into space, or perhaps weapons around the world, at a fraction of current launch costs.

9. Bizarre deep-sea creatures imaged off New Zealand

The weird and wonderful animals live in the sunless ocean depths and rely on methane vents for energy (includes video).

10. Natural-born painkiller found in human saliva

The substance is up to six times more powerful than morphine, and may spawn a new generation of non-addictive natural painkillers.

11. Sexual ornaments grow out of all proportion

Male body parts used to attract females, such as antlers or flashy tail feathers, become disproportionately large in virtually every species that boasts them.

12. Explosive sting of jellyfish captured on film

For the first time, researchers recorded the powerful explosion of stingers triggered when the creature's tentacles brush against a victim (includes video).

13. Revealed: What mosquitoes hate about humans

Some lucky people are naturally repellent to the biting bugs and the smelly sweat-chemicals responsible have finally been isolated.

Honourable mention: 13 things that do not make sense

Our most clicked story of 2005 continued to attract lots of users in 2006. Included in the article are the placebo effect, cold fusion, dark energy, the “wow” signal and bizarre homeopathy results.

My tip for 2007 is: LOOK OUT FOR COLD FUSION.

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