Test your smarts on the greatest scientific breakthroughs—and breakdowns—of 2015

first_img An idea from “the pit of hell” An error occurred loading the Quiz. Please try again later. How did you score on the quiz? Challenge your friends to a science news duel! Question What spacecraft sped past Pluto this year? Homo habilis Homo naledi. Donald Trump may be the oddest hominin on the list, but he doesn’t—to the best of our knowledge—hail from South Africa. That honor goes to H. naledi, a new species discovered by a team of diminutive archaeologists working in the Rising Star cave system north of Johannesburg. The new species takes its name from the caves—naledi means “star.” But it’s hard to know precisely where these star men (and women) fit in to the human family tree, because the fossils themselves are still undated. CRISPR Our last quiz of the year looks back on the greatest scientific breakthroughs of 2015. Have you been paying attention? And remember—the faster you answer, the higher you score! Fodder for the likes of Aleister Crowley The origin of Earth’s water Start Quiz Simply enter your contact information here for the chance to win a free trip to the AAAS Annual Meeting! I understand that by entering this sweepstakes I am agreeing to receive occasional email or other contact from Science/AAAS about its respective programs and products. Science/AAAS agrees not to rent, sell, exchange, or give your information to any third party without permission. Morphine What odd, ancient hominin burst into prominence after its discovery in a cave in South Africa? LOADING The brain. Despite decades of doctrine arguing otherwise, neuroscientists found that our most energy-hungry organ is connected to the lymphatic system through a set of lymphatic vessels. The vessels are “very well hidden,” say researchers, and would not have been found but for a new way of dissecting mouse brains. The finding could open new paths into Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis research. They could also open up new paths for detox gurus a la Food Babe—consider yourself warned! Climate science Official rules for the News from Science weekly quiz sweepstakes Artificial Intelligence Average Enter the information below to enter the sweepstakes:Your information has been submitted.An error occurred submitting the email. Please try again later.This email has already been entered.The email submitted is not a valid email.Incomplete form. Please fill out all fields. SubmitTerms and Conditions The Science Quiz 0 / 10 What geologic puzzle did geoscientists definitively solve this year? December 14, 2015 Thorazine Donald Trump The heart Psychology. The largest effort yet to replicate psychology studies found that of 100 prominent papers, only 39% could be replicated unambiguously. On the up side, the effort seems to have been celebrated—or at least tolerated—by researchers in the field. “This is how science works,” says Joshua Correll, a psychologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and one of the authors whose results could not be replicated. “How else will we converge on the truth?” Jonathan Kipnis and Antoine Louveau, University of Virginia What caused the Cambrian explosion Score Ancient DNA sequencing this year solved the longstanding mystery of which famous early hominin? Time’s Up! Listeria Spooky action at a distance Ebola. Researchers stunned the world in July when they announced success with a trial of an Ebola vaccine in Guinea. The vaccine—produced by Merck—offers patients 100% protection against the virus, which killed more than 11,300 in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The finding has been hailed as a landmark public health effort, but regulatory approval could still be a long time coming.Hungry for more? Visit us again on Thursday to see which of these 10 will be Science’s Breakthrough of the Year! Ebola Zinc fingers Cocaine The existence of mantle plumes. Geoscientists have sought them for decades: vast tubes of hot rock, rising from Earth’s core to help drive the dance of continents across the planet’s surface. This year, painstaking new observations clinched the case that they exist. The result comes from a sophisticated MRI-like tomographic model that used 273 large earthquakes to illuminate the interior of Earth. It revealed as many as 28 plumes, many of them underneath known volcanic hot spots at Earth’s surface. Win a FREE trip to the AAAS Annual Meeting in February! Just submit the required contact information to enter. New Horizons. In July, the spacecraft swooped past distant Pluto, sending back images of ice mountains, nitrogen glaciers, and a fleet of chaotically tumbling moons. But because of the great distances and the spacecraft’s low-power antenna, some of the best data are reaching Earth only now. Among them: the above image of the “shoreline” where smooth plains of nitrogen ice from Pluto’s so-called heart rub up against water ice mountains several kilometers high. New Horizons’ next stop is Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69. But don’t crack open the champagne bottles just yet! 2014 MU69 is still a billion miles beyond Pluto, and scientists don’t expect to reach it until 1 January 2019.center_img Rosetta Philae NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI MRI This year physicists confirmed that a measurement on one quantum particle can instantly determine the state of another no matter how far away. Einstein once derided this notion as: Spooky action at a distance. The famous physicist was irked by the idea—one of the most fundamental in quantum theory—that one particle can instantly influence the properties of another particle far away. But this year, physicists using experiments based on a test called Bell’s theorem said they had shown that “spooky action at a distance” is real. Psychology Zika virus The Broad Institute, AMI Images/Science Photo Library The fingers Peking Man Kennewick Man. To scientists, he is “Kennewick Man.” To Native Americans, he is the “Ancient One.” More than a decade ago, Native Americans lost their claim for custody of this 8500-year-old skeleton from Washington state, when a federal appeals court ruled there was no evidence he was related to any modern tribe. Now, after several false starts, researchers have succeeded in sequencing Kennewick Man’s genome. Their conclusion: The Ancient One is closely related to at least one of the tribes that originally fought to rebury him on spiritual grounds. Homo naledi Share your score Kennewick Man New Horizons Akatsuki Morphine. Synthetic biologists have engineered a strain of yeast to produce thebaine, an opiate closely related to morphine. To do so, they engineered the microbes to express a medley of 21 genes, some from yeast themselves, as well as others from plants, bacteria, and even a rodent. The work could help chemists come up with new painkillers and other medicines with fewer side effects. But biopolicy experts worry that if drugmakers get their hands on opiate-making microbes, it could eventually make brewing heroin as easy as brewing beer. Good thing it hasn’t hit Williamsburg—yet! Malaria The brain Methamphetamine You CRISPR. If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last 3 years, you’ve probably heard of CRISPR, the gene-editing method that uses tiny RNA-guided enzymes to snip out or add segments of DNA to a cell. For the first time, scientists have used the technique to tweak the DNA of mosquitos so they are not only resistant to malaria, but also pass along the mutation to their offspring. This so-called “gene drive” technology has the potential to wipe out populations of entire species, prompting a firestorm of controversy. And if that isn’t enough of an ethical minefield for you, earlier this year researchers in China announced that they had used CRISPR to edit human embryos. Scientists long thought that lymphatic vessels, which clear waste and circulate key immune cells, existed only in certain parts of the body. This year, they discovered them in this surprising place: The eyes Cancer 0 His greatest blunder December 14, 2015 The Science Quiz Take the quiz to enter for a chance to win a FREE trip to the AAAS Annual Meeting in February! Learn More The existence of mantle plumes Click to enter The Beauty of Xiaohe The Denisovans Aconcagua Boy In August, synthetic biologists engineered a strain of yeast to produce a substance closely related to which of these drugs? Scientists this year developed a vaccine against this deadly pathogen: Researchers reported in August that they were able to reliably reproduce results from just 39% of papers in this field: What genome editing method this year altered the DNA of human embryos and mosquitoes? Top Ranker PCR When plate tectonics started Results: You answered out of correctly – Click to revisitlast_img

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