Story of the Year: Humanity’s First Look at a Black Hole

This spring, astronomers revealed the first image ever taken of a black hole, bringing a decades-long effort to a dramatic conclusion. The image offers humanity its first glimpse of the gas and debris that swirl around the object’s event horizon, the point beyond which material disappears forever. A staple of science fiction has finally become […]

Gene Therapies Make it to Clinical Trials

After years of ethical debates and breakthroughs in the lab, CRISPR has finally made its way to clinical trials. Researchers are now looking at whether the DNA-editing tool, as well as more conventional gene therapies, can effectively treat a wide array of heritable disorders and even cancers.  “There’s been a convergence of the science getting […]

Around the World, Countries Are Racing to the Moon

From crash landings to out-of-this-world cotton, 2019 was a big year for lunar exploration. Previously, only the U.S., Russia and China had managed to land successfully on the moon. But now other national space agencies are charging ahead with their own science goals, and private companies of all sizes are finding ways to join in. […]

One Million Species are in Danger of Extinction, U.N. Reports

Many sea turtle species worldwide are threatened with extinction, but the hawksbill sea turtle is the closest to the brink, followed by its relative, the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. The hawksbill grows slowly, breeds rarely and is exploited by humans, which has led to its demise. (Credit: Rich Carey/Shutterstock) One million species face extinction, more […]

Cotton candy super-puff worlds found in Kepler 51 star system

Fluff surrounds the solid interiors of each of the three planets in the Kepler 51 star system. Each of these planets was discovered to have masses “only a few times larger than Earth’s” with radii larger than Neptune. Because of these extreme variables, all three studied Kepler 51 planets are now part of a relatively […]

Harrison Ford: ‘Stop Giving Power to People Who Don’t Believe in Science’

Celebrities often use their platforms to spread awareness on important issues. But while many of us have become numb to their warnings, there’s something about Harrison Ford that makes people sit up and listen. Maybe it’s the cult following he’s acquired from playing heroic characters like Indiana Jones and Han Solo.  More likely, though, it’s […]

Is CBD a Cure-All?

No single compound expanded its market in 2019 quite like CBD did. This cannabinoid owns the year’s bragging rights for new-product diversity, after finding its way into water, lattes, jellybeans, hummus, cosmetics and even doggie treats. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of dozens of biologically active ingredients called cannabinoids created by Cannabis sativa plants. CBD […]

Will Prime Editors be the New CRISPR?

CRISPR may have generated a lot of buzz this year, but some researchers are already looking beyond it to the next new gene-editing technique. Say hello to prime editing.  “If CRISPR is like scissors … then you can think of prime editors like word processors,” said chemist David Liu in an October press briefing. He […]

Don’t Look Now, But Your Shadow May Be Shrinking

For many people, this time of year brings joy. I’m no exception, but it hasn’t been solely because of parties and presents. I’ve been particularly happy lately for another reason: My shadow has been getting shorter and shorter. December 21st was the day of the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. This meant that at […]

What’s the Point of the James Webb Space Telescope?

The oft-delayed space observatory will be worth the wait. The fully assembled James Webb Space Telescope with its sunshield and “unitized pallet structures” (which fold up around the telescope for launch) are seen partially deployed to an open configuration to enable telescope installation. (Image: © NASA/Chris Gunn) Paul M. Sutter is an astrophysicist at The Ohio State […]