Category Archives: Science News

The lead sentences of science news stories of the day based on links in Knight Science Journalism Tracker posts.

January 2

Energy drinks are the fastest-growing part of the beverage industry, with sales in the United States reaching more than $10 billion in 2012 — more than Americans spent on iced tea or sports beverages like Gatorade. The Food and Drug Administration said in a letter released on Tuesday that it was likely to seek advice from outside experts to help determine whether energy drinks posed particular risks to teenagers or people with underlying health problems. On this day that fetishizes finitude, that reminds us how rapidly our own earthly time share is shrinking, allow me to offer the modest comfort of infinities. We are learning how to watch the news through tears. As practicing pediatricians who have lost patients to gun violence, we join our colleagues in mourning the 20 children and their teachers who were killed in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012. In the aftermath of the great tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, the mental health community is responding to our own and others’ desperation to understand why this event occurred and is advocating for strategies that might prevent similar events in the future. Plenty has been written this year about the history of medicine through the lens of the New England Journal of Medicine, which celebrated its 200th anniversary. A century ago, Elsie Scheel was the perfect woman. So said a 1912 article in The New York Times about how Miss Scheel, 24, was chosen by the “medical examiner of the 400 ‘co-eds’ ” at Cornell University as a woman “whose very presence bespeaks perfect health.” Being a little overweight may tip the odds in favor of living a long life, according to a new analysis. Folks who are just slightly overweight but have resolved to lose weight in the new year may give their plans second thoughts in the wake of a controversial new federal analysis. It’s a common medical refrain: Carrying extra pounds raises the risk of ills such as heart disease and diabetes and therefore the risk of a premature death. In a review of almost 100 past studies covering nearly three million people, researchers found that being overweight or slightly obese was linked to about a 6 percent lower risk of dying, compared to people considered “normal weight.”

January 1

For an explanation of this project, read here.

Here are some of the people, places, and events that helped shape the world of science in 2012. No recent scientific advance has generated more hoopla than this one. We found the God particle, learned to make clean energy work, tapped the healing power of germs, explored ancient streams on Mars, and made 96 other stirring advances. There were many really big moments in science this year. Lesula found in remote forests is only the second new monkey species to be discovered in Africa in 28 years. The storm on 29 October killed more than 125 people after making landfall in America, paralysing the lower half of Manhattan, and obliterating entire neighbourhoods in New York and New Jersey. In a year that saw Britain suffer double-dip recession; when crippling debt has risen to threaten a record number of households; when the nation faces losing its triple A credit rating; and the economy of the entire planet continues to flounder, it is hard to find many reasons to be cheerful. The year in science news was dominated by the discovery of the Higgs boson, ending a 50-year search for the keystone in our best theory of physics. This year saw many climate-related stories making headlines. Astronomical discoveries in 2012 have reshaped what we know about the universe and pushed some instruments to the very limits of their observing power. 2012 has been a big year for science: people sank to record depths, a private company made it into space, NASA landed something the size of a car on Mars, and physicists finally found the particle that could unify science once and for all. NASA/JSC is implementing an advanced propulsion physics laboratory, informally known as “Eagleworks”, to pursue propulsion technologies necessary to enable human exploration of the solar system over the next 50 years, and enabling interstellar spaceflight by the end of the century. The Universe is beautiful. Sex is a part of life — and a subject of scientific research. When you read about medical breakthroughs in the newspapers, you shouldn’t get your hopes up. Despite covering 70 percent of the earth’s surface, the ocean doesn’t often make it into the news. As we grow older, it gets harder and harder to believe how quickly time passes by. If you ask journalists about how they choose the stories they cover, many will talk about importance. It was a good year for Stephen Hawking. Many more than 10 events took place during 2012 that reveal how science and technology play integral roles in our lives. Scientific American named the top ten science stories of 2012 — a list that touches on big topics like climate change, technology and daredevil attempts that stretch the limits of humanity. Recent years have brought considerable riches for those of us interested in human evolution and 2012 proved no exception. For scientists, an answer to a question, or solution to a problem, is not true until proven so. A lot of things happened in 2012, including scientific breakthroughs, a presidential re-election, and a tragic school shooting. As the year comes to an end, it’s time to look back at the grossest, oddest and simply most fascinating animals to make the headlines in 2012. Every December the online world is replete with Top 10 lists, reminding us of the year’s best sports plays, TV moments, and blockbuster movies. As 2012 draws to a close, CJR writers brainstormed the year’s best reads in their beats. When it came to choosing the year’s best stories, the editors of Science News applied a simple criterion: We picked the ones that kept us up at night. This was an incredible year for science and engineering. From faraway planets to the deepest depths of the ocean, 2012 has been an exciting year for scientific achievements and milestones. In July, scientists at the CERN Large Hadron Collider announced they had spotted the subatomic particle that could explain some of the deeper mysteries of the universe – The Higgs boson or “god particle”. As an increasingly connected world generates ever-more data sets, and the tools to examine and analyze those data sets become easier to use, the fields of data visualization and illustration (called infographics as a catch-all term), have enjoyed something of a renaissance. It’s been a great year for science–Curiosity! The Higgs Boson!–and intrepid photographers have been there all along to document it. As 2012 draws to a close and the new year begins, now is a good time to wrap things up and recapitulate the year just passed. From unprecedented heat waves that shattered “Dust Bowl” era records from the 1930s, to Hurricane Sandy, which devastated coastal New Jersey and New York, 2012 was the year Mother Nature had it out for the U.S. This was the year that the word “derecho” (pronounced de-Ray-cho) went viral, after an unusually powerful storm with an uncommon Spanish name name ripped through 12 states in a single day.

Reading science news

What is happening in science news today? There’s too much of it to follow and sometimes we just want the gist of it. As an experiment in “Uncreative Writing” (See Kenneth Goldsmith’s book of that name), I’m presenting a take on the science news of the day.

To generate this look at the news, I’m starting with the Knight Science Journalism Tracker‘s (most excellent) posts, as a proxy for what is science news-making, and then following the links to the all the stories it highlights. Then I extract the first sentence from each of those articles and concatenate the whole lot in order for each day.

I skip links that lead to lists of links, to other KSJT pages, or to purely photographic pieces, and just use links that lead to what might reasonably be called an “article”.

Reading these pieces is a slightly surreal experience, but one tinged with an impartation of the key science news of the day.

This project ran from January 1 to January 31, 2013 but has now concluded.

You can read the collection of posts here.